Bats get to work as Hampshire Regional softball pulls away past Wahconah, into Class B final (PHOTOS)
|Published: 05-25-2023 8:55 PM
WESTHAMPTON – Jocelyn Mettey gathered her Hampshire Regional teammates after a muted celebration.
The top-seeded Raiders had just defeated No. 4 Wahconah 9-2 in Thursday’s Western Massachusetts Class B semifinal to reach their fourth straight sectional final and their eighth in the past nine tournaments. The lack of exuberance wasn’t complacency.
Hampshire has eight underclassmen on its roster. Most of them didn’t realize the significance of the victory, the opportunity to play for the program’s 12th Western Mass title.
“It’s their first year, they’re new to all of this,” Hampshire’s Ashley Cortis said.
The Raiders that had been there before acted like it.
Cortis registered a single, double and triple, scoring three runs and driving in three. Hailey Wodecki singled and doubled with two RBIs, including a go-ahead single that made it 2-1 in the third inning.
“It shows us all the hard work we put in really does pay off in the end. It sucks sometimes coming to practice every day, but we’re here,” Cortis said.
The path didn’t look so clear after the first few innings. Wahconah struck first with an Elena Iovieno RBI double following a walk in the top of the first inning. Hampshire catcher Reagan Dubay threw her out at third base trying to advance on the throw home.
The Raiders went down 1-2-3 in the first, but the bottom of the lineup delivered in the second. Senior Emma Czarniecki walked, then Reagan Dubay singled. Ryanne Dubay followed her sister with a single that brought Czarniecki home, sliding face first through the dust to tie the game at 1.
Wodecki put Hampshire in front in the third, and Mettey brought her home with a double to stretch the lead to 3-1.
“We just had to settle into the game, seeing the pitcher a couple times always helps,” Wodecki said. “We just had to get the nerves out in the first inning, then we got into the flow of things.”
The flow quickly became a flood. Wahconah added a sacrifice fly in the top of the fourth to bring the game within a run, but the Raiders ripped off six unanswered runs to pull away.
They scored two in the fifth on a Cortis triple and a Wodecki RBI groundout, then Cortis added a two-run double and Wodecki an RBI double in the sixth.
“You don’t want to give them a chance to breathe,” Hampshire coach Brian McGan said. “They get a little deflated, and we get a little more pumped up.”
Mettey, fresh off her second perfect game of the season in the quarterfinals, struck out seven, including the last two batters with a runner on third. She allowed six hits with one walk.
“I don’t think Joss had her best stuff, she was a little up,” McGan said. “When she’s not on, we’ve got to pick it up with the bats.”
Hampshire registered eight hits. Six Raiders touched home. Rachael Hickox bunted for two singles and scored two runs out of the nine hole.
“A little bit of anxiety in the beginning, but once we calmed down at the plate, we started swinging the bats a little better,” McGan said. “The bottom of the order came up big.”
Hampshire (16-4) will face either No. 2 Pittsfield or No. 3 Easthampton on Tuesday at Westfield State University in the title game. Those teams play at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Pittsfield. The Raiders split two games with the Generals and didn’t see Easthampton during the regular season.Kyle Grabowski can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.