Div. 5 softball: Frontier’s magical season ends in state semifinal loss to Greenfield (PHOTOS)

  • Frontier pitcher Ashley Taylor throws against Greenfield in the bottom of the third inning during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinals Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier catcher Delaney Fifield (12) and third baseman Skyler Steele (10) catch Greenfield baserunner Brielle Widelo (9) in a rundown between third base and home in the bottom of the third inning during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinals Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier baserunner Gabrielle Adams, right, slides safely into second base ahead of the tag from Greenfield’s Ainslee Flynn in the top of the third inning during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinals Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier pitcher Ashley Taylor throws against Greenfield in the bottom of the fifth inning during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinals Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier second baseman Makayla Santos fields a line drive for an out against Greenfield in the bottom of the sixth inning during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinals Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier pitcher Ashley Taylor throws against Greenfield in the bottom of the fourth inning during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinals Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier shortstop Hailey Hutkoski throws to first for an out against Greenfield in the bottom of the first inning during the MIAA Div. 5 state semifinals Wednesday at Westfield State University. PHOTO BY DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 6/15/2022 10:44:12 PM
Modified: 6/15/2022 10:41:57 PM

WESTFIELD – All postseason, Frontier has been making the improbable look easy. The 21st-seeded Redhawks first knocked off No. 12 seed Tahanto, then No. 5 Mount Greylock and No. 4 Franklin Tech. 

They faced their toughest task yet on Wednesday afternoon in the MIAA Division 5 semifinals, a battle against No. 1 Greenfield, a team with the kind of depth that makes opponents shake in their cleats. But even against their toughest foe, the Redhawks believed they could keep their Cinderella run going just a little bit longer. 

“Today's mindset was mostly about confidence,” Frontier senior center fielder Chloe Cutting said. “Before it was kind of like, ‘We have nothing to lose,’ but this game, I felt like we really had to have our confidence.”

Frontier stayed in the game until the very end, breaking up a no-hitter from Greenfield ace MacKenzie Paulin in the top of the seventh and snapping a shutout with two runs in that same inning. But it wasn’t enough against a Green Wave team that got its bats going early and often. Greenfield earned a berth in the state final with an 11-2 win, and the Green Wave will face No. 3 West Boylston on Friday at 3 p.m. at UMass. 

Frontier pitcher Ashley Taylor struck out four in the loss, while Makayla Santos and Sophia Pinardi each had hits before Taylor drove in a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to account for the offensive output.

Greenfield scored six runs in the second inning and never looked back, knocking in four more runs in the fourth inning and adding a final tally in the sixth. 

But despite the loss, Frontier players will be the first to tell you that nobody thought the Redhawks would even get this far.

“This season was just unexpected overall,” said Cutting. “Everyone went into it and was like, ‘Oh, you're not gonna do too well,’ and we came this far and it's kind of amazing.”

The regular season was a difficult one for the Redhawks. The squad was young with just two upperclassmen, Santos and Cutting, both seniors, and they had an extremely tough schedule, facing off against teams like Greenfield, Turners Falls, Wahconah, Mount Greylock and Easthampton, to name just a few. By the end of the regular season, they were sitting with a 5-15 record, but they were starting to see the light – they bested Athol 3-2, a huge win, and then dominated No. 2 Turners Falls 14-2 in mid-May. That, according to Santos, was a major turning point. 

“When we won against Turners Falls after not winning after years and years, I think that was definitely something that just turned it,” Santos said. “It gave us a lot of confidence that we can beat teams that we thought we couldn't. So if we could do that, we could do it again.” 

While from the outside, five wins didn’t look like much, Frontier head coach Garrett Deane knew that his team was better than what their record indicated. At one point, the Redhawks had cracked the top 20 in the state’s new power ranking system, proving that they could play with the best of the teams in their division. That cemented it for Deane – this was a team that could make some serious noise in the playoffs, despite their youth. 

“At some point there was talk of a rebuilding year... I said absolutely not. We're not rebuilding, as long as we have seniors, we owe it to them to do as much as we can and go for it every game,” Deane said. “As soon as we made the tournament… I'm greedy, I told them. We should be greedy. I want to win not in 2024, not in 2025, not when you're juniors and seniors. I want to win now, this year.” 

They very nearly pulled it off this year, making it all the way to the state semis. Though this was the final game in a Frontier uniform for both Cutting and Santos, they know that the group of younger players that they leave behind will continue the legacy the team created this season.

“They're gonna have a great season. Next year, I think it's gonna be really good for them,” Santos said.

“And it’ll just keep getting better and better,” Cutting added. 


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