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Suburban softball: Athol 14U fends off Southampton

  • Southampton's Bailey McCoy pitches against Athol July 12, 2018 during a girls U14 Suburban softball game at Hampshire Regional in Westhampton. Sarah Crosby—GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Southampton’s Bailey McCoy hits a pitch from Athol during an under-14 Suburban League softball game at Hampshire Regional in Westhampton. Athol won 9-7. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Southampton's Bailey McCoy, left, stretches to reach first base as Athol's Kennedy Vaillancourt catches the ball July 12, 2018 during a girls U14 Suburban softball game at Hampshire Regional in Westhampton. Sarah Crosby—GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY

  • Southampton’s Paige Galpin, right, is thrown out at first base during a girls under-14 Suburban League softball game, Thursday at Hampshire Regional in Westhampton. GAZETTE STAFF/SARAH CROSBY



For the Gazette
Friday, July 13, 2018

WESTHAMPTON — The Athol Softball Devils’ 14-under team used consistent offense to earn a 9-7 Suburban League win over the Southampton Heat, Thursday at Hampshire Regional High School.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the first, Southampton got back-to-back two-out hits to score first. Hannah Wodecki doubled and was driven in on a Theresa Saltis single.

Athol responded in the second starting with a leadoff infield single from Sadey Lehtomaki, who stole second. After a Kennedy Vaillancourt walk, Lehtomaki stole third. A Jenna Bonenfant sacrifice fly scored Lehtomaki with the tying run. Sammy Kenniff singled two batters later, scoring Vaillancourt for a 2-1 lead.

“Play hard, play good defense, and hit the ball,” Athol coach Wayne Forte said on his team’s approach.

Athol took a 5-1 lead in the third.

Emma Bacigalupo led off with an infield single, followed by a Kiera Stevens walk. Bacigalupo advanced to third and then scored on back-to-back wild pitches.

Reily Polana tripled to the center field fence, scoring Stevens. Lindsey LeBlanc knocked Polana in on a groundout, capping the three-run inning.

Southampton (3-2) responded with a three-run third of its own. After back-to-back strikeouts to start the frame, Emma Czarnecki and Margo LaPlante kept the inning alive with two straight singles.

Wodecki followed with a high fly ball to the left-center field gap for a triple, scoring both runners. As Wodecki rounded third, the throw home to challenge LaPlante was overthrown to the backstop. The error allowed Wodecki to run home and cut the lead to 5-4.

“Their No. 3 hitter is a really good hitter,” Forte said of Wodecki.

The Devils (2-3) led off the fourth with a walk by Vaillancourt, and a single by Bonenfant. During the next at-bat, Vaillancourt scored on a wild pitch. Later in the inning, Juliana Herbert came through with a two-out single, scoring Bonenfant to give Athol a 7-4 lead.

“They fielded the ball very well,” Southampton coach Tim Strogny said. “We made a couple errors that typically we wouldn’t make, but that happens.”

Athol starter Lindsey LeBlanc struck out nine and allowed 15 hits in the win.

“I knew I could count on my defense,” LeBlanc said. “We’ve been struggling a lot with that this year, but today during warmups you could just tell the whole vibe of the game was different. This win means a lot because we haven’t won many and this team is really good.”

Southampton starter Bailey McCoy fanned three, walked five and allowed eight hits over four-plus innings. McCoy left after walking Stevens and Polana to lead off the top of the fifth. She was relieved by Saltis, who struck out one and allowed three hits and two walks over three innings.

Saltis walked LeBlanc to load the bases with no outs in the fourth, but she only allowed one run to score. Stevens was forced out at home on a Hayley Chenoweth grounder to second. Lehtomaki drove in Polana on a fielder’s choice, but the Heat forced the final two outs at home.

Southampton matched the run when Wodecki drove in Ella Malanson on a single to pull the Heat within 8-5 at the end of the fifth.

Athol added its final run in the sixth. With two outs, Herbert doubled to center field then scored when Bacigalupo singled.

“All in all the girls played great. They played a great defense and hit the ball today,” Forte said. “They played awesome.”

Southampton scored its final two runs in the sixth. The first run came when McCoy scored on a wild pitch. She reached on a single.

Later in the inning, pinch hitter Avery Brooks drew a one-out walk and reached third on wild pitches. Pinch hitter Paige Galpin then put down a suicide squeeze to score Brooks and cut the lead to 9-7.