Turners Falls' Phillips throws perfect game

AMHERST, Mass. -- Mackenzie Phillips knew precisely what was taking place but never led on.

As the things progressed, the Turners Falls sophomore pitcher knew she hadn't allowed a single Pathfinder player to reach base.

When it was all said and done, Phillips proved to be perfect as she allowed no runs, no hits, no walks and her teammates committing no errors en route to a 7-0 triumph in Saturday's Division 3 Western Mass. final played at UMass' Sortino Field.

"It's pretty cool," said Phillips, who also recorded 14 strikeouts on the evening. "I don't really get nervous in games but I also don't feel that I have processed it yet. I knew I had a perfect game going but I just didn't think about it because that will only distract you."

Ironically, in the Indians' first round 22-0 blowout over Smith Vocational, Phillips fired a no-hitter.

Turners Falls (22-2) moves on to the state semifinal round against defending state champ Assabet Valley (21-3) on Tuesday beginning at 3 p.m. from Worcester State University's Rockwood Field. The Indians sit just two wins away from claiming their seventh state title.

"I was calling the pitches but I really didn't know she had a perfect game going so how dumb am I?" Indians 35th year head coach Gary Mullins said. "I've been called dumb many times so just add it to the list. We knew their pitcher carries an awful lot of weight for them so our hope was to keep the top of their line up off base and not let Jenna Maska hit then they don't score the runs. We were fortunate to get the lead early and I thought if we could get 4 or 5 runs we should win the game."

Against Pathfinder (21-3), Turners Falls was facing one of the better pitchers in the state. Maska, a senior, who has over 1,000 career Ks to her credit, was expected to give the Indians fits. On top of that, the Pioneers were coming off a huge upset victory over defending WMass champ Mt. Everett in the semifinal round in which Maska, who will pitch for Dominican College next year, out-dueled UNC-Greensboro-bound hurler Alicia Bazonski to earn the team's first-ever trip to the WMass finals.

For whatever reason, Pathfinder came out tight to begin the contest. To no fault of Maska's, the Pioneers defense committed six errors behind her, including three in the first inning which helped Turners Falls stake itself out to a 2-0 lead. In the inning, Morgan Ozdarski led off by reaching on an error. With Madelyn Johnson pinch-running, Amber Caouette ripped a triple to right. On the play, Pioneer right fielder Arrianna Reilly held onto the ball to long thus allowing Caouette to score.

While Phillips was setting down the Pathfinder batters with ease, her teammates continued to benefit her with more added support. In the fourth, Phillips led things off by smashing a double. With Nicole Thibeault running for Phillips, Mackenzie Salls flared a single to center. After Salls swiped second, Emma Johnson walked to load the bases.

With the Pioneer defense playing in, Hailey Whipple hit a grounder to second. On the play, second baseman Sam Marty went home with the throw but it sailed wide of catcher Sam Squires, plating both Thibeault and Salls. Turners Falls would go up by five runs in the frame after Johnson scored on an Ozdarski ground out.

The way Phillips was owning the Pioneers, a lead of that margin was all but a virtual lock. Pathfinder's batters were late throughout the evening in trying to catch up with Phillips' fastball. And when she issued a change-up every now and then? Forget it.

"(Mackenzie) seemed focused the whole game," said senior Ozdarski, who was on the receiving end of Phillips' perfection. "We have a very good relationship and I know how she pitches. I've learned where she wanted to pitch the ball. We both trust one another so it's a very good relationship. She's very smart and knows what she is doing all the time."

The Indians would add a pair more runs for good measure in the fifth courtesy of Maska wild pitch and another Pioneer miscue. Maska allowed 5 hits and struck out 9).

"It was a bad day," Pathfinder head coach Chris Pope said. "They came to play. They've been here a bunch of times before and we haven't. That's not an excuse. We just didn't play well today. (Phillips) pitched a great game for them. I think we were playing scared and didn't do very much cleanly as compared to our game against Mt. Everett where nothing could go wrong for us. Today, everything went wrong."

