Mount Everett top seed in W. Mass. Div. III softball
Mount Everett qualified for the Western Massachusetts tournament last month. On Tuesday, the Eagles learned they'll get to defend their Div ision III title as the tourney's top seed.
"It feels good" to repeat as the top seed, Everett coach Kurt DeGrenier said. "You work hard all year to get yourself in that position. Now, you have to bring your ‘A' game."
The Eagles are one of seven teams from Berkshire County to qualify for the upcoming tournament. Play is scheduled to begin either Thursday or Friday. The finals are a week from Saturday at Sortino Field on the UMass-Amherst campus.
Everett is one of four teams from the Berkshires to make the Division III field. The top-seeded Eagles will play the winner of the first-round game in North Adams between No. 8 McCann Tech and No. 9 Pioneer Valley.
Twelve months ago, Mount Everett shut out Turners Falls 3-0 to claim the Division III title. This year, the Eagles wouldn't face Turners until a title game, as coach Gary Mullins' crew is seeded third behind Everett and Monson.
When asked, DeGrenier said it's not about defending last year's title but about winning one this year.
"I think this is a whole new year," he said. "We have a lot of returning kids who expected to win. They want to take that bus trip from the small town."
Hoosac Valley moved down into Division III after being the eighth seed in Division II last year. The Hurricanes, who beat Monson but lost to top-seed Belchertown in the 2013 semifinals, is the No. 4 seed. Coach Morgan Shafer's Hurricanes will host Franklin County Tech on Thursday at 4 p.m., with the winner meeting the winner of the game between No. 5 Pathfinder and No. 12 Smith Academy on Saturday.
North Division champion Pittsfield qualified as the No. 8 seed and will play No. 9 Chicopee Comp at home on Thursday at 4 p.m. The winner of that game gets top-seeded and undefeated Westfield on Saturday.
"I think we outdid what I thought we were going to do [this year], to tell you the truth," Pittsfield coach Greg Marchbanks said. "They're absolutely excited."
The other Berkshire team in Division I is Taconic. The Braves earned the No. 10 seed and will play at seventh-seeded East Longmeadow on Friday at 4 p.m. The winner will visit No. 2 Longmeadow on Saturday.
The other Berkshire County team moving ahead is Wahconah.
In four of the last five years, the Warriors were seeded either first or second. They were a No. 5 seed in 2012.
Last year, Wahconah was seeded second behind Belchertown, but claimed the Western Mass. title with a decisive 10-0 win.
This year, the Warriors start their run to UMass as the No. 6 seed, and will play at third-seeded Frontier in a quarterfinal on Friday.
"The seeds are the seeds. You have to win the games," said Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher. "To me, it's just about matchups. Obviously, Frontier is a good team, but we'll be ready to go."
While Belcher said that he would have liked to have had a home game at Pine Grove Park, the smaller size of the tournament field can also play to Wahconah's advantage.
"I thought [the No. 6 seed] was where I kind of thought we'd end up," he said. "Obviously, you hope for a home game. But we'll accept the challenge, go on the road and see what we can do.
"The advantage is -- you win one game, you're at UMass. That's always the goal, to be taking that ride to UMass."
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