AMHERST, Mass. -- Of the 21 outs recorded Monday by Pittsfield pitcher Julia Murphy, perhaps the most important was the last one.
Because when third baseman Erin Murphy threw to Libby White to retire the game's last batter, Pittsfield wrapped up a 12-0 win over Longmeadow in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semi-finals at the University of Massachusetts.
True, with two out and a 12-run cushion for the the Generals, the outcome of the game was hardly in doubt. But the doubters might have challenged Pittsfield's triumph but pointing to the fact that Longmeadow was without the services of its ace pitcher, University of Connecticut recruit Jill Stockley.
Instead, the 21st out safely in Pittsfield's back pocket, the Generals eliminated any "mental asterisks" because at the end of the day, a shutout is a shutout. And Pittsfield is a sectional finalist for the first time since 2000.
"We came out with the mentality that we can play with anybody, and we're better than anybody," Pittsfield coach Gregory Marchbanks said. "When we put our game together, whether it's bunting or hitting, stealing, I think we're unstoppable."
Murphy struck out five while scattering six hits and stranded nine baserunners -- two in the bottom of the seventh.
The Pittsfield offense pounded out 15 hits, including a solo home run by Emily Koldys and a pair of doubles by Erin Murphy, who cleared the bases with a three-run two-bagger in a five-run top of the first.
Marchbanks said his offense was ready to take on either Stockley or Alexandra Mansfield-Clement, the Longmeadow sophomore who pitched the top-seeded Lancers (20-2) to a 5-3 win in the quarter-finals.
"We prepared for two pitchers," Marchbanks said. "We had no idea what was going on [with Stockley's status]. We went and saw the team on Friday and saw that Stockley wasn't pitching. We didn't know what was going on, and no one had any answers for us, so we prepared for both of them.
"Whether the fast pitching we were preparing for helped us today, I don't know. We do several things to get prepared, and they applied it. They applied everything, whichever pitcher we were going to see."
Britney Perkett went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI, and Lauren Carnevale was 3-for-4 with a pair of stolen bases to help lead Pittsfield's attack.
Carnevale led off the game with a single to right to start the five-run rally.
Koldys' blast over the left field wall was the lone run in the second inning. But Pittsfield tacked on two in the third thanks to an RBI single by Bella Aitken.
In the fourth, PHS added four more to put the game out of reach. Hayley Tobin had the big blow, a single to left to drive in Carnevale and Alie Hunt.
Julia Murphy, meanwhile, left two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the first and left at least one runner on in every inning except the sixth, which ended on a double play when Aitken snagged a line drive at second and doubled off a runner at first.
"I think the whole atmosphere here ... the added energy, it makes us calm in pressure situations," Murphy said. "We just wanted this one so badly. So even those tough spots, we were buckling down. We were ready to go."
Pittsfield (19-2) takes on third-seeded Agawam (17-5) on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Western Mass Division 1 final.