Hampshire outlasts Frontier

Brian McGan was a tad nervous prior to the start of his team's Division 2 final showdown against Frontier Regional. Ten innings, and several missed-opportunities by both sides later, the Hampshire Regional head coach could finally let out an exhale.

With the game deadlocked, the Red Raiders started to make some noise in the bottom of the 10th in hopes of ending this marathon. The Red Raiders put two runners on with one out. With Kathryn O'Connor at the plate, the freshman delivered by lining a single just inside the left field line to plate Marissa Sarna-McCarthy and give Hampshire a 2-1 triumph.

"We had been looking for a clutch hit all game and finally got it," said McGan. "We had chances a few times early on but couldn't get that hit. I told the kids to just keep it close and something good will happen for us."

The Red Raiders (19-3) will once again take on CMass and defending two-time state champion Grafton in the semifinals on Tuesday at Rockwood Field beginning at 5 p.m. Hampshire fell to Grafton in the 2012 state semi.

Red Raiders pitcher Alexis Ferris held her own against the Red Hawks (18-3). The sophomore scattered 4 hits and fanned 13. Her only blemish on the afternoon came in the Frontier fourth on Cassidy Ciesluk's RBI single to tie the game.

"It was a really intense game and I was nervous the whole time," Ferris said. "I had faith in my team throughout because they play so well. I have so much confidence in our defense and our offense coming up with big hits at the right time. This team keeps battling. We've been doing that all year."

Equally impressive was Red Hawks senior ace McKayla Poissant. The righty took the hard-luck defeat despite allowing 10 hits but continued to work herself out of jams. Hampshire jumped ahead 1-0 in the third. Junior Savannah Waters (3 hits) singled, stole second and came home on Anna Dziok's single.

Waters, a solid player, came into the contest batting .458 with 15 RBI, including a pair of home runs.

After the Red Hawks tallied their run one inning later, few expected the rest of this contest to become a pitcher's duel. In the Red Raiders' half of the seventh, a golden opportunity to pull out the win in regulation fell by the way side. Taylor Boutwell lined a single to center and Waters followed by singling to left with Boutwell taking third. A Chelsea Moussette grounded out to to third but McGan sent Boutwell home once third baseman Gwen Thayer fired to first. Alertly, Ciesluk, playing first, fired a strike to the plate to nail Boutwell for a double play. Poissant got of the fracas by inducing Dziok to pop out to end the inning.

"It was an amazing game and I don't think there were many who expected us to go 10 innings against Hampshire," Red Hawks head coach Carrie Fydenkevez said. "It's tournament softball Usually the team that gets the most hits wins and today they got a few more hits then we did. I told my kids to leave everything out on the field and they did. McKayla gave us everything she had today. I can't say enough about her. She never got riled out there and the defense behind her made the plays when they needed to make plays."

The momentum of that play didn't carry over to Frontier and some might have expected. During the last two innings, the Red Hawks managed just one hit against Ferris.

"She pitched great for us," McGan said. "You could see she was a little nervous and wild at times early on. I went out to talk to her to settle her down. She kept the ball in and threw the ball hard so give her credit. Ten innings is a long time to go out there."

Westfield moves into WMass final

Living up to its No. 1 seeding, the Bombers rallied from an early two-run deficit to overtake No. 4 Minnechaug 5-2 in a Division 1 semifinal round game. Westfield (22-0) will face No. 2 Longmeadow (18-4) in Sunday's final beginning at 10 a.m. at Sortino Field.

The Falcons (15-7) raced out a 2-0 lead in the first on a bases-loaded error and an RBI single by Katherine Patterson. The remainder of this tilt, however, belonged to the Bombers. A run-scoring single off the bat of Kaitlyn Puza in the bottom of the first cut the deficit to one. Westfield took over for good, jumping ahead 3-2. The Bombers loaded the bases against Falcons pitcher Olivia Guyer setting up Karly Mestello's two-run single. Adding to Minnechaug's misery was seeing its head coach Rob Baroni get ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

The Falcons never seemed to recover after that. Westfield added to its total one frame later after the Falcons imploded for three errors and an RBI from Lexi Miniccuci.