One of the biggest games in the state took place on Monday afternoon as the previously unbeaten Bristol Central Rams took on the Southington Blue Knights, who had previously won 25 games in a row.
That number increased to 26 as the number one ranked team in the state coaching poll took down the number sixth team 3-0 in a rematch of last season’s state championship game.
While the Rams have suffered their first loss of the season, the game essentially came down to two mistakes. In the first inning, Bristol Central lost the ball in the sun, which gave Southington a 2-0 lead, and then in the third inning a passed ball allowed the Knights to get home one more time.
In the batters box, the Rams simply couldn’t get much going despite having a few opportunities as Southington’s Stella Blanchard kept Bristol Central honest with her rise ball.
Bristol Central coach Monica Hayes said she doesn’t believe that last year’s state championship played any extra motivation during the game. She said the team has moved on from that and is focused on what they can accomplish this year.
“Every day we look at it as if we're 0-0,” Hayes said. “We have to find some things to work on. We have plenty of stuff to work on after today, but I thought that we executed very well in getting out of a lot of jams, defensively.”
She said holding Southington to five hits isn't anything to hold your head about.
“They’re hard to hit. Stella has a rise ball that’s hard to lay off and that’s her go-to pitch and it's very effective and there's a reason why they’re the best team in the state,” Hayes said. “They have offensive firepower to match their pitchers. You have to play a perfect game to beat them and I think every team knows that and so do they. They took advantage of those couple errors that we did have.”
Hayes said barring any upsets “odds are that yes we should see each other again,”
“I would love to see them again because that was a good softball game,” she said. “I would rather play a game like that than beat somebody 15-0.”
For coach Davina Hernandez and Southington their focus on the game was also not necessarily about the big state championship rematch, instead it was about capitalizing on any small mistakes that were made and making it difficult for Bristol Central’s batters.
“I talked to them about having to capitalize on every single mistake that they make because they are a really great team. I knew they weren’t going to make very many mistakes in the field,” Hernandez said.
She added that the plan heading into the game was to split the pitching duties, but Blanchard was able to get it going and make it difficult for Bristol Central.
“Stella was awesome,” Hernandez said. “Her rise ball was extremely effective today and really the difference in the game came down to the discipline at the plate.”