WEST HAVEN - The Southington softball team did not expect to see its season coming to an end anytime soon, but it did, with a 6-5 loss to Amity in the semifinal round of the Class LL state tournament.
“It’s disappointing,” Southington head coach Davina Hernandez said after her top-seeded team (21-2) fell to the fifth-seeded Spartans on Monday afternoon. “I think we could’ve had a better last inning, it kind of reminds me of last year. We’ve talked about since day one that defense wins championships and one play doesn’t make the game, one strike doesn’t make the game, one call, but unfortunately when you have a couple it’s just unfortunate.”
After leading by four through six innings, everything changed.
“There was a definite change in momentum and energy,” Hernandez said. “It seemed like the energy shifted from us to them. Our girls kind of seemed a little defeated at that point. You could see it all over their faces and I know they were just disappointed in themselves.”
The Spartans were very confident going into the final half inning and scored five runs in the seventh to take the lead.
“They were disappointed that they didn’t make some of the plays or that they gave up that many runs in one inning,” Hernandez said. “It’s just unfortunate because [pitcher] Kara [Zazzaro] has only given up a handful of earned runs this whole year and to give up in the last inning, and she was throwing a great game.”
Zazzaro is one of the four seniors graduating in June, and that leaves a handful of positions that need to be filled.
“Throughout the year I wanted to help my team win games,” Zazzaro said. “I know they’ll always make the plays behind me.”
Zazzaro has done her job as starting pitcher for the last couple of years, finishing out her career with 484 strikeouts, 291.1 innings pitched and an ERA of 0.55.
“I know there are some questions about pitching,” Hernandez said. “And there are some questions that I don’t have answers to with the pitching. We have quite a few pitchers on the varsity roster backing up Kara.”
Another spot that will be opening is left field. Throughout her career, departing left fielder Sarah Myrick has had 44 stolen bases, 69 runs, 68 hits and 28 RBI.
During the game against Amity, Myrick caught a fly ball and turned it into a double play.
First baseman Francesca Ferrante will be graduating this month as well. For her career she had 103 putouts, 78 hits, 57 runs, 65 RBI and a batting average of .417.
“We’ve had an amazing season,” Ferrante said. “My senior year has been awesome.”
The other senior is second baseman Mackenzie Beaupre. In her four years at Southington, she has had 14 hits, 22 runs, 14 RBI and a batting average of .378.
“There are some openings,” Hernandez said. “And there will be several girls competing for those spots, just like this year there were a lot of questions, a lot of lineup changes throughout the year, but a year is a long way from now, so it’s hard to tell where we’ll be.”
Despite not reaching the Class LL finals like they had hoped, the Blue Knights can still reflect upon another strong, successful season.
“This year in particular we were really close,” Abby Lamson said. “The teams in the past, and I’ve been on varsity all three years, this team by far is the most close-knit and all together in it.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096