Early runs lead Pittsfield past MAU
BENNINGTON — Whenever the Mount Anthony softball team and Pittsfield meet, a good game is almost guaranteed to ensue.
Wednesday's encounter at MAU didn't disappoint as both teams traded momentum back and forth, ending with the Generals coming out on top 7-5.
The difference in the game came in the top of fourth inning with the score tied 3-3.
After Pittsfield's Sofia Lewis grounded out to shortstop, Mia Potash came up and notched a single, followed by another from Brianna Clary. Generals shortstop Madison Tobin came up next and she hit a ground ball to second base, but MAU misplayed the ball and that allowed two runs to score.
MAU and the Generals are both known for having high-powered offense and both teams put that on display early on.
In the top of the first, Lewis drove in speedy lead-off hitter Natasha Shade on a sac fly, but the Patriots battled right back in their half.
Brianna Murray led off with a single for MAU and Keana Gauthier laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move her over. Shortstop Cat Worthington powered a ball into the gap for a double in the next at-bat and that scored Murray. Danielle Moscarello and Brooke McNulty added runs batted in as well to give the Patriots a 3-1 lead.
That would be all MAU would get for a few innings though and that had a lot to do with the adjustments Pittsfield pitcher Tess Lyon made in the circle. Lyon constantly kept the Patriots off guard by mixing speeds and locations, and for a while, MAU struggled to adapt.
"When [Tess] spots up, she does a good job," said Generals coach Greg Marchbanks. "We were extending the plate a little bit and getting them to chase and they did that for us. She can't live over the middle of the plate."
"She was keeping us on our toes. The whole game they were pitching us outside and then she would get that inside pitch when we were thinking outside," said Patriots coach Jason Dicranian.
While MAU's bats were stifled for a few innings, Pittsfield added on and grabbed a lead. The Generals added six runs over the next three innings on the strength of nine hits. With the Patriots coming to the plate in the fourth, Pittsfield held a four-run lead.
"It's always good to come out and strike first. It gives a little more confidence for the team that we're going to be hitting," Marchbanks said. "[MAU] came out and did the same thing and our team knew [MAU pitcher Emilie O'Brien] wasn't going to hold us and we're going to keep hitting and getting on the bases. It causes a lot of problems for teams. We played the small game, hit the ball hard and ran aggressive on the bases."
Shade was a crucial piece in the aggressiveness that Pittsfield showed on the basepaths. She was on base all four plate appearances, stole multiple bags and scored a pair of runs.
"[Natasha] is a slap hitter and that's what they were giving us. You hit a ground ball to shortstop and there would be no chance to get her," Marchbanks said. "You just read what the defense is giving us and she does a great job of that."
Following the Generals early offensive burst, Patriots pitcher Emilie O'Brien settled in quite well. Across the final three innings, she allowed just three hits and no runs, while stranding multiple Pittsfield runners in scoring position.
"She settled in well and we stranded a lot of runners in the last three innings," Dicranian said. "Her and Mason [Billert] were working together and calling the pitches. Our defense stepped up and kept them off the board."
MAU nibbled away in the fourth with two runs scoring in the inning, one on an error from Pittsfield and another on a opposite-field single by Gauthier.
Lyon settled down well after that and retired the Patriots in order the last three innings to seal the Generals' win.
Shade went 3-for-3 at the plate, while Lyon was 3-for-4. Clary had two hits with her biggest of the day coming on an RBI double in the fourth.
McNulty and Savannah Jones both had multi-hit games for MAU.
Even in the losing effort, Dicranian was more than pleased with the fight his team showed against a top team in western Massachusetts like Pittsfield.
"I thought we played an awesome game," Dicranian said. "The girls had fun and learned from this loss and it was a good game to play. Games like this are what I like to coach. We had a couple miscues, and if you take that error away, we win that game."
Pittsfield improves to 11-2 with the win, while MAU drops to 7-3.
The Patriots play rival Burr and Burton today and the Generals play Mount Everett Friday.
Adam Aucoin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed at @AAucoin_Banner on Twitter.
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