Div. 5 softball: Turners Falls pulls away from Narragansett, 11-4, into semifinals for 3rd straight year (PHOTOS)

Turners Falls’ Mia Marigliano (14) pumps her fist after scoring a run in the fifth inning of the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field.

Turners Falls’ Mia Marigliano (14) pumps her fist after scoring a run in the fifth inning of the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Ella Kolodziej (9) scores a run during the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field.

Turners Falls’ Ella Kolodziej (9) scores a run during the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Ivy Lopez rounds third and heads toward home to score a run in the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field.

Turners Falls’ Ivy Lopez rounds third and heads toward home to score a run in the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls pitcher Madi Liimatainen (5) high-fives second baseman Addison Talbot after an out in the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field.

Turners Falls pitcher Madi Liimatainen (5) high-fives second baseman Addison Talbot after an out in the Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Madi Liimatainen dethe Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field.

Turners Falls’ Madi Liimatainen dethe Thunder’s 11-4 victory over Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinal on Saturday at Gary Mullins Field. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

The Turners Falls softball team after defeating Narragansett, 11-4, to advance to the MIAA Div. 5 semifinals.

The Turners Falls softball team after defeating Narragansett, 11-4, to advance to the MIAA Div. 5 semifinals. STAFF PHOTO/THOMAS JOHNSTON

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 06-08-2024 5:13 PM

Modified: 06-09-2024 7:06 PM


TURNERS FALLS — The Turners Falls softball team is two wins away from a state championship. 

Hosting seventh-seeded Narragansett in the MIAA Division 5 quarterfinals on Saturday, the second-seeded Thunder raced out to a 5-1 lead after two innings, but the Warriors didn’t quit, posting two runs in the third and adding a run in the fifth to cut the deficit to 5-4. 

Turners rallied in the bottom of the fifth, scoring six times to take a commanding lead and Madi Liimatainen did the rest, striking out four and not allowing a base runner the final two innings as the Thunder advanced to the state semifinals with an 11-4 victory at Gary Mullins Field. 

Turners (18-5), which has reached the semifinals in all three years of the new statewide tournament format, will take on No. 3 Hopedale in the semifinals on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. at Worcester State University.

“We don’t take it for granted,” Thunder coach Gary Mullins said. “It’s different kids, different teams, different stories every year. We had been so quiet with our bats which was concerning. Madi had a tough one last time out but we hit the ball. Today we got more bats and Madi found it. Every day is a different world. As you move on, you see better teams and better pitching.” 

With Greenfield losing to Tahanto on Friday, the Thunder are now the lowest seed remaining in the Div. 5 field. 

“It’s always so exciting getting to a Final Four,” Turners senior Holly Myers said. “Especially where we’re the last western Mass. team standing now. Being my senior year, I want to go as far as we can.” 

After some patches during the season where the bats got cold, the Thunder are finding their groove at the plate at the right time of year. 

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Turners knocked 11 hits off talented Narragansett pitcher Mia Manca on Saturday, with seven different players recording a hit.

With a pitcher like Liimatainen — who struck out 15 and scattered just two hits against the Warriors — that kind of production at the plate is a winning formula.

“In the middle of the season we went through a slump and were struggling to hit,” Myers said. “We kept working on it at practice, kept doing batting practice and everyone’s hitting now which is great.” 

Narragansett (11-7) opened the scoring after Amanda Iannacone walked and scampered home on a wild pitch in the first. 

Addison Talbot opened the second with a hit for Turners and Madisyn Dietz followed with a triple to drive her in. Dietz scored on an errant throw trying to get her at third, giving the Thunder the 2-1 lead. 

Autumn Thornton reached on a fielder’s choice and Mia Marigliano walked, with Liimatainen driving Thornton in with a double. Myers then came to the plate and smashed a double, scoring Marigliano and Madison Haight — running for Liimatainen — to give Turners its 5-1 lead after two. 

The Warriors kept chipping away from there. Manca walked and later scored on a wild pitch in the third before Gianna Manca cracked an RBI single, cutting the lead to 5-3. 

In the fifth, Manca singled and again scored on a wild pitch, cutting the deficit to 5-4. With runners on second and third, Liimatainen managed to get a strikeout and a groundout to close the inning with the Thunder still in the lead. 

Talbot singled to open the bottom of the fifth for Turners and later with two outs, the Thunder really got going offensively. 

Marilyn Abarua walked before Thornton blistered a double to score Talbot. With runners on second and third, the Warriors committed an error on a ground ball from Marigliano, allowing Abarua and Thornton to come home and make it an 8-4 game. 

Liimatainen walked and Myers bashed another double to score Marigliano and Haight, once again running for Liimatainen. Janelle Massey kept the hits coming, singling to score Ivy Lopez, running for Myers, to give Turners its 11-4 lead. 

“We told them before the game we can’t get too comfortable,” Myers said. “We’re the higher seed, we know we should win but you can’t count on anything. We’ve lost to lower seeds before. I went in there, said we need to get hitting. Five runs weren’t going to do it.” 

With the season drawing to a close, Mullins said he’s hoping to end on a high note and send the seniors out on the right foot. 

“We still have a life,” Mullins said. “The worst part about coaching for me is the last game. [Seniors] Holly and the twins [Anne and Ella Kolodziej] are great kids to coach and you have to say goodbye. If we can keep hanging around, we’ll do it.

“I thought we hit the ball well today,” Mullins added. “Let’s hope we can gain some confidence with our bats. We’ll give it a shot.”