MIAA tourneys: Ella Schaeffer strikes out 17 as South Hadley softball blanks Amesbury for spot in Div. 4 quarters

Belchertown’s Emalee Chaisson returns a shot while competing in the No. 1 doubles match with Mia Corish against South Hadley earlier this spring.

Belchertown’s Emalee Chaisson returns a shot while competing in the No. 1 doubles match with Mia Corish against South Hadley earlier this spring. STAFF PHOTO

South Hadley pitcher Ella Schaeffer throws against Cohasset earlier this week. Schaeffer struck out 17 against Amesbury on Wednesday in a 2-0 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 16.

South Hadley pitcher Ella Schaeffer throws against Cohasset earlier this week. Schaeffer struck out 17 against Amesbury on Wednesday in a 2-0 victory in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 16. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Reports

Published: 06-05-2024 8:56 PM

Modified: 06-06-2024 11:42 AM


What’s better than 16 strikeouts?

Seventeen.

After fanning 16 batters in the South Hadley softball team’s 3-0 win in the MIAA Division 4 Round of 32 over No. 23 Cohasset, Tigers ace Ella Schaeffer struck out 17 and scattered five hits as she blanked No. 7 Amesbury in a 2-0 win on the road Wednesday afternoon.

The Tigers will travel to take on No. 2 Tyngsborough in the quarterfinals on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Prior to the state tournament, South Hadley lost four of its last five games. Since then, Schaeffer in the circle and the entire lineup have completely refocused.

Monday marked the Tigers’ first playoff win in at least 17 years. Now they’re about to play for a spot in the Division 4 Final Four.

“After a late season mini-slump, we re-gained our focus, had a few good practices,” South Hadley head coach Junior Perez said. “We came into the state tournament prepared. Ella has been amazing. Her control is top notch. Ara [Powers] is a fabulous all-around player, and our lineup is confident up and down.”

South Hadley scraped runs across in the second and fourth innings, and that was all the offensive help Schaeffer would need. Freshman Ryley McMahon sparked the offense with two hits, one walk and two RBIs – including one on a push-bunt single.

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With the tying runs aboard in the sixth inning, Amesbury sent a ball out to right field, where Natalia Quinn began tracking it down. Quinn came up with the huge catch to strand two runners and preserve the Tigers’ lead.

“Knowing the tying runs were on base, I knew I had to sell out and make sure I caught that ball,” Quinn said. “When the ball hit the webbing, the excitement in my teammates made it all worth while.”

Jenna Bobrowski also made a web-gem play for South Hadley. With two runners on, the shortstop snagged a line drive, turned to third and fired a perfect throw to McMahon to double off an Amesbury runner. The Tigers have still yet to give up a run in the state tournament, and the combination of Schaeffer’s dominance and stellar defense is exactly why.

No. 4 Advanced Math & Science 11, No. 13 Frontier 0 — Despite eight hits from the Redhawks, they couldn’t manage to bring any runs across the plate in the Division 4 Round of 16 as their season came to a close on Wednesday afternoon.

Delaney Fifield ripped three hits to pace Frontier’s offense, with Ashley Taylor, Sophia Pinardi, Gabrielle Adams, Hailey Hutkoski and Whitney Campbell each recording a hit as well. Raine Wonsey got the start in the circle for the Redhawks and pitched five innings until Taylor came in to pitch a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

Adams and Hutkoski are the two seniors departing from this year’s Frontier roster, helping lead the Hawks to their most wins in a single season since 2019.

Girls tennis

Div. 3 Round of 16

No. 9 Belchertown 3, No. 8 Watertown 2 – Thanks to a doubles sweep on Wednesday, the Belchertown girls tennis team will continue its waltz through the MIAA Division 3 Tournament.

The ninth-seeded Orioles picked up wins at both doubles positions, and also used a straight-set victory from No. 1 singles player Ava Shea to notch a 3-2 road victory over No. 8 Watertown in the Round of 16.

Belchertown (19-3) will play at No. 1 Wilmington in the state quarterfinals on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Shea took care of business via a 6-0, 6-0 decision at No. 1 singles.

Then the doubles teams followed suits. Emalee Chaisson and Mia Corish captured a 6-2, 6-3 win at No. 1 doubles while the second doubles tandem of Kasey Gibbons and Amanda Murray were 6-2, 6-1 victors.

Baseball

Div. 3 Round of 16

No. 12 Sandwich 6, No. 37 Belchertown 1 — The Orioles’ Cinderella run has finally come to a close in the Round of 16, but not without a valiant effort.

Belchertown tied the game at one apiece in the top of the fourth inning on a Jake Waller RBI single that brought home Josh Misiaszek (double). But Sandwich responded with two more runs in the next half inning to deflate the Orioles, which only managed three hits off Sandwich’s starting pitcher in his six innings of work.

Ian McDonald and Derek Gould added hits for Belchertown, a team that turned in back-to-back upsets – first over No. 28 Foxborough then a shocker over No. 5 Blackstone Valley – in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Evan Ferguson got the start, tossing four innings while striking out four and walking nobody on four hits and three runs. McDonald (two innings, four hits, three runs, one walk, one strikeout) came in to relieve Ferguson.