Div. 5 softball: Turners Falls blanks Georgetown 5-0, captures MIAA-record 11th state championship in program history (PHOTOS)

Turners Falls captains Madi Liimatainen (5), Holly Myers (18) and Mia Marigliano hold up the state title trophy following the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls captains Madi Liimatainen (5), Holly Myers (18) and Mia Marigliano hold up the state title trophy following the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

The Turners Falls softball team celebrates after recording the final out of their 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the ca

The Turners Falls softball team celebrates after recording the final out of their 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the ca STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls right fielder Janelle Massey snags a line drive for an out during the Thunder’s 5-Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls right fielder Janelle Massey snags a line drive for an out during the Thunder’s 5-Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Madi Liimatainen delivers a pitch during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls’ Madi Liimatainen delivers a pitch during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Holly Myers rounds first base after recording a hit during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls’ Holly Myers rounds first base after recording a hit during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls players are introduced prior to the team’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls players are introduced prior to the team’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls first baseman Anne Kolodziej wins the race to the bag for an out during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls first baseman Anne Kolodziej wins the race to the bag for an out during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls shortstop Mia Marigliano makes a catch during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls shortstop Mia Marigliano makes a catch during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ McKenzie Stafford (3) tries to avoid the tag of Georgetown catcher Ellie Barbarick during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls’ McKenzie Stafford (3) tries to avoid the tag of Georgetown catcher Ellie Barbarick during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Addison Talbot cruises through first base after recording a hit during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls’ Addison Talbot cruises through first base after recording a hit during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Madisyn Dietz beats out a bunt for a hit during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls’ Madisyn Dietz beats out a bunt for a hit during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls athletic director Adam Graves presents the state championship trophy to the Thunder’s captains following the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls athletic director Adam Graves presents the state championship trophy to the Thunder’s captains following the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls players celebrate after receiving the state title trophy followin the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls players celebrate after receiving the state title trophy followin the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

Turners Falls’ Mia Marigliano makes contact during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass.

Turners Falls’ Mia Marigliano makes contact during the Thunder’s 5-0 win over Georgetown in the MIAA Division 5 championship game on Saturday at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. STAFF PHOTO/JEFF LAJOIE

By THOMAS JOHNSTON

Staff Writer

Published: 06-15-2024 4:34 PM

AMHERST – For the 11th time in program history, a state softball championship trophy is heading back to Turners Falls High School. 

It didn’t take long for second-seeded Turners Falls to take command against No. 4 Georgetown in Saturday’s MIAA Division 5 state championship game. The Thunder scored a run in the first inning before exploding for four runs in the second to take a 5-0 lead. 

That was all the scoring Turners and ace Madi Liimatainen needed. The junior didn’t allow the Royals to get on the scoreboard, as the Thunder captured the state title thanks to a 5-0 victory at Sortino Field on the campus of UMass. 

It’s the 11th state title in program history for the Thunder — adding to their state record — and their first crown since 2021. It’s also Turners’ first title in the new statewide format. 

“In the gym in March, I told the kids I was excited with what I saw,” Thunder head coach Gary Mullins said. “It took us a long time to get to what I saw in the athletes. I knew we were good and we started playing softball at the right time. 

“It was a fun group of people,” Mullins added. “The sad part is we’re done with this. At least we can go out with a state championship.” 

Turners (21-5) played its best softball at the right time of year. The Thunder found a groove during the Western Mass. Class D tournament, took home that trophy and carried the momentum into states, where the Powertown played lights out throughout. 

It helps having a pitcher like Liimatainen, who scattered just one hit — a single in the first inning. After the first inning, she allowed just one base runner the rest of the way on a walk in the seventh. 

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“I thought we played some good softball a couple weeks ago and started moving in the right direction,” Mullins said. “We got some help from players offensively and when Madi is throwing strikes, we have a chance to win. That hasn’t changed.” 

After winning the state title in 2021, the Thunder fell in the state semifinals in 2022 and lost in the Div. 5 championship game last spring. Those hardships made winning on Saturday that much sweeter. 

“This is my third year on the team,” Turners Falls shortstop Mia Marigliano said. “The first year we weren’t close, last year we were right there and this year, it’s crazy. It feels unreal. We got out to a really good start to the season and it was encouraging. Our bats were hot every single game.

“In the middle something was off,” the junior captain offered. “Coach started saying we’re a state championship team but then he started saying we were a Western Mass. championship team. Now, we’re a state championship team.” 

Georgetown (15-7) had its best chance to strike in the top of the first inning. 

Ava Fair walked and Maddie Grant cracked a single before Mackenzie Riley walked to load the bases with two outs. But Liimatainen got Jenna Johnson to fly out to short to end the inning and keep the Royals off the board. 

From there, Liimatainen was lights out. The junior didn’t allow another base runner until the seventh — a walk from Johnson — striking out 14 along the way. 

“There were nerves for everyone at the start,” Marigliano said. “A lot of teams in this division lost some runs in the first inning and weren’t able to come back but we did.” 

Turners struck for the game’s first run in the bottom of the frame. Liimatainen walked, Holly Myers singled and Janelle Massey put the ball in play, but McKenzie Stafford — running for Liimatainen — was thrown out at home. 

Freshman Addison Talbot made sure the Thunder got on the board, cracking a base hit past second to score Ivy Lopez — running for Myers — to give Turners a 1-0 lead. 

“Even when we had one run, I looked at Madi [and said] we just had to play our game for six more innings and we had it,” Myers — a senior captain — said. “When we play our best game we don’t have a lot of base runners or let up a lot of runs. One, two runs is enough because we keep them down.” 

The Thunder took control in the second. Madisyn Dietz reached on a fielder’s choice and Marilyn Abarua singled before Autumn Thornton walked, loading the bases. 

Liimatainen made Georgetown pay for that free pass, blasting a single up the middle to drive in both Dietz and Abarua and make it 3-0. 

Myers walked to reload the bases before Massey and Talbot drew back-to-back walks, forcing home Thornton and Stafford, running for Liimatainen, in the process to make it a 5-0 game.

Marigliano singled in the fourth, Dietz put down a successful bunt in the fifth and Massey doubled in the sixth to close out the hits for the Thunder, which got production from their entire lineup on Saturday. 

“We started slow during Western Mass. but we started growing,” Myers said. “Before you know it everyone in the lineup was hitting. Everyone was feeling confident which is great.

“This feels absolutely amazing,” Myers added. “We won my freshman year, I couldn’t play as a sophomore because of an injury and to come back and get so close and lose it was heartbreaking. This feels incredible. I can’t even explain it.”