Class D softball: Maggie Potter, Hopkins Academy rally past Lee in 9 innings (PHOTOS)

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 05-22-2023 10:19 PM

HADLEY — Maggie Potter may as well have waved a wand.

The Hopkins Academy infielder conjured magic to help the Golden Hawks defeat Lee in the Western Massachusetts Class D softball quarterfinals on Monday. The second-seeded Golden Hawks trailed No. 7 Lee by two runs after the top of the ninth inning. High school softball games normally end after seven.

The sun set behind the high school, and darkness crept, threatening a postponement.

After a ground out opened the bottom of the second extra frame, Daisy Vendetti reached on an error. That set up Taylor Barry, a hero once already. She dropped a deep shot to center field in the middle of converging Lee players. The confusion on the grass gave Venditti enough time to get home and cut the deficit to one. Barry wasn’t sure she’d get there.

“I thought that was probably gonna be a double but you know, we stretched it out,” Barry said. “I did hesitate a little around third, but it ended up working out.”

She slid around the Wildcats catcher and dragged her fingers across the plate to knot the game but clear the bases. Hopkins third baseman Cassidi Mushenski drew a walk then stole second.

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Potter flicked her wrists and sent the ball over the infielder’s heads. Mushenski touched home the moment it dropped as the rest of the Golden Hawks streamed out of the dugout. Barry jumped into her arms as some converged to celebrate Potter. The 8-7 victory sent Hopkins Academy to the Western Mass. semifinals for the second year in a row.

“I feel amazing. I think that was a really great game,” Potter said. “We battled to the end and that's why we succeeded, we never gave up.”

The Golden Hawks (15-2) will await either No. 3 Monson or No. 6 Lenox, who play Tuesday. That possibility looked far from certain for long stretches of the game.

Hopkins Academy trailed 2-1 in the fifth, 5-4 in the sixth and 7-5 in the ninth. Each time, the Golden Hawks responded.

“We have had that happen to us before. We knew that we couldn't let it happen again,” Barry said. “We knew we had to stay up the whole time even when they were scoring runs on us. When someone got down we just made sure to pick them up and keep everyone together.”

Barry had three hits and three RBIso. She launched an RBI triple to make it 2-2 in the fifth.

Laynie Bailey added two hits and two RBIs, including the game-tying RBI triple in the seventh with two outs.

Potter also had three singles. 

“Everyone was really cheering on. I think we felt empowered to score,” Potter said.

Hopkins Academy pitcher Kaelyn Zakaitis struck out 10 and walked just two. She also tagged a runner out at the plate after a ball reached the backstop in the fourth.

Mushenski scored two runs.

“We've been able to stick together this whole game. We know we can do it,” Barry said. “We know we can play a really long game and keep ourselves up.”

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