MIAA Tournaments: McKenzie McCarthy goes deep as Easthampton softball gets past Oxford in Div. 4 opener

Easthampton’s McKenzie McCarthy (9) drives in a run earlier this season against Hampshire Regional in Westhampton.

Easthampton’s McKenzie McCarthy (9) drives in a run earlier this season against Hampshire Regional in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-30-2024 9:26 PM

EASTHAMPTON — After a scoreless first inning in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 between No. 14 Easthampton and No. 19 Oxford, Eagles catcher McKenzie McCarthy stepped to the plate to start the second inning.

McCarthy saw a pitch she liked from Pirates pitcher Kyra Krasinskas and put a powerful swing on it. She connected and sent the ball well over the center field fence to break the early tie – giving early momentum to Easthampton.

“She’s been hitting the ball hard, and she finally got one up in the air and took one out of here,” Eagles head coach Corey Robinson said. “It was big, because any time you can play ahead in these games, especially as the higher seed – the pressure is on us a little bit – playing ahead is key. That was big to get us on the board first.”

Easthampton gave one back in the top of the third, but went on to score two more in the bottom half to jump ahead 3-1. Eagles ace Rosie Follet was dealing, and she kept Oxford’s high-powered offense at bay as Easthampton held on to win 3-1 on Thursday afternoon to advance to the Sweet 16.

They await the winner of No. 3 Pittsfield and No. 30 Hamilton-Wenham.

“Winning these playoff games is not an easy feat,” Robinson said. “You’re playing teams you’ve never seen before, sometimes you don’t match up well with them, and there’s a lot of pressure on you – seniors playing in what could be their last game. So anytime you win a state tournament game, no matter what seed you are, it’s a great feat.”

Oxford recorded at least one hit in the first four innings, but Follet worked around a few small jams with runners on base aside from coughing up one run in the third. But in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, the senior didn’t allow another hit.

Behind her, the Easthampton defense was dialed in. After recording six errors in the Western Mass. Class B semifinals, the Eagles responded with zero on Thursday. When Follet gets hot, she can rip off a dozen strikeouts. She fanned eight Pirates batters, which left 13 outs to be made behind her.

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“To hold [Oxford] to one run, what an excellent job by Rosie out there, and McKenzie behind the plate as well,” Robinson said. “Overall, the last two games [prior] against Monument Mountain and Pittsfield, we made 15 errors. We were very solid defensively today, and we have to be at this level. We re-focused today and they made the right play every time. Oxford is a good team, they won 15 games out in central Mass. and they don’t come easy out there.”

McCarthy added a double in her next at-bat after the long ball, Kayley Downie added a hit and an RBI and Sophia Faginski drove in a run on a ground ball. Makenna Slate, Megan Fickett, Christine Raymond and Simone Young (run scored) each tallied hits for Easthampton in the win.

Div. 5 prelim

No. 23 Granby 27, No. 42 Brooke Charter 4 (5) — Kaitlyn Curran (two runs, two RBIs), Cassie Flaherty (three runs, three RBIs) and Jordyn Placzek (three RBIs one run) each tallied two hits in the Rams’ blowout win.

Ten different players recorded a hit. Granby heads to No. 10 Drury in the Round of 32 Friday at 6 p.m.

Boys tennis

Div. 4 Round of 32

No. 2 PVCICS 5, No. 31 West Bridgewater 0 — Lee Ferguson (6-0, 6-1) notched a convincing second singles win, Aidan Cleary (6-1, 6-2) made quick work at first singles and the lone Dragons senior, Clayton English (6-1, 6-3 at third singles), made it a clean sweep of the singles matches.

James and Teddy Scott won 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles and Derek and Devan Ye grabbed a 6-1, 7-5 victory at second doubles in the longest match of the day.

No. 18 Nantucket 5, No. 15 Frontier 0 — The Redhawks ended their season with an 8-8 record after a loss in the Division 4 Round of 32.

Jacob Han lost 6-4, 6-3 in first singles and Brayden Reipold lost 7-5, 6-3 in third singles in the closest matches of the day.

Girls tennis

Div. 2 Round of 32

No. 10 Sharon 4, No. 23 Amherst 1 — The ‘Canes left Sharon on the wrong end of defeat as their season came to a close in the Division 2 Round of 32 on Thursday.

