WORCESTER, Mass. -- With one swing of the bat, Samantha Caouette turned a day of misery into something she'll never forget the rest of her life.
With the game scoreless in the bottom of the seventh, Turners Falls had a runner on first and nobody out. Caouette, who struck out and popped out in her first two plate appearances, desperately wanted to do something positive to lift her spirits. That she did, ripping a low fastball into the gap between right and center field for an RBI triple to give the Indians the Division 3 state softball crown yesterday at Rockwood Field on the campus of Worcester State University.
"In my first two at bats I was upset," said Caouette, a junior. "Coach (Gary Mullins) gave me the bunt sign in that last at bat but I fouled it off. He gave the bunt sign again but I didn't hear it and just swung the bat and it worked out well though so I'm happy."
Caoutte's heroics spoiled a superb performance from Case pitcher Shannon Orton. The junior handcuffed the Indians over the first six frames, allowing just four hits along with eight K's. But in the seventh, she wasn't so fortunate. Elysia Ollari opened the inning by reaching on an infield single thus setting the stage for Caouette's dramatics.
The Cardinals (19-7) will come away from this contest knowing they had their chances. In all, they stranded nine runners on base, including five in scoring position. But thanks to Turners Falls pitcher Emily Mailloux, Case could never strike for the big hit when it needed it most. Mailloux, a senior, allowed five hits and struckout five.
"We've been executing all year but today we had a little trouble executing," Cardinals coach Norm Beauchemin said. "I never expected (Caouette) to swing the bat the way she did there in the end. She placed that ball nicely. It went right through the gap and they just kept running. As for us, we had a great season and they're a classy bunch of girls on this team. We'll be back. I'm sure we will."
Twice did the Cardinals strand a runner at third but failed to get the run in. In turn, the Indians used that as inspiration knowing they dodged several bullets and came away unscathed.
For Turners Falls, it completed a perfect 25-0 season, the third unbeaten season in Mullins' 32 year career at the helm. The Indians will add their fifth state trophy into the showcase. As a Division 2 team, Turners Falls won titles in 2004 and 2005. Including yesterday's triumph, the Indians have claimed three Division 3 titles also achieving the feat in 2006 and 2008. For Case, it was looking to capture its first state championship since 2001.
The Cardinals' best chance to score came in the fifth after Danielle Robillard reached first on a throwing error. The sophomore was sacrificed to second and took third on a Shawna Marchand infield single. But Mailloux, who mixed her pitches well throughout, got Danielle Medeiros swinging at a third-strike change up to get out of the inning.
Turners Falls had an opportunity to take the lead in the sixth after Dakota Smith-Porter opened the frame with a single and would advance to second on a Mailloux ground out. Jenna Putala would pinch-run for Smith-Porter and moved to third on a pass ball.
However, the seventh-grader caught got in no man's land after Orton stabbed a Brittany York grounder and got Putala out following a rundown.
But in the seventh, the Indians were poised not to make any mistakes and get out of this thing without giving the Cardinals any life in extra innings. Thanks to Caouette, mission accomplished.
"Case's outfield was playing shallow all game long so I was just waiting for somebody to pop one," said Mullins. "We weren't getting it done but in the seventh we finally did. But honestly it was there for us all game long. We've been fortunate at times this season and now we're just happy that we got the championship."