A show of Force in final tune-up for Babe Ruth Softball World Series


Photo Gallery | Berkshire Force plays Berkshire Blaze in practice game

PITTSFIELD -- The only lack of power at the Doyle Softball Complex on Monday night was from the weather-related outage. The Berkshire Force 16-under team, meanwhile, had plenty of power to spare.

With their Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series opener coming Wednesday, the Force got in one last exhibition Monday -- well, a couple of innings of it, anyhow -- against the Berkshire Blaze squad, which also features a number of local players. The Force scored six times in the first inning, and were in control when rain and power outages at Doyle ended the game early.

Force coach Jim Clary expects that the lineup he fielded for Monday's game will be similar to the lineup the Force will use as World Series pool play begins Wednesday. Berkshire opens play at 5:30 p.m. against West Volusia, Fla.

"The bats were alive," Clary said. "We've been working on nothing but hitting, hitting, hitting."

The biggest hit Monday was Allie Hunt's two-run triple off the wall in left-center field of Field 2. Hunt, who has six home runs in various tournaments this summer, batted third in the order Monday behind leadoff hitter Julia Murphy and Hayley Tobin.

Despite her longball capability, Hunt said she isn't looking to go deep when she steps in the batter's box.

"Jilly [Campbell] reminds me every day," Hunt said. "I step to the plate, I look for her and she [yells], ‘Base hits!' "

The Force will play all their pool-play games -- Wednesday's game against West Volusia, Thursday's game against St. Charles Parish, La., and Friday games against both Fern Creek, Ky. and Hoquiam, Wash. -- on Field 2, according to Clary.

Ashley Keegan batted cleanup for the Force and started on the pitcher's mound. Had a full game been played, Keegan -- one of three starting pitchers Berkshire plans to use in the World Series -- would have thrown two innings and been followed by Murphy and Emily Koldys.

"She was a little around the plate," Clary said of his starter on Monday. "The umpire had a tight strike zone, but I wanted her to have a tight strike zone. ... World Series umpires are going to be that way."

Koldys batted fifth Monday, followed by Kayla Kowalczyk, Mir Voller, Kailey Bell, Campbell and a 10th batter for the exhibition, Erin Murphy. Tobin, Keegan and Bell drew walks in the six-run first, and Murphy led it all off with a single to center.

Clary gave credit to Pittsfield High School softball coach Greg Marchbanks for the improved hitting, noting that Marchbanks has worked with the Force players on their swings during the last few practices.

Clary also noted, though, that Monday's batting order isn't written in stone.

"It's always changing," he said. "If girls perform, they move up and down the lineup all the time."

They certainly moved up and down the basepaths in their brief exhibition, too. The Force baserunners weren't afraid to run on passed balls, and a couple of them even kept running after taking their base on ball four, stealing second.

That, Clary noted, wasn't his call. The girls called their own numbers on those moves.

"They taught us to be aggressive on the bases," Hunt said. "We take big leads. If we see a mistake they make, we'll take off."

Campbell said that, even before Monday's quick scrimmage, the players' confidence level was high, especially on offense.

"Our lineup [has] power hitters like Allie, and then we have small ball," she said. "The bottom of our order is a lot of small ball, quicker girls who can work and move people over."

To reach Matthew Sprague:
or (413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.


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