LOWELL -- The Berkshire Force finished its final tune-up before the Babe Ruth Softball World Series by playing eight games in three days at the 16-U All-American college showcase tournament this weekend.
Saturday’s games ended the pool play portion of the tournament. The Force’s 3-3 record earned them a No.13 seed out of 31 teams, as they entered Sunday’s single-elimination tournament. After going 1-1 on Sunday, the Force finished 4-4.
In the first game of tournament play, the Force needed extras to beat the Diamond Gems of New Hampshire 5-4 in eight innings.
Jillian Campbell’s swinging bunt clinched the game for the Force in the eighth. Campbell’s game-winning hit was setup by the late inning heroics of her teammates.
Trailing 4-2 with two outs in the seventh, Kacey Sondrini kept the game alive with a single. Hayley Tobin followed with a double. Allie Hunt’s single scored Sondrini and pinch-runner Alex Desrochers tying the game at 4-4.
The Force were eliminated in another close game, losing to the New Hampshire Gamers 4-3.
Murphy’s lead-off double led to Tobin’s RBI ground out in the second inning. Hunt’s home run gave the team a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
But, the Gamers scored once in the sixth and three times in the seventh to earn the win.
"[The Force] went up against some of the better teams in New England and performed very well," coach Jim Clary said.
On day one, the team split its first two games of the tournament.
On the second day of tournament play the Force went 2-2.
The team opened with a 4-3 loss to the Rhode Island Thunder Gold. Ashley Keegan got the start. She threw a complete game, scattering six hits and allowing three earned runs. The Force trailed 4-0 after five innings, but Hayley Tobin started a comeback attempt. Tobin singled and stole second to start off the sixth inning. Hunt scored Tobin on an RBI single. Hunt scored on a sacrifice fly from Keegan, but Rachel Voller’s sacrifice fly in the seventh was the final run the team produced. Pitcher Emily Koldys suffered a collarbone injury on a collision at first base during the game. X-rays were negative, but Koldys did not return for the reminder of the tournament.
The Force’s bats came alive in game two on Saturday, beating the South Coast Sun Devils of South Boston 12-2. Berkshire smacked 17 hits during the game. Murphy got the win, scattering five hits and striking out two. Murphy and Keegan each went 3 for 4. Kayla Kowalczyk, Mir Voller and Hunt each went 2 for 4.
On the third game of day two, the Force dropped another close game, losing 3-1 to the Chelmsford Blue Crush. Berkshire put runners on base in every inning but could not get the key hit it needed. Hunt’s home run in the first inning was the lone run for the team. Tobin and Keegan each went 2 for 4. Murphy pitched well in relief, throwing four scoreless innings, scattering only four hits.
The Force notched a win on their final game of the day, giving the New England Hurricanes Elite its first loss of pool play, winning 5-2.
Berkshire started the scoring early as Murphy scored on a sacrifice fly by Hunt in the top of the first. New England answered with two runs of its own in the bottom of the first.
Jillian Campbell led off with a single and scored on an RBI double from Mir Voller in the fourth. Murphy added another single and came around to score on an error, giving the team a 3-2 lead. Back to back RBI doubles from Hunt and Keegan put the team up 5-2 in the seventh.