PITTSFIELD -- Kassy Kazimierczak didn't have a great start to Thursday's game against St. Joseph's.
She struck out twice and was one of two Hoosac Valley softball players not to reach base in the first two innings. She found a way to turn it around when her team needed her the most.
Kazimierczak jumped all over the first pitch she saw in the seventh inning and turned it into an inside-the-park home run to tie the game and send it into extra innings. The Hurricanes pulled out the victory, 6-5 over St. Joseph's in eight innings.
"I was really just looking for a base hit," Kazimierczak said. "It was right where I like it, so I just went after it."
She drove the pitch down the left-field line and clanked it off the fence, missing a home run by inches. She then beat the throw to the plate to tie the game.
"She has such wheels that I was sending her," Hoosac coach Morgan Shafer said. "I knew she had a chance to make it and she did. It just fired us up. She came off that plate from the home run with such energy it just speared us along the rest of the way."
Alexis Bushika pushed the game-winning run across the plate for the Hurricanes in the eighth inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, she hit the ball to Julia Murphy at shortstop and beat the throw, allowing Ashley Ciepiela to score the winning run. Bushika recorded four hits on the day, and two RBI.
The win clinches a Western Massachusetts Division II tournament berth for the Hurricanes.
"I just wanted to get a good hit," Bushika said. "I haven't been hitting very well lately, my team has picked me. I just wanted to get it done for the team."
Hoosac got off to a hot start against St. Joseph's Chanler Hospot, pushing four runs across the plate in the first inning. Hoosac notched four of its 13 hits in the first inning and took advantage of two Crusader errors.
Hospot settled down, however. She struck out 13 Hurricanes and hit a home run of her own. Caroline Tomkowicz got the win for Hoosac Valley. She gave up 10 hits and struck out six Crusaders.
The Crusaders crawled back with two runs in the first and then tallied three in the third.
Despite seven errors in the game, defense was strong for both teams. Hoosac's Tori Rumbolt highlighted that for the Hurricanes.
The senior shortstop ranged to her right into shallow left field and went completely vertical to rob St. Joseph's Anita Curtin of a base hit.
Rumbolt has only been back in the Hurricanes' lineup for a week after recovering from a leg injury. In addition to her outstanding defense, she went 2 for 3 with an RBI, double and two walks.
"She's a hard hitter, she's a hard player," Kazimierczak said. "I'm so happy she is back at shortstop for us."
Kazimierczak put an end to her struggles against Hospot in the fifth inning. She laid down a surprise bunt and beat it out for the base hit. She then stole second in the inning.
"The bunt really got me going," Kazimierczak said. "It got me more confidence at the plate. It really brought my confidence back and I was able to get on base and get the bat going."
Said Shafer: "She came back [after the bunt] saying ‘I can hit here,' so I told her to go hit. She [bunted] on her own. She's got the green light and she knows if she sees something she can do that."
Hoosac Valley 6, St. Joseph's 5
Hoosac 400 000 11 -- 6 13 2
St. Joseph's 203 000 0 -- 5 10 5
Caroline Tomkowicz and Alexis Bushika; Chanler Hospot and Hannah Kibbe. W -- Tomkowicz. L -- Hospot. 2B -- Hoosac 1 (Tori Rumbolt); St. Joseph's 1 (Kendall Smith). HR -- Hoosac (Kassy Kazimierczak), St. Josephs 1 (Hospot).