PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield's baseball roots go back to the 18th century.
In 2018, the Shire City was a power in baseball and softball.
At the youth and high school levels, Pittsfield showed diamond dominance that easily was the story of the year in local sports.
For the second year in a row, the Taconic baseball team won a Western Mass Championship and returned to the state finals. This time around, in the D3 final, Taconic came up a little short but considering all the seniors who graduated from the state title team the year before, it made for a two-year run of which few schools can boast.
Meanwhile, the Pittsfield High softball team made its own run to the state tournament, capturing a Western Mass title at the University of Massachusetts on the same day that Taconic won its title on the other side of the campus.
But the city was just getting started.
In the summer, the Pittsifeld-based Berkshire Force 12-and-under softball team won a New England title and went to the Babe Ruth World Series in Florida, where it placed third in its division.
And the Pittsfield American Little League played for a national television audience on ESPN when it competed in the New England Regional final in Bristol, Conn., coming up one game short in its bid to go to Williamsport, Pa.
While Taconic's nine did not succeed in its 2018 state final appearance, Berkshire County did claim two team state titles and one individual crown in high school competition this winter.
Taconic's Dylan Burke, then a sophomore, won a state Division 3 Championship at 170 pounds.
Burke was part of a major title run on Valentine Road as Taconic closed the old high school with a Western Mass team title and three individual titles on the mats.
And Taconic's boys basketball team was the only county squad to claim a Western Mass title at Curry Hicks Cage on Championship Saturday. And it made it to the following Saturday and a date in the state championship game.
Taconic was not the only school filling its trophy case last winter.
Mount Greylock's girls won a state Nordic title, and its boys placed second under the lights at Berkshire East, an emergency stand-in when conditions at Notchview Reservation forced officials to find a creative scheduling solution. Mount Greylock's boys saw a seven-year title run come to an end but still finished second in the state.
And in the only state championship contested in Berkshire County this year, the Wahconah bowling team kept the county's recent streak alive by winning the seventh straight state crown for a Berkshire squad. In 2017, the winner was McCann, which ended Drury's five-year streak at the top of the podium.
Although the PHS softball and Taconic baseball teams were the headliners in spring 2018, they were not the only Berkshire County teams to win Western Mass. Lee's girls tennis team took home the sectional title, and Mount Greylock's girls claimed three track and field gold medals at the Central/West Division 2 meet. The Mounties' 4-by-800 meter relay team won its sectional title in a meet record time.
Spring 2018 also saw the debut of Berkshire County's newest varsity sport: Unified Track and Field. Wahconah hosted the area's first team in Unified Sports, a collaboration of Special Olympics and the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association which allows students of all abilities to compete together. In the fall, Mount Greylock followed in Wahconah's footsteps as the two schools each fielded the county's first Unified Basketball squads.
The Force and Pittsfield AL were not the only area teams to succeed outside the county on the diamond in the summer of '19. The Greylock Thunder 14-and-under softball team won its New England Regional, and the Berkshire Cal Ripken 11U 50/70 squad won a Western Mass State Championship and advanced to its New England Regional in New Hampshire.
In the fall, Mount Greylock's runners continued their winning ways as the Mounties again doubled up at the Western Mass cross country meet with the boys and girls team titles. Mount Greylock's girls went on to finish second in the state meet.
Perhaps the story of the fall, though, was Lee golfer Thomas Fraser, who could not be beaten — literally — until he went up against the best D3 golfers in the commonwealth at the state championship. Fraser finished first in every dual match the Tigers played in the regular season. He also won the Berkshire Classic individuals championship and the D3 Western Mass title, helping Lee claim a team title at Waubeeka Golf Links in the process.
One of those duals that Fraser medaled in was a nine-stroke team loss to the county's best golf team this fall: Hoosac Valley. The Hurricanes took a Western Mass team title of their own with two of their players — Henry Sniezek and Derek Alibozek, placing first and second, respectively, at the sectional tournament.
Hoosac Valley also claimed one of Berkshire County's two football Western Mass titles. Along with Wahconah, the Hurricanes advanced to the state tournament, though the county was shut out of the ultimate prize — a trip to Gillette Stadium and the state title game — for the first time in three years.
The county always has plenty of contenders in the high school soccer sectionals, but this year it was Lenox high that advanced the furthest, sending both its boys and girls to the Western Mass finals, where the Millionaires' boys won their second straight Western Mass crown at Westfield State University.
Someday, some of those sectional titles could be decided a little closer to home, as in Berkshire Community College, which this fall debuted the Gene Dellea Field. After years of advocacy and fund-raising by a hard-working group of backers, the artificial turf field promises to serve generations of local athletes.
And in the final event of any fall sport contested by a Berkshire County team this year, the Williams College women's soccer team defended its Division III National Championship, edging NESCAC rival Middlebury in penalty kicks on the first day of December.
2018 STATE CHAMPIONS
Nordic Skiing — Mount Greylock girls
Wrestling — Dylan Burke, Taconic, Divison 3, 170 pounds
Bowling — Wahconah
2018 STATE RUNNERS-UP
Nordic Skiing — Mount Greylock boys
Boys Basketball — Taconic, Division 2
Track and Field — Wahconah Unified Team
Track and Field — Matt Lighten, Wahconah, 200 meters
Baseball — Taconic, Division 3
Cross Country — Mount Greylock girls, Division 2
2018 WESTERN MASS CHAMPIONS
Boys Basketball — Taconic, Division 2
Wrestling — Taconic, Division 3
Wrestling — Zack Lupiani, Mount Everett, 106 pounds
Wrestling — Sam Cormier, Monument Mountain, 132 pounds
Wrestling — Zabion Powell, Taconic, 145 pounds
Wrestling — John Field, Monument Mountain, 170 pounds
Wrestling — Tanner Hastings, Taconic, 182 pounds
Wrestling — Shawn O'Shea, Taconic, 195 pounds
Swimming — Ellie Field, Wahconah, 50 freestyle
Girls Tennis — Lee, Division 3
Track and Field — Lilliana Wells, Mount Greylock, 800 meters
Track and Field — Mount Greylock girls, 4-by-800 relay
Track and Field — Madison Ross, Mount Greylock, long jump
pittsfield.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.