Softball: Hampshire rallies from early deficit, slugs past Easthampton 10-4 (PHOTOS)

Hampshire Regional’s CC Thayer (10) blasts a 2-run home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the third inning against Easthampton on Friday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional’s CC Thayer (10) blasts a 2-run home run over the center field fence in the bottom of the third inning against Easthampton on Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional players surround CC Thayer (10) at home plate after hitting a 2-run home run against Easthampton in the bottom of the third inning Friday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional players surround CC Thayer (10) at home plate after hitting a 2-run home run against Easthampton in the bottom of the third inning Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional pitcher Rachael Hickox (7) throws against Easthampton in the top of the second inning Friday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional pitcher Rachael Hickox (7) throws against Easthampton in the top of the second inning Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Easthampton’s Makenna Slate (4) drives in two runs with an RBI triple against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning Friday in Westhampton.

Easthampton’s Makenna Slate (4) drives in two runs with an RBI triple against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Easthampton’s Kayley Downie (11) celebrates after crossing home plate to score against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning Friday in Westhampton.

Easthampton’s Kayley Downie (11) celebrates after crossing home plate to score against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Easthampton pitcher Rosie Follet (14) throws against Hampshire Regional in the bottom of the first inning Friday in Westhampton.

Easthampton pitcher Rosie Follet (14) throws against Hampshire Regional in the bottom of the first inning Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Hampshire Regional’s Kalin Dubay (4) bunts in a runner from third base to score the tying run against Easthampton in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional’s Kalin Dubay (4) bunts in a runner from third base to score the tying run against Easthampton in the bottom of the fourth inning Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Easthampton’s McKenzie McCarthy (9) drives in a run with a single against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning Friday in Westhampton.

Easthampton’s McKenzie McCarthy (9) drives in a run with a single against Hampshire Regional in the top of the third inning Friday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-26-2024 8:47 PM

WESTHAMPTON — Coming into Friday afternoon’s softball game between the Hampshire and Easthampton softball teams, something had to give.

Eagles ace Rosie Follet had been almost unsolvable in the circle through their six games, while the Raiders’ juggernaut of an offense had been unstoppable – scoring 13 or more runs in each of their five wins.

Through two and two-thirds innings, it was advantage Follet, who had struck out three and held Hampshire off the scoreboard.

Then Teagan Charles ripped a single, bringing up CC Thayer. After watching the first pitch go by, Thayer connected on the next and sent it over the center field wall for a two-run home run.

The floodgates were open.

Hampshire went on to score in every inning the rest of the way, vaulting them to a 10-4 home win over Easthampton on Friday afternoon under a cloudless sky.

The Eagles jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the third, but they couldn’t generate enough with the bats to hang with the Raiders.

“We knew they were gonna swing the bats. They’ve got too many good hitters to hold them at bay, and we needed more runs,” Easthampton head coach Corey Robinson said. “It was good to get up a little bit for our confidence, but they can score in bunches and hit the ball out of the park. We’re not scoring 10 runs. We’re not built that way. We had to keep them down to five and hope we could get a couple.”

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Ana Growhoski notched her second of four hits on the afternoon to start Easthampton’s rally in the third. A Kayley Downie walk pushed Growhoski to second as Makenna Slate stepped into the box. Slate pounded a ball to right field that got down and rolled to the fence – scoring both base runners while she cruised into third.

McKenzie McCarthy singled Slate home to put the visitors up three runs in a blink.

Hampshire pitcher Rachel Hickox, who was starting her first-ever game on varsity, worked her way out of the jam with a fly out and ground out to limit the damage. Hickox tossed four innings, giving up the three runs (two earned) on five hits while striking out three and only walking one.

“We didn’t know what we were gonna get out of Rachel, because this was her first start,” McGan said. “She was a little bit nervous, but she settled in during those first couple innings and pitched great. She kept us in the game and kept us close, then we kind of opened things up later in the game.”

Thayer blasted a two-out, two-run dinger to get Hampshire within one after three. Easthampton’s big inning woke the Raiders up, according to Thayer.

“We just wanted to win, and that was it,” she said. “We were committed to winning this. It took a few innings for us to get there and get going, but once we focused and locked in everything changed for us.”

Following a scoreless top of the fourth, Hampshire added two more runs in the latter half of the frame. Ryanne Dubay then spelled Hickox on the mound and mowed through Easthampton in the fifth.

A Raegan Dubay double and a Chelsea Vanasse two-run single highlighted the five-run bottom of the inning for Hampshire, which finally put up a crooked number against Follet. Small ball and several defensive miscues behind Follet helped Hampshire to a 9-3 lead.

“Rosie’s thrown a lot of pitches this week against a lot of good teams this week, so I was worried coming in about that,” Robinson said. “She hit a wall in that third inning and we could see the velocity dropping a little bit, but it doesn’t help that we made seven errors. Things spiraled out of control at that point.”

An inning later, Thayer was back at the dish. She blasted her second home run – this one a solo shot – comfortably over the left-center fence to increase the Raiders lead to seven.

After missing over a week to injury, Thayer was thrilled to be back – and she returned in style with two long-balls.

“I was very anxious with it being my first time back in a few games,” Thayer said. “So I just didn’t think about it, hit the ball, and it went where it went. And it felt great, too.”

Growhoski led off the top of the seventh with a double and advanced to third on a passed ball. Downie drove her in with a sacrifice fly to center. Dubay got Slate to ground it right back to her and threw her out to end the game.

Coming in out of the bullpen isn’t exactly what Dubay is used to, but she struck out three and surrendered just the one hit and one run in the seventh – keeping Easthampton’s bats under control.

“Ryanne did a great job,” McGan said. “She shut the door and closed it out.”

Hampshire (6-2) has now won half a dozen games this season, scoring double digits in every single one. The Raiders host back-to-back MIAA Division 5 state champion Greenfield on Monday afternoon in a battle of heavyweights at 4:30 p.m.

Easthampton (3-4) surrendered 10 runs for the first time this season after averaging under three runs allowed per game. The Eagles are back at it Saturday morning, traveling to Chicopee Comp at 11 a.m.