By John Goralski
The Lady Knights seemed to hold back on the kill like an executioner showing a hint of mercy. On Wednesday, May 21, the Southington softball team surged to an 8-0 lead over Simsbury by the bottom of the fourth inning. The Southington girls looked like they were on the brink of their third straight mercy rule contest.
Suddenly, in a rare twist of logic, Simsbury and Southington switched roles.
Over the final three innings, Trojan hitters rallied for four of their five hits and all five of their scores. The Knights were retired in order in each of the last two at bats, and the 8-run lead shrank to a three point advantage.
With Southington softball, you have to take the drama where you can find it. The Knights still won easily to protect their undefeated status (17-0) with three games remaining. Simsbury was still the latest team to succumb to a two-game season sweep, but the Trojans managed to do what nobody else has done this season.
They scored more than two runs.
The game came on the heels of a pair of lopsided victories to clinch a season sweep. On Monday, the girls rallied for a 35-0 victory over Hall in five innings. On Tuesday, the Knights rallied for nine runs in their final at bat to secure a 15-0 win over New Britain.
Even as the Lady Knights emptied their bench, the girls continued to stretch the lead.
“Every single game, my girls continue to show me that we have great depth,” said Lady Knight coach Davina Hernandez. “Brenna [Sarantides] came off the bench against New Britain and blasted one to the fence in the gap. We were joking that she’s so small that she’s probably going to blow away in the wind, and she comes out and drills one.”
She wasn’t alone. Over the two day stretch, Southington batters combined for 49 hits and 50 runs. Hernandez tried to shuffle in backup hitters, but that didn’t stop the offense. Southington was already leading Hall, 20-0, after three innings when she began to filter in her back-ups, but with only a 14-girl roster it can be difficult to slow the hitting.
Hernandez can stop players from taking extra bases, but there’s little more she can do.
“As a coach, that’s one of the hardest positions to be in. I’m not going to tell my girls not to go out and get a hit, but we had some ball that I’ve never seen go that far,” said the coach. “It was just one of those days that every single person—No. 1 through 14—was on the ball. The last time we played them, we didn’t bust it open until the last inning. The last time, they scored two runs against us. You just never know.”
In the fourth inning, Southington sent 17 players to the plate for a 14-run rally buoyed by four Hall errors. Games must finish the fifth inning before a mercy rule victory can be determined, so the Knights ran the score up to 35-0 before officials called the game.
“It’s a tough position to be in. I didn’t even enjoy it,” said Hernandez. “I love the Hall girls. I coached them two years ago in a winter indoor league before I came to Southington. I love those girls, and I love their coach. It was just a horrible position to be in.”
At the same time, Southington’s ace was pitching a gym. Kendra Friedt struck out 11 Hall batters and retired every single one that she faced for a perfect game through five innings. The following day, Friedt pitched a no-hitter through four innings before Hernandez pulled her for Sarantides.
“I was actually hoping that New Britain would score in the top of the sixth inning,” said Hernandez. “I wanted to get Brenna some work, but Kendra has been pitching so well for us that I couldn’t take her out. Yesterday, she pitched a perfect game, so I left her in. Today, we busted it open before I could get Brenna in.”
Against New Britain, it wasn’t as lopsided. Southington rolled out to a 6-0 lead after three innings before forcing a mercy rule victory with a nine-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning. Hernandez made the switch at pitcher. The Hurricanes moved the lead-off hitter around to third base, but Sarantides escaped the threat unharmed.
Hernandez figured that she still had time because the Knights were scheduled for five games in six days, but rains at the end of the week caused some rescheduling and cancelations. Now, Southington will wrap up the season at New Britain on Tuesday before facing Farmington and Newington in a rare double header on Thursday.
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