Warren Homers Twice in Wahconah's Quarter-Final Win
DALTON, Mass. -- Powered by its battery, the Wahconah softball team Monday earned a spot in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semi-finals.
Catcher Jess Warren put a charge into two balls, connecting for a pair of inside-the-park home runs in a 10-1 win over Frontier. And pitcher Abby Wells struck out eight and allowed just two hits as third-seeded Wahconah (15-6) set up a date in Thursday’s Final Four against No. 2 Hoosac Valley (16-3), a 6-5 winner over Southwick on Monday.
Wells also helped her cause by walking four times and scoring twice from the top of the lineup.
Jess Duma went 3-for-3 to bolster a nine-hit Wahconah attack as coach Dustin Belcher’s team scored in double figures for the ninth time this season.
“You worry after a layoff that we had how we would swing the bats,” Belcher said after his team returned to action for the first time since May 30. “I think that first inning was key for us putting the ball in play. We did a good job playing small ball when we had to; we had some nice bunts to put pressure on their defense.
“Certainly Jess Warren really stepped up for us tonight. But it was a great team effort.”
That first inning saw Wahconah score four runs.
First, Wells walked and went to third on an error that allowed Morgan Marauszwski to reach base. Marauszwski stole second and drew an errant throw, which allowed Wells to score the game’s first run.
That brought up Warren, who hammered a pitch to left center and cased Marauszwski around the bases to make it 3-0.
Emma Parkington and Duma then singled, and Parkington went to third on a fly ball before scoring on an error.
Wahconah tacked on a run in the second and four more in the third.
In the sixth, Warren took a 2-0 pitch to deep center and turned on the jets, sliding into home around the Frontier catcher’s tag to score her team’s final run.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t look at the ball when it’s hit,” Warren said. “I just look for coach and see where’s telling me where to go. I trust him to send me home. When I saw it was close, you’ve just got to make the most effort you can to try to win for your team.”
An jubilant Warren said that this win was especially meaningful for her and her fellow seniors.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It’s definitely very emotional for me because the last time we were [at UMass] was freshman year. Last year, we didn’t get to play on that field because of the rainouts. It’s definitely a big, emotional thing.
“I’m excited. I know the girls are excited. It’s definitely going to be a great game.”
And they will see a lot of familiar faces in the sectional semi-finals. Wahconah, with a 7 p.m. start on Monday, was the last of six Berkshire County teams to play in the quarter-finals (counting McCann Tech, which plays in the Bi-County West).
All six advanced to the semis, which get underway on Tuesday.
“It’s a great brand of softball we play in the Berkshires,” Belcher said. “I don’t think we always get the credit for it. But it’s a great brand of softball, and this year shows it for sure.”