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Turners Falls shuts out Granby softball

MONTAGUE — If the Granby senior softball class is finally going to beat Turners Falls before it graduates, the win will have to come in the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Tournament.

The Rams lost to the Indians 5-0 under the lights Monday at Turners Falls and are 0-6 against the perennial powerhouse over the past three-plus years, including being knocked out of each of the last three postseasons.

“Pretty much everyone knows Turners Falls has always been good at softball,” Granby senior pitcher Tessa Cote said. “They say they breed softball players, but we feel like we are at the same level.”

Despite the overall record against the Indians (8-0), Granby coach Gary Casey said his team will be ready for a potential rematch.

“I’m confident that if we see them again we’ll have more success,” said Casey, whose team fell to 6-3 with the loss.

Turners eliminated the Rams in the 2010 and 2011 semifinals and knocked off Granby 7-6 in the championship game last season.

Few teams beat the Indians, who have lost seven games from 2010 through Monday and have won two straight state titles.

On Monday night, the Rams had multiple baserunners on in the third and fourth innings, but couldn’t get a run across.

Finally, Turners took advantage of two tough plays in the Granby infield — a throwing error and a bad hop off the dirt — to open the fourth inning. Both runners scored for a 2-0 lead.

“They gave us a groundball through their shortstop’s legs (in the second inning) and we couldn’t capitalize,” Casey said. “Those are the things they capitalize on when you do them. We didn’t string enough hits together. We had good approaches. I didn’t think we were overpowered at the plate.”

The Indians extended their advantage with three more runs in the fifth off an infield single, an error and a two-run home run over the fence in left field by University of Massachusetts-bound Dakota Smith-Porter.

Turners had seven of its eight hits in the fourth and fifth innings.

“It’s hard not to get frustrated, but you have to remind yourself that every run matters,” Granby senior third baseman Brie Mercier said. “You can’t let it get to you.”

Cote finished with seven strikeouts and no walks in the loss.

“They all are really good hitters, Cote said. “They have a good approach at the plate. But overall, I wouldn’t say they are any better than our team. We feel like we are equal to them.”

Jen Cadigan had a one-out double in the second inning and Kiley Baran drew a walk, but Tanisha Sanders (five strikeouts, two walks) induced consecutive infield pop-ups to end the threat.

In the fourth, Mercier drew a leadoff walk before Cote lined out deep center. Noelle Menard then had an infield single. Sanders got the second out and Hannah Casey hit a slow roller up the middle.

Menard appeared to beat the flip from Turners second baseman Jenna Putala to Smith-Porter at second, but was called out to end the inning.

Mercier added a one-out single to left in the sixth, but was stranded at first.

After losses to D-2 contender Palmer on Saturday and Turners on Monday, the Rams hope to get back on track at home against Easthampton today.

“We haven’t played our best softball of the year yet. We really haven’t played solid softball at this point. I thought we showed a lot against Palmer” in a 4-0 loss, Casey said. Panthers ace “Nicole (Handzel) is great, but I thought we showed up and played. We competed, and that is what I was looking for. Hopefully these are building blocks. We’ll build from it, hopefully finish the season strong and have more success this year.”

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

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