Hampshire Tops Wahconah in Western Mass Semi-Finals
AMHERST, Mass. -- Playing the top seed in your sectional is tough enough.
Playing the top seed in your sectional without your No. 1 pitcher is more than most teams could handle.
But the Wahconah softball team Friday made a game of it against No. 1 Hampshire Regional before succumbing, 5-0, in the semi-finals of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 tournament.
Hannah Wodecki went 3-for-3 with a triple and a pair of doubles, and Jocelyn Mettey scattered three hits to lead Hampshire (17-5) into Saturday’s Western Mass final against Frontier, a winner over Hoosac Valley in Friday’s other semi-final.
Wahconah played nearly flawless defense and got a complete-game effort in the circle from sophomore Kaylee O’Brien, who was pressed into service after ace Abby Wells suffered an injury late in the year that kept her from pitching.
“Here she is, she played first base all year, she hit fourth for us and had a big role on the team, obviously, offensively,” Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said of O’Brien. “She didn’t get a lot of reps early in the year. We were trying to teach her first base, a position that she wasn’t familiar with. … So she didn’t get a lot of time throwing.
“Now, to be asked to be put in the situation she was, to step up the last couple of games of the regular season and the tournament was huge, huge, as a sophomore.”
Wahconah’s offense produced a couple of hits early but could not string anything together.
Morgan Marauszwski ripped a two-out double down the left-field line in the first inning, and Rachel Kays singled with one out in the second, but each ended up being stranded on second base.
Meanwhile, O’Brien was able to keep Hampshire off the board until the third.
That is when Maggie Rubeck and Wodecki delivered back-to-back doubles to score one run, and Wahconah’s lone error accounted for an unearned run and a 2-0 deficit.
Hampshire built on that margin one inning later with three hits, including Wodecki’s RBI triple, to give Mettey plenty of margin to work with.
Wahconah’s best chance to get on the board came in the fifth, when Kays led off with a double and moved to third with two outs on a fly ball to foul territory. Bailey Shippee kept the inning going by drawing a walk, but Mettey got the next hitter to ground out to short.
A double play for Hampshire erased a leadoff walk in the sixth, and Wahconah failed to advance Jess Duma after her leadoff single to start the seventh.
Kays and Tori Partridge are the lone seniors who graduate from a Wahconah squad that finishes the season 15-7.
“They’re great leaders,” Belcher said. “They lead in different ways. We’re going to miss them both tremendously, especially in the dugout.
“I couldn’t be prouder of they way they represented down the stretch. We had 11 girls on the roster, and Abby was injured there at the end. They really had to step up, and they both did.”