Boston High School: Taylor Marcotte

D1 softball final: Milford 1, Agawam 0

June, 16, 2013
6/16/13
2:31
AM ET


WORCESTER, Mass. – For the second year in a row, the Milford Hawks are the Division 1 state champions and, also for the second year in row, it was a freshman that delivered the winning hit.

Jill Powers’ sixth-inning double plated Allie Piergustavo with the game’s lone run, as Milford (25-1) took home the trophy with a 1-0 win over Agawam (18-7) on Saturday night at Rockwood Field on the campus of Worcester State University.

Heading into the sixth inning, Milford had already managed six hits off of Brownies starter Allison Wheeler, but had left seven runners on base. With two outs, Piergustavo drew a walk to reach base for the third time in the game. Powers came up next and wasted no time, drilling the first pitch on a line to the fence in left center and head coach Brian Macchi did not hesitate to wave Piergustavo home from first.

Macchi noted that his freshman shortstop had made an adjustment ahead of that crucial at bat, which paid off with the game-winning hit.

“Jill Powers has worked hard all season and it was funny that the inning before we were talking about staying back and thinking about driving the ball up the middle,” Macchi said. “She did it at the right time and it’s the biggest hit of her life to this point.”

He added, “Tonight, the bottom of the lineup getting the job done with Jill Powers knocking in Allie Piergustavo, it’s just a great way to end it.”

In the 2012 final, catcher Taylor LeBrun had the walk-off base hit as a freshman and Powers matched those heroics this season, although she admitted after the game that she was a little confused at the excitement over her hit.

“I was just in shock after I hit it, I was like why is everyone cheering so loud,” said an ecstatic Powers. “I was just thinking about knocking that run in; I wasn’t thinking about what point in the game we were at.”

Agawam’s only offensive threat came in the top of the first. Faith Rheault, who also delivered a stirring rendition of the National Anthem prior to the game, lined a base hit to right and advanced to second on a passed ball. After the second strikeout of the inning, star catcher Reilly Weiners drew a walk, but Taylor Marcotte bounced back to the pitcher to end the rally.

Agawam would not get another base runner for the remainder of the game.

Milford senior pitcher Shannon Smith, who is the state’s all-time strikeout leader and headed to the University of Kentucky next season, added to her impressive performances this postseason with 13 strikeouts. Smith allowed only three runs all season and none in six tournament games, while eclipsing the 1,200-strikeout mark for her career.

In the top of the seventh, protecting a one-run lead, Smith struck out the three, four, and five hitters in the Agawam lineup. It was a fitting end to a remarkable career.

Smith talked about her mindset heading into the final inning of her career.

“I knew those hitters were going to be amped,” she said. “I knew they were going to be trying to hit a homerun…and I just wanted to keep pitching my game, make sure the team stayed level-headed and focused for three outs, and then start the celebrations.”

Smith added, “Winning one is great, winning two is even better, but finishing my entire high school career with a state championship win – that’s probably the best possible situation that you could ever have.”



Macchi praised Smith’s contributions to the program both on and off the field.

“Just to watch her work day in, day out for these four years – she wanted to cap it off with a win today,” he said. “It just cements her legacy in Milford High athletics and the game of softball in the state. She’s been an outstanding student-athlete to coach; it’s been an absolute honor to watch her play.”

The Hawks had several chances to take the lead earlier in the game. Milford had at least one base runner in scoring position in every inning but the first, but struggled to get the clutch hit that it needed.

In the second inning, Piergustavo crushed a double over the center fielder’s head, but Caroline Fairbanks, who went 2-for-3 in her final game, was thrown out at the plate on a very close call. In the fifth, the Hawks had runners at first and second with one out, but Wheeler wiggled out of the jam by getting Smith to fly out to right and Fairbanks to ground to short.

In the end, it was an unlikely contributor that broke the deadlock and gave Milford the one run it needed.

The five seniors on the team have each played since their freshmen seasons and have led Milford to three state championship games, back-to-back state titles, and an incredible 50-1 record over the past two years. Macchi reflected on the impact of that group and the fulfillment of its preseason goal.

