Force fall in Commissioner's Cup final at Babe Ruth Softball World Series
Photo Gallery | Berkshire Force defeated in Commissioner's Cup final
PITTSFIELD - At the end of a 14-game run in the Babe Ruth Softball 16-U World Series, the Berkshire Force simply ran out of gas Monday afternoon.
The Force had won twice in morning games to reach the final of the Commissioner's Cup consolation tournament, but Rochester, N.H., erased an early 2-0 deficit to claim its second win over the Force in as many days, 9-3.
The Force, the host team, went 9-5 in the tournament and earned three of those wins via mercy rule. For the final two days of the Series, they played with a short bench.
"That's more [games] than some teams play in a season," Force coach Jim Clary said. "They do get fatigued after a while. I have 12 girls that are fatigued, and two are hurt."
Berkshire did everything it could to prevent Rochester's offense from padding its lead in Monday's Commissioner's Cup final, pitching both Julia Murphy and Ashley Keegan. Rochester, however, scored four times in the second inning to break a 2-2 tie, and never looked back. They'd add three runs in the fourth, while Berkshire's typically-potent offense stranded seven baserunners.
"They were just hitting in spots we weren't," outfielder Jill Campbell said. "We just couldn't seem to get the ball in a place they weren't standing. We've definitely had better-hitting games."
Two run-rule wins Monday morning at the Doyle Softball Complex put the Force in the 3:30 p.m. final against Rochester. Berkshire routed West Volusia, Fla., 10-0 early in the morning before beating Plymouth 12-1 in five innings later.
Berkshire wasted no time taking control of the second win of the day, with three straight hits to start off the bottom of the first inning. The Force would score three times and never look back from there.
"We just had to wait on the ball," said Kacey Sondrini, who drove in two runs in the third with a single to center field. "Once we waited, we could all hit it."
The three-run first was really all pitcher Keegan needed - though Berkshire did score five times in the third and four more times in the fourth. Keegan allowed a run on three hits in four innings, striking out two. She also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, and stranded two Plymouth baserunners in the fourth.
Murphy struck out two in an inning of relief, closing the victory. Alex Desrochers also drove in two runs for the Force with a fifth-inning single to right center.
The Force, behind Keegan's four-hit shutout, defeated West Volusia in the day's first game. The game was called after six innings due to the 10-run rule.
Keegan retired the last 11 batters she faced, thanks to stellar defense led by shortstop Allie Hunt.
Offensively, Hunt batted .476 in the Series, with three inside-the-park home runs, four triples and 15 RBI.
"We've come to expect that of her," Keegan said.
Hunt also went 3 for 3 at the plate, which included an RBI triple in a six-run first inning.
Catcher Hayley Tobin had a pair of run-scoring singles for the Force, with third baseman Kayla Kowalczyk also chipping in with a double and single.
Injured co-captain Mir Voller wasn't able to play Sunday or Monday, but she expects the current players who make the 2015 roster to gain as much experience as she did from 2013 to 2014.
"The rest of the girls are going to bring [this experience] back with them, just like we brought this back with us," she said. Clary, meanwhile, saluted the Force players who would be leaving the squad.
"They just pretty much held their hands and brought them up a set of stairs, [so to speak]," the coach said. "Now they're all on the top step. It'll be easier next year."
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