Despite jitters, Franklin walks past Berlin and into softball quarterfinals
Franklin's Lexi Colpack jumps away from a ball during Friday's tournament game against Berlin at Franklin's Odel Park. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Franklin pitcher Kelsey Bird fires a fast ball in the NHIAA tournamanet game against Berlin at Franklin's Odel Park on Friday, May 31, 2013. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Franklin short stop Kaitlyn Brace points to the out as second baseman Lauren Hennessy looks for a throw to first in the NHIAA tournament game against Berlin at Franklin's Odel Park on Friday, May 31, 2013. (Alan MacRae/for the Monitor)
Playoff jitters were evident in the Division III softball second-round playoff matchup between eighth-ranked Franklin (13-4) and ninth-seeded Berlin (11-6). The teams combined for 16 walks and a whopping 21 runners left on base.
“We are a very young team,” said Franklin Coach Skip DuBois, whose roster includes more freshmen and sophomores than upperclassmen. “It showed tonight. The playoffs are a whole new type of pressure. In the regular season you are playing for fun. In the playoffs you’ve got more fans, people screaming …”
But the Golden Tornadoes withstood that pressure and took advantage of five walks by Berlin’s pitcher in the second inning to score the winning run and sophomore Amber Vogt came off the bench and provided a key single for some insurance as Franklin earned a berth in the quarterfinals with a 4-2 victory.
“We took a little more advantage of their mistakes than they did of ours,” said DuBois, adding that umpires called “a very tight strike zone compared to what we’ve seen in the past, but it was very consistent.”
Kelsey Bird (four strikeouts, six walks) gave up only five hits, but two Berlin singles in the first inning put the Mountaineers on the scoreboard first. Bird, however, got her team right back in the game, bringing home Lexi Colpack (who reached base on a single) on a sacrifice bunt to tie the game. Franklin’s cause was aided by 10 walks, half of them coming in the second inning, leading to runs from Mariah Gauthier and Kaitlyn Brace (one off a walk and one off a fielder’s choice).
Leading 3-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, Gauthier reached base thanks to another walk and stole second. Then Vogt, who entered the game as a substitute at third base, displayed no playoff jitters in her only at-bat, singling home Gauthier to give the Golden Tornadoes a 4-1 lead.
With the game still within the Mountaineers’ grasp, Bird walked two batters, who advanced on a fielder’s choice. A single cut Franklin’s lead to 4-2, but Berlin could not produce any more hits, stranding two runners to end its season.
Although it wasn’t a particularly impressive effort by either team, Franklin now has a clear vision of what it needs to do when it takes on top-ranked White Mountains in Monday’s quarterfinals, and DuBois made the message loud and clear. “We’ve got to minimize our mistakes.”
The Golden Tornadoes were able to take advantage of an abundance of walks and mistakes in its first round, but those will be few and far between when they take on the undefeated defending champions, who defeated Franklin, 8-1, in their previous meeting.
“They are a complete package,” DuBois said. “They have a very disciplined team defensively and not just one of the best pitchers in Division III, but one of the best in the state.”
DuBois is referring to Spartans’ star pitcher Erica Millett, who struck out 12 in their regular-season matchup, but as DuBois points out, Franklin still produced eight hits.
“It could have been a lot tighter than the score indicated. If we can keep some pressure on them and somehow take a lead and make them play catch-up, it could be an interesting game.”
No. 5 Farmington 2,
No. 12 Hopkinton 1
A pitching battle between sophomores Jennelle Thompson of Farmington (15-3) and Becca Shatney of Hopkinton (10-7), two of the top pitchers in Division III, went down to the wire. But in the end, Thompson was the hero on both sides of the plate, throwing a no-hitter and blasting the only two hits of the contest as the Hawks failed to pull off the upset.
Hopkinton drew first blood in the second inning as Sarah Ewing reached base with a leadoff walk. Thompson made very few mistakes in the game, but the mistakes she made almost cost her team the season. Thompson hit two batters in a row to load the bases and a wild pitch brought Ewing home.
Shatney did a fantastic job from the circle, striking out six (including striking out the side in the fifth inning and retiring the side in the first and fourth innings) and walking one. Shatney allowed only three baserunners through the first five innings and two hits for the game, but a leadoff triple by Thompson in the sixth led to the end of Hopkinton’s season. Thompson nailed one to deep left center and scored on a suicide squeeze by Morgan Moody. A sacrifice play and a fielder’s choice advanced Moody to third and an error on the attempted throw to third led to the winning run.
Emily Bogart reached base on a two-out walk in the seventh and pinch runner Lily Scammon stole second, but a groundout ended things for Hopkinton.
Kelly Scammon made several nice defensive plays for Hopkinton.
No. 1 White Mountains 4,
No. 17 Winnisquam 0
The Bears (9-10) played very well against the defending champion and undefeated Spartans (17-0), but one poor inning in the field combined with managing only one hit off Spartans ace Erica Millett (14 strikeouts, two walks) led to their postseason exit.
Marissa DeBlasie led the Bears from the circle, striking out eight and allowing three hits with two walks. However, two of those hits and one walk, combined with three errors, led to a disastrous second inning that culminated with four unearned White Mountains runs.
The Bears only committed just one error the rest of the way and given that in their two regular-season games Winnisquam lost by scores of 15-4 and 5-1, the team ended the season on a relatively high note.
“Outside of that one half-inning, we played well. We fielded well. We pitched real well. We just didn’t hit as well as we liked … we ran into a buzzsaw today,” said Bears Coach Kevin Dame, adding that White Mountains returns virtually its entire lineup from last year’s championship squad.
Rachel Willcut had a single in the fourth inning for the visitors’ lone hit.
No. 2 Campbell 9,
No. 18 Bow 0
The Falcons (7-11) fell to the Cougars (16-1) for the third time this season in a playoff loss. Starter Kylie Iasillo played well in the losing effort, allowing only one walk and six earned runs while going 2-for-3 at the plate, providing Bow with half of its hits.
Campbell’s offense exploded, however, scoring three runs in the third inning and five more in the fourth to put the game away. The Cougars beat Bow by scores of 15-2 and 12-0 during the regular season.
Miki Dowd and Kelsie Flynn both went 1-for-3 for the Falcons.
No. 4 Conant 12,
No. 13 Bishop Brady 2
The Green Giants strong push at the end of the season couldn’t quite carry them past No. 4 Conant on the road. Brady ends the season with a 10-8 record. No details were reported.