SOUTHINGTON - Southington South‚Äôs Little League Baseball all-stars lost to Farmington 8-3 on Thursday, seeing its season end at the hands of its rival, which won a third straight District 5 tournament championship.¬†
The loss, however, felt much different than what the team experienced just three days prior.¬†
South walked away from a 15-0 defeat at the hands of Farmington on Monday with about as much confidence as could be expected following a blowout loss.¬†
After the debilitating feeling of having been scathed for 10 runs in the first inning and seeing things spiral quickly out of control, were head coach Curtis Migliore and his players feeling a little intimidated?¬†
‚ÄúNo,‚ÄĚ Migliore said simply. ‚ÄúNot at all.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs how, after taking down Southington North to set up a rematch with Farmington, South went into a game against a Farmington club South had beaten four out of seven times the two teams had played this season.¬†
That included a 3-0 win in the final regular-season matchup, when they defeated Sanjay Patel - Thursday‚Äôs starting pitcher - and South‚Äôs starter on Thursday. Paul Cavanaugh, had thrown a complete-game shutout to give the team a feeling of ‚Äúbravado,‚ÄĚ says Migliore.¬†
‚ÄúWe play against them so much. We know what they do,‚ÄĚ Migliore said. ‚Äú[Thursday] it didn‚Äôt happen. Same situation, same field. Different result. That‚Äôs how it goes.‚ÄĚ
Migliore was proud of his kids for not backing down and not rolling over after witnessing Farmington stroll through the district bracket with two easy wins by a combined 35-1 score.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm proud of the way the kids responded,‚ÄĚ Migliore said. ‚ÄúThe kids are resilient, and luckily they have short memories. ‚Ä¶ They don‚Äôt back down. We just had a bad game, and we said to everybody, ‚ÄėLet‚Äôs brush it off.‚Äô We had to go the next day and beat the North to get here, and we did that.‚ÄĚ
There are two reasons the players were able to have a much better outing the second time around.¬†
For one, it‚Äôs a group familiar with each other.
‚ÄúA lot of these kids feel like they‚Äôre brothers because they‚Äôre together so much,‚ÄĚ Migliore said. ‚ÄúThey play together in the fall and spring, they play basketball together, they go to school together. They see each other all the time.¬†
‚ÄúThis is a great group of kids that‚Äôs been playing together since 8U all the way until [Thursday]. This is five years of working together.‚ÄĚ
But perhaps more important, the growth and maturity of a team that‚Äôs a year older showed itself throughout this summer.
‚ÄúLast year there was a lot of in-fighting on the bench,‚ÄĚ Migliore said. ‚ÄúThis year, they were just more cohesive. We went into the season with the mantra of just ‚ÄėTogether.‚Äô Everything was focusing on being together.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúA lot of times, [last year], they would strike out and would go to the bench. A teammate would say, ‚ÄėHey, it‚Äôs OK,‚Äô and put their arm around them. And the kid would just fire back at him, snap back at him, because they were upset. This season was more allowing yourself to be picked up. Allow your teammate to come in and help you out.‚ÄĚ
As South‚Äôs players will now go their separate directions, headed to different travel ball programs and different schools, they say goodbye to a successful season together.¬†
‚ÄúThey had a great season. I can‚Äôt diminish that. They were great,‚ÄĚ Migliore said. ‚ÄúThat wasn‚Äôt the way we wanted to end it, obviously, but they were everything I could‚Äôve asked for. It‚Äôs not gonna stay together, unfortunately, but I want them to appreciate what they had.‚ÄĚ
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org