SOUTHINGTON - The Southington softball team found itself in a pitcherâ€™s duel in its season opener against South Windsor on Wednesday afternoon and Kara Zazzaro came through, carrying the Blue Knights to a 3-1 win.
The junior pitched all seven innings and allowed just one unearned run while striking out 12 batters and allowing three hits and one walk.
The right-hander was dominant throughout the game, notably in a stretch between the third and fifth innings where she struck out seven hitters in an eight-batter span.
â€śShe did a really good job moving her pitches around today,â€ť head coach Davina Hernandez said. â€śI think her control was really good. There were a few that got away from her, but for the most part she was on point.â€ť
â€śI was just really excited to be out here today, because itâ€™s the season opener and itâ€™s taken a while to get out here,â€ť Zazzaro said. â€śI knew that I had great defense behind and I knew that whatever I threw they were going to make the plays behind me, so it gave me a lot of confidence that I could throw my pitches and do my stuff and they would make the plays.â€ť
Zazzaro exceled despite being on a learning curve of sorts.
â€śShe is working on adding two new pitches to her arsenal,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śHer rise ball was pretty effective for the most part today. There were some that sailed, but she is just learning the pitch.â€ť
â€śThe new pitches worked pretty good today,â€ť Zazzaro said. â€śAgain it was just trusting that my teammates were going to support behind me. I have been working a lot in the offseason, so I knew that the pitches were going to pay off, and itâ€™s good to feel it in a real game situation and I just tried to run with it.â€ť
South Windsorâ€™s starting pitcher Maria Hanchuk did a good job of matching Zazzaro for most of the game and had a solid outing herself. The southpaw went six innings, allowed one earned run and just five hits, but the Bobcatsâ€™ defense let her down in the end.
South Windsor got on the board first in the third inning with the help of some shoddy Southington defense.
Sam Ostrowski led off the inning with a double and was moved over to third on a bunt single from Stephanie Karlins. The Blue Knights fielded the ball in plenty of time to get an out, but second basemen Michelle Woodruff didnâ€™t cover first base in time.
Ostrowski came around to score on a bunt from Keegan Caffrey later in the inning. It wasnâ€™t a squeeze bunt, but first basemen Frankie Ferrante threw the ball into right field, allowing the runner to score.
From there the Bobcats had second and third with nobody out, but Zazzaro got two weak ground balls and a strikeout against the top third of the order to strand them in scoring position.
Southington answered in the bottom of the third with the help of some shaky South Windsor defense. Chrissy Marotto singled with one out and moved to second on a Katie Semmel bunt base hit. Marotto then stole third base and the throw went into left field, allowing her to trot home with the tying run.
The Blue Knights scored another run in the fourth when Amanda Delorme singled to start the inning and came around to score on a Ferrante sacrifice fly.
Southingtonâ€™s final run came in the sixth inning, sparked by Woodruff. She started the inning with a bunt single and wisely took second base with nobody covering. The second baseman then took third on a wild pitch and scored on a Maighreid Scafariello sacrifice fly.
Overall it wasnâ€™t the typical Southington softball game, as it was tight throughout, but the team picked up a win over a quality opponent to start the season.
â€śI think everybody came out and was tight,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śIt was that excited type of nerves that everybody had, because we had a delay and itâ€™s the first game of the season with girls that had never started before. But toward the end of the game they loosened up a little bit and played pretty well.â€ť
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5