BRISTOL - Katelynn Oullette and Carolyn Marchak provided just enough offense for the second-seeded St. Paul softball team on Tuesday afternoon in the first round of the Class S state tournament.
The No. 5-6 hitters in the Falcons’ lineup each drove in a pair of runs and St. Paul survived a late rally from No. 31 Windsor Locks to pick up a 4-3 victory at home and advance into the second round.
“We were definitely down today. I think we can honestly work a lot harder than we did today,” Falcons senior first baseman Oullette said. “We had a lack of energy. I’m not sure if it was just us being tired or a lack of focus today, but we need to do better tomorrow.”
In the top half of the first inning, Ouellette drove in Katrina Roy and Lindsey O’Bright to give St. Paul an early 2-0 lead. Marchak scored Oullette in the next at-bat with an RBI single.
The three-run lead was extended in the bottom of the third inning. Abby Poirot reached first on a force out of O’Bright at second and McKenzie Gauthier pinch ran for Poirot. Then Marchak drove in Gauthier and St. Paul held a comfortable 4-0 lead.
With the four-run advantage and Poirot cruising on the mound with nine strikeouts through five shutout innings, the Falcons were in good position to get by the Raiders with just two innings to play.
“I was definitely throwing the ball harder than I normally do and that’s what kept me in the game,” Poirot said.
Windsor Locks wasn’t going to go down easy, though.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Raiders’ Hannah Farr singled and stole second base with Emily Malecki up.
Malecki walked, which put runners on first and second with nobody out.
Poirot settled down and retired the next two batters, as Sofie Oliveira popped out and Emily Tarko struck out.
With two outs, Poirot left a pitch up in the zone and Abigail Farr delivered a double to score both Hannah Farr and Malecki to cut the St. Paul lead to two runs.
The Falcons didn’t add to their lead in the bottom of the sixth and Windsor Locks entered the seventh down 4-2.
Kylie Jones singled to start the seventh for the Raiders and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
Olivia Lapane grounded out and Poirot struck out Audrey Gilhooley for the first two outs.
Jones scored on a wild pitch, but Poirot struck out Hannah Farr to end the game.
Poirot’s ability to come up big pitching in tight games has been consistent for the Falcons this year.
“When Abby knows it’s on the line, she’s got that determination,” St. Paul head coach Gary Hovanessian said. “The problem is we can’t just rely on her all postseason long. Other people need to step up, so maybe today was Abby’s day. She stepped it up when she needed to, she dug down deep, and tomorrow hopefully it’s somebody else to step up.”
The Falcons will take on No. 18 Somers today at 4 p.m. at St. Paul.
The Spartans play in the same league (NCCC) as Windsor Locks and beat them 22-7 in the only matchup of the season between the two.
“It better be a wakeup call,” Hovanessian said. “If we play a similar game tomorrow, we’ll probably be on the losing end. The captains talked to the team about it, they know they have to pick it up a notch. Everybody needs to pick it up.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or