Wahconah Rallies Late to Win Opener
DALTON, Mass. -- Abby Wells held the line until the Wahconah offense was able to keep the line moving.
Wahconah batted around for seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to come from behind and earn an 8-2 win over Mount Greylock in the season opener for both teams at Pine Grove Park.
Wells struck out six, walked none and scattered six hits.
The Mounties did get a triple in the third and strung together three hits in the fifth, but Wells retired the last seven hitters she faced -- getting three of them to ground back to the circle.
“Some of that is just early season stuff,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said of the middle innings. “She has to build up that endurance to put seven innings together. But Abby is such a competitor.
“She induced seven ground balls back to her and got six strikeouts -- that’s 13 outs. She definitely grinds it out. And I thought she did a good job of that when she wasn’t hitting her spots -- she was still out there working hard.”
And Wahconah’s offense kept grinding against Mount Greylock starter Lily Lesieur, who struck out seven but ended up a hard-luck loser after six unearned runs in that seven-run sixth-inning rally.
Lesieur pitched out of jams early, leaving the bases loaded in the first and second innings. She allowed just three hits through the first five.
“I thought Greylock played really, really well,” Belcher said. “They made some good plays. [Lesieur] kept us off balance most of the game. I think it was a confidence thing as the game went on, and we did stay with it.
“We were able to get a couple of hits and string a couple of baserunners together, and then we were really able to swing the bats with some confidence.”
The Mounties struck first in the top of the third.
Marley Buffis blasted a triple into the right-center gap with one out and came home on a two-out single by Jordyn Codding.
It stayed 1-0 until the top of the fifth, when Mount Greylock managed three straight two-out singles.
First, Kat Hoffstedt went down the first base line to set the table. Codding moved her to third with a single to right, and Hoffstedt came home on a single up the middle by Alyssa Phelps.
Wahconah got one run back in the fifth with three two-out singles of its own. Kaylee O’Bryan got things started, and Jess Duma and Rachel Kays followed to make it 2-1.
In the sixth, Bailey Shippee started Wahconah’s winning rally with a leadoff single. Morgan Marauszwski and Hailey Lensky then reached safely -- Lensky on a bunt try that the Mounties thought ended in an out at third.
But the bang-bang play went the other way, and Wahconah was left with the bases loaded and one out for Wells.
She hit a fly ball that was misplayed, allowing two runs to score. Another error and a passed ball kept the rally going. Kays singled and scored, and Shippee’s second hit of the inning plated the last two runs to make it 8-2.
Mount Greylock coach June Blake said the disputed third-base call -- which could have made it two-out with runners on first and second but instead left the bases loaded with one out -- was a momentum changer.
“It’s a close call,” she said. “It could go either way. Do I think it’s the complete difference in the inning? No. I think some other things could have happened that could have gotten us out of that inning. It’s the way it goes.”
But Blake was more focused on the positives after seeing her team take a 2018 Western Mass finalist squad down to the wire on opening day.
“Overall, I thought we played great,” she said. “Defensively, in the first few innings … they put a lot of baserunners on, and we kept them off the board.
“For us to have a two-run lead late is kind of where want to be. Unfortunately, they put together some runs in that sixth inning and held onto it in the seventh.”
Belcher likewise was happy with his team’s performance in its first action of any kind on the varsity diamond this spring.
“We’ve been practicing here, but on the grass,” he said. “To be on the field and come out today and find a way to win. … I’m proud of them for that, but we definitely have a lot to work on.”
Playing error-free ball will go a long way toward keeping a team in any game.
“And we have a lot of people in different spots,” Belcher said. “Marauszwski is at shortstop now. Kays is at second. A new catcher [Duma]. We’re a lot different than we were a year ago, but at the same time, they rose to the occasion today.
“There were a couple of things here and there, but I thought we responded well.”
Wahconah hosts Pioneer on Friday.
Mount Greylock is back in action on Friday at Drury.