Softball Tops Holy Name on Walk-Off, Advances to Semifinals


The Hawks and members of the Red Sea celebrate with Sydney Chiasson at home plate after she scored on a game winning single by Amanda Doucette. | Submitted Photo

by Dakota Antelman

In what Coach Mary Beth Cashman described as a “game of inches,” the softball team beat Holy Name on a walk-off single by Amanda Doucette. The hit capped off a back and forth game and now sends the Hawks into the district semifinals for the first time in three years.

“All the adrenaline that I had inside of me was just building up,” Doucette said of her game-winning hit. “I wanted to get my team farther. We had already made it so far, [with a] 17-3 [record]. I didn’t want to lose that.” 

Hudson had trailed Holy Name 2-0 as late as the top of the third inning. The Naps came out swinging against the Hawks, hitting a triple and two singles off Sophia Togneri in their first three at bats. However, Hudson answered in the bottom of the third inning when Haley Gaffney drove in Sydney Chiasson on a single to center field. Amanda Doucette continued the barrage with a long double off the left field fence that scored both Gaffney and Stephanie Hamilton. 

by Dakota Antelman
by Dakota Antelman

After a scoreless fourth inning, the Naps pulled back ahead in the fifth inning on a two out single by Maddie Ayik. Hudson was quick to answer, pulling even in the fifth inning when Togneri dropped a fly ball single into center field, allowing Gaffney to score from second base.

Mary Beth Cashman and her coaching staff were vocal throughout the game, trying to settle nerves and keep the team focused. The task was a difficult one as players’ pregame anxiety only intensified once one of the biggest crowds in recent memory assembled, wrapping behind home plate, down the third base line, and around the outfield fence. Nevertheless, the Hawks were honored by the turnout.

“Just to know that your school is willing to be there to support you makes you want to do even better,” Doucette explained. “It makes you want to show them that we deserve this and that we’re not going to come all this way and lose.”

The crowd ended up becoming part of the game as well, relentlessly chanting and cheering as Holy Name tried to hold back Hudson’s offense. Cashman even credits the Red Sea with distracting Holy Name third basemen Hayley Noria to such an extent that she could not catch a fly ball off the bat of Keaton Prashaw late in the game.

“You don’t think about that a lot with softball,” Cashman said of the crowd. “It’s typically parents who are watching. But having that [student turnout] makes it much more fun. It’s exciting, and I hope we have that support for the rest of the way.”

Hudson’s third basemen Stephanie Hamilton says that, while the Red Sea gave her confidence, her nerves never died down. Hamilton fought the nerves and was, in fact, the subject of many cheers Saturday afternoon. In addition to hitting a single and a walk, Hamilton was able to catch a pair of hard hit line drives for outs during the game.

The plays punctuated a strong defensive season for Hamilton that Cashman says has helped provide her whole team with confidence.

“She exudes it [confidence],” Cashman said. “She wants the ball hit to her. She wants the ball hit hard to her. I love having her over there.”

But as much as they battled and cheered from the dugout or the sideline, Hudson watched this game come down to inches and seconds.

Doucette’s third inning, base clearing double off the left field fence was the first of several nail biters. While the ball flew towards the fence, Hudson assistant coach Ray Girard was screaming for it to “get out!” The ball ended up falling less than a foot short of a home run. As a result, Doucette remained at second base. She would not score during that inning, meaning that the Hawks never stretched their lead to two runs.

Later, with the game tied in the seventh inning, a judgement call by the second base umpire prevented Holy Name from retaking the lead that Doucette had erased. A hard hit fly ball by Holy Name’s Maddie Ayik landed within a fraction of an inch of the foul line and was judged foul. A Holy Name pinch runner who had scored on the play was called back to first base, and the game remained tied at 4-4.

The final play of the game did itself come down to inches. As Doucette’s ground ball rolled into shallow center field, Hudson’s Sydney Chiasson was rounding third base and heading for home. With Holy Name catcher Deana DiPilato straddling the plate as she waited for the throw from center field, Chiasson executed an acrobatic slide, diving head first and tagging the plate with her hand as she slid by.

Chiasson did not get back to her feet after the slide. She was mobbed at the plate by her entire team as well as the Red Sea who sprinted onto the field and joined in the celebration. Back by the dugout, Coach Cashman exuberantly jumped in the air, clapping her hands, and giving high fives to her fellow coaches.

When she spoke to her team after the game, Cashman concluded, “That’s exactly how districts should be.”

“It was a bang-bang play, up the middle, a slow roller so the centerfielder has to get it,” Cashman said of the final play of the game. “She [the centerfielder] has a cannon out there, so she chases my fastest runner with that throw. Anyone else might get thrown out, but we practice those hand slides every day, and it pays off.”

Looking back on her first playoff win since freshman year, Stephanie Hamilton immediately cast her attention to the remaining playoff schedule.

“The nerves are never going to go down,” she said. “But if we keep playing like this, and we keep having the attitude that we need to have, we can do this.”