STRATFORD - Cheshire starting pitcher Abby Abramson took a perfect game into the fifth inning in the Class LL semifinals against Southington on Thursday night. That fifth inning though, was a doozy.
The Blue Knights put together a huge rally, scoring six runs which proved to be plenty as they went on to win the game 6-2 to advance to the finals for the fourth time in five years.
“I thought this team had this kind of potential all year,” Southington head coach Davina Hernandez said. “People kept telling me that this was a down season for our team and I would nod my head yes and then I would go tell my girls, ‘They don’t think you can do it this year.’
“Getting to this point is a testament to them and we are really excited. I thought I was going to pass out in the fifth inning because I was jumping around so much.”
It all started innocently with an Abby Lamson walk, but Maighread Scafariello followed with a walk and the two executed a double steal to put the team in business.
From there the floodgates opened. Frankie Ferrante drove in a run on a sac bunt that the Rams couldn’t record an out on and Chrissy Marotto followed with an RBI single. After a Kara Zazzaro single to load the bases pinch hitter Gabby Malachowski hit a sacrifice fly to make the score 3-0.
Michelle Woodruff added an RBI single one batter later and then Amanda Delorme capped off the scoring with a two out, two-run single and in the blink of an eye Southington was up 6-0 and Cheshire didn’t know what hit it.
“I don’t think our pitch selection was the best early on,” Hernandez said. “We started to focus in on our pitches in that fifth inning and we capitalized. Abby [Abramson] is the real deal though. That’s the best pitcher we have seen all year so to score six runs in an inning off of her says a lot.”
“We felt pretty good the whole time,” Woodruff said. “We weren’t getting the hits but we knew we were right there we just needed to get our timing right. Abby started it off with a walk and the hits just started flowing.”
In total the Blue Knights sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth innings. They recorded five of their seven hits in that fateful inning and score all six of their runs
While Abramson was dominating through the first four innings, Southington’s Zazzaro was doing her job of keeping the Rams off the board. The junior had runners on base throughout the game but made some big pitches when she needed to.
The only blemish on the right-handers game was a two-run home run hit by Abramson in the bottom of the fifth. Besides that she struck out nine batters, including the final three of the game, and allowed seven hits and three walks.
Zazzaro put the first two batters on in the seventh inning via a walk and a hit batsmen which had the tying run in the on-deck circle. That tying run never got to the plate though, as Zazzaro found another gear.
“I’ve said this all year but she gets stronger as the game goes along,” Hernandez said. “She has this poker face on the mound and nothing gets to her. She made some big pitches to get out of trouble.”
“I felt pretty good out there,” Zazzaro said. “These are my favorite games to pitch in and the energy was so good from both sides all game so it was a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Last season Southington lost in the semifinals of the Class LL tournament to Amity, who eventually lost to Cheshire in the title game. This season the Blue Knights got their revenge, against a rival no less, and now have a chance to win their fourth title in five years.
“Cheshire is like a college program,” said an emotional Hernandez. “They are extremely good every year and I have a lot of respect for their coach and their program. To win this game against that team means everything.”
“To win this game against our biggest rival is awesome,” Woodruff said. “I have been to two state championship games before as a freshman and a sophomore but this one means more because it’s my senior year and we are just so excited to have won this game.”
Southington will take on Trumbull in the Class LL state championship game on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in West Haven.
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @bigwoolf5