WORCESTER — The stage was set Saturday for the Tewksbury softball team to capture the program’s first Division 2 state championship, but Hampshire Regional had other plans.
The Red Raiders rallied to erase a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the sixth inning at Worcester State University, then won the game, 3-2, on a walkoff single in the eighth to capture their second straight state title.
“We always have our goals and try to get to this point, but for them to win it again, it’s incredible,” coach Brian McGan said. “For these kids, not just the seniors, I’m very proud. The hard work they put in all year-round just finally paid off . . . the execution, the bunts, the things we kept going over and over again, this is what it’s all about.”
After breezing through the tournament, Hampshire (22-2) faced adversity from a formidable Redmen roster.
Tewksbury (22-4) struck in the top of the first inning on a sacrifice fly from pitcher Adrianna Favreau. In addition to her contributions at the plate, the senior pitched brilliantly, holding Hampshire at bay for most of the game. She went the distance while striking out nine.
Her counterpart, senior Alexis Ferris, went toe to toe with Favreau, and bats on both sides were relatively quiet until the sixth inning.
At one point, Ferris, who threw a no-hitter in the state semifinals, retired 15 of 17 batters before Tewksbury right fielder Teagan Trant singled in the top of the sixth.
With the Redmen six outs away from the title, Hampshire rallied in the bottom half of the sixth to take a 2-1 lead. Senior Taylor Boutwell hit a triple to drive home classmate Chelsea Moussette and tie the score. Later in the inning, right fielder Katy O’Connor gave the Red Raiders the lead on a hard hit ball that skipped past Tewksbury shortstop Nora Butler, scoring Boutwell.
The Redmen would not go quietly, though, as a suicide squeeze from catcher Kayla VonKahle knotted the score at 2 in the top of the seventh.
The hero was Boutwell in the bottom of the eighth inning, as her single through the left side brought home Moussette and gave the Red Raiders the repeat.
“We just never gave up,” Moussette said. “We fought the entire time, and good teams, they don’t give up. They just keep fighting and fighting, and we knew we could do this. When I got up there and Taylor got up there and everyone else, we knew we could do this.”