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Franklin’s upset hopes slip away in extra innings

Twelfth-ranked Franklin (12-6) was two outs away from returning to the Division III softball championship game for the first time since 2010, but a two-run gap shot in the bottom of the eighth inning by Pelham’s Chantal Roussel propelled the fourth-ranked Pythons (13-4) past the Golden Tornadoes and into the finals, winning 7-6 yesterday.

Franklin trailed Pelham, 3-1, heading into the top of the third, but after a Mariah Gauthier walk and a Shelby Joyce single, starting pitcher Kelsey Bird came to the plate and scorched a three-run home run to center field to give her team the lead, 4-3.

Pelham came right back to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning as Sarah Ratcliffe scored on a costly error by Franklin.

Perhaps taking inspiration from the French Open, the two teams volleyed back and forth again with Franklin taking a one-run lead with a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fourth inning, only to have Bird give up a game-tying sacrifice fly to Shannon Morin after walking the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth.

Neither team was able to push another run across through the seventh, so the game went into extra innings. Franklin’s Gauthier reached second base on a throwing error in the top of the eighth, bringing Kat Styles to the plate. Already with an RBI in the game, Styles came through when it mattered most, driving Gauthier in with a line shot up the middle.

Bird came back out, hoping to close out the game, but a leadoff single and a untimely walk spelled disaster for the Golden Tornadoes, who fell to 1-3 in one-run games this season, with the only victory coming last round against Berlin in the quarterfinals.

“Our … solid hitting continued today (Franklin outhit Pelham, 11-5) and we were solid in the field,” Franklin Coach Skip DuBois said.

“Our third baseman, Anna Doherty made a remarkable stop on a ball that was scorched down the third baseline and Rachel Capri was outstanding in right field … but one error and some mistimed walks made things an uphill battle.”

No. 2 Conant 4, No. 7 Hopkinton 1

The third time wasn’t a charm for the Hawks (13-5), as they fell to the undefeated Orioles (18-0) for the third time this season.

Conant took a 1-0 lead in the first with three singles, but Hopkinton tied it in the third with two outs as Kasey Smith reached on an infield single, stole second and was driven home by Sarah Ewing.

Conant responded in the bottom of the inning as a single and error put the go-ahead run on third and a sacrifice fly broke the tie, 2-1.

The Orioles extended their lead on a two-out, two-run single to make it 4-1. Hopkinton continued to battle but could manage only one more hit off Conant: a single by Becca Shatney.

Shatney (complete game, nine hits, two strikeouts) pitched well for the Hawks, only allowing four runs to an Orioles team that averaged 12.3 runs per game during the regular season. She helped herself with several nice plays in the field, as did third baseman Sarah Ewing.

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