Sofia DaSilva-Askew won a marathon match at first singles over Judy Song 6-7, 6-2, 10-4 as the lone Amherst victor.

Div. 4 prelim

No. 33 Hampden Charter East 3, No. 32 PVCICS 2 — The Dragons ended their season with a 13-5 record following Thursday’s loss at Hampshire College.

Hampden Charter East advances to the Round of 32 to face No. 1 Hamilton-Wenham.

Boys volleyball

Div. 2 prelim

No. 35 Sci-Tech 3, No. 30 Frontier 0 — The CyberCats pulled out a close win in the opening set and carried that momentum into the ensuing two sets to pull off a 28-26, 25-23, 25-19 victory over the Redhawks in the MIAA Div. 4 preliminary round at Goodnow Gymnasium on Thursday.

“Not the way we wanted the season to end,” Frontier co-coach Courtney Parent said. “Just made too many errors tonight. Proud of the team this year and we will miss our seniors.” 

Aleks Carey put down 15 kills, Jack Carey smashed eight kills, Tegan Dexter recorded five kills while Tavo Vincent-Warner dished 27 assists for the Redhawks. 

No. 20 Dighton-Rehoboth 3, No. 45 South Hadley 0 — South Hadley forfeited its preliminary round match in the Division 2 state tournament.

Girls lacrosse

Div. 2 prelim

No. 33 Northampton 11, No. 32 Agawam 6 — Imanni Power-Greene and Olivia Wright each netted three goals apiece to apiece the Blue Devils to a preliminary round victory.

Teagan McDonald added two goals, Allyson Busone chipped in a goal and two assists and both Makayla Fydenkevez and Emily Lippiello scored one goal each.

No. 31 Norwood 14, No. 34 Amherst 10 — The Hurricanes’ season has come to a close in the Division 2 preliminary round. Amherst was down 9-2 at halftime before making a comeback bid in the second half.

Kiko Bhowmik (one assist) netted five goals, Ava Carey scored twice and Abi Como (two assists) and Francesca Sloan each added a goal. Amherst won the Western Mass. Class B championship this season.

Div. 4 prelim

No. 28 South Hadley 20, No. 37 Granby 4 — Owen Dawson recorded a game-high seven goals as the Tigers cruised to a decisive win over the Rams on Thursday.

South Hadley travels to No. 5 Cohasset at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Track & field

MIAA Meet of Champions, Day 1

Amherst’s Logan Alfandari set a new PR in the discus (51.26m) to take third-place. Moriah Luetjen followed up her second-place in the 200 meters at the Division 4 state championships with a fifth-place finish (25.02). Elizabeth Sawicki took 23rd in the 400 hurdles (1:08.24).

Northampton’s Ella Hoogendyk placed 11th in the triple jump (35-8.25), just shy of the PR she set at the Division 4 state championships, where she placed fourth. Holyoke’s Yasani Thompson placed 28th in the 200 prelims (26.44) and Leilany Figueroa finished 28th in the 400 hurdles (1:09.64).

Late results

Youth baseball

Amherst 18, Ludlow 7 — The Hurricanes routed the Lions in a Koufax Division showdown on Tuesday afternoon, as Aidan Hawkowl and Nick Stinson led the way with three hits apiece in the one and two spots in the batting order.

Max Lashway, Oliver Howard, Gus Garrett Peltier and Drew Holland each notched multiple hits as well, while the combination of Lashway, Cyrus Arwade, Howard and Stinson got the job done on the mound. The Amherst defense committed zero errors in the win.

Northampton 5, Longmeadow 5 — A time limit caused this battle of 13U powerhouses to end in a 5-5 draw on Wednesday night, as the Blue Devils stood toe-to-toe with undefeated Longmeadow in a back-and-forth battle in Northampton.

Dylan Lawrence-Riddell started at pitcher for Northampton, effectively limiting an explosive Longmeadow offense to two hits and two runs over four innings, while fanning seven Lancer batters. At the plate, Iggy Piotrowski scored a run and Oliver Yau ripped an RBI single that brought home Maceo Nteta to give the Blue Devils an early lead.

Northampton’s Benny Hamelin had an RBI ground out that scored   Alex Visentin-Laing from third to tie the game at five in the sixth inning. Miller Cobtich added a hit  as well for the hosts.