Div. 4 softball: Top-seeded Joseph Case uses big 6th inning to take down Hampshire Regional in quarters

Hampshire Regional’s Hailey Wodecki (17) drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against Clinton in the bottom of the second inning during the MIAA Division 4 Round of 16 on Wednesday in Westhampton.

Hampshire Regional’s Hailey Wodecki (17) drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against Clinton in the bottom of the second inning during the MIAA Division 4 Round of 16 on Wednesday in Westhampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By CONNOR PIGNATELLO

Staff Writer

Published: 06-08-2024 8:04 PM

Modified: 06-09-2024 5:58 PM


SWANSEA – They were six outs away.

Six outs from a second straight trip to the MIAA Division 4 semifinals, six outs from an upset over the No. 1 seed and six outs from revenge over the team that beat them in last year’s state title game.

But then it all went awry.

No. 8 Hampshire Regional and No. 1 Joseph Case played five and a half evenly matched innings before the Cardinals exploded for nine runs in the bottom of the sixth. In the span of 15 minutes, the game flipped from a 3-2 Hampshire lead to an 11-3 Joseph Case win. The Cardinals advance to their third straight Final Four – they beat the Raiders 7-2 to win last year’s state title.

Three backbreaking errors by Hampshire infielders and three equally backbreaking two-run hits by Joseph Case turned a close game into a lopsided affair.

“I feel like we stuck with them throughout the entire game until that one inning,” Hampshire senior third baseman Hailey Wodecki said. “And then everything just snowballed.”

Freshman pitchers Ryanne Dubay and Lila Alvarez started the game with two scoreless frames each before Hampshire broke through with a two-out rally in the top of the third.

Rachael Hickox drew a walk, Wodecki doubled her home with a blast off the center field wall, and Teagan Charles drove Wodecki home with an RBI single to give Hampshire a 2-0 lead.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Pot company to pay $350K fine over worker’s death at Holyoke plant
Plainfield man, 55, dies in crash
Northampton panel member’s reappointment opposed after ‘ugly’ handicapped access remark
Statewide 911 outage fixed after two hours offline
UMass launches task force in wake of spring protests, will also review police activity
Belchertown voters resoundingly strike down override for new middle school

Joseph Case quickly tied the game in the bottom of the third on a two-run homer from Bre Fontes that cleared the fence by at least 20 feet. Fontes also hit three home runs in the Cardinals’ Round of 16 win.

But Hampshire got back on top right away in the top of the fourth. The visitors loaded the bases with one out, and Wodecki drove in a run after she was hit by a pitch. 

After Hampshire took a 3-2 lead, the score remained unchanged for the next two innings. Then it all unraveled.

“We fought them through five innings and in that one inning everything just fell apart,” Hampshire head coach Brian McGan said. “It’s kind of been our season so far, we play well for four or five innings and then when we go bad, it’s that one inning that makes us go bad.”

Joseph Case’s Sky Dupre led off the sixth by reaching on an error and then scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game 3-3. Then, eight of the next nine Joseph Case batters reached base. The Cardinals sent 13 hitters to the plate in the inning and Alvarez, Megan Smith and Ella Preston all cracked two-run hits. A young Hampshire team committed three errors and Case hit two pop-ups just out of reach of Raider infielders.

“I think after one error it’s really hard to just knock that off and not get mad or down on yourself,” Wodecki said. “I feel like sometimes we just get in our own heads about it and then it reflects on your play in the field.”

“When things fail behind you, and you don’t have that confidence that ‘I can make this happen,’ it’ll find you,” McGan said. “They’ll learn from that. They really will. I believe they will. I believe we’ll be right back here again next year.”

Hampshire finally made it out of the inning, but only had three outs left to score eight runs. CC Thayer hit a double in the left field gap, but Joseph Case quickly got three outs to close it out.

Hampshire graduates just two seniors (Wodecki and Ashley Cortis) and its team is primarily made up of underclassmen. Wodecki said she thinks they’re on the right track. McGan agreed.

“I believe it,” McGan said. “They have to believe it. They’re only going to get better.”

No. 2 Tyngsborough 4, No. 10 South Hadley 1 – After posting shutouts in their first two state tournament games, the Tigers saw their 2024 campaign come to an end on Sunday in Tyngsborough via a 4-1 quarterfinal loss.

South Hadley finished its season 15-8 overall.

Tyngsborough (21-2) will play No. 3 Pittsfield in the Final Four on Wednesday at Worcester State University.

Girls tennis

Div. 3 quarterfinals

No. 1 Wilmington 3, No. 9 Belchertown 2 – The Orioles and their group of 10 seniors suffered a heartbreaker away at top-seeded Wilmington on Saturday morning.

Wilmington won first and second singles (Savannah Beatrice def. Ava Shea 6-3, 6-0 and Jaslene Ryou def. Anna Stamp 6-2, 6-1) but Belchertown matched them by winning first and second doubles (Mia Carish and Emalee Chaisson def. Madison Benoit and Sophia LaVita 6-4, 6-0 and Amanda Murray and Kasey Gibbons def. Maria Cummings and Allison D’Arco 6-4, 6-4).

It all came down to third singles, where Wilmington’s Shubhangi Tripathi came back from down a set and down a break in the final set to defeat Gianna Picardi 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Belchertown’s season ended with a Western Mass. Class B title and a 19-4 overall record.