WORCESTER, Mass. -- The transcendent climb of the Holy Name softball team did not begin in the postseason. In fact, it started a week prior when the Naps defeated then-unbeaten Nashoba Regional.
That victory game Holy Name a huge lift. One it hasn't come down from since.
On Wednesday night, the Naps faced another unbeaten foe and yet again, took care of business, upending West champion Westfield, 6-1, in the Division 1 state semifinal played at Rockwood Field.
Holy Name (22-2) will square off against Bridgewater-Raynham (24-1) there on Saturday for the state title beginning at 7 p.m. The Naps have played in the state final six times and have yet to win a title.
"Nashoba was the best team and were undefeated and had a great pitcher," Naps head coach Aimee Lee said. "After beating them I think it was a high for us and I think we haven't come down from it and we're still going."
Holy Name took advantage of a few Bombers' jitters in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. It remained that way until Westfield (23-1) got a run back in the fifth. However, perhaps a bit complacent during the middle frames, the Naps offense re-awoke in their half of the seventh to put this game out of reach.
"I kept telling our girls in the later innings that I can't want this game more than them," Lee said. "I think once Westfield scored that run it brought us back to reality and we started hitting again in the seventh."
With Bridget Mias on base following a bunt single, senior Ama Biney smashed a triple to centerfield. A Heather Drummond (3 hits) double sent Biney to the plate. That was proceeded moments later by a Kelsey Saucier's RBI single and suddenly, Holy Name's was now up by five runs.
"It gets pretty exciting when everyone starts to hit the ball and everyone starts to get up again," Drummond said. "Then hits begin to string along and the other team gets down on themselves and we just keep it going. When we were up 3-1 I didn't feel safe. I wanted us to get more hits and more runs and we were able to."
Westfield, which defeated Longmeadow in the WMass final thanks to Annalise Eak's walk-off RBI single, appeared a bit nervous to start this contest and it eventually showed. Biney opened the first inning by reaching on an error. After stealing second, Drummond brought her home with a single. After Drummond advanced to third on a Saucier ground out, Bombers catcher Kaitlyn Puza tried to pick the junior off following a Sarah McNerney pitch. Unfortunately, the ball sailed into left field and Drummond scored easily with Holy Name's second run.
After Danielle Rocheleau kept the inning going with a single, Lauren Merritt hit a fly ball to centerfield that was dropped by Jessie Pratt. With Rocheleau now standing on third base, Deanna DiPilato sent her home with a ground out.
"I think we were a little tight early on," said Westfield head coach Joe Stella. "Holy Name overall has got to be the best team we've seen this year. They have pitching, defense, speed to burn and they can hit. I thought we calmed down after the first inning. We cut it to 3-1 and were getting our bats on the ball. But in the seventh things went the other way."
Saucer, Holy Name's senior ace pitcher, gave us six hits and struck out nine. McNerney, also a senior, surrendered 10 hits.
"We are a team that wants to score first," said Saucier, who will attend WPI next year. "Usually the team that scores first is the team that carries the momentum into the further innings. Westfield is a very good team. Even if we had a 10 run lead on that team you couldn't feel safe. That's why you have to play every inning as if it is your last and that's how we approached it."