By BRIAN JENNINGS
With a pair of comfortable victories and a shutout in the Class LL softball tournament, the sixth-seeded Lady Knights cruised into their sixth consecutive semifinals. It’s familiar territory for the perennial powerhouse, and the team looks more comfortable than they’ve been all season.
Back in April, the Knights played tight and struggled with communication on the field. As they’ve progressed through the brackets, each game has been more relaxed. Coach Davina Hernandez hopes those early groubles are far behind them.
“Our bats have really been coming along,” she said. “Our slap game was great from the beginning, but our bunts and hitting took a little while to pick up. But now, they’re really starting to get better.”
The development of a bread-and-butter small game approach at the plate has helped significantly, leaving opponents to struggle with communication issues of their own.
“We’ve definitely mixed people up,” the coach said. We’ve had people shuffling their feet around and scrambling to get to the bases, and that’s exactly what we want in the infield,” the coach said. “Whether it’s getting people on or getting people in, we’ve definitely scored quite a few runs with the use of bunts and slaps.”
Southington will travel to DeLuca Field in Stratford to play No. 2 Cheshire (22-1) in the semifinals on Tuesday, June 6. Game time is 7 p.m. Southington is currently 21-2 overall.
The other semifinal game will feature No. 5 Stamford (21-2) against No. 9 Trumbull (19-4). That game will also take place at DeLuca Field, scheduled to start at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Trumbull defeated top-seeded NFA, 9-5, in the quarterfinals.
Class LL Quarterfinals
JUNE 2—The Knights reached the semifinals for the sixth-straight year by blanking No. 14 EO Smith, 4-0, at home in the quarterfinals, earning their 10th-straight win.
Michelle Woodruff led the Knights off in the first inning by getting on base with an error. A couple stolen bases later, Woodruff scored off a Sarah Myrick (2-for-3) single.
“When we get the top of our lineup on, we tend to open up the game right away,” said Hernandez. “We have a lot of speed. There’s no secret in that department anymore. We’ve been utilizing a lot of the small game.”
After Amanda Delorme got on base with a single, Abby Lamson extended Southington’s lead to three in the same inning by bringing in Delorme and Myrick with a base knock.
“She’s (Lamson) been doing a great job of keeping the ball down and hard the whole year,” the coach said. “She’s been a really good leader for us in the infield and offensively.”
Katie Semmel capped off the win with an RBI single that scored Frankie Ferrante in the fourth.
Southington mustered just five hits and committed two errors. Kara Zazzaro (19-2) threw a complete game shutout on the circle with 10 strikeouts, allowing just three hits.
“She’s been throwing really well the last couple of games,” said Hernandez. “Her velocity and movement have been continuing to improve throughout the year. She did a really good job of moving the ball around.”
Second Round win
MAY 31—Southington rolled on to the quarterfinals the next day with a 9-3 victory over No. 11 Darien at home in the second round.
The Knights built a six-run lead before the Blue Wave scored their first run of the game in the sixth inning, posting five runs in the first two innings combined and capping off the victory with three in the sixth. Southington finished with 12 hits.
Ferrante went 3-for-4 at the plate with five RBIs, two doubles, and one run scored. Lamson went 3-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs scored, and a double. Woodruff went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Zazzaro started on the circle and went six innings with 10 strikeouts, allowing three hits, one earned run, and a walk. Delaney Picard (2-0) closed with two strikeouts, four hits, and two earned runs.
First Round win
MAY 30—The Knights began their postseason run by advancing to the second round of the state tournament with a 14-2 rout of No. 27 New Canaan at home in the first round on Tuesday. Southington posted six runs in the fifth inning and five in the sixth, finishing with 19 hits.
Maighread Scafariello went 4-for-4 at the plate with three RBIs, two doubles, and one run scored off a home run. Chrissy Marotto went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and one run scored. Myrick went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI.
Zazzaro threw a complete game on the circle with 13 strikeouts, allowing three hits, two earned runs, and a walk.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/06/05/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-9-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.