Softball: Greenfield rallies with big inning for 5-4 win over Hampshire (PHOTOS)

Greenfield’s Carly Blanchard (7) slides home safely while Hampshire Regional pitcher Ryanne Dubay (1) covers home plate after a passed ball during action Monday in Westhampton.

Greenfield’s Carly Blanchard (7) slides home safely while Hampshire Regional pitcher Ryanne Dubay (1) covers home plate after a passed ball during action Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Hampshire Regional’s Rachel Hickox (7) tracks down a hit in left field against Greenfield during action Monday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional’s Rachel Hickox (7) tracks down a hit in left field against Greenfield during action Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Greenfield left fielder Sophia Rotkiewicz (14) makes a catch against Hampshire Regional during action Monday in Westhampton.

Greenfield left fielder Sophia Rotkiewicz (14) makes a catch against Hampshire Regional during action Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Greenfield’s MacKenzie Paulin (5) delivers a pitch against Hampshire Regionall during action Monday in Westhampton.

Greenfield’s MacKenzie Paulin (5) delivers a pitch against Hampshire Regionall during action Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Hampshire Regional third baseman CC Thayer readies to throw out a Greenfield runner during action Monday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional third baseman CC Thayer readies to throw out a Greenfield runner during action Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Greenfield first baseman Meghan Collins (4) hauls in a throw just ahead of Hampshire Regional baserunner Teagan Charles  during action Monday in Westhampton.

Greenfield first baseman Meghan Collins (4) hauls in a throw just ahead of Hampshire Regional baserunner Teagan Charles during action Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Greenfield third baseman Ivy Rae (13) fields a bunt against Hampshire Regional during action Monday in Westhampton.

Greenfield third baseman Ivy Rae (13) fields a bunt against Hampshire Regional during action Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Greenfield’s Grace Laurie rounds third base during action against Hampshire Regional on Monday in Westhampton.

Greenfield’s Grace Laurie rounds third base during action against Hampshire Regional on Monday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 04-29-2024 7:54 PM

WESTHAMPTON — With a Hampshire Regional runner standing on second base and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, eighth grader Kalin Dubay stepped to the plate – the Raiders trailing by one run.

Dubay worked the count and fouled off several pitches from Greenfield ace MacKenzie Paulin. In the fifth pitch of the at bat, Dubay fought off another one, but this time it hung in the air long enough for the defense to make a play.

Quickly getting out of her catcher’s stance, Green Wave senior Ainslee Flynn whipped off her mask and chased after the foul ball. Flynn sprawled out and snagged the ball right before it fell to the grass about 10 feet in front of her team’s dugout – ending the game in dramatic fashion.

The catch, and a five-run fourth inning, propelled Greenfield to a 5-4 independent win over Hampshire in a clash of two western Mass. heavyweights on Monday afternoon.

“I would be hard-pressed to find a better catcher in western Mass., and I’ve been saying that the last three years,” Green Wave head coach Ray Dodge said of Flynn’s catch. “She’s another one that battles to the end no matter what.”

It was more of the same that plagued the Raiders all game in the seventh inning. A lead-off walk from Ryanne Dubay put a runner on to start the frame, but three straight outs – including a sacrifice bunt that moved her over to second – stranded Dubay in scoring position.

Throughout Monday’s contest, Hampshire left 11 batters on base, eight of them standing on either second or third base.

“You can’t expect to win a game against a team like that when you leave that many people on base,” Raiders head coach Brian McGan said. “When you leave 11 kids on base, it’s too many. I told them, ‘You gotta learn from it.’ But it’s not the end of the world, the season’s not over.”

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In Hampshire’s six wins this season (6-3), its offense has averaged over 15 runs per game. Not many pitchers have been able to figure out how to slow down the Raiders’ bats. 

And through three innings, it looked like Paulin would be added to that list.

Hampshire scored one in the first on a throwing error, plating Rachel Hickox, and three more in the third after Paulin recorded two outs to start the frame. CC Thayer walked, Raegan Dubay singled, then Ryanne Dubay drove Thayer in with a hit of her own. Chelsea Vanasse then ripped one into the gap two score two more and make it 4-0 before Paulin and the Greenfield defense could trot back to the dugout.

“I thought we did really well against her,” McGan said of his team’s offense against Paulin. “She’s blanked quite a few teams, but we had nine or 10 hits and we knocked on the door every inning.”

The Green Wave responded in no time in the top of the fourth. During the first time through the lineup against Raiders pitcher Ryanne Dubay, nobody struck out. Each Greenfield batter made contact but hit it right to a Hampshire defender. That wasn’t the case the second time around.

Ainslee Flynn singled to start the frame, then Paulin reached on a throwing error. Carly Blanchard singled to load the bases, then Gloria McDonald corked a two-run single into the gap to bring home Flynn and Paulin. Blanchard scored on a passed ball and McDonald came around to score on another throwing error before Grace Laurie added to the fun with an RBI single of her own to score Meghan Collins – who reached via a walk.

Greenfield’s 4-0 deficit turned to a 5-4 lead in just one inning.

“I just reminded them after the game what their faces looked like when they were down 4-0 compared to what they looked like now, and that’s why you never give up and never quit,” Dodge said. “You gotta just keep punching away, and this team punches with the best of them... We tend to hit the pitcher really hard the second time through [the lineup]. I told them that constantly after the first time through.”

Paulin shut the door on Hampshire the rest of the way, surrendering no runs over the next four innings to seal the deal. She worked around a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, and followed that up with a 1-2-3 sixth before Flynn flashed the catcher’s mitt to end the game in the seventh. The junior ace struck out eight on five walks and four runs (three earned).

The Raiders lacked that one hit when they were threatening, and if it weren’t for the one bad defensive inning where they committed several errors, McGan feels the scoreboard could’ve told a different story.

“We had one bad inning where we didn’t play well, and you can’t give good teams any extra outs and that’s what we did tonight,” McGan said.

Ryanne Dubay fanned five on two walks in seven innings of work in the circle, giving up five runs (three earned) and six hits.

Both coaches agreed that no matter the outcome, it’s best to play in highly-competitive matchups like the one on Monday (Hampshire is the reigning Division 4 runner-up, Greenfield is back-to-back Division 5 state champions). The two teams will meet again in Greenfield next Monday (May 6) under the lights at 6 p.m.

Each team competes again on Tuesday, with the Raiders hosting Agawam at 4 p.m. and the Green Wave traveling to Turners Falls for a twilight tango with the Thunder at 7 p.m.