By BRIAN JENNINGS
On Friday, April 24, unpredictable weather, two runs in extra innings, and a solid pitching performance from Kendra Friedt helped secure a 3-1 win, keeping the Lady Knights (5-0) softball team undefeated.
“It was a crazy day,” said Southington coach Davina Hernandez. “It was probably the strongest wind I had ever seen in twenty something years of playing and coaching the game. I had never seen anything that strong. We roped several balls that could have easily been doubles, triples, or home runs, but at the same time, so did they. We made some really bad errors early on, but I think that the wind and a soft field from a lot of water was definitely a factor.”
The Knights visited the Maloney Spartans (6-3) at the Dunn Sports Complex in Meriden in what would be their closest game of the season thus far.
“Maloney’s a great team and we knew that last year we went to play them,” said Hernandez. “We had the similar kind of game with them last year. They are very well coach by Scott Aresco. We have a lot of the similar strategies in the way we look at different situations. He’s an aggressive coach, and so am I. I knew that they were going to run the bases on us and put the ball in play.”
Brenna Sarantides started the game on the circle for the Knights and combined for a no hitter with Friedt after pitching in just the first inning, allowing one earned run.
Friedt returned to the pitching rotation for the first time this season and came in to finish out the game, picking up the win for the Lady Knights after throwing eight innings and 14 strikeouts. Friedt went the rest of the game without allowing a walk, hit, or an earned run.
Friedt also stepped in to hit in the sixth inning and was able to get on base in two at-bats, including a single in the ninth inning that led to a two-run lead.
“I had told them if it’s a bunt situation, Nikki’s going to be up to bunt, but if it’s a hitting situation, Kendra’s going to be up to hit. Kendra has just done very well against Paige, their pitcher, the last few years. She’s just one of those pitchers that she’s been successful against. She’s been working really hard with pitching and hitting lessons a couple times a week. I had a feeling that she was going to have a good day at the plate and she did.”
It wasn’t an easy win. The Spartans drew blood first with a run scored by MiAziah Ortiz in the first inning batted in by Gabrielle Graham with the team’s only RBI and run. The Knights responded in the third inning, but only to tie the game. Kaitlin Paterson got on base with a walk and was able to score on a sacrifice fly by Isabella Russo.
To the ninth inning we go. Haley Messenger led off with a base hit, followed by two more singles from Friedt and Danielle Ahern. Paterson gave the Knights the lead with a sacrifice fly, scoring Messenger.
A walk from Russo reloaded the bases and Ahern scored after forcing an errant throw, giving the Knights a two-run lead.
Friedt cleaned up the bottom of the ninth with two fly outs to Messenger in right field and a strikeout to end the game.
“I know Maloney came off of a lost to Rockville and I feel like that lit a fire under them and made them want to come at us even harder,” said Hernandez. “Not for one second did I think we were going to blow them out. I know they’re a great team and that’s why I love having them on our schedule because they always give us that tournament-like game early in the season.”
NOTE: On Wednesday, April 22, Southington sent 17 batters to the plate in the first inning and surged to a 19-0 lead after two innings before rains ended play.
The game was suspended in the second inning and will be picked up, in progress, at a later date.