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Bellingham beats Grafton in extras to win Division 2 state softball title

WORCESTER — As Bellingham junior shortstop Chloe Woodward dug into the batter’s box in the top of the eighth inning, she did all she could to forget the previous seven.

After two strikeouts and a throwing error, she was desperate to help her team. With two outs, Woodward delivered a two-run double to left field to lift Bellingham to a 3-1 victory over Grafton in the Division 2 state championship on Saturday at Worcester State.

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“I was having a bad game to begin with,” Woodward said. “I knew it was my time to come up big for my team and I did what I had to do.”

The win denied Grafton (24-1) its third consecutive state championship and capped a great day for the Bellingham community. Just a few hours earlier, the girls watched the baseball team defeat Monument Mountain, 11-6, in the Division 3 state championship at Holy Cross.

The win was also the first state championship for long-time Bellingham coach and athletic director Dennis Baker, in his 16th season at the helm.

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“I am very emotional, this is a great day for Bellingham,” said Baker, who has more than 40 years of coaching experience at the school and previously coached the baseball team.

“I don’t know how we did it. I think it will sink in after. We never quit.”

Senior Megan Cook pitched a complete game and struck out 10. In the eighth inning, she allowed singles to Grafton center fielder Kate Cardoza and third baseman Lindsey Sawtelle.

Cook responded with two strikeouts, getting both pitcher Kendal Roy and shortstop Amanda Voellings to go down swinging.

While facing Michelle Goulet, Bellingham catcher Rachel Kuhlman tried to pick off Cardoza at second base, but the throw was wild and the runners advanced. Two pitches later, Kuhlman overthrew the return throw to Cook, but second baseman Alice Felzmann threw Cardoza out at home to end the game.

“We were up two and I just had to still stay up and have confidence,” said Cook, who entered the game with a 19-1 record and an 0.59 earned run average. “We were able to do it — I know what my team’s capable of.”

In the fifth inning, Felzmann singled home Julianne Kilduff to tie the game, 1-1, for Bellingham (25-1).

In the third inning, Grafton scored on a suicide squeeze by Cardoza. Meaghan Sawtelle singled to start the inning and advanced to second when Cook dropped the ball after hitting her leg during her windup. Meaghan Sawtelle advanced to third on Shelbe Turpin’s sacrifice bunt.

Roy pitched a complete game for Grafton, striking out 10.

“We had some opportunities with people in scoring position, but didn’t quite come up with the hit and they did,” Grafton coach John Gemme said. “We got our first two runners on in the bottom in the eighth and said we had a shot at this, the girls have been resilient all year, but we didn’t come up.”

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