WORCESTER — Turners Falls now owns nine girls’ softball state titles, the most of any program in the state.
As coach Gary Mullins acknowledged after his team’s 2-1 win over Austin Prep for the Division 3 crown on Saturday afternoon, the small program from Montague has caught a few breaks along the way.
Turners took advantage of a break in its rematch against Prep Saturday.
With two outs in the fourth inning of a 1-1 game Saturday, Melissa Hersey sent a high pop fly into shallow right field. The ball dropped in between the Austin Prep first baseman and right fielder, allowing Taylor Murphy to score the go-ahead run to give Turners Falls a 2-1 lead.
Turners then limited Austin Prep to two hits over the final fourf innings to win its third straight championship.
“You can’t make mistakes in big games, you just can’t,” Austin Prep coach Frank Sorrenti said. “The lip of the outfield might have thrown [the first baseman] off a little bit, but it’s a team effort. You win as a team and lose as a team and that’s how we look at it. We fought and battled and had a chance to win the game and we just couldn’t get that one big hit.”
Austin Prep (23-3) put runners on second and third in the sixth inning, but was unable to push the runners across.
The first two Austin Prep batters popped out before Kendra Currier drew a walk. Currier advanced to third on by a double from Francesca Frelick. But the rally ended there. Caroline Sablone hit a high fly ball to center field for the third out.
“Coming in, I really thought this was the year for us,” Sorrenti said. Prep was shut out by Turners, 2-0, in last year’s fina.
“The way we played in the tournament, we took it up to another level and it just didn’t go our way today . . . We have a lot of respect for their program and what they do, but we think we’re a pretty good team too.”
Turners Falls (23-2) opened the game with a pair of hits before Austin Prep pitcher Logan MacDonald seemed to settle in. Cassidhe Wozniak led off with a ground ball single. She scored on a double by Gabby Arzuaga for a 1-0 lead.
Austin Prep plated the tying run in the third. Cristina Tighe singled through the left side of the field and scored on double to left by Lauren Sablone.
“This thing isn’t easy to win, I know that,” Mullins said.
“We’ve been here a few times and we’ve lost our share here too, but we caught a few breaks.”Brandan Blom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.