Hancock's Blast Lifts Devils Over Mounties
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Katie Hancock's sixth-inning home run to deep left field didn't turn out to be the winning run in the Drury softball team's 7-5 win over Mount Greylock on Monday.
But it sure felt like it.
Hancock's blast sailed way over the head of Greylock left fielder Alyssa Mangiardi and seemed to roll for miles. By the time Hancock crossed home plate to finish off her two-run shot, the Blue Devils led 5-4. The Mounties came back to tie the game with a single run in the bottom half of the frame, but Drury rode the momentum of Hancock's home run into the seventh, where it scored two more runs to pull away for a key North Division win.
"That was the key play of the game," Blue Devils head coach Mary Ann Maroni said. "It boosted our moral and made us feel that we weren't done at the plate today. These girls don't really get down. If they relinquish the lead, they're ready to go back out there and score some more."
After taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Drury (7-1) lost its lead when Greylock (6-2) busted out for four runs combined in the third and fourth frames. The Mounties' big inning came in the fourth, when Mangiardi scored one run with a single to right field. With runners on second and third base, sophomore Kendal Frye came up with a clutch two-out hit by blooping a single past the outstretched glove of Devils second baseman Lyndsey DeGrenier.
That gave Greylock a 4-3 advantage, one it would keep until Hancock's big bomb in the sixth. Eighth-grader Arianna Hilchey led off the inning with single to left field. She made it to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Amber Iacuessa, but she didn't make it home until Hancock smacked a shot that nearly rolled into the Mounties' football field. It was a tough result for Mounties' starter Heather Tomkowicz, who had had struck out Hancock once and walked her twice in her two previous at bats.
"It was two outs, and she hadn't done a whole lot in the game against us," Greylock head coach June Blake said of pitching to Hancock, who was batting .565 coming into Monday's contest. "The idea was to kind of keep it away, but she did a good job of pulling an inside pitch and ripping it down the line. She just had a great at bat."
To their credit, the Mounties didn't waste much time tying the game. The hosts answered right back in the bottom half of the frame, using a walk by Caitie Benoit and an error by Drury pitcher Cat Record to get a runner on third base. Freshman Miranda Voller then came through with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Benoit and evening the score at five runs apiece.
While it was Hancock's power shot that got the Blue Devils back in the game, it was a whole lot of small ball that ultimately won them the contest. Junior Amanda Ramsdell led off with a bloop single to shallow center before DeGrenier collected her third hit of the game by legging out a bunt single. Both runners advanced on Record's grounder to the pitcher, allowing Ramsdell to score in the next at bat when senior Danielle Cardinal (three RBIs) again hit a soft dribbler back up the middle. Just for good measure, Hilchey scored an insurance run when she legged out another infield single on a very close play at first base.
Still, Drury had to get three more outs to win the game, a task that became much more easier when Record caught a liner up the middle by Tomkowicz and doubled off Michaela DiNicola at first base to end the game. It was the Devils' third double play of the game and capped off a much better defensive performance than they had in a six-error performance against Monument Mountain on Friday.
"Cat was instrumental in two of our double plays," Maroni said. "[Our defense] was a little bit better today, but we're young and we're still learning. The finer points of the game are not intrinsic yet. We've got to keep coaching them. 'Where do you belong on the cutoff? What do you need to do when your out there? You have to stay low.'
"Those finer points will come because they're willing to learn."
In addition to her two double plays, Record had another solid day on both sides of the field. She went 2-for-4 with one RBI at the plate, while going the distance again to earn her seventh win of the season. She finished with three strikeouts and three walks, allowing three earned runs on six hits.
Tomkowicz also had a solid outing in defeat, allowing three earned runs on nine hits, striking out nine and walking two batters. She and her teammates probably would have liked to have the first inning back, however, considering the slow start put them in a hole right from the beginning. Tomkowicz started things off by allowing a walk to Hancock. Laryssa LaPointe then reached on an error while trying to bunt Hancock over. That led to an RBI single by DeGrenier before Cardinal capped off the scoring with a two-run triple.
"Giving up those three runs in the first inning kind of put us behind right from the get go," Blake said. "Starting with a walk and an error is not the way to start things. We did a good job battling back, and then it's a game after that. But they made some good defensive plays and kept us off the bases.
"I told the kids that obviously we have some things to work on. We're going to start tomorrow and prepare for Pittsfield on Wednesday. We're not taking this as a step back by any means, but obviously we're looking to improve, get better every day and get ready for the next game."
Greylock plays at Pittsfield at 4:15 p.m. on Wednesday, while Drury travels to Taconic for a 4 p.m. game on the same day.