McCann Tech softball team comes up short to Turners Falls in Western Mass. D-III championship game
AMHERST —It may have not been the hardware they have hoped for, but the players on the third-seeded McCann Tech softball team headed back to North Adams with a runner-up trophy after falling to top-seeded Turners Falls, 4-0, in the Western Massachusetts Division III championship game on Saturday.
"It meant a lot to be here," second basemen Kalley Vanuni said. "McCann hasn't done a lot in terms of the playoffs, so this was a really good season for us."
The Hornets defeated Mount Everett, the same team that knocked them out of the tournament last season, just to face a Thunder team that won its six-straight Western Mass. D-III championship with the victory.
"We've been working at this for four years," coach Robin Finnegan said. "It escaped us last year and we were determined. To play a dynasty like Turners Falls and stay within four runs, I can't ask for anything more."
Pitcher Meg Goyette had another strong performance in the circle, despite the fact she's been dealing with tendentious in her pitching arm for most of the season.
"Going in I try not to expect anything so I don't get nervous," Goyette explained. "I just go out and play the game. We did better than I expected, so it was good to come out here and play well."
Goyette, who remained calm through a handful of jams throughout the game, ran into some trouble early on. With Jade Tyler, the pitcher for the Thunder, at first, Alyson Murphy launched a triple that plated Tyler and gave Turners Falls an early 1-0 lead. Goyette recovered, though, as she retired the next batter she faced to escape the inning.
Tyler was flirting with a no hitter for most of the game as the sophomore struck out 12.
In the bottom of the second, Goyette, who allowed just four hits in the championship tilt, found herself in a bases-loaded jam with only one out. She escaped the jam with the help of a pop-out to second and a grounder to short to end the inning.
Errors plagued the Hornets in the fourth and fifth innings, as the Thunder pushed the lead to four with the help of four blunders from the McCann defense.
McCann put some pressure on Tyler in the fourth after Vanuni walked to first and Rebecca Poulton reached on an error. Hannah Stack came up with runners at second and third and smacked one to center field, yet Olivia Whittier was there secure the ball and end the frame.
Aubrey Tetlow hustled to first base on an infield hit in the sixth inning to break up the no-hitter and Hailey Miller followed with a single of her own. However, with two outs, Tyler stepped on McCann's spark before it could ignite the offense. Tyler pitched a one-two-three seventh that included two strikeouts to close out the championship run for Turners Falls.
Despite injuries, Goyette and Tetlow, who is playing with stitches in her leg, continued to fight and were a driving force for the Hornets to reach the championship game.
"Those are two of the toughest players I've ever coached," Finnegan said. "I gave them both rest along the way but they just continued to fight through it."
Finnegan added how this run by the Hornets was a huge step for the program.
"I can't tell you how proud I am," Finnegan said. "They're not just good softball players, they're great kids. They're respectful, they have a great work ethic and have commitment."
According to Vanuni, the secret to McCann's success is a pretty simple one — family.
"Most teams run into a chemistry issue here or there but we are really just one big family," Vanuni explained. "We have a lot of fun and when we have fun we play better."
The championship was the last time Vanuni, Goyette, Tetlow, Ayrian Quinones, Chasity Little and Nichole Demastrie would suit up as members of the Hornets in a MIAA tournament. The team still has to play for a small school state vocational championship this week.
"Next year we might have to go through a little rebuild by losing four senior starters and two reserves who have been leaders all season long and all four years," Finnegan explained. "The positive is that the younger players saw how hard the seniors worked and hopefully they can get back here and compete."
The Hornets surprised their coach with a plate that had everyone's signature on it after the game ended.
"She's our rock," Goyette said. "She supports us, is always there for us and has always fought for us."
McCann 000 000 0 — 0 2 5
Turners Falls 100 120 x — 4 4 2
Meg Goyette and Aubrey Tetlow. Jade Tyler and Alyson Murphy. W — Tyler. L — Goyette. 3B — TF 1 (Murphy).
Jake Mendel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.
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