Wahconah softball team upends Greenfield in 9 innings to advance to Western Mass. D-II semifinals

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GREENFIELD — In a rematch of last year's Western Massachusetts Division II title game, neither Greenfield High School nor Wahconah Regional were willing to go down without a fight in Monday's quarterfinals showdown.

The two powerhouse programs traded haymakers in the waning innings of their rematch at Vets Field. In the end, the fifth-seeded Warriors had one final burst.

Visiting Wahconah avenged last year's championship-game loss, as it scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning and held on for a 6-4 victory over No. 4 Greenfield in a thrilling extra-inning Division 2 quarterfinal contest.

No. 5 Wahconah (15-6) advances to the semifinal round, where it will meet top-seeded Hampshire (16-5) on Thursday at UMass.

With the game-winning run standing 60 feet away in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Green Wave had three chances to book a return trip to UMass. Nikki Miner led off the frame with a double, and she eventually took third on a wild pitch. With no outs and her back against the wall, however, Wahconah pitcher Kaylee O'Bryan danced around danger. Shortstop Morgan Marauszwski recorded three straight putouts, keeping the game tied at 4-4.

In the top of the ninth, the Warriors snatched control at the plate. Catcher Jess Duma drove in the go-ahead run on a double, and she made it 6-4 when she slid in safely on a double-steal attempt.

"I knew if I had a chance (late in the game) I'd have to pull through for my team," said Duma, who smacked two doubles. "I'm really proud of all of us being able to stay together throughout the game."

Greenfield's Racquel Provost led off the home half of the ninth with a single, but the Wave were unable to pull any closer. O'Bryan capped off the win by getting a fly out to right field, sending the Warriors into the semifinal round for the third year in a row.

"I can't say enough about the kids," Wahconah coach Dustin Belcher said. "We needed people to step up. I'm so proud of the way they responded to all the challenges throughout the game. Greenfield is a great team. (Olivia) Joy is a top-notch pitcher. We knew it was going to come down to a few small things today."

The defending WMass champion Green Wave certainly didn't go down without a fight. Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, Greenfield was just three outs away from elimination.

That's when the hosts got to work. Rachel Dodge and Hannah Marchefka hit back-to-back singles, and an error moved the pair up to second and third with no outs. Gianna Conte made it 4-2 with an RBI ground out, and Provost followed with an RBI single that pulled Greenfield within 4-3. Two batters later, senior Raegan Hickey stepped in with runners on first and second and two outs. The second baseman worked the count to 2-1, and drilled an RBI single that plated Kaitlin Lavoine with the game-tying run.

"She was a very strong hitter for us this year and that's who you want up in that situation," Greenfield coach Rian Lovett said of Hickey.

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The big offensive innings for both teams down the stretch were a far cry from the way things went early on. Greenfield (14-5) took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, when Hickey drove in Lavoine with a long single that rolled to the fence in right center field.

For much of the afternoon, that run looked like it might hold up. Joy was sharp through the first five innings. The senior right-hander retired 12 Warriors in a row at one point, limiting the visitors to just one hit until the sixth inning.

"She was lights out through the fifth inning," Lovett said of Joy, who finished with 12 strikeouts in nine innings.

Wahconah broke through in the top of the sixth, however, as Abby Wells doubled to open the frame and scored on a Marauszwski RBI triple.

It was still 1-1 with two outs and Marauszwski on third base and courtesy runner Hannah Rose standing on second. Julia Trager's grounder right on the third base line was scooped up by Wave third baseman Audrey Bresciano. Her throw to first base pulled Dodge off the bag on a bang-bang play, and both Wahconah runners managed to scamper home on the play to give the team its first lead of the game, 3-1. Duma tacked on an insurance run with an RBI double that made it 4-1.

"I had a feeling we would start to string some hits together," said Belcher. "Second or third time through the order, I like our hitters. It can be contagious and we strung a few together. And we ran the bases very well in the sixth."

Greenfield finished with an 11-6 edge in the hits department, with Provost, Lavoine, Marchefka and Hickey all registering two apiece. Wells and Duma had two hits each to lead the Warriors.

O'Bryan didn't record a strikeout, but walked just one in a complete-game outing. Belcher was impressed with his pitcher, who stepped in for regular starter Wells (injury) and did the job. Belcher said he was "hopeful" that Wells would be ready for Thursday's semifinal game, listing her as day-to-day.

———

Wahconah     000     004     002     —     6     9     2

Greenfield     100     000     300     —     4     9     2

Kaylee O'Bryan and Jess Duma. Olivia Joy and Kaylee Richardson. W — O'Bryan. L — Joy. 2B — W (Duma 2, Abby Wells), G (Miner). 3B — W (Morgan Marauszwski).

Greenfield     100     000     300     —     4     9     2

Kaylee O'Bryan and Jess Duma. Olivia Joy and Kaylee Richardson. W — O'Bryan. L — Joy. 2B — W (Duma 2, Abby Wells), G (Miner). 3B — W (Morgan Marauszwski).

Kaylee O'Bryan and Jess Duma. Olivia Joy and Kaylee Richardson. W — O'Bryan. L — Joy. 2B — W (Duma 2, Abby Wells), G (Miner). 3B — W (Morgan Marauszwski).


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