ADAMS — It was a very warm Saturday at Russell Field for a Western Massachusetts Division III Softball Tournament first round game. Kali Puppolo made it a lot hotter with her pitching.
The Hoosac Valley pitcher threw a two-hitter and struck out 13 as the fourth-seeded Hurricanes eliminated No. 13 Mohawk 7-1. The Mohawk run, scored in the second inning, was unearned.
"Nothing but heat. She had a little bit of a changeup, but it was strictly a diet of fastballs that we never caught up with," Mohawk coach Steve Coutu said.
Puppolo struck out two hitters in every inning but the seventh. Mohawk got only one ball in the outfield, Olivia Dubrule's RBI bloop single in the second.
"Today, I was throwing mostly fastballs," said the Hoosac right-hander. "I just want to get outs, put the ball in play and I have a good defense behind me.
"I usually get a fair amount of strikeouts. This was pretty good."
The Hurricanes never trailed in the game, and after Mohawk tied the game in the top of the second inning, Hoosac outscored the visitors 6-0 over the final six innings. Abby Jamros' two-run double in the third inning broke the tie.
For her part, Puppolo went to a 3-2 count twice out of the 25 hitters she faced. Puppolo threw 16 first-pitch strikes.
"We got what we always get from her, a tough game," Hoosac coach Mike Ameen said. "It's almost weird, because you almost expect it so much. She gave us what we needed, definitely."
With the win, the Hurricanes advance to the Western Mass. Division III quarterfinal round on Monday. Hoosac will host fifth-seeded Putnam, a 17-7 winner over No. 12 Smith Vocational. The winner of that game gets to the semifinal round on Thursday at Sortino Field on the UMass-Amherst campus.
Leading 1-0, the Hurricanes gave up an unearned run. With two outs, Ashley Walker reached on an error by Sienna Witherell. After Walker stole second, she scored on a bloop single to right by Dubrule. Ameen wasn't happy with how the end of that inning played out. The Hurricanes put a smile on his face a few minutes later.
With one out, Puppolo reached second on an infield single and a throwing error by Mohawk third baseman Brianna Benz. Witherell worked a walk, and on the next pitch, Jamros one-hopped the fence in left for the two-run double.
"I had a nice pep talk with my assistant coach, Chad Carpenter. I get nervous up there and my hand starts to get shaky," said Jamros, who struck out on a 3-2 pitch from Emily Page in her first at-bat.
"You have to wait for your perfect pitch. You have to make sure it's there, just swing and turn your hips when you drive the ball," Jamros said.
The ball one-hopped the fence and by the time Mohawk left fielder Mickey Bompastor got the ball to the infield, two runs had scored and Jamros was standing on second.
The Hoosac center fielder said for a minute, she thought it might be out of the park.
"I was hoping it was out," she said with a laugh. "I've been close quite a bit all year."
Hoosac tacked on four unearned runs the rest of the way, one in the fourth and three in the fifth. Logan Sanfield scored the first insurance run from third base on a perfectly executed squeeze bunt by Hayley Adelt.
Witherell led the way for Hoosac's seven hit attack, with two hits.
Mohawk's Caitlyn Johnson singled with two outs in the third inning, the second — and last — Warrior hit of the day. In the top of the seventh, Puppolo struck out Ashley Walker, got pinch-hitter Shelby Smistor on a grounder back to the circle, and Bompastor popped to Gabby Vincent at second to end the game and send the Hurricanes into the quarterfinals.
"It's huge to play a home game. It's much easier, you don't have to have a long bus ride and you're more awake and pumped for the game," said Jamros. "It means a lot, knowing that the team played well to get a good seed to have two home games."
Emily Page and Sammy Cairns. Kali Puppolo and Alyssa Pause. W—Puppolo. L—Page. 2B—H (Abby Jamros).
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.