Sunday, June 11, 2017

Hopedale Softball Wins Division 3 Central Mass Title

By John McGuirk (@Patsfan1313)
WORCERSTER, Mass. - It took nine innings to decide but the Blue Raiders did just enough to come away victorious as they downed top-seed Blackstone Valley Tech 2-1 in the Division 3 Central Mass. final. 
No. 6 Hopedale (16-8), winning its first district title since 2015, will now face the ultimate test on Tuesday when it squares off against eight-time state champion Turners Falls at UMass-Amherst beginning at 3 p.m.Turners Falls, winners of the past two state finals, blew out Mount Everett 15-1 in the Western Mass. title game on Saturday.

After taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a Beavers error, the Blue Raiders offense was virtually shut down by BVT pitcher Hayleigh O'Connor until the ninth. O'Connor, a sophomore, did allow nine hits but continued to escape major trouble and keep her club in it. On the other side, BVT (18-3) was being held in check during the first five frames by Blue Raiders senior ace Julia Alberto (4 hits, 9 Ks) before finally coming to life in the sixth. A single from Kallie Tavono would eventually see her advance to third base with one out. Rachel Arnold's SAC fly brought the sophomore home to knot things at 1-1.
With neither team able to decide things in regulation, Hopedale finally got something started in the ninth. A Taylor Goldstein single and ensuing Lucia Rolo bunt had runners on the corners. Freshman Rowena Murphy next lined a single to right, scoring Goldstein with the go-ahead run. O'Connor danced her way out of further trouble to keep it a one run contest.
"This is my first year on varsity and I knew we could do this the whole time," said Murphy. "It was a contributing effort from everybody. We came together as a team and for our seniors, we knew we had to do this."
The Beavers had an opportunity to storm back in the bottom of the frame. Arnold led off by being hit by a pitch. Hanna Kearney was brought in as a pinch-runner. Audrey Bourque then lined a bullet to Rolo at second base. With Kearney advancing too far off the base, the sophomore threw Kearney out to complete the double play. Alberto then induced Mackenzie Gill to ground out and put an end to this marathon tilt.

"I knew I needed to do anything I could to help my team out and get this win," Alberto said. "It really helped me out today that they were swinging at a lot of first pitches. This team just never gives up. As a pitcher, it's great to know  that I have a great team behind me. This was such an amazing win for us today."

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