By BRIAN JENNINGS
One run in the top of the seventh inning separated the sixth-seeded Lady Knights from their 18th CIAC Class LL title.
Southington had just erased a one run deficit in the bottom of the sixth, but they weren’t able to deliver twice. After falling behind by a run for the second time in three innings, Southington’s postseason run came to an end with a 4-3 loss to No. 9 Trumbull in the championship game.
The Knights rarely committed errors throughout the season, but on Saturday, June 10, they made five against the Eagles.
“I really believed in the girls and thought that we were going to come through, especially after coming back and tying it up in the sixth,” said Southington coach Davina Hernandez. “But you can’t really make five errors and expect to win a state championship.”
Maighread Scafariello gave the Knights an early advantage after leading off the bottom of the second with a home run, and Southington held a 1-0 lead into the top of the fourth inning.
“It went over the fence of the field, and then it went 30 feet over the fence of the complex,” said Hernandez. “It actually left the complex, bounced once, and hit the school. It was one of the furthest home runs I’ve ever seen in high school, if not the farthest.”
Then trouble started for Southington. Trumbull’s Alexandra Szabo led off the fourth with a single, and a throwing error from third to second that ricocheted into the outfield put Courtney Fairfield on first.
An out later, Julia Huzi got on base with a bunt that resulted in a fielder’s choice, and Erica Fluskey put the Eagles up by a run, 2-1, with a base hit that scored two. A Taylor Brown solo homerun in the sixth extended Trumbull’s lead to two. But the Knights answered.
With two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth, Hernandez made switch in the lineup that paid off. Gabby Verderame-Malachowski pinch-hit twice before Katie Semmel saw her first appearance at the plate.
Hernandez plugged Semmel into the lineup in the sixth, and she came through with a clutch single that drove in a pair of runs to give the Knights the lead back, 3-2.
“Katie has done a really good job making contact this year,” the coach said. “She’s a small girl, and I was looking for a big power hit when I had pinch-hit for her during her second at-bat. When it came around to her third at-bat, I just had a feeling that she was going to step up, and she did.”
Alexa Adinolfi led the seventh off for the Eagles and struck out. However, the pitch was dropped, and she was safe on an errant throw to first. A sacrifice bunt moved Adinolfi over to second, and Szabo hit a hard single down the first-base line to score the go-ahead run.
Trumbull’s pitcher, Szabo, got the Knights to pop up for the first two outs of the bottom of the inning, but Abby Lamson and Scafariello managed to get on base with a single and walk. However, Szabo struck out the next batter to end the game.
“Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way,” said Hernandez. “We played great defense the whole year, but unfortunately, we just did not play the best defense tonight. I was really happy for Trumbull because they deserved it, but the girls still had a great year though.”
Southington finished with seven hits and stranded nine runners on base. Kara Zazzaro (20-3) threw a complete game on the circle with nine strikeouts, allowing five hits, two earned runs, and two walks.
Southington is now 17-5 all-time in the Class LL championship game after making its 22nd appearance on Saturday night. For the Eagles, it was their first time in the Class LL title game, as Trumbull made it there by defeating No. 5 Stamford, 3-0, in the semifinals.
The Knights finished the season at 22-3 overall.
JUNE 8—A late, fifth-inning rally propelled the Knights into the final of the state tournament for the first time since 2015 with a 6-2 victory over No. 2 Cheshire at DeLuca Field in Stratford on Thursday. Cheshire’s pitcher, Abby Abramson, had a perfect game going with eight strikeouts through the first four innings, until the Knights erupted with six runs off six hits in the fifth.
After the first two batters walked and advanced to second and third on a double steal, Frankie Ferrante put the Knights on the board with a bunt single that scored a run. Chrissy Marotto followed with another bunt single that scored a run, and Zazzaro loaded the bases with a base hit.
Verderame-Malachowski pinch-hit for Semmel and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly. Michelle Woodruff continued the offensive onslaught by bringing in another run with a slap hit for a single, and a batter later, Amanda Delorme capped off the rally with a base knock that scored a pair of runs. But Abramson didn’t go away quietly.
With a leadoff runner on first in the bottom of the inning, she responded by putting the Rams on the board with a two-run home run. However, she wouldn’t get any help from her teammates for the remainder of the game.
Zazzaro allowed the first two Rams to reach base in the bottom of the seventh with a walk and hit batter, but managed to regain her composure by striking out the next three. Zazzaro went on to throw a complete game with nine strikeouts, allowing seven hits and three walks.
Southington finished with eight hits, while Cheshire stranded nine runners on base. Neither team committed an error.
For this week’s box scores, click here: (southingtonobserver.com/2017/06/13/weekly-scoreboard-for-the-june-16-edition). To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.