AGAWAM, Mass. -- After loading the bases in the bottom of the seventh and only to come up empty, Agawam softball was given a second reprieve one inning later. With the game tied, the Brownies put runners at the corners with one out.
This time around there would be no disappointment.
Senior Mary Reidy lined a Jillian Stockley fastball to right field for a single that scored Maria Moccio with the game-winning run giving Agawam a tightly-fisted 2-1 triumph over Longmeadow on Patriots Day.
With one out in the frame, Moccio, a freshman, reached on an infield single. Pinch-hitter Alyssa Eggleston laid down a sacrifice bunt but on the play, Lancer second baseman Kaitlynn Geier, covering first, failed to look the ball into her glove as it rolled into foul territory. That set the stage for Reidy's walk-off single.
"That was a repeat of the [Western Mass.] final of last year (won by the Brownies 1-0)," said Agawam head coach Kathy Georgina, her team improving to 6-1. "It was the same intensity as that final by both teams. We started getting our bats going late today. Once we got the timing down I was beginning to feel a lot more comfortable and we also played tremendous defense today which was huge."
In the first five innings, Stockley, a junior fireballer, kept Agawam in check, holding them to a pair of singles. Longmeadow (6-2) already enjoyed a 1-0 lead courtesy of Ally Mishol's RBI triple in the first off of Brownies superb sophomore ace Allison Wheeler, who no-hit Palmer in her previous outing.
In most cases, a one run lead for Stockley is enough. Once the Lancers took the lead, Wheeler finally settled down quite nicely, allowing just two hits the rest of the way while striking out eight.
"A win like this certainly boosts confidence," Georgina said. "That was a quality team that we faced and during the season to this point we hadn't really had a test except for Westfield. Today was a really good test and by winning it is a huge confidence boost for all of our girls."
With the game now reaching dangerous territory for the defending Division 1 state finalists, the Brownies knew they to come through with something positive to get back in it. In the sixth, those hopes were answered. Senior Danielle Stratton, who entered with a batting average of .520, began things with a slap single to right. After taking second on a pass ball, she would sprint home moments later on Taylor Marcotte's ground single to the left side knotting things at 1-1.
"Obviously we wanted to win today," Lancers head coach Steve Marcil said. "But I think we are still fine. We took a lot of positives out of today. I still thing we are going to be there as long as we keep working at it. We need to make some strides and make better contact. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. We would have liked it to be us today but we're still very confident. We know what we are and we'll be fine."
After Wheeler set Longmeadow down in order in the seventh, Agawam, with newfound momentum, was looking to end things in its half of the frame.
It certainly appeared as though the Brownies would do just that. Reidy opened with a single to right. Rebecca Uschmann next laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached base safely after Stockley threw wide of the bag putting both runners into scoring position.
Stockley (8 IP, 7 hits, 11 Ks) re-asserted herself by retiring the next two batters. After Stratton (2 hits) was intentionally walked to load the bases, it was now up to Stockley to get out of the mess. The UConn-commit bore down by striking out Rachel Lapponese to disperse of the threat.
It certainly would have been easy for Agawam to hang its heads after failing to score in regulation, but they didn't. Realizing they had the bat speed to catch up to Stockley's fastball, the Brownies continued to walk up to the plate aggressively, and in the eighth, that demeanor would pay huge dividends.
"We are a young team overall and I think we handled the added pressure of playing extra innings well," said Stratton. "We came through when it mattered the most. I think we did all we could do to get on base. People came through with some big hits. We were really prepared for the level of pitching we were going to see today."