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Wahconah jumps on Belchertown, pulls away for Division 2 crown

  • Belchertown Head Coach Matt Stenuis calls a time out in the first inning after Wahconah scored four runs Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Belchertown Head Coach Matt Stenuis calls a time out in the first inning after Wahconah scored four runs Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tea Spellacy, right, of Belchertown, makes it first ahead of a throw to Bethany McBlain of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tea Spellacy, right, of Belchertown, makes it first ahead of a throw to Bethany McBlain of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Belchertown Head Coach Matt Stenuis encourages his team from third base  Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Belchertown Head Coach Matt Stenuis encourages his team from third base Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Erica Boileau of Belchertown connects for a double against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Erica Boileau of Belchertown connects for a double against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Erica Boileau, right, of Belchertown, gets tagged out by Shannon Lussier of Wahconah at third on a steal Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Erica Boileau, right, of Belchertown, gets tagged out by Shannon Lussier of Wahconah at third on a steal Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Emily Silva of Belchertown connects, but was out at first against Wahconah during this at-bat Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Emily Silva of Belchertown connects, but was out at first against Wahconah during this at-bat Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown catches a fly ball from Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown catches a fly ball from Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown, right, tags out Bethany McBlain of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown, right, tags out Bethany McBlain of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Erica Boileau, left, of Belchertown, prepares to catch as Erin Grogan of Wahconah runs to first Wednesday at Sortino Field. Grogan was safe.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Erica Boileau, left, of Belchertown, prepares to catch as Erin Grogan of Wahconah runs to first Wednesday at Sortino Field. Grogan was safe.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Belchertown bench laments during a rally by Wahconah in the fifth inning Wednesday at Sortino Field.JERREY ROBERTS

    The Belchertown bench laments during a rally by Wahconah in the fifth inning Wednesday at Sortino Field.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tea Spellacy, left, of Belchertown, catches at first ahead of Erin Grogan of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.JERREY ROBERTS

    Tea Spellacy, left, of Belchertown, catches at first ahead of Erin Grogan of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Belchertown bench endures the final minutes of their loss to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    The Belchertown bench endures the final minutes of their loss to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hannah Fink of Belchertown hits a single against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Hannah Fink of Belchertown hits a single against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Tea Spellacy of Belchertown connects, but was out at first against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Tea Spellacy of Belchertown connects, but was out at first against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Belchertown seniors Sarah Woodcock, from left, Emily Silva, Erica Boileau and Samantha Manitsas deliver the runner-up trophy to their team after their loss to Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 final Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Belchertown seniors Sarah Woodcock, from left, Emily Silva, Erica Boileau and Samantha Manitsas deliver the runner-up trophy to their team after their loss to Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 final Wednesday at Sortino Field.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Belchertown Head Coach Matt Stenuis calls a time out in the first inning after Wahconah scored four runs Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tea Spellacy, right, of Belchertown, makes it first ahead of a throw to Bethany McBlain of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Belchertown Head Coach Matt Stenuis encourages his team from third base  Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Erica Boileau of Belchertown connects for a double against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Erica Boileau, right, of Belchertown, gets tagged out by Shannon Lussier of Wahconah at third on a steal Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Emily Silva of Belchertown connects, but was out at first against Wahconah during this at-bat Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown catches a fly ball from Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown, right, tags out Bethany McBlain of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Erica Boileau, left, of Belchertown, prepares to catch as Erin Grogan of Wahconah runs to first Wednesday at Sortino Field. Grogan was safe.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • The Belchertown bench laments during a rally by Wahconah in the fifth inning Wednesday at Sortino Field.JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tea Spellacy, left, of Belchertown, catches at first ahead of Erin Grogan of Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.JERREY ROBERTS
  • The Belchertown bench endures the final minutes of their loss to Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Hannah Fink of Belchertown hits a single against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Tea Spellacy of Belchertown connects, but was out at first against Wahconah Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Belchertown seniors Sarah Woodcock, from left, Emily Silva, Erica Boileau and Samantha Manitsas deliver the runner-up trophy to their team after their loss to Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 final Wednesday at Sortino Field.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

AMHERST — All year long, Belchertown softball pitcher Samantha Manitsas has been successful by inducing ground ball after ground ball.

But in the first inning of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament title game Wednesday, Wahconah kept putting balls in the air and kept getting good results.

In all, the Warriors scored five times in the top of the first and never looked back en route to a 10-0 victory at Sortino Field at the University of Massachusetts.

