‘The Look’

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  • Hampshire Regional junior Katelyn Baker dusts herself off after stealing second in the fifth inning of the Red Raiders’ 6-4 win over Greenfield in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 championship on Friday, June 25, 2021, at Westhampton. Baker went on to score and later, in center field, caught the final out of the game. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 12/31/2021 5:38:15 PM
Modified: 12/31/2021 5:37:47 PM

Honestly, without prompting, I can’t recall any of my last 26 takes on “Image of the Year,” not even last year. It’s never been an image meant to encapsulate the year, or even necessarily my favorite. Just one picture. Nevertheless, I feel a little funny about choosing one that so focuses on one person, especially since a good sports photo usually includes players from opposing teams, in the thick of competition. But in a year (going on two) in which our daily circumstances force us to read each other only from the eyes up, it brings me joy — especially as a photographer — to witness the full expression on someone’s face.

Last June, the Red Raiders of Hampshire Regional were defending their Western Massachusetts Div. 2 softball crown against Greenfield at home in Westhampton and junior center fielder Katelyn Baker was having a stellar day. In the fifth inning, after stealing second base, she got up to dust herself off and sent this look — which I might venture is some mix of accomplishment, satisfaction and relief — back to the cheering Raiders’ bench. She went on to steal third and score.

But the big story that day was Hampshire’s team effort in holding off a resurgent Green Wave, 6-4, in no small part due to Baker’s over-thefence backwards-somersault catch to avert a tie and end the game. A play so stunning, frankly, that it was all but done when I realized that I was following it with just my eyes — and not my camera — managing only to preserve the ensuing jubilation for the next day’s Gazette. That’s the picture that ran, of course, so this photo never had a chance to make it into print.

Until today.

Kevin Gutting can be reached at kgutting@gazettenet.com.

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