Allie Hunt on the hot corner: Former PHS star thriving at third base for RPI

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WILLIAMSTOWN — It didn't matter that Williams College was nationally ranked or that Allie Hunt was back home in Berkshire County, RPI coach Amber Maisonet wasn't going to play her third baseman on a cold Wednesday afternoon.

"No, not today," Maisonet said, citing a minor ankle injury

"I was sliding into second against Ithaca," Hunt said, prior to the Wednesday doubleheader at Cole Field, "and rolled it."

Hunt has taken the reins as RPI's full-time third baseman. The sophomore engineering major from Pittsfield is hitting .340 with a home run and 14 runs batted in for the Engineers. She is third on the team in batting average and in runs batted in. Only Christine White (.352) and Cam Caswell (.344) have better batting averages.

"Coach probably wants to have me out there, but I've got to take the time off," said Hunt. "We have U-Rochester [and Rochester Institute of Technology] this weekend."

The Engineers were 15-7 going into Saturday's doubleheader against RIT. RPI swept the University of Rochester in a Liberty League doubleheader on Friday, by 5-0 and 6-5 scores. Hunt was back in the lineup, going 0 for 2 in the 6-5 win and 1 for 1 with a walk in the 5-0 win.

RPI leads the Liberty League with a 5-1 league record.

The RPI coach, who has been coaching at the Troy, N.Y., school since 2011, and has won 20 games each season there, said that Hunt needed that day off because of how much she means to the softball team.

"A ton," said Maisonet. "Defensively, if the ball goes to third base, we know it's going to get eaten up. One way or the other, she's going to find a way to get the person out. So that, right there, is the biggest thing.

"She's been hitting great for us. To be able to hit fourth in our lineup, she's been driving the ball to all fields. It's a huge loss when we don't have her in the lineup."

Hunt understands the big picture and gets why she wasn't in the lineup on Wednesday. There was, however, a little bit of disappointment.

"Knowing that I'm in Berkshire County and not being able to play against [Williams]," she said, "missing everything stinks."

The season hasn't stunk for Hunt or for the Engineers. RPI has in its sights set on another NCAA Division III tournament berth.

Last year, the Engineers joined the College of Staten Island, Thomas (Maine) and Williams College at the Williamstown Regional. Williams advanced out of it, as the Ephs beat RPI 1-0 in the championship game. So, if you count Wednesday's doubleheader sweep, Williams has now won six straight against RPI.

Hunt did not play in that tournament game against Williams. As a sophomore, however, she has taken command at third.

Offensively, things didn't start as well. She was hitting .231 after going 0 for 4 in Florida against UMass-Boston. The next day, she was 3 for 4 with three runs scored and two RBI, upping her batting average to .300.

Back north, Hunt's average dipped to .286, but climbed back to .340 thanks to a five-game hit streak.

A four-year starter at shortstop for Pittsfield High School, Hunt has made the transition to third base flawlessly.

"Shortstop is definitely my roots," she said. "Through the Worcester Hawks, they got me used to playing on it, jumping on bunts and the whole different atmosphere. The adjustment was more mental. You're so much closer than at shortstop.

"They hit a lot of hard balls up the line."

Maisonet always had eyes on Hunt moving over from shortstop to third base.

"When I was recruiting her, I saw her play [at third] a few times in her summer ball league," the RPI coach said. "I told her that was where we had our opening and that's where she was probably going to play. She spent last year splitting time, but learned the position and took everything in from our senior [Lilian Kolemainen], made adjustments at the field and at the plate.

"It shows this year."

The Engineers earned some votes in the national Division III softball poll. A few more wins might get them into the Top 25.

"We definitely take pride in our defense. We lost a lot of great hitters last year, but we're still trying to pick up the slack there," Hunt said. "I feel like we keep on surprising people."

RPI still has three conference doubleheaders left. If the Engineers keep playing like they have been, a top seed in the Liberty League tournament, which will be played in early May, is a possibility. The top four seeds will play.

"Throughout [the Florida trip], we knew we could battle with every team that we face," Hunt said.

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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