Recorder: "The Joy of strikeouts"

Greenfield Public Schools in the News

The Joy of strikeouts

By JEFF LAJOIE

Staff Writer

Published: 4/16/2019 9:48:40 PM

GREENFIELD — At this point, it seems nearly impossible for Olivia Joy to pare her résumé down to just one page.

Three years ago, the Greenfield High School pitcher, then a freshman, burst onto the scene by tossing a no-hitter in just the fourth start of her varsity career. Since that 12-0 victory over Frontier, Joy has racked up accolades and acclaim, including an elusive WMass Division 2 championship last spring. She was at it again on Tuesday, as the senior right-hander joined the 500-strikeout club in a 4-1 independent softball win over Mount Everett at Vets Field.

Joy entered Tuesday’s windy affair with 498 career K’s. She finished the outing with 13 punchouts, becoming the first Franklin County player to reach 500 since Turners Falls’ Mackenzie Phillips in 2016 and first at GHS since current assistant/pitching coach Taylor Lively did it in 2009.

Olivia Joy

“It’s a good feeling,” offered Joy of the feat. “Just because of all the hard work I’ve put in and the dedication I’ve had for softball over the years.”

Watching her four-year starting pitcher reach the 500 club was certainly not a surprise for Greenfield head coach Rian Lovett.

“She just works so hard all the time,” began Lovett. “She makes herself a goal, and then goes out and gets it. She just loves the game and loves learning and getting better at it. She’s that player you want on your team. So coachable.”

Joy wasted little time getting her 500th strikeout in Tuesday’s win. Two away entering the contest, she struck out the game’s first batter, Jaclyn Derwitsch, in the top of the first inning. That set up the milestone punchout, which happened against the very next batter. That would be Marion Devoti, who swung at a high pitch for strike three, and kicked off a brief pause in play where Joy was honored by her teammates for the accomplishment.

“I don’t really focus on those things when I’m in the moment but it was nice to get it done and out of the way because this was a big game, an important game for us,” Joy said.

The visiting Eagles (2-2) have indeed had Greenfield’s number over the past few years. Mount Everett won last year’s regular-season meeting in Sheffield, and knocked the Green Wave out of the 2016 postseason.

It looked like more of the same during the early-going, Tuesday.

In the top of the second inning, Mount Everett catcher Madison Ullrich drilled a no-doubter over the fence in right center field for a solo home run that staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead.

It stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth, when Greenfield (2-0) clawed back. Kelsey Richardson and Raegan Hickey singled to lead off the inning, setting up a Kaitlin Lavoine sacrifice bunt. The Eagles dropped the throw at first base for an error, however, and Richardson managed to scamper all the way around from second to score the tying run.

With newfound momentum, Joy buckled down in the pitching circle. After allowing the second-inning home run, which was followed by a double from Makenzie Ullrich, Joy went on to retire 13 batters in a row into the top of the sixth. Derwitsch finally broke the streak with a one-out single, and she took second on a ground out. That set the stage for a game-changing play, as a grounder to the left side of the infield off the bat of Gwen Carpenter got past shortstop Samantha Smith. Derwitsch rounded third and headed for home, but Smith recovered in time to pounce on the ball and fire a throw to the plate. Richardson made a nifty scoop and tag, nailing Derwitsch just in time for the final out of the inning that kept it a 1-1 game.

“Liv is a great pitcher but she also has great fielders behind her,” Lovett said. “Someone comes up with a play when we need them on this team.”

The same tandem that helped Greenfield snag the tying run earlier in the game came through again in the bottom of the sixth. Richardson walked to open the frame, and moved up to third base on successive wild pitches from Eagles’ right-hander Faith Angell. Standing on third base with no outs, she touched home thanks to an RBI single from Hickey. The senior second baseman ripped a bullet back up the middle that struck Angell in the leg. The ball landed back on the infield, but Hickey had plenty of speed to get down the line and no throw was attempted in giving the Wave their first lead of the game up 2-1.

Three batters later, insurance runs came with a little help from an eighth-grader. First baseman Rachel Dodge, the team’s No. 9 hitter, lined a change-up from Angell over the head of Derwitsch in center field. Hickey and Lavoine came around to score on the two-run double, extending the advantage to 4-1.

“For Rachel, an eighth-grader, that was a great at-bat in that spot,” Lovett said.

Joy sealed the deal in the top of the seventh. She struck out a pair to finish with 13 against just one walk, allowing only three hits in the process.

“She wanted to win this game,” Lovett said of Joy. “For her, this was one of the biggest games for us this year. That home run kind of deflated her a bit, but she came back and struck (Ullrich) out the next time up. That shows her maturity as a pitcher, to come back and bear down.”

Tuesday’s win was another in a long line of big moments from Joy, who recently announced her collegiate commitment. She’ll play at Castleton University (Vt.), which plays in the Little East Conference against the likes of Keene State and UMass-Dartmouth.

“The team is amazing and everyone welcomed me right in, so I’m really excited to get there and join the program,” Joy explained.

Greenfield returns to action Thursday when it plays on the road at Hampshire Regional.

Greenfield 4, Mt. Everett 1

Mt. Everett ............... 010 000 0 — 1 3 3

Greenfield ............... 000 103 x — 4 5 1

Hits: (ME) Mad. Ullrich, Mak. Ullrich, Derwitsch. (G) Bresciano, Richardson, Hickey 2, Dodge.

2B: (ME) Mak. Ullrich. (G) Dodge.

HR: (ME) Mad. Ullrich.

RBI: (ME) Mad. Ullrich. (G) Dodge 2, Hickey.

WP: Joy (7ip, 13k, 1bb).

LP: Angell (6ip, 10k, 4bb).