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Division 2 softball: Belchertown beats Hampshire, reaches first title game

  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Erica Boileau, left, of Belchertown, catches with her arms to send Chelsea Moussette of Hampshire Regional back to the dugout during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Erica Boileau, left, of Belchertown, catches with her arms to send Chelsea Moussette of Hampshire Regional back to the dugout during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hannah Fink of Belchertown bats against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst. She was out at first on the hit.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Hannah Fink of Belchertown bats against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst. She was out at first on the hit.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Marissa Sarna-McCarthy, left, of Hampshire Regional, catches at first to send Hannah Fink back to the dugout during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Marissa Sarna-McCarthy, left, of Hampshire Regional, catches at first to send Hannah Fink back to the dugout during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ashlee McGan of Hampshire Regional pitches to Belchertown during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Ashlee McGan of Hampshire Regional pitches to Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Marissa Sarna-McCarthy of Hampshire Regional connects for a single against Belchertown during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Marissa Sarna-McCarthy of Hampshire Regional connects for a single against Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown hits a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown hits a double against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Emily Silva of Belchertown hits a single against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Emily Silva of Belchertown hits a single against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Ashlee McGan of Hampshire Regional pitches to Belchertown during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Ashlee McGan of Hampshire Regional pitches to Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Emily Silva of Belchertown hits a single against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/><br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Emily Silva of Belchertown hits a single against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.


    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Erica Boileau, left, of Belchertown, catches with her arms to send Chelsea Moussette of Hampshire Regional back to the dugout during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Hannah Fink of Belchertown bats against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst. She was out at first on the hit.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Marissa Sarna-McCarthy, left, of Hampshire Regional, catches at first to send Hannah Fink back to the dugout during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Ashlee McGan of Hampshire Regional pitches to Belchertown during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Marissa Sarna-McCarthy of Hampshire Regional connects for a single against Belchertown during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Mackenzie Yelle of Belchertown hits a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Emily Silva of Belchertown hits a single against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Ashlee McGan of Hampshire Regional pitches to Belchertown during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Samantha Manitsas of Belchertown pitches against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Emily Silva of Belchertown hits a single against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/><br/><br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • The Belchertown bench reacts after Tea Spellacy hit a double against Hampshire Regional during  the Western Massachusetts Division 2 semifinal Wednesday at Sortino Field in Amherst.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

AMHERST — The best softball team in Belchertown history will play for a western Mass. championship.

Behind a dominant pitching performance by senior Samantha Manitsas, the Orioles reached their first-ever Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament title game with a 3-1 win over reigning champion Hampshire Regional in the semifinals Wednesday at Sortino Field at the University of Massachusetts.

“This is awesome,” said senior Emily Silva, who was 2-for-2 with a double, a run scored and a walk. “This is the first time we’ve done it in our school history, so it feels awesome.”

No. 1 Belchertown (18-4) will play No. 2 Wahconah Regional (20-2) in the title game back at UMass on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Having a chance to win the title “is so crazy,” said Manitsas, who allowed one run on five hits and two walks while striking out 10. “I’m so excited. It’s just phenomenal.”

The Orioles jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when Silva and Téa Spellacy each doubled in the third inning. They tacked on two more in the fourth for a 3-0 lead, which was plenty for Manitsas, the program’s four-year starter in the circle.

“Sam pitched a gem,” coach Matt Stenuis said. “All year, she’s thrown 68-70 percent ground balls. If we make the plays, we are in the game. We didn’t have to make many fly ball catches today and that helps.”

Manitsas found herself in trouble when No. 4 Hampshire (18-2) loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth and walked Chelsea Moussette for the Raiders’ lone run. But Manitsas struck out the next batter to end the threat.

“The big thing was to relax and not let it bug me,” she said. “I try to stay really composed. I don’t want my nerves to effect the team. I want them to know that it’s going to be OK.”

Hampshire put runners on second in the second and sixth innings, but the Orioles responded to each threat with strong defense behind their hurler.

“Our defense has always been really good,” sophomore first baseman Spellacy said. “We rely on our defense more than our offense, really.”

The loss marked the final game for Hampshire’s lone senior, standout pitcher Ashlee McGan, who was a four-year starter for the Raiders and reached the finals each of the past three seasons.

“It’s a sad moment for me and a sad moment for the program,” said Hampshire coach Brian McGan, who is Ashlee’s father. “She’s been the backbone of this program for the past few years. She’s kept us in every game. She’s won a championship (last year), which I’m glad for her. To have that experience to play here as much as she did. A lot of seniors don’t have that chance. She feels bad right now, but she’ll remember this as a great career. You can’t beat what she’s done for this program for this long.”

Belchertown scored first in the third when Silva slapped a one-hop double off the left field wall. Hannah Flink bunted her over and Spellacy (2-for-4) smacked a double right on the left foul line to score the run.

“Once you hit it like that, you gain confidence and it keeps going and going down through the team,” Spellacy said.

The Orioles added two more in the fourth when Mackenzie Yelle (2-for-3), Erinne Dull (1-for-1, walk) and Erica Boileau (1-for-3) opened the inning with singles to load the bases. A grounder by Erin Reed-Coates drew the throw home, but Yelle beat it. Sarah Woodcock followed with another grounder and another throw home, which was off target, for a 3-0 lead.

Getting out to that lead “really helps to take the pressure off a little bit,” Silva said. “We knew what to expect. We’ve prepared really well for what was coming and we did what we needed to do.”

Savannah Waters, Anna Dziok, Marissa McCarthy, Lilly Rubeck and McGan each had one hit for Hampshire, which had its streak of reaching four straight title games snapped.

“We’ll be back,” McGan said. “These kids will fight all offseason long. They’ll be ready next spring. I just hope we’ve gained some respect in the softball community that Hampshire softball is here to stay.”

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

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