Lauren Morse notches 100th career hit as Easthampton softball blanks Turners Falls (PHOTOS)

By HANNAH BEVIS

Staff writer

Published: 04-07-2023 9:09 PM

EASTHAMPTON — Just a couple of months ago, Lauren Morse was making history with the girls basketball team, sinking her 1,000th point in front of a packed home crowd.

On a chilly Friday afternoon, she added her name to the history books again with her 100th career hit on the softball team, a dangerous looking pop-up that found the perfect spot to drop in between two Turners Falls players. The Eagles put together a consistent performance across all 6½ innings against Turners, picking up an 8-0 shutout win.

It wasn’t exactly a flashy hit like Morse is known for – prior to Friday’s game, she’d hit a home run in every one of the Eagles’ games this season. But no matter how the hit happened, it put an exclamation point on the senior’s prolific athletic career at Easthampton.

“I knew (Turners Falls pitcher Madison Liimatainen) was going to pitch me outside and I (didn’t) really particularly want an outside pitch because it’s not my my strength,” Morse said. “It wasn’t the best hit. But I was like, you know what, it worked, it did the job. I scored two runs on it. So that made me feel a little bit more hype.”

Morse is believed to be the first Easthampton player to hit the 1000th point milestone in basketball and softball. She didn’t realize that until after the game was over, which made her less than ideal 100th hit feel more impactful.

“Hitting an accomplishment is something you work for starting in middle school, and being able to hit that and achieve goals that you didn’t think you were going to be able to do is just something like – wow,” Morse said. “Now knowing that (that she was the first to achieve both milestones), it makes me feel a little bit better.”

Easthampton’s shutout performance improved their record to 4-0 on the season, and was the second of back-to-back shutouts over their last two games. Morse and Kayley Downie each finished with two hits, and six different athletes plated for the Eagles in the win – Morse, Downie, Abigail McClaflin, Sophia Faginski and Christine Raymond.

Pitcher Rosie Follet was stellar in the circle, striking out 14 batters and walking just two, while she and her defense allowed just six hits.

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“I trust every single one of my fielders out there, which makes it really easy to be in the circle and pitch,” Follet said on her team. “I think we’re just getting more confident at the plate throughout our whole lineup. We have great hitters, and I trust every single one of them to go up there and give a good at bat.”

The Eagles steadily chipped away at Turners Falls, picking up a run in both the first and second inning and then snagging two more in the bottom of the fourth. They broke the game open in the sixth inning, when they got four hits and got through their entire batting rotation, scoring four runs to put the game firmly out of reach.

Turners taking shape

The Thunder started Friday’s game a bit behind the eight ball – it was their first game of the season while Easthampton had already played three contests before they hit the field. It’s going to take a while for the team to work out some of their nerves, especially with a younger team this season.

“It’s their fourth game and it’s our first, and you can see a huge difference. We have a lot to work on,” Turners Falls head coach Gary Mullins said.

The Thunder will rely on returning pitcher Liimatainen, who threw a strong game against Easthampton despite the score. She struck out 11 batters, though she also walked eight, and threw all six innings for the visitors. Turners Falls has just two seniors this year, Morgan Dobias and Cadence Fisher, and there are a number of players who were getting accustomed to new positions in Friday’s game.

“I saw a lot of fear in kids, fear of failure, and we’ve got to fix that. As the game went on, toward the end, we started to go to the plate and we started to compete a little bit,” Mullins said. “So we’ll get better.”

The Thunder book-ended the game with some of their best softball – they loaded the bases in the first inning but stranded those three runners, and got two hits off against Follet and an automatic walk to load the bases again before Follet struck out Holly Myers to get the third and final out.

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