Pittsfield softball opens postseason with rout of Chicopee

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PITTSFIELD — It's pretty common for a team to commemorate its last game on their home turf with a post-game celebration or even fire works. What was unique about Pittsfield softball's light show is that it happened during the second inning of a 21-0 rout of Chicopee in the first round of the Western Mass. D-I tournament on Saturday.

"We just come out as ready as we can be," first basemen Sarah McMahon said. "For us seniors, we just wanted to leave everything on this field and show everyone what we have. We don't take anything for granted and just keep fighting."

The game was still scoreless when the Generals came to bat in the bottom of the second inning. Brianna Clary reached base after being hit by a pitch and Tess Lyon dropped a bunt down to push her to second, however, an error allowed Lyon to reach at first.

The best trait of the Generals is their ability to take advantage of miscues and, after the first two runners reached, you could almost hear the "Jaws" theme in the distance — there was blood in the water and they were ready to strike.

Szofia Lewis, who finished 2 for 4 with two RBI, dropped down a perfect bunt single to score Clary and give the Generals a 1-0 lead.

Leix Sondrini scored Lyon on a bunt single of her own, making the score 2-0. Sondrini would end her day with a 2 for 2 showing that included three runs batted in.

That's when Joydy Lummus came to the plate and sent the ball to right field, good for an RBI single. Lummus finished the afternoon with a 3 for 3 performance and the single was the first hit of the inning to reach the outfield, but the Generals found themselves leading 3-0 — with no outs.

"If we're just missing the big hit we go to the small game," Coach Greg Marchbanks explained. "It can overwhelm people because we have speed, then we can go back to hitting because they're comfortable."

By the time the damage was done, Pittsfield plated 14 runs in the inning, more runs than any other Western Mass. D-I softball team had plated over an entire game during the first round of the tournament.

"We're all on the same page," Marchbanks said. "They know what I am going to do and they're thinking the exact same thing. They buy into everything about the game and they love it."

Natasha Shade had another big day at the plate with a 5 for 5 performance that included two runs and two RBI, but arguably her biggest hit came in the bottom half of the first. With a chop over the pitcher's head for her first of five singles in the game, the senior entered the record books with 100 career hits.

"It means so much [to get my 100th career hit at home], especially with my teammates supporting me," Shade said. "It's another added bonus that I got to do it here with my family and the fans."

Behind Shade, McMahon had a monster day out of the two-spot, finishing 3 for 4 with a game-high four runs batted in.

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"We have six of the same starters from last year and they've been playing together for three years together now," Marchbanks said. "The IQ for these girls is really high and they make it happen."

The 14-run lead was more than enough for senior ace Tess Lyon, who pitched three innings of no-hit ball while striking out five.

"Every inning I try to go out and be calm," Lyon said. "It's pretty bittersweet. Before the game I was thinking how this was my final game on this field and it was a little sad, but it felt good to pitch well out there and know I have someone I can trust behind me in Sophia [Groves]."

With the score 16-0 after three innings, Groves took to the pitching circle and allowed just one hit over two frames while striking out two. For Groves, along with Jordynn Bazinet and Alyssa Mercier, Saturday's game was an opportunity to get a taste of playoff softball.

"I saw this as a great opportunity to get them exposed to some playoff action because it was an important game," Marchbanks said. "They're feeding off the older players, starting catch up to the speed of the game and just picking up on the intangibles you need to win in the tournament."

"[The seniors] are just try to tell the younger players to play every game like it is our last game and I think they understand that," Lyon added.

Next up for the defending Western Mass. D-I champions is a semifinals bout against third-seeded Agawam on Monday at the University of Massachusetts. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Sortino Field. The other semifinal in D-I will follow, when No.1 Minnechaug faces No. 5 Northampton.

"We have the mentality of coming in game after game prepared," Shade said. "[The Western Mass. tournament] is such a big moment. We're all hungry. We want to make it back to the championship and win it."

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Chicopee 000     00     —     0     1     1

Pittsfield     0(14)2     5x     —     21     24     0

Sophia Meade (3+), Gwyneth Gagnon (1) and Ashley Herbert. Tess Lyon (3), Sophia Groves (2) and Szofia Lewis. W — Groves. L — Meade. 2B — P 3 (Brianna Clary 2, Sarah McMahon).

Jake Mendel can be reached at jmendel@berkshireeagle.com, at @JMendel94 on Twitter and 413-496-6252.


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