SHANNON MEYER takes a lead off first in playoff action June 5 in Tilton. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
June 09, 2014TILTON — In the playoffs, little mistakes are often magnified and the team that limits its mistakes is usually the team that moves on.
And when players believe in themselves and what they are doing, the mistakes are usually limited.
That was certainly the case for the Prospect Mountain softball team on Thursday, June 5, as the Timber Wolves visited Winnisquam in the second round of the Division III tournament.
"Our defense was solid," coach Rick Burley said after his team upset sixth-seeded Winnisquam 6-0 in Tilton. "That's what it steers back to, them believing in themselves.
"I think that this was the first game this year that they really believed in themselves," Burley noted. "And it showed."
The Timber Wolves took advantage of Winnisquam's uncharacteristic errors and played a fairly flawless game in the field behind strong pitching from Brianna Burley and in doing so, advanced to the quarterfinal round.
"Our goal was a home playoff game and usually 11-5 is good enough," Burley noted. "That tells you how strong Division III is. This Winnisquam team is a strong team
"Whoever makes the fewest mistakes is going to win," he continued. "It's whoever capitalizes on them."
Prospect opened the game with a run in the top of the first inning. With one out, Ashlee Roy put down a bunt that the Bear third baseman couldn't quite handle. She then stole second and came around to score when Sam Misiaszek ripped a double to right field. Krysten Goossens took over on the bases and took third on a Deanna Misiaszek base hit, but got no further and the Timber Wolves settled for the 1-0 lead.
A nice grab by Indiana Jones in left helped pitcher Brianna Burley through the bottom of the inning and Prospect added another run in the top of the second. Jones reached on an error and two outs later stole second and came around to score on a base hit by Laura Fraser that eluded the Winnisquam leftfielder.
Burley surrendered a pair of walks in the bottom of the second, but pitched around them nicely, getting two strikeouts in the inning as well. Prospect went quietly in the top of the third and despite getting their first hit in the bottom of the third, the Bears also went down without scoring. Brooke Burley at third and Deanna Misiaszek behind the plate both made nice defensive plays in the inning.
Shannon Meyer beat out an infield hit to open the fourth, but she was eliminated in a double play. Brooke Burley drew a walk and Megan Stackhouse took over on the bases, but Prospect was unable to get her home and the score remained 2-0.
Nice defensive plays from Fraser in center, Brooke Burley at third and Sam Misiaszek at first helped the Timber Wolves get through the bottom of the fourth and they opened the game up in the top of the fifth.
Fraser reached on an error to start the inning and Roy worked a walk. Back-to-back hits by Sam Misiaszek and Brianna Burley plated a run and Deanna Misiaszek reached on an error to plate another run. A Jones base hit drove in another run and a Julie Frenette base hit made it 6-0 before the inning was over.
Brianna Burley pitched around a leadoff hit in the bottom of the fifth, striking out two Bear hitters and after Prospect went quietly in the top of the sixth, she retired three more hitters in a row in the bottom of the sixth. Prospect went quietly in the seventh and Burley worked around a base hit in the seventh by striking out the final two batters of the game.
"I think the huge difference (over the previous matchup) was Brianna's throwing," Burley said. "She was on, she kept their hitters off balance all game. That is huge.
"She had a lot of pop on the ball tonight," he added.
The second-year coach noted that the win was a big moment for the Timber Wolf girls.
"It's exciting for them," he noted. "The program's starting to turn around."
The Timber Wolves advanced on to the Division III quarterfinals, which took place after deadline on Monday afternoon.
The semifinals were also after deadline on Wednesday and the finals are Saturday, June 14, at 4 p.m. at Plymouth State University.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org