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Milford High Softball Repeats as State Champs

The road was different, but the result was the same. For the second straight season, the Milford High School softball team won the division one state championship. The Scarlet Hawks capped off their title run with a 1-0 win over Agawam.
"Last year we played Agawam in the state semifinal game so we knew some of their hitters, but they had a freshman pitcher so that was a different look for us," said head coach Brian Macchi. "She was not overpowering, but she kept us off balance with her off-speed pitches, luckily we were able to get that one big hit when we needed it."
The big hit came off the bat of freshman Jill Powers. Allie Piergustavo drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the 6th and Powers drove a pitch into the gap in left-center. Piergustavo hustled around from first base to score the game's only run.
"In her previous two at bats, Jill was way out in front of the ball," said Macchi. "We talked to her about having the willingness to stay back and trust herself and she did a good job. As soon as the ball hit the gap, I knew we had a chance to score, and fortunately we were able to get the run."
A run is all Milford would need with ace Shannon Smith in the circle. The senior struck out 13 and allowed just one hit and one walk in capping off a star-studded career. "This win was a fitting way for Shannon to cap off her career and cement her legacy not only in MHS athletics but also in Massachusetts softball," said Macchi. "She leaves this program as the all-time strikeout leader in state history and also as a back-to-back state champ in her junior and senior years and that is pretty special."
This run presented a different set of challenges for Milford. In 2012, the Hawks came out of the Central District and the Mid Wach League. This year, they won a deep and talented South District tournament after capturing the Hockomock League.
"Our job as a coaching staff was to talk about how this was a different story we were putting together," said Macchi. "This wasn't 2012 and we wanted this group to put their own mark on the MHS softball program under new circumstances and a much better level of competition in the district tournament."
Milford navigated the South District, winning four games without giving up a run. The Scarlet Hawks advanced to the title game with a 3-0 win over the North District champs from Central Catholic. Smith tossed a 2-hit shutout and fellow seniors Caroline Fairbanks and Rachel Levine drove in runs. As with many of Milford's games, the margin for error was small, but Macchi's faith in his team was anything but.
"With the names I write down on that lineup hard, I just can't help but have confidence with the game on the line," he said. "You know they have been there before, so they are going to be relaxed in those situations."
Macchi feels the unselfish nature of his squad ultimately led them to this second straight championship. "This group has always been concerned about getting the job done and not about not making mistakes," he said. "They understood that it wouldn't always be them making the play, but that one of their teammates would be there to back them up. It didn't matter who got the job done, it just came down to the simple fact that Milford had more runs at the end of the game."




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