Division 2 softball: Krystel Enko, Frontier blank Athol
Paul Franz Frontier Regional infielder Amanda Robinson fields a ball as Athol's Kiki Guerin approaches second base Thursday in South Deerfield. Purchase photo reprints »
SOUTH DEERFIELD — It wasn’t Frontier Regional’s best performance of the season, but the Red Hawks accomplished their objective: survive and advance.
Krystel Enko scattered eight hits and Gwen Thayer homered as sixth-seeded Frontier moved to the quarterfinals of the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Softball Tournament with a 4-0 victory over No. 11 seed Athol in a first-round matchup Thursday afternoon at Zabek Field.
“We’ve played a few games like this,” Frontier head coach Carrie Fydenkevez said. “Maybe that’s what’s tournament is all about, because you’re playing good teams and you can’t let up.”
Frontier (15-6) will play at No. 3 Palmer at 4 p.m. Monday.
Thayer opened the scoring with two outs in the bottom of the first when she jumped on a Trisha Hazen offering and blasted a long solo homer to straightaway center field. It was the first of her career.
“She’s such a genuine, down-to-earth kid,” Fydenkevez said. “I was thrilled to see her hit that.”
After Enko (seven strikeouts, one walk) retired the side in order in the top of the second, Frontier used a McKayla Poissant single, an error on Courtney Newsome’s grounder and Caitlin Sullivan’s sacrifice bunt — Poissant beat the throw to third — to load the bases with no outs. Hazen struck out Hannah Adams for the first out, but No. 9 hitter Amanda Robinson smacked a hard grounder through the third base/shortstop hole to plate Poissant and Newsome. An error on the throw home allowed Sullivan and Robinson to move up a base.
Hazen induced two grounders to get out of the inning but Frontier had a seemingly comfortable 3-0 lead.
The Red Hawks added one more run in the fourth, when Adams flared a two-out double to short center field, stole third and scored on a balk.
Athol, which actually outhit Frontier 8-5, had two chances to cut into the deficit. In the fifth, fleet leadoff hitter Olivia Smith grounded a single to left and subsequently stole second, before Liz Arpide lined a single to center. Smith got a good break and was waved around from third as center fielder Adams fielded the ball. Adams gunned the throw to Cassidy Ciesluk at the cutoff spot behind the circle, Ciesluk spun and fired a strike to catcher Newsome, who tagged the sliding Smith out on a close play to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Kayla Robideau singled, stole second and went to third on Arpide’s infield single with two outs. On the throw to first, Robideau tried to score but Ciesluk alertly fired the ball to Newsome and forced Robideau into a rundown. Third baseman Thayer eventually tagged out Robideau to end the game.
“That (Smith getting thrown out) was frustrating but I’d send Olivia every time,” Athol head coach Colleen Bannister said. “If the ball wasn’t hit so hard ...”
“That last out was a kid trying too hard to score when we needed three more behind her,” Bannister added. “I loved the effort, though.”
Hazen finished with three strikeouts and no walks for the Raiders, who finished 11-10.