“The wind was taking it a little bit,” Manitsas said of her pitches in the first inning. “I was struggling a little in the first inning and then I got back into the groove.”

The loss marked only the second time the No. 1 Orioles (18-5) allowed 10 runs in a game this season. The other was a 10-1 loss to eventual Division 1 top seed Westfield on April 9.

The Orioles had allowed one run in each of their last three games, all against D-2 tourney teams. The loss snapped the team’s 14-game winning streak and was its first defeat against a Division 2 foe this season.

After the game, “I told them that one game doesn’t define you,” said coach Matt Stenuis, whose program was playing in its first-ever western Mass. finals. “They have had a successful year with so many firsts. We wished the seniors well and to all the (returning players), they now know what it’s like to play at UMass. They shed a few tears, but I also wanted them to hold their heads up high. “

The loss also marked the final game for seniors Sarah Woodcock, Emily Silva, Erica Boileau and Manitsas.

“Just knowing that we came through this season and got to this point is so special for,” the seniors, Boileau said. “We have been wanting this forever. Knowing the girls have worked so hard to get here. I’m definitely going to remember that.”

The Warriors (No. 2, 21-2) have won three of the last four WMass Division 2 titles. After going back-to-back in 2010 and 2011, they were eliminated in the semifinals last year.

Wahconah, which is on a 21-game winning streak, plays central Mass. champion Grafton (22-2) in the state semifinals back at UMass on Thursday at 5 p.m.

On Wednesday, Wahconah’s Erin Grogan led off the game with a bunt, but the Belchertown throw was well over first baseman Téa Spellacy’s head and Grogan ended up at third.

“All year, we’ve been ready to play from the moment they said go,” Stenuis said of the rough start. “And we knew exactly what they were going to do with their first at-bat. We knew it was going to be a bunt. We fielded it (the way we wanted to), but it just didn’t go our way.”

Becca Grunow followed with a high fly to right, which was misjudged and turned into a triple and a 1-0 lead.

The Warriors added four more hits — two bloops and two well-hit fly balls — to take immediate control of the game.

“I think (the first inning) was a lot of nerves. We were really nervous coming in,” Manitsas said. “I don’t think we expected them to hit the ball as hard as they did. We were definitely expecting a closer matchup. We were really nervous and I think we let the nerves get to us a little bit.”

Manitsas allowed 13 hits and one walk while striking out eight.

“I think she only missed (her spot) three times from what I can now remember, but those were three big hits,” Stenuis said.

The Orioles put baserunners on in each inning, but never really got to Grunow (six hits allowed, one walk, three strikeouts).

“We’ve come back in games in the past,” Boileau said. “We knew it would be difficult, but we knew we could do it.”

Boileau herself had no trouble, however, finishing 3-for-3 with two doubles in the loss.

“I was just thinking that this could potentially be my last game and I wanted to leave it all out on the field,” said Boileau, who batted .328 during the regular season. “All of us wanted to do that and I know we did.”

The second baseman had a double to right field in the second and a double to center in the sixth, along with a fourth-inning single to center.

Boileau “had a great day today. The way that she battled — she was patient at the plate, she didn’t help them out — and it showed,” Stenuis said. “Sometimes, I wanted her to be more aggressive, but today was a day you could wait, see what (Grunow) was going to give you and wait for her to make a mistake you can hit.

“Too many times today, we swung at the first pitch. But a lot of credit goes to (Grunow). She was up, she was down. She hit her spots. She threw a great game.”

Hannah Flink went 2-for-4 in the loss, while Manitsas (single) had the other hit.

Wahconah added five more runs in the fifth to essentially put the game away and end the best season in Belchertown softball history.

“The girls have worked so hard and this has been such a special season,” Boileau said. “I’m going to miss them so much.”

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

Softball

Wahconah 10, Belchertown 0

Wahconah 500 050 0—10 13 3

Belchertown 000 000 0—0 6 1

WP - Grunow; LP - Manitsas

Records: Wahconah (21-2); Belchertown (18-5)

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Despite loss, Belchertown relishes season of firsts

Thursday, October 9, 2014

AMHERST It wasn’t the ending the Belchertown softball team was hoping for. That much was obvious before Wahconah’s five-run top of the first was over. Defensive mistakes, solid hitting by the Warriors and a maybe even a strong gusting wind conspired to put the Orioles in an unfamiliar hole, too deep to climb out of. And for about a day, …

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