By John Goralski
Southington’s 5-0 lead shrank to three runs when a Southington error sparked a two-run rally by Bristol Eastern. Lancer batters followed with a pair of singles and a double. Southington’s once-secure lead seemed to shrink to nothing as a Lancer dropped down a bunt.
But Southington’s defense jumped into gear.
“We work on defense every day,” said Lady Knight softball coach John Bores. “Every practice we work on every situation so that, when we come into a ballgame, nothing surprises us. I don’t have a big roster. I only have about 13 kids on our varsity roster, but we drill them every day with first and third plays, people trying to steal home, or suicide squeezes. We work on everything.”
Rachel Harvey scooped up the bunt and threw out the runner at first. Natalie Wadolowski rocketed the ball back to Harvey at the plate to stop the lead runner and Harvey threw a strike to Sydney Ferrante at third to end the inning.
The Knights made up the runs they lost. The defense posted a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Southington escaped Bristol with a 7-2 victory that seemed a lot closer than the final score.
“This was a game that I was really concerned about,” said Bores. “I figured that they’d give us a good game. Unfortunately, they did. They made it closer than it should have been. I don’t want to sound conceited or arrogant, but we should have shut them out. You can’t drop a ball for the first out of the inning because everything bad happens…You’ve got to make the plays.”
The first week of the season was a strange one for the Lady Knights, but they emerged with two wins in as many tries. On Wednesday, they opened the season in a wind-blown game at home. On Friday, it took a triple play to stop a late rally.
Still, the Knights are 2-0 after week one, and a lot of the credit goes to Jordyn Moquin on the mound. In the opener, Moquin fought off cold temperatures and high wins to strike out nine in a no-hitter. On Friday, the Lancers managed six hits but all but two were fielded by Southington infielders.
“She’s obviously not an overwhelming strikeout pitcher, so what we’re looking for is a lot of ground balls and pop-ups,” Bores said after Friday’s win. “That’s what she gave us all day. There were only two balls hit hard. One was a single to center. The other one was to left field, and the wind carried it.”
The offense did the rest. Kaitlin Paterson went 5-for-5 against Bristol Eastern with a lead-off single, a double, and two runs scored. Sydney Ferrante went 3-for-4 with a home run and two doubles. Haley Arduini went 3-for-4. Kendra Friedt scored a pinch hit home run in the seventh inning, and Southington held on for a 7-2 win.
“I thought we swung the bats really, really well today. We made good contact, and I was very pleased with the way we swung the bats,” said Bores. “I’m not pleased with some of our defense. I thought we made a couple of defensive miscues that were pretty obvious, and I’m not happy about that.”
The defense came as somewhat of a shock after Southington’s performance in game one. With temperatures in the 40s and a strong wind affecting pop-ups throughout the game, Southington’s defense didn’t commit an error.
East Catholic struggled as balls shifted trajectory in mid-air. A pair of early hits were driven back from the fence. One caught a draft and sailed into foul territory. Late in the contest, two balls seemed to reverse in the air as the wind hurled pop-ups back at the infielders.
“Crazy things can happen in wind like this,” said Bores. “All it takes is a bloop hit, and you could find yourself in a close game. You always worry about that, but I thought we handled it really well.”
Once again, Moquin was a big reason. She allowed a walk in the first inning and another one in the fifth, but those were the only East Catholic batters to reach base. Meanwhile, Southington hitters combined for 14 runs on 12 hits.
Lauren Zazzaro led the way with three hits in four at bats. Natalie Wadolowski and Emily Lippincott scored doubles. Sarah Carangelo and Caitlin Downes scored multiple hits, and Southington cruised to a 14-0 win.
“I think the wind actually hurt us more than it helped us,” said Bores. “We hit some shots to the fence that would have hit the fence or gone out, but he wind knocked them right down.”
Things won’t get any easier for the Knights as they return to Bristol on Monday to face the Rams before taking on Newington and Rocky Hill. But after one crazy week, Southington emerged with two wins.
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