WMass Division 1 softball: Northampton rallies late to beat East Longmeadow, reach semifinals

For the Gazette
Saturday, June 09, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — As the Northampton softball team walked off the field after a 1-2-3 top of the sixth against East Longmeadow, Blue Devils coach Andy Pelis huddled his team outside the dugout and searched for the words to rally his offense.

“I said to them, ‘Hey, this is playoff softball. We’re down by one and we got two innings to get at least one run to tie it up,” Pelis said.

Northampton was shut out in its season finale, and through five innings of the Western Massachusetts Division 1 Tournament quarterfinal Friday afternoon, it was still searching for offense.

When Jenna Subocz stepped up to bat with one out in the sixth, the Blue Devils found the spark they were looking for. Subocz hit a shot to the wall in left-center field for a double, scoring Anna Connly and tying the game for Hamp. Two batters later, freshman Katelyn Ramdath drove in Subocz with an RBI single, giving Northampton a 4-3 lead that held to the end.

“I said I want everybody up there fighting for every single pitch, and they did,” Pelis said. “We got some key hits there and we ended up scoring the two runs and that ended up being the difference.”

The Blue Devils (18-3) will face No. 2 Minnechaug (17-2) in the semifinals, at 3 p.m. Tuesday at UMass’ Sortino Field. Northampton split its two meetings with Minnechaug this season.

“We’ve seen them twice. At this point they know what we do, and we know what they do. It’s just a question of executing,” Pelis said. “Hopefully our girls are ready for it, I know I am.”

Northampton’s win over No. 3 East Longmeadow was far from a sure thing early on, as the Spartans scored one run in each of the first three innings off senior Anna Kerwood. After a third-inning leadoff home run from East Longmeadow’s Megan Sharon (2-for-2, two runs), Pelis visited Kerwood and tried to calm her down. Following the visit, Kerwood struck out two straight and forced a groundout to escape the inning.

“She ended up settling down and ended up pitching a great game for us,” Pelis said.

After getting off to a slow start, Kerwood stayed focused on the team motto for inspiration.

“We have a team motto, ‘One team, one dream,’ and our dream is to get as far as we can in the playoffs, and get to UMass, and I think that really motivated us today, especially because we were down a lot of the game,” Kerwood said.

Kerwood struck out eight and allowed seven hits over seven innings. The Blue Devils scored their first run on a sacrifice fly by Subocz (two RBIs) in the second, and another run in the third after Emma Tanner scored on a wild pitch. Northampton never lead until the bottom of the sixth.

“I have never doubted this team and I never will,” Kerwood said.

East Longmeadow (10-11) received a strong performance from Kiana Bourassa, who struck out four over six innings. The Spartans used good pitching and solid defense to lead the majority of the game.

“Both pitchers did a great job today of keeping their composure in pressure situations,” East Longmeadow coach Lindsay Sawyer said. “On any given day any team can beat any team in western Mass. There’s so much talent out here.”

Connly scored twice and finished 3-for-3.

This story was updated June 9 at 10:40 a.m. to reflect that Jenna Subocz was the hitter who sparked Northampton’s resurgence.