King's Big Blast End Greylock's Season

By Ryan
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock softball team's stellar 2012 season hinged on one swing of the bat by Bizzy King on Wednesday. 

The Wahconah slugger belted her league-leading eighth homer of the year in the top of the fifth inning, helping the Warriors break a 1-1 tie and sending them to a 3-1 win in the Division 2 Western Mass. quarterfinals. King's blast over the fence in left-center field scored Bailey MacHaffie, who started the inning off by legging out an infield single.

King's blast was the one big play in a game where both Greylock starter Heather Tomkowicz and Wahconah pitcher Becca Grunow were throwing well from the circle. Tomkowicz scattered six hits and struck out eight batters but made one critical mistake, leaving a ball up and over the plate to Berkshire County's premier power hitter. King turned on the ball quickly, helping the fifth-seeded Warriors (15-7) earn a semifinal date with eighth-seeded Drury on Friday. The game will be held at the UMass Softball Complex in Amherst at 5 p.m. 

Of the six hits Tomkowicz allowed on the day, King collected three of them. She finished the game going 3 for 4 with a home run, double and two RBI. 

"What she did today was she didn't settle for pitches outside of the strike zone," Wahconah head coach Dustin Belcher said. "She's getting better as the season goes along at looking for her pitch to drive. I mean she just caught that one. I think the pitch caught quite a bit of the plate, and she just turned on it." 

King's home run was a tough break for Tomkowicz, who has pitched so well in her first season with the Mounties. Greylock went just 5-13 a season ago, but the sophomore hurler helped her team turn the corner this year, going 15-6 with a 1.83 ERA. Tomkowicz struck out 179 batters and walked just 35 on her way to helping Greylock (15-6) earn the No. 4 seed a first-round bye in the Western Mass. tournament.

"She's been so consistent and on her game all year," Mounties head coach June Blake said. "We can't knock the effort that she gave today. We were in the game. She was moving the ball well, keeping them off balance as always and, unfortunately, they took advantage of a pitch that Bizzy hit out of the park."

Tomkowicz's final win of the season came two weeks ago against this same Warriors' team. It was the final game of the regular season for Greylock, and Blake said the long layoff had nothing to do with the Mounties' performance at the plate on Wednesday. Grunow allowed five hits overall and struck out just three batters but, unlike the last game in which Wahconah made four errors, Belcher's defense played mistake free on Wednesday. 

"I wouldn't say there was any rust or anything like that we had to shake off," Blake said. "We were prepared for this game. We were ready to go for sure. We made contact on the ball, but they made the plays. They made some great catches out in the outfield, including in the last inning when they made two great defensive plays that kept people off of the bases." 

Greylock tried to make a rally in the final four innings but whenever it made solid contact, the Warriors defense was there every time. Both senior Caitie Benoit and sophomore Kendal Frye hit shots to center field late in the game, but the Wahconah defense was in the right position to make the play. Then, with one out in the bottom of the seventh, it appeared as if freshman Miranda Voller had a base hit when she blooped a ball to shallow center. Warriors' shortstop Gabby Lavinio ranged back to her right, however, and made a juggling catch over her shoulder to kill any chance of a Mounties' comeback. 

Learning to back up their new pitcher was something the defending state champions learned how to do after getting off to a rough start this season. 

"It was hard for us at the beginning of the year," Belcher said. "We went from having a power pitcher last year to having a pitcher to contact, which is what Grunow is. She's not a strikeout pitcher. We want the ball in play, and, defensively, we didn't always back her up and some days she struggled. But late in the year, particularly the last two tournament games, she's pitched phenomenally. And defensively, I thought we played excellent today." 

Both teams traded runs in the third inning. Wahconah got on the board first when Kelcie Yarmey hit a two-out double to score Rachel Brennan. Greylock countered with a leadoff triple by senior Alyssa Mangiardi in the bottom half of the frame, though, and brought her home courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Voller. 

While the season was a success and the future looks bright with players like Tomkowicz, Frye and Voller coming back, Blake admitted it was hard saying goodbye to her four seniors, three of which who have been on the varsity squad since they were eighth-graders. 

"We had a great year, and we plan on building on this for next year," Blake said. "We're going to keep moving this in the right direction. We're looking at a good returning squad but, as always, it's hard to let go of the seniors this program has had for the last five years. 

"It's a hard way to end the year, but, unfortunately, that's how it goes." 
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