By BRIAN JENNINGS
Critics said that this would be a rebuilding year, but the second-seeded Lady Knights softball team returned to the Class LL final four, falling just short of a fifth straight appearance in the championship game. Southington spring campaign came to an end with a 4-1 loss to No. 6 Amity at West Haven High School on Monday, June 6.
Southington coach Davina Hernandez said that she was still very proud of her girls.
“That’s the heart that is part of the tradition,” she said. “There’s the expectation to never give up. We kept our energy the whole game. We didn’t get flat or dead, even when we were down 4-0. We didn’t let outside factors affect us. We started to pick it up a little but, but just like the Fitch game, it was too late.”
The Spartans took a 1-0 lead off of a RBI double with two outs in the first inning. Amity added two more runs in the fifth on another RBI double and fielding error. The Spartans capped off the victory with another run by fielder’s choice in the sixth.
Sarah Myrick scored the Knights’ only run of the game on a fielder’s choice by Emily Mankus. Myrick got on base on an error by the third baseman. Janette Wadolowski had the team’s only other hit.
Brenna Sarantides started the game on the circle for the Knights and went four and a third innings with five strikeouts, allowing three hits, two walks, and two earned runs. Kara Zazzaro closed out the game with five strikeouts, one hit, and one walk.
Amity outhit Southington, 4-2. The Knights committed two errors.
“We knew that they were going to be a great team defensively,” said Hernandez. “We weren’t very disciplined at the plate, and that hurt us. I talked to my team about how there were two errors on the scoreboard, but there were a lot more mishandled balls that reflected to those two errors.”
Hernandez said that there were numerous fair and foul fly balls that should have been caught.
“They were things that we’ve been doing all year long,” the coach said. “Whether it was the nerves or the loud crowd, I don’t know. But at the end of the day, they were more disciple than us, which is why they were more effective hitting our pitchers.”
The Spartans’ pitcher, Katie Koshes, finished with 12 strikeouts. Koshes pitched in the 15-inning state championship game in 2014, where the Knights prevailed 1-0.
“That’s a great pitcher and we knew that we were going to face great pitching,” the coach said. “She’s just a great pitcher, and you can’t really afford to chase balls because she’s going to come and get you. And that’s exactly what she did.”
This class of seniors that will be graduating after this season was the first freshman class that Hernandez coached in her first year as head coach of the program. Natalie Wadolowski and Sarantides were freshmen on that state championship team that defeated Mercy, 1-0, in 2013. Mankus came up as a sophomore and Nicolette St. Amand came along as a senior.
“I got a little emotional at the end there,” the coach said. “We lost eight starters last year, but we came back to the final four and had a great run. Our senior class was very upset because they wanted to get that fourth state championship, but I also reminded them that not a lot of people can say that they have one.”
The Knights reached the final four with a 14-2 victory over No. 23 Darien in a quarterfinal game at Southington High School.
Natalie Wadolowski went 2-for-4 with two RBI and a runs scored. Zazzaro went 2-for-2 with a double.
Sarantides went four innings on the circle and tossed four strikeouts, giving up five hits and an earned run. Zazzaro relieved Sarantides to finish out the game with six strikeouts.
Southington finished the 2016 season with a 20-2 record. No. 1 Cheshire (23-0) will play Amity (20-4) in the Class LL championship game.
No-go for Newington
Southington opened tournament play on Wednesday, beating No. 15 Newington, 7-1, in a second round home game. The Knights received a bye in the opening round.
Natalie Wadolowski went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a triple. Maighread Scafariello went 2-for-4 with a RBI. Janette Wadolowski and Amanda Delorme each went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Myrick went 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored.
Sarantides picked up the win on the circle after going six innings with eight strikeouts, surrendering five hits and a walk. Zazzaro closed out the game with a strikeout.
Southington outhit Newington 13-6 and committed two errors.
The Lady Knights finished the season with a 20-2 record.
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