WMass Division 3 softball: Hampshire jumps on Easthampton, advances to semifinals with 7-0 win

For the Gazette
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

EASTHAMPTON — The Hampshire Regional softball team scored two runs in the first, and Hannah Marney cleared the bases with a one-out triple in the second, extending the Raiders’ lead over Easthampton and executing coach Kevin Kavanaugh’s game plan to perfection.

“We were happy we were coming in as the away team. Easthampton, they played great all season, but they never really played from behind,” Kavanaugh said. “It was huge for us getting those early runs.”

The strategy to play aggressive and look for an early lead paid off as the Raiders won, 7-0, in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Tournament quarterfinals.

Hampshire (11-8) will face No. 1 Greenfield (17-2) in the semifinals, at 5 p.m. Thursday, at UMass’ Sortino Field.

After two innings the Raiders led 5-0, which was enough for starter Emily Halket, who allowed nine hits and struck out one.

“The rivalry really motivated us as a team to beat them even more,” Halket said. “We really wanted this win.”

According to Kavanaugh, Halket and catcher Katelyn Labrie started calling their own pitches about halfway through the season.

“They took me out of that decision, and I’m fine with that,” Kavanaugh said. “Emily today was lights out.”

The Raiders added an insurance run in the fifth, and another in the seventh thanks to RBI groundouts from Labrie and Brie Bergeron, respectively.

The Eagles struggled to capitalize with runners on and made defensive mistakes that gave additional chances to Hampshire.

“They played better ball today, I have to give credit to the whole team,” Easthampton coach Homar Gomez said. “We’re going to be ready for next season, that’s for sure.”

Michelle McDermott and Kristalynn Culver each had two hits for the Eagles, and were the only two players to reach base more than once.

Rachael Robinson struck out five and allowed six hits in the loss.

It was the final game for Easthampton seniors Sophia DeBlase, Sierra Raskevitz, Lisa Sikop and Sam Sypek.

The four-time defending champion Raiders are a game away from competing for another title. Kavanaugh was proud of the way his team responded after losing their final three games of the regular season.

“We’ve gone back to the basics,” Kavanaugh said. “We started to get away from things in the middle of the season and we had those three loses at the end of the year, so we revamped how we were doing things.”

Greenfield beat Athol, 3-1, to advance to the semifinals. Hampshire did not play the Green Wave during the season, but feels it has momentum after beating Easthampton.

“They’re ready. They’re hitting the ball, they’re seeing the ball. On defense they’re making plays,” Kavanaugh said. “They’re confident in what they can do. This was a huge win for them.”