SPECIAL TO THE PRESS
Southington is back in the Class LL softball state tournament semifinals, and awaiting the Blue Knights is not only the reigning champion, but their heated rival as well.
Tonight, the Cheshire Rams (22-1) stand in Southington’s way of a state title appearance.
After losing last year’s semifinal to Amity, the Blue Knights (21-2) and head coach Davina Hernandez hope to redeem themselves and head back to familiar ground.
“I think that the senior class is very hungry,” Hernandez said. “They won two championships and are hungry for another one.”
The Blue Knights will send out Kara Zazzaro (17-2) to counter Rams starting pitcher Abigail Abramson.
Led by an explosive offense and good pitching in this year’s tournament, Southington looks to return to its 2012-15 championship form in which it won back-to-back-to-back championships.
Southington started with a first round victory over New Canaan in convincing fashion, 14-2. In the second round, the Blue Knights offense continued their hot streak, scoring nine runs to defeat Darien 9-3. Led by a shutout, Southington defeated E.O. Smith 4-0 in the quarterfinal round.
Cheshire has also been very good in tournament play, with their offensive prowess and strong pitching. Against Hamden, Ridgefield and Westhill, the Rams won by a combined score of 27-5.
“They are definitely a team you cannot make mistake against. There needs to be discipline at the plate. The team that is more disciplined is going to come out on top,” Hernandez said. “It’s interesting because I think we both have a similar style of play. We both have high amounts of energy, and we both have great pitching and hitting. It is going to come down to who is more disciplined. I feel strongly about that. If we can remain disciplined at the plate and put down a bunt and execute in those situations, whoever does it is going to come out successful.”
Since 2014, both teams have faced each other twice in the state tournament, both times with Southington coming out on top. In the 2014 quarterfinals, Southington defeated Cheshire 2-1. In the 2015 championship, the last time Southington won it, the Blue Knights defeated the Rams 5-0.
“I think it’s one of those things that it’s a big rivalry, there is a lot of history and we are right next to each other. They are a very strong team with a lot of energy,” Hernandez said. “If we continue to push ourselves and play like the last couple of games, we are going to be in a good position.”
Both teams have not faced each other in the regular season this year. Tonight’s first pitch is set at 7 p.m. at DeLuca Field in Stratford.