Crushing the opposition; ‘87 softball charged to a state title and a 52-game win streak

“Windham expected to win. A lot of people gave them a good chance to beat us, and I did too,” Piazza said, “But after the second inning you could see that Windham was totally deflated. They were just going through the motion. Balls were dropping in that they probably should have caught because they had just lost their drive. I almost felt bad for them because we never tried to run the score up. When you look at our scores that year and you see a 29, it could have probably been 40.”

That set up the rematch with Danbury in the finals. Once again, Southington hit the ground running. Ciosek held the Hatters to five hits with one walk and nine strikeouts, including five strikeouts in the last two innings. Seven of Southington’s starting nine contributed to the lopsided win with Zimmer leading the way at 3-for-4. Mach, Lantiere, Ciosek, and Bradley had two hits apiece. Johnson had four RBI with two sacrifice flies and a double. The Knights finished with 14 hits in the game.

When the dust had settled, Southington had earned another state title. More impressive was a 52-game winning streak that stretched back to the 1985 state tournament. It was a state record at the time, and one that would take 20 years to break.

“It was amazing,” Piaza said. “It only takes a ball hitting a pebble. It takes a walk or an error to break a streak like that. To have one go that long was great for our program. Every time we won, it was a headline. We got national attention. They started a national women’s fastpitch magazine at the time. It’s no longer in use, but they featured us on the cover. “

Once again, the Lady Knights had raised the bar for future Southington teams, but Piazza said that their legacy was their resilience. This wasn’t a team that was expected to race through the schedule so easily. This wasn’t a team that was expected to win, but they did it with ease.

On Thursday, Nov. 8, the team will finally be honored in an induction ceremony at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. For tickets, contact Jim Verderame, (860) 628-7335.

“The legacy of that team was their resilience. They put themselves together at the beginning of the year, not knowing what they were going to do, and they got better as the year went on,” said Piazza. “We caught breaks. We made breaks for ourselves. The pitching was good, but the defense was just as good. The hitting—what can you say? They came through when we needed them to come through.”

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@southington observer.com.

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