“I told them that they had a chance to leave a lasting impression and they did that today,” he noted. “They had a mission at the beginning of the season – mission accomplished. We are always going to be a group together…from this point on we’re going to be known as 2013 state champs and it sounds really good.”

D1 softball semi: Agawam 2, Marlborough 1

June, 15, 2013
6/15/13
12:50
AM ET
MONTAGUE, Mass. -- To get to this point, it goes without question that a little luck is needed.

For Agawam, on Friday night, the Brownies received their fair share and then some after pulling out a thrilling 2-1 victory over Marlborough in the Division 1 state semifinal played at Turners Falls High School.

With only three hits to its credit, Agawam won this tilt on the strength of its defense, its cool customer of a pitcher (freshman Allison Wheeler) and a lack of execution by the Panthers.

The Brownies (18-6) is back in the finals for the first time since 1995 when they lost to Bishop Fenwick. They will face Milford on Saturday at 7 p.m. from Rockwood Field in Worcester. Agawam and Milford are no strangers to one another. In last year's state semifinal, the Hawks dominated the Brownies, 13-0.

"Our defense got us here and our defense won this game," said Agawam head coach Kathy Georgina. "Allison [Wheeler] pitched great again. We are ready for Milford. This time we aren't walking in blind like last year. We know Shannon Smith is an excellent pitcher. We know what she can do and we know what we can do."

Against Marlborough, Agawam dodged a number of bullets to survive. The Panthers (17-7) finished the game having left eight runners on base, including seven in scoring position.

Trailing 2-1, Marlborough squandered a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead in the fourth.

With two runners on, Victoria Petrie lined a Wheeler fastball to right for a single. Lead runner Jessica Acosta, who was on second base, was waved around third. But right fielder Mary Kate Reidy threw missile to catcher Rielly Wieners. Just a few feet from home plate, Acosta stopped dead in her tracks and retreated back to third.

"We didn't get flustered," Georgina said. "Allison [Wheeler] showed tremendous maturity out there. That out we got [in the fourth] was a huge break for us.

Meanwhile, trailing runner Jen Bombard had already touched third at that point and went a few feet towards home. But once the senior saw Acosta coming back, Bombard spun around and headed back to second. Acosta barely got back to third safely with Wieners chasing her, but umpires ruled Bombard out because she never stepped back on third in her attempts to return to second base. Now with runners on the corners and two out, Wheeler struck out Erin Coughlin to end the inning.

In the seventh, Marlborough threatened again. Victoria Falco opened by singling to right. A steal and wild pitch moved the junior to third with two out, representing the tying run. But Wheeler got Erin Coughlin to ground out to end the game.

The Panthers jumped on Wheeler for a run in the first after Wieners threw the ball into center field trying to nail Bombard, who was stealing. Marissa Flynn, who reached on an error to start the game, scored easily.

The Brownies, after having trouble with Marlborough pitcher Molly McGuire early, finally got to the hard-throwing senior in the third. A Panther error and a Paige Circosta single put runners at the corners. Wieners then atoned for her earlier mistake by ripping an RBI single to left to tie things at 1-1. Taylor Marcotte followed with a ground ball to second. Flynn, Marlborough's second baseman, tried to go the easy route and throw out pinch-runner Jess Lingenburg streaking toward second. But Flynn's throw was off the mark and went into the outfield allowing Circosta to score the go-ahead run.

"We were able to get out of some tight jams because Allison hit her spots when she needed to," Wieners said. "She missed a couple of times but she really battled through it. Her mental toughness got us through this game. It's all about heart and our ability to manufacture runs when we needed to and do what it takes to get it done."

Marlboro, which finished with nine hits, will come away from this affair knowing the chances it left on the base paths, especially in the fourth and seventh innings. The Panthers also saw another chance to add runs snuffed out in the second. Again with runners on second and third and two out, Flynn smashed a hard grounder just to the right of second base. But Marcotte, Agawam's second baseman, dove to snare the ball and managed to throw out Flynn from her backside by a half step.

"Overall I thought we hit the ball well but just didn't get the clutch hits tonight," said Marlborough head coach Kyle Westcott. "We got a lot of runners on but didn't score when we needed to. It was an unbelievable season. No Marlboro softball team had ever won a district championship prior to this year. It was an amazing group and I'm proud of all of them."

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