Top Seed Sturgis West Meets its Match in Norfolk County

Sturgis West senior co-captain Mimi Crowley takes a vicious hack in the final at-bat of her high school career. Her Navigators fell, 9-5, in the MIAA Div. 3 South softball quarterfinals Sunday afternoon in Hyannis. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

Sturgis West senior co-captain Mimi Crowley takes a vicious hack in the final at-bat of her high school career. Her Navigators fell, 9-5, in the MIAA Div. 3 South softball quarterfinals Sunday afternoon in Hyannis.
Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

HYANNIS – It had to happen at some point.

The top-seeded Sturgis West softball team (14-4) – the most successful team in any sport in the school’s brief history – met its equal Sunday afternoon in Hyannis as the host Navigators fell to the #8 seed Norfolk County Agricultural girls, 9-5.

The loss ended a brilliant season for the West girls, one that saw the Navigators finish in second place in the Cape & Islands League and go the furthest in the postseason of any team the school’s had.

“Our program is only three years old,” head coach Al Pagenkopf said. “So they’ve (the seniors) have been in it since the start.”

Senior co-captains Mimi Crowley and Rachel Gardner, along with fellow seniors Emily Langdon, Marysa MacKoul and Mary Lo Piccolo played in their final game together and shared a team hug following the tough loss to the visiting Rams.

“It was a tough one today, they scored a couple of runs on us early, which has happened to us sometimes,” Coach Pagenkopf said. “We came back, tied it up and they had one big inning but we bounced right back. The girls have had a great season.”

The long bus ride from Walpole Sunday morning to face the Navigators did little to phase the Ram girls as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on three big hits and a walk, but West held it together and plated one run each in the bottom of the third and fourth frames to tie it at 2-2.

Nikki Gardner and Althea Turley each had hits in the third, with Turley driving in Gardner to make it a 2-1 game. In the fourth, Shannon Crowley — one of West’s top athletes — picked up a clutch, two-out hit and stole second base before coming home when Norfolk’s second baseman erred on a Marysa MacKoul grounder.

Mary Kane squares around to bunt but made the final out in Sturgis West's tourney loss to Norfolk County Agricultural. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

Mary Kane squares around to bunt but made the final out in Sturgis West’s tourney loss to Norfolk County Agricultural.
Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

But with the game tied at 2-2 heading into the top of the fifth inning, Norfolk erupted for six runs to make it 8-2. All totaled, Norfolk hammered out seven hits that inning and batted through the entire order. The Rams tacked on one more in the top of the sixth and from the outside looking in it did not appear there was much hope left for the top-shelf Navigator squad.

But in the bottom of the sixth frame, as resilient as they have been all season, the Navigators gave it one last push with a three-run rally that stopped just shy of a complete comeback. Rachel Gardner (1-3), Nikki Gardner (2-3) and Shannon Crowley (2-3) each had hits as part of that three-run, late-inning bid.

“We got here as a team,” Coach Pagenkopf said.

— Sean Walsh is the sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm

The 14-4 Sturgis West Softball team - best team finish in any sport in school history. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

The 14-4 Sturgis West Softball team – best team finish in any sport in school history.
Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

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