12U Suburban Softball: Greenfield beats Frontier Red, will play Southampton in championship

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  • Greenfield Grizzlies shortstop Anna Bucala hauls in a throw as Frontier Red’s Ashley Taylor slides into second base safely during Suburban League 12U semifinal action Monday at Murphy Park in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield’s Mackenzie Paulin pitches during Suburban League 12U semifinal action Monday at Murphy Park in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Frontier Red first baseman Margaret Edwards stretches for the out as Greenfield’s Anna Bucala runs through the bag during Suburban League 12U semifinal action Monday at Murphy Park in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Frontier Red’s Ashley Taylor pitches against the Greenfield Grizzlies during Suburban League 12U semifinal action Monday at Murphy Park in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Grizzlies ace Mackenzie Paulin pitches against Frontier Red during Suburban League 12U semifinal action Monday at Murphy Park in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Grizzlies’ Margarette Howland scores ahead of the tag of Frontier Red catcher Delaney Fifield during Suburban League 12U semifinal action Monday at Murphy Park in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Grizzlies’ Margarette Howland sprints for first base as Frontier Red pitcher Ashley Taylor tries to grab a grounder during Suburban League 12U semifinal action Monday at Murphy Park in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/5/2019 9:42:03 PM

GREENFIELD — A little timely offense, some stellar defense and a whole lot of MacKenzie Paulin sent the Greenfield Grizzlies into the Suburban League championship game on Monday night.

Paulin struck out 14 in a complete-game outing, as the right-hander stranded runners in scoring position over each of the final three innings to give second-seeded Greenfield a 6-2 victory over No. 3 Frontier Red in the semifinals of the Suburban League 12U playoffs at Murphy Park.

“She’s a competitor,” Greenfield coach Joe Gamache said. “She’s pitched a lot of high-level, high-pressure softball games already. She’s even-keeled, good at maintaining her composure.”

The Grizzlies advanced to Tuesday’s 12U title game against top-seeded Southampton, which was a 13-10 winner over Agawam in the other semifinal. The final is set to be played at Norris Elementary School in Southampton.

Greenfield led 4-2 into the waning innings, as Frontier Red stayed within striking distance thanks to a strong performance from pitcher Ashley Taylor. The right-hander struck out five in a complete-game outing, and she helped herself by scoring both of her team’s runs.

Momentum nearly swung all the way to Frontier in the top of the sixth inning. Trailing 4-2, Lily Ellia led off with a walk and Taylor reached on an error. A passed ball moved the duo to second and third with no outs, giving the visitors a shot at pulling even with a base hit. But Paulin settled in, and a nice catch by shortstop Anna Bucala on a line drive was followed by back-to-back strikeouts to keep the Grizzlies on top.

“We’re confident she’ll overcome any adversity,” Gamache said of Paulin.

Greenfield’s offense provided an extra boost of support in the bottom of the sixth. Addie Rotkiewicz drove a line drive single up the middle with two outs to plate Kylee Gamache (walk) and Kelly Baird (single) to make it 6-2.

“Those two runs were huge,” coach Gamache said. “Addie came up with a really big hit for us in a big spot. That changes the complexion of the last inning, having a four-run lead instead of a two-run lead.”

Frontier again threatened in the top of the seventh. Margaret Edwards smacked a single to lead off the frame, and Ariana Miller reached on a fielder’s choice. Again, Paulin got out of trouble, using two more strikeouts and a groundout back to her to send the Grizzlies into the title game.

The Greenfield defense was solid behind Paulin, with second baseman Kylee Gamache and Bucala (shortstop) seeing the majority of the action.

“Tonight was probably the best defensive performance we’ve had this season,” coach Gamache said. “We made a lot of nice plays out there.”

Frontier jumped on the board in the top of the first inning when Taylor walked and scored on a Mel Ring RBI groundout.

Greenfield answered immediately with a three-spot in the first. Paulin drove in Bucala with an RBI single, then came around to score on a wild pitch. Margarette Howland singled and scored on a dropped third strike to give the hosts a 3-1 advantage.

It was 4-1 in the second inning when Rotkiewicz was hit by a pitch and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Frontier limited the damage thanks to a nice defensive play at shortstop by Miller, who was a defensive standout for her side.

Taylor cut the deficit to 4-2 in the fourth, showing off her speed on the bases in doing so. She walked, stole second, then took third and scored on a wild pitch.

Monday’s semifinal was the fourth time the two teams met this season, and all four contests were tight in the late innings.

“All four were competitive games,” coach Gamache said. “(Frontier has) a solid squad and they have some kids that can really hit the ball.”

Josie Fosnot added a hit for Frontier Red, which finished its season 5-8 overall.

Rotkiewicz finished 2-for-2 to pace Greenfield. Stella Verlander also had a hit in the victory.




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