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Division 2 softball: Frontier outlasts Palmer 2-0 in 13 innings

THORNDIKE — It took the Frontier Regional softball team 12 innings to get three hits against Palmer’s Nicole Handzel.

Things were vastly different in the 13th inning.

The sixth-seeded Red Hawks smacked three hits, including Caitlin Sullivan’s two-run double to account for the game’s only runs as they went on to knock off the third-seeded Panthers 2-0 in a Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament quarterfinal marathon Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s pitching and defense that get you there, and it’s timely hitting that wins the game,” Frontier coach Carrie Fydenkevez said.

Frontier (16-6) won’t have much time to enjoy the triumph — it heads right to Sortino Field at UMass today at 5 p.m. to take on second-seeded Wahconah (19-2).

The Warriors beat the Red Hawks 4-3 in their only regular-season meeting.

Handzel had the upper hand on Frontier’s hitters all day long, allowing two infield singles and a blooper while striking out 12 batters over the first dozen innings.

Frontier suddenly broke out of its game-long slump in the 13th, and did it in a big way.

Ally Hamelin (2-for-5) started things with a flare to center that dropped in. Then McKayla Poissant followed with a line single to center, moving pinch-runner Mindy Esposito to second. After Courtney Newsome popped out to shortstop, Sullivan belted a towering shot to the left-center field gap, scoring Esposito and Poissant to break the deadlock that had lasted for more than 21∕2 hours.

Handzel got out of it by getting Hannah Adams and Amanda Robinson to fly out, but Frontier had enough for winning pitcher Krystel Enko, who retired the side in order on a groundout, a strikeout and a popup to end the 2-hour, 44-minute contest.

Enko and Newsome both had solid days for the Red Hawks. Enko struck out 11, walked three and surrendered only five hits —none after the seventh. She also retired the last 15 batters she faced. Newsome played flawlessly behind the plate and threw out two runners trying to steal.

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