By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knights softball team was up by four runs heading into the final inning and three outs away from their second-straight trip to the Class LL final, but on Monday, June 4, Amity’s bats were just too much for them to keep in check.
Amity found the gaps and lined a ball off the chest of Southington’s pitcher. It was shades of Southington’s 4-1 semifinal loss to the Spartans in the 2016 Class LL Tournament all over again.
Southington’s postseason run came to an end after the top-seeded Lady Knights were edged by a run, 6-5, by No. 5 Amity at West Haven High School in a last inning rally.
The Spartans led the seventh off with a double and moved that runner over to second base with a sacrifice bunt. A single drove in the runner, and another single put runners on first and second. The Knights got the second out of the inning on a fly ball, as Amity’s runner advanced to third by tagging up, but the rally was just beginning.
The next batter singled on a line drive to left field, scoring a run, and then two more runs came in on a passed ball and an infield error. Following a base hit, the Spartans scored the game-winning run on another infield error.
Southington finished with 10 hits. Kara Zazzaro (21-2) threw a complete game on the circle with five strikeouts, allowing eight hits and three earned runs.
After getting hit in the chest by a line drive during Amity’s offensive flurry in the seventh, Hernandez said that Zazzaro said that she was fine and wanted to keep on pitching.
“I understand that,” said Hernandez. “In that type of situation, I don’t think that she was going to come out.”
Hernandez said that it says a lot for Zazzaro to stick it out and stay in the game after getting hit with a line drive.
“She’s a great kid,” said Hernandez. “I don’t expect anything less from her. She’s a fighter and a gamer, regardless of the hits and runs that she gave up. I knew that she wasn’t going to give up.”
Southington led most of the way. With two outs in the second inning, Maddy Rocha got the Knights on the board first with a double that scored Gabby Malachowski. The Knights extended their lead the very next inning on a RBI single by Abby Lamson that drove in Nikki Greco (2-for-3) and Chrissy Marotto.
The Spartans cut into Southington’s lead with a double of their own in the fourth that scored a run. The Knights answered right back in the fifth and extended their lead even further out to four runs. Zazzaro (2-for-4) doubled to bring in Sarah Myrick, and as the very next batter, Frankie Ferrante singled on a groundball to the pitch to bring in Kayla Pelletier, who was pinch running for Zazzaro. Then the Spartans put their rally caps on.
Southington’s loss marked the end of the spring season. The Knights went 19-1 in the regular season, winning the CCC West Colonial title with a perfect, 6-0 record. Southington went 2-1 in the postseason.
Southington will lose four seniors lost to graduation, including Mackenzie Beaupre, Ferrante, Myrick, and Zazzaro.
“There are some questions about pitching that I don’t have answers to just because we have quite a few pitchers on the varsity roster backing up Kara,” said Hernandez. “We’re losing four seniors, and there are several girls that will be competing for those spots.”
JUNE 1—The Knights advanced to the semifinals for the seventh-straight year on Friday with a 1-0 win over No. 9 South Windsor at home, which was their ninth shutout of the season. Lamson drove in Marotto for Southington’s lone run of the game on a RBI single with two outs in the third inning.
Southington mustered just three hits. Zazzaro threw a complete game on the circle with 14 strikeouts, allowing just two hits. South Windsor’s Maria Hanchuk also threw complete game, sitting down 10 batters and allowing three hits and an earned run.
MAY 30—After earning a first-round bye, the Knights began their postseason run on Wednesday with a 19-1 mercy-rule of No. 16 New Britain at home. The win was Southington’s eighth five-inning game of the season.
The Knights scored 10 runs in the first inning and piled on seven more in the second, finishing with 18 hits. Ferrante went 4-for-4 at the plate with five RBI, two runs scored, and a double. Marotto went 4-for-4 with four runs scored, two RBI, and a triple. Zazzaro was perfect at the plate as well, going 3-for-3 with three RBI, two doubles, and a run scored. Myrick contributed with three RBI.
Zazzaro started on the circle and went three innings with nine strikeouts, allowing two hits. Julia Theriault closed with three strikeouts, two hits, and a walk.
For more in depth coverage, see our weekly print edition. To contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.