Hoosac softball rolls to Western Mass.-opening win over Franklin Tech
ADAMS -- It's natural for coaches to worry about every game in the postseason -- even those their teams control early on.
Hoosac Valley softball coach Morgan Shafer was no different during and after the Hurricanes' 13-1 win over Franklin Tech in the Western Mass. Division III tournament Thursday.
"Every game is different; every team is different," Shafer said. "We've been facing a lot of obstacles this year and overcoming them all. We always believe in ourselves, and I think that's the key to doing well all season."
There weren't many obstacles in the Hurricanes' way Thursday at Russell Field. Hoosac scored five times in the first inning, and freshman pitcher Kali Puppolo threw a two-hitter, striking out 10 Eagles -- five in a row at one point.
Puppolo took over the No. 1 starter's duties when Caroline Tomkowicz broke her foot on the basepaths in a late-season game against St. Joseph. She allowed a pair of infield singles Thursday, with the lone run scoring on a second-inning error following Mackenzie Bardwell's single. The runner, Teagan Valeski, had reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Puppolo never had to worry about that run, though. She struck out three batters in a row to get out of the second, then K'd the first two batters she faced in the third. She gave up Missy Vatalaro's infield single in the fifth, but Hoosac catcher Erin Girard threw her out trying to advance to second to end the top half of the fifth.
"Having a team behind you, supporting you, feels good," she said.
After the Hurricanes scored five times in the first -- taking advantage of three singles, two walks an an error -- they tacked on two in the second, and ended the game with a six-run fifth.
The game ended on an error that led to three runs. Hoosac had already taken a 10-1 lead, and had the bases loaded with one out for Kassy Kazimierczak.
She popped out to short for the second out, but shortstop Mackenzie Coburn threw to second base to try and double up Gabby Vincent. The throw sailed away from second and all the way into deep right field, allowing all three Hurricane runners to score and end the game via mercy rule.
Girard, who was 4 for 4 with two RBI and three runs scored, has never seen a game end in such a fashion.
"Never," she said. "That really got us pumped up and happy."
Every Hoosac batter reached base at least once via hit or walk. Vincent drove in two runs, getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the second and singling in a run in the fifth.
"They earned five in the first, we were down 5-1 early and it doesn't work," Franklin Tech coach Mike Blanchard said. "They have a faster pitcher, and she pitched a really good game. We just came up here to try and compete. We knew we were a little out of our league."
Hoosac will host either Pathfinder or Smith Academy on Saturday at 4 p.m.
"We have to hit well [from this point on]," Puppolo said. "That seems to be what we have problems with some games."
Franklin 010 00 -- 0 2 4
Hoosac 520 06 -- 13 10 2
Rachel Shearer and Katie Newell; Kali Puppolo and Erin Girard. W -- Puppolo. L -- Shearer.