By BRIAN JENNINGS
The Lady Knight softball team almost snatched a perfect week…until they met up with a four-loss nonconference team in a rare Sunday contest. Southington suffered their first loss of the season in a busy four-game week, but they still managed to clinch a playoff berth in the quickest possible means.
Immediately following the loss, Southington coach Davina Hernandez said that she told her girls the loss was going to help the team more than it was going to hurt them.
“There’s that pressure of being undefeated,” said Hernandez. “I saw how devastated how some of them were after they made mistakes, but you have to remind them that they’re human, and mistakes are going to happen.”
Hernandez said that there were also major learning opportunities. After committing four or five errors in last year’s Class LL championship, she said that she would have the errors happen now rather than in the state title game.
“One of the learning opportunities that came about was how we’re going to approach those spinning type of balls,” said Hernandez. “It’s going to force us to not allow ourselves to become complacent. We haven’t tapped into our potential yet, and I’m waiting for that moment where we all step up and string those hits together.”
The Knights will look to bounce back from the loss and fight for better seeding in the Class LL Tournament this week with contests against Simsbury (4-6), Middletown (7-6), Avon (2-9), and Windsor (11-2). Southington is 10-1 overall and 5-0 in the CCC West Region.
Win vs. South Windsor
APRIL 30—They mustered just three hits and committed four errors, but the Knights still managed to get the win and qualify for the Class LL Tournament. They began their busy week on Monday with a 3-0 shutout over South Windsor at home.
Madison Rocha drove in Southington’s first two runs with a bases-clearing triple in the second inning. Chrissy Marotto led the third off by advancing to first base before being thrown out on a third strike dropped by the catcher. She eventually stole home to cap off the win with Southington’s third run.
Kara Zazzaro (10-0) threw a complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts, allowing three hits and two walks.
Win vs. NW Catholic
MAY 2—Seventeen hits and Zazzaro on the circle were just too much for their opponent. The Knights earned their fifth shutout of the season with their fourth mercy-rule in five innings a couple of days later by blanking divisional NW Catholic, 16-0, handing the Lions their first loss of the season. The Knights scattered runs in all five innings, taking an 11-run lead after the second inning.
Abby Lamson was perfect at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three RBI, two runs scored, and a triple. Mackenzie Beaupre went 2-for-3 with three RBI and a run scored. Rocha was also flawless at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two RBI, a run scored, and a triple.
Zazzaro picked up the win on the circle after going all five innings with 11 strikeouts, allowing just one hit.
Win vs. Fitch
MAY 4—In an odd game that featured base runners colliding into fielders and umpires congregating on the field multiple times, interference calls did not faze the Knights on Friday. A chaotic third inning led to a Southington player being thrown out at the plate after trying to stretch a two-RBI hit into three runs, but fifteen hits lifted them to their 10th-straight win to remain undefeated on the season in the end with a 13-3 rout of Fitch at home.
Following a scoreless first inning, it didn’t take the bats long to wake up for the Knights. They scattered runs in the next five innings, taking a six-run lead after the third and capping off the win with four in the sixth. The Falcons didn’t get on the board until late in the game with a pair in the sixth and a run in the seventh.
Marotto went 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBI and a run scored. Zazzaro was just a homerun shy of hitting for the cycle after going 3-for-3 with two RBI and a walk. Zazzaro (10-0) also threw a complete game on the circle with 11 strikeouts, allowing two hits, two walks, and an earned run.
Loss at NFA
MAY 6—The Knights capped off the week on Sunday by suffering their first loss of the season after falling, 2-0, to NFA at the Recreation Department Softball Field inNorwich. The Knights were the only remaining undefeated team in Class LL coming into the game, but now have fallen into a five-way tie with teams that have one loss. The last time the Knights were shut out was last season to Westhill (1-13) at home by the same count.
Following three scoreless innings to start the game, the Wildcats led the fourth inning off with a double and bunt single. Two strikeouts later, those baserunners came around to score on a bloop fly ball just past the circle that resulted in an infield error and a passed ball.
Hernandez said that the Wildcats made plays on every ball the Knights drove hard at them.
“We could have gotten out of the inning, but physical mistakes happen,” said Hernandez. “That one play definitely didn’t cause the outcome of the game. I always say that defense wins championships, and they really played flawless defense, which was a big part of the outcome of the game.”
Southington mustered just three hits and committed two errors. Zazzaro threw a complete game with three strikeouts, allowing five hits and a walk. She had a perfect game going heading into the fourth.
NFA’s Bailey Comeau also threw a complete game, throwing five strikeouts and allowing four walks and three hits.
“She was good,” said Hernandez. “She hit her spots and had good speed. She threw some off-speed pitches.”
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at BJennings@SouthingtonObserver.com.