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WMass Division 1 softball: Northampton breaks through Minnechaug, reaches first final in 30 years

  • Anna Kerwood, of Northampton, pitches to Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Emma Tanner, of Northampton, watches her hit in the first inning that earned her a single against Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anna Kerwood, of Northampton, connects for a hit that caught by the Minnechaug outfield during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marissa Badorini, who plays second base for Northampton, catches a hit by Rachel Crafts, of Minnechaug, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marissa Badorini, left, of Northampton, considers a throw to first after forcing out Morgan Sanborn, of Minnechaug, at second on a hit from Rachel Crafts during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anna Connly, of Northampton, hits an RBI double against Minnechaug during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday. Connly’s hit scored the Blue Devils’ first run. She came around to score as Hamp won, 2-1. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anna Kerwood, of Northampton, pitches to Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jill McGrath, of Northampton, tries a bunt against Minnechaug during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. This hit went foul. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Emilia Pelis, left, of Northampton, scores on a double by Anna Connly in the fourth inning as Minnchaug catcher Kelsey Allard takes the throw during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Emilia Pelis, left, of Northampton, is greeted by Marissa Badorini after scoring on a double by Anna Connly in the fourth inning against Minnechaug during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anna Connly, left, of Northampton, is greeted at home by Jenna Subocz after scoring on an error in the fourth inning against Minnechaug during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Emma Tanner, of Northampton, runs to first base for a single against Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton pitcher Anna Kerwood cathes a hit by Kelsey Allard, of Minnechaug, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jenna Subocz, of Northampton, catches a hit by Jenna Murray, of Minnechaug, during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton pitcher Anna Kerwood, right, runs to Emilia Pelis, front, and Marissa Badorini after their 2-1 win against Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Anna Connly, second from left, of Northampton, scores on an error by the Minnechaug pitcher during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Abigail Pelis, of Northampton, hits a single against Minnechaug during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Calista Lebron, of Northampton, bats against Minnechaug during the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Northampton team celebrates their 2-1 win against Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex. —GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • The Northampton softball team celebrates its 2-1 win against Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, Tuesday at Sortino Field at the UMass Softball Complex. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Emma Tanner, top, of Northampton, who caught the final hit of the her team's 2-1 win against Minnechaug in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 semifinal, celebrates with teammates Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at the UMass Softball Complex.



@kylegrbwsk
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

AMHERST — Anna Kerwood threw her glove as high as she could and sprinted to hug shortstop Emilia Pelis.

Center fielder Emma Tanner grasped the final out of the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament semifinal tightly in her glove and sprinted toward Northampton’s group hug between second base and the pitcher’s mound at UMass’ Sortino Field.

“It was a relief to see that ball get caught,” Kerwood said. “I left that ball over the middle of the plate, and she really crushed it.”

Minnechaug’s Sarah Rossi flew out to center field with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.

Tanner was there, and third-seeded Northampton beat No. 2 Minnechaug, 2-1, to reach its first sectional final since the 1980s. The Blue Devils will play No. 1 Pittsfield in Saturday’s championship game at UMass. The time is yet to be determined.

Winning provided some revenge for Northampton (17-3). Minnechaug, the defending champion, knocked Hamp out of the last three postseasons.

“It’s a great feeling for the program,” Kerwood said.

The Blue Devils scored both of their runs in the fourth inning. Emilia Pelis led off with a single, then sister Abby Pelis struck out. Anna Connly followed and doubled to deep right field.

Northampton coach Andy Pelis had no doubt in his mind when Emilia Pelis sprinted toward third that he was sending her home.

“I wanted to be aggressive, I was sending her,” Andy Pelis said. “It got it done.”

Pelis beat a relay throw home to put the Blue Devils up 1-0.

Connly ended up on third with Marissa Badorini at-bat. Badorini popped the ball up, but Minnechaug pitcher Rachel Crafts couldn’t corral it. Connly raced home for a 2-0 lead.

“I just knew we had to keep going,” Connly said. “They knocked us out the last few years, and we weren’t going to let it happen again.”

The run support was welcome for Kerwood. She threw a no-hitter for four innings until Kelsey Allard hit a bloop single to short center field. It landed in between a handful of Blue Devils.

“I wasn’t really focused on it, I was focused on keeping hitters off balance. I’m not a strikeout pitcher, I’m never going to overpower someone,” Kerwood said. “My defense was super solid, they had my back.”

Kerwood got out of the fifth with a pop out and two groundouts.

The sixth inning was more dicey. Crafts doubled for the Falcons to lead off then went to third on a passed ball. Jessica Anderson put Minnechaug on the scoreboard with an RBI groundout that made it 2-1 Northampton.

“We figured it was bound to happen at some point, they’re a great hitting team,” Kerwood said. “Their run motivated us to stay sharp.”

The Falcons’ next two batters singled, but Kerwood ended the inning by catching a pop out from Allard.

“(Kerwood) has been dealing with a lot of pressure since her freshman year,” Connly said. “I wouldn’t want to be behind anyone else.”

Pittsfield awaits in Saturday’s final. The Generals (21-0) lost to Minnechaug in last season’s Western Mass. championship game. They also humbled Northampton at home 13-0 in their regular season finale.

“I have no doubt in this team,” Kerwood said. “We can beat whoever we’re playing.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Northampton 2, Minnechaug 1

Northampton           000 200 0 — 2 3 2

Minnechaug           000 001 0 — 1 4 3

WP—Kerwood LP—Crafts

Records: Minnechaug (17-3) Northampton (19-3)