Division 2 softball: Long ball pushes Easthampton past Frontier

  • Frontier pitcher Olivia Deane delivers against Easthampton on Friday at Nonotuck Park. The Eagles defeated the Redhawks 8-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 softball first round. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton pitcher Chelsea Indyk struck out 12 Frontier batters  Friday at Nonotuck Park. The Eagles defeated the Redhawks 8-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 softball first round. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier third baseman Charlotte Doulette throws to first Friday at Nonotuck Park. The Eagles defeated the Redhawks 8-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 softball first round. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI—

  • Frontier’s Makayla Santos throws to first against Easthampton on Friday at Nonotuck Park. The Eagles defeated the Redhawks 8-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 softball first round. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Frontier’s Jillian Apanell slides into third in front of Easthampton’s Lauren Morse on Friday at Nonotuck Park. The Eagles defeated the Redhawks 8-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 softball first round. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Easthampton’s Kristalynn Culver is greeted at home plate by Ana Growhoski after launching a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning against Frontier on Friday at Nonotuck Park. The Eagles defeated the Redhawks 8-1 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 softball first round. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer
Published: 6/18/2021 9:35:13 PM

EASTHAMPTON – Kristalynn Culver shook off her playoff jitters on a first-inning fast ball.

Easthampton’s senior left fielder launched a softball over the left field fence against Frontier to spark the Eagles to an 8-1 victory in Friday’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 first round. The two-run shot broke a 1-1 tie and continued a string of eight unanswered runs.

“I felt it, I felt that (off the bat),” Culver said. “It was my first of the season so it really told me this was our game. We’re here. We want this.”

The fifth-seeded Eagles avenged a quarterfinal defeat to the Redhawks from 2019. They will now travel to No. 4 Southwick for Monday’s quarterfinals. The Rams beat Palmer 14-2 in five innings.

Frontier, the 12th seed, struck first in the top of the first. CC Green led off the game with a walk, then Lucia Doulette walked with one out. Olivia Deane put the ball in play, and an error allowed Green to score. Delaney Fifield then walked to put another runner in scoring position, but Ashley Taylor struck out to end the rally.

“That’s just kind of how I am  as a pitcher. My first inning is always rough and that’s just a thing,” Easthampton pitcher Chelsea Indyk said. “Once I got past the first and I was warmed up, I was good to go.”

Hits were hard to come by for the Redhawks. They went down in order in three of the next four innings. Charlotte Doulette was their only base runner with a walk in the third.

Easthampton, meanwhile, benefited from a Indyk RBI double and Culver’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead. Then Tessa Pond made it 4-1 with an RBI single in the second, and Emma Downer drove in another run in the third.

“Our team is big into mantras – I am especially,” Olivia Deane said. “My catcher CC Green told me about this mantra ‘don’t let the outcome get an inch.’ I always think every pitch is a new pitch, a new batter. If someone just hit a home run I forget about it in two seconds, moving on.”

Jillian Apanell broke the Redhawks drought by singling to open the fifth. Green reached on an error, and that allowed both runners to advance to second and third with no outs. Macy Ring laid a solid bunt down the third base line, but Easthampton’s Abby McClaflin fielded it perfectly to get Ring out at first and not allow the runners to score or advance.

“Defensively, I give it to them, they played it really well,” Frontier coach Gary Deane said. “With no outs, we were like ‘we’ll keep you here, we’ve got good batters coming up.’”

Lucia Doulette and Charlotte Doulette both struck out to end the inning.

Indyk finished with 12 strikeouts.

Frontier only trailed 5-1 at the time, but the Eagles capitalized where the Redhawks didn’t. 

Indyk walked to start the bottom of the fifth, then after a Culver flyout, Lauren Morse looped a moon shot over the center field wall that pushed the Eagles’ lead to 7-1. It was her first of the season, too.

“We’ve been waiting all season for her to do one of those,” Culver said.

Easthampton nearly batted around that inning, and Ana Growhowski chased Olivia Deane from the circle with a slapped single. Both runners advanced after a throwing error.

Appanell came in to pitch for Frontier after that, and she walked McClaflin to force in another Easthampton run.

Olivia Deane doubled with no outs in the sixth and went to third on a ground out, but she was stranded there. 

Ring singled with two outs in the top of the seventh, but a strikeout ended Frontier’s season.

“I am so thankful. This is the last time me and all the seniors will be playing a Frontier sport,” Olivia Deane said. “Tournament especially has a different kind of energy. We are so grateful to be here. The bench is louder, there’s more fans, there’s more pressure and that’s what we love. We’re just so glad we got to get (the tournament) in.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.




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