NEW BRITAIN – In softball, if you have one or two pitchers that can throw consistently well, chances are you’re going to have a strong team.
This year’s Southington softball team not only has an ace in senior Julia Panarella, but a long list of depth pitchers behind their starter that are confident on the rubber.
In the Blue Knights 22-0 win over New Britain on Monday, four different pitchers, including Panarella, were used in the five-inning mercy rule contest and each of them threw well.
“I think I was most impressed with our pitchers [Monday],” Southington coach Davina Hernandez said. “I thought they were very dominant.”
The four pitchers allowed a combined one hit while totaling 11 strikeouts in the contest. The Blue Knights pitchers also walked just two batters, a stark contrast to the Hurricanes who surrendered 18 walks in the game.
“We had four different pitchers throughout and I think we were just able to showcase our depth on the mound,” Hernandez said. “You don’t to get to see all of them every game and they’re all very talented so I was really impressed with them.”
Panarella set aside four Hurricanes batters on strikes in two innings for Southington before freshman Madison Furniss, sophomore Stella Blanchard and junior Sam Sullivan threw an inning each to close out the matchup. Blanchard led the trio with three strikeouts while Furniss and Sullivan each fanned two New Britain batters.
The Blue Knights are 8-1 this season thanks in large part to Panarella’s stellar season on the mound. The hard-throwing righty has started every game for Southington, with her only defeat coming in its 3-1 loss to Bristol Eastern on Apr. 14, a game in which she still recorded 11 strikeouts. In the Blue Knights’ 7-0 win over Simsbury on Apr. 28, Panarella struck out 14 in six innings of work.
In seven games since then, Southington hasn’t allowed more than six runs and have also shut out its last three opponents.
Monday’s victory showed that should Panarella ever need any assistance later on this season, the Blue Knights have more than enough reinforcements ready to go.
“I think this is the best pitching depth that we’ve probably ever had, since I’ve been here,” Hernandez said. “We’ve always had a few really good pitchers, this year we have five. Actually one of our other pitchers is injured right now so we have five really solid pitchers, which is really nice to have those options.”
Southington relied on Panarella during its run to the Class LL state championship in 2019 as well as Sullivan, but also had Julia Theriault and Abby Lamson, two upperclassmen with experience, if Panarella ever faltered.
Since this marks the first varsity season for Furniss and Blanchard, being able to come and throw with confidence means trouble for Blue Knights opponents.
In the off chance Southington struggles to throw strikes at any point, its offense has and no trouble scoring runs. In fact, in its last two games, the Blue Knights have scored 46 times and have tallied more than 20 runs in three separate games this season.
“It took us a little while to figure out our timing at the plate but once we did we kind of got in a groove,” Hernandez said.
Southington will be back in action Friday when it welcomes Middletown in a non-league affair, with first pitch scheduled for 3:45p.m.
Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.