Div. 4 softball: Easthampton scores 5 in the 8th, knocks off AMSA

  • Easthampton's Lauren Morse, right, braces for a high-five from fellow junior Abigail McClaflin during action earlier this season. The Eagles advanced to the MIAA Div. 4 quarterfinals thanks to an 11-6 win over Advanced Math & Science on Tuesday in Marlborough. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer 
Published: 6/7/2022 8:44:43 PM

MARLBOROUGH – With the game tied 6-6 and a trip to the MIAA Division 4 quarterfinals on the line, the bottom of the Easthampton softball lineup stepped up in a major way. 

No. 7 Advanced Science and Math Academy scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game up and force extra innings. The first three batters for the Eagles — Kayley Downie, Christine Raymond and Haley Routhier, the team’s 7-8-9 hitters who had been struggling against a tough pitcher in AMSA’s Piper Kinney — came through when it mattered most.

“When we're at our best is when that bottom of the order picks us up,” Easthampton head coach Corey Robinson said. “The top, I don't worry about, but when those bottom girls are hitting, we're tough to beat.”

First to the plate was Downie, who beat a throw to first, followed closely by Raymond, who drilled a line drive for a single. Routhier came to the plate for the first time in the eighth inning and put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners, and got a bonus when AMSA’s fielders didn’t make the throw to first. With the bases loaded and no outs, Easthampton pumped out five runs in the eighth inning and kept AMSA scoreless in the bottom, earning an 11-6 victory to advance to the state quarterfinals.

Easthampton will travel to play at No. 2 Amesbury on Friday with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

“I felt like I was floating… I’m still in shock,” Easthampton’s Abigail McClaflin said. “I don’t think it’s set in yet, but I think the bus ride home is gonna be really fun.” 

The team was led by McClaflin, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with two runs and two RBIs, and pitcher Rosie Follet, who threw all eight innings and struck out five batters, allowing 11 hits. 

“Rosie did a heck of a job out there. She's battling injuries… she just battled,” Robinson said. “She didn’t get down on herself. She was very even-keeled and just did a great job.”

The Eagles will have a tough challenge in their next game, a battle against No. 2 Amesbury for a spot in the semis. But their motto all season has been “Why not us?” — a rallying cry they repeated often after their win against AMSA.

“I told these guys in the beginning ‘I want to make it to the eight,’” Robinson said. “Obviously we want to move past (that), Amesbury is going to be a huge challenge for us. But I thought we were one of the top eight teams in the state. I think this solidifies it today.”

Though Easthampton walked away with the win, it was far from easy. The Eagles were held scoreless until the sixth inning, struggling to reach home against Kinney, who finished the game with 10 strikeouts. AMSA chipped away at the visitors little by little, scoring once in the first and again in the third inning to take a 2-0 advantage.

“At this point, you're not gonna face a slow pitcher. I knew she was throwing in the high 50s, so I cranked up the machine (in practice). She did a good job mixing inside and the outside, some of our girls weren't ready for the inside,” Robinson said. “She’s a good pitcher, they’re not 17-3 for nothing.”

When the top of the fifth rolled around, the bottom of the Eagles’ lineup gave the visitors a shot to even things up. No. 9-hitter Megan Fickett hit a grounder that rolled right along the third base line and she made it safely to first, sending the top of the order back to the plate. Easthampton plated five times in the fifth, jumping out to a 5-2 lead, their first of the game.  

“The energy was so high,” McClaflin said about the fifth inning. “I've never seen these girls at a higher level of energy.”

The teams traded a run apiece over the next inning; AMSA cut the deficit to 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth, and Easthampton scored a critical sixth run in the top of the seventh when Lauren Morse made it home on a hit from catcher McKenzie McCarthy. Though the home team tied it with three runs in the seventh, the Eagles were able to hold them before finishing the job in the top of the eighth.

“We’ve never done that, experienced that kind of comeback, them-comeback type of thing,” Morse said. “It was just like ‘Wow.’”


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