Gianna Conte tosses gem, No. 6 Greenfield punches D2 title-game ticket with 3-0 win over Athol

  • Greenfield catcher Kelsey Richardson, right, tags out Athol baserunner Kennedy Vaillancourt at home plate in the top of the third inning Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield pitcher Gianna Conte throws against Athol in the top of the second inning Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Athol second baseman Christi Cucchi snags a pop up in the infield for an out against Greenfield in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield’s Katie Haselton hits a single against Athol in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Athol pitcher Lindsey LeBlanc throws against Greenfield in the bottom of the second inning Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Athol’s Lindsey LeBlanc singles against Greenfield in the top of the fourth inning Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

  • Greenfield’s Carly Blanchard drives in a run against Athol in the bottom of the fifth inning Wednesday at Vets Field in Greenfield. FOR THE RECORDER/DAN LITTLE

For the Recorder 
Published: 6/23/2021 10:10:12 PM
Modified: 6/23/2021 11:40:14 PM

GREENFIELD — In an all-Franklin County League showdown at Vets Field, the Greenfield softball team rode the pitching of Gianna Conte and some timely hitting to advance to the Western Mass. finals Wednesday night.

The sixth-seeded Green Wave blanked No. 7 Athol, 3-0, in the Division 2 semifinals, and the program will have a chance to win their second sectional title in four years when they travel to play top-seeded and undefeated Hampshire Regional on Friday in Westhampton (4:30 p.m.).

Conte struck out five hitters while giving up just four hits and a walk.

“I felt good about my performance,” Conte said. “I've pitched to (Athol) before, so I kind of knew where to throw. So that helped. Overall I am happy with how it went.”

Greenfield (12-2) won the 2018 Division 2 title when it beat Wahconah, 2-1, in the final.

“We could have muscled a few more hits tonight,” Greenfield coach John Hickey said. “But we are there. We are in the finals. The best team on that day is going to win.”

Hampshire Regional boasts one one of the best pitchers in Western Mass. in Joss Mettey.

“They pitch, they hit and they have a really fast outfield,” Hickey said of Hampshire. “Just a solid team. We have our work cut out for us.”

While it wasn't flashy, Kelsey Richardson helped the offense with two RBI ground outs to pace the offense in Wednesday’s win.

Richardson said she expects more from herself.

“It was a little frustrating not getting the hit I wanted,” Richardson said. “Being able to at least get some RBIs felt nice but I know coming up in the finals, I am due for something. That wasn't satisfying enough for me. I am glad I got it but I know I can do more.”

Lindsey LeBlanc pitched well in the loss for the Bears. LeBlanc  struck out five and gave up five hits and two earned runs.

The Bears were seeking their first sectional final appearance since 2007.

“We have our heads held high,” Athol coach Sharon Chauvette said. “Most of my girls are juniors and they all have been playing since middle school. That core will still be together next year. I can't wait for next year with this whole group coming back.”

Senior Lexi Forte played her final game for the Athol softball program.

Greenfield scored to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Kaitlin Lavoine led off the game with a single and was eventually brought home on the RBI ground out by Richardson.

Mackenzie Paulin had two hits for the Wave.

With one out in the bottom of the second, Conte legged out an infield single. Courtesy runner Caelyn Patenaude then stole a bag to get into scoring position but was stranded after LeBlanc struck out the side.

Athol threatened in the top of the third. Kennedy Vaillancourt singled in the inning before moving to third on a bunt by Kassidy Swan. Swan reached second on an error. Vaillancourt was cut down at home on a ground out by first baseman Amber Bergeron to keep the game 1-0 for the Wave.

Vaillancourt had two hits on the night for the Bears.

LeBlanc and Sadey Lehtomaki led off the top of the fourth with consecutive singles but Athol could not capitalize.

The Wave scored twice in the bottom of the fifth to add some insurance. Carly Blanchard and Haselton had singles in the inning, with Richardson knocking in another run on a ground out.


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