Bears a win away from Class S softball title
THOMASTON - The Thomaston High softball team has survived, scratched, clawed and advanced and now finds itself one game away from a championship.
It wasn't easy, but for this group of Bears, a spot in Saturdays Class S title game seemed to be their destiny.
The second-seeded Bears (19-2) meet No. 8 Old Saybrook (18-6) on Saturday afternonn at West Haven High School. Thomaston has won seven straight games, including three tournament games to reach its first state final since 2005.
Thomaston's run to the state title game comes after the Bears lost in the semifinals last season to Berkshire League rival Terryville by one run. This year it has been the Bears that have won the close ones, including two in extra innings that they had to prolong with a run in their last at bat.
After a bye, the Bears survived No. 15 St. Paul, 2-1, in 10 innings. Thomaston didn't score its first run of the game until the bottom of the seventh and came through with a run in the bottom of the 10th to move on the the quarterfinals.
"This group just thrives on pressure," Thomaston coach Gene Torrence said. "It almost seems like it's natural for them. They are there, in the game all the way and they are just going to compete."
The situation was even more dire for the Bears in the semifinals as they trailed Coventry 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh with Morgan Sanson at the plate in an 0-2 hole.
But as this group has done time and time again, they found a way.
Sanson blasted the 0-2 pitch over the fence in left center for a game-tying home run and she plated Abby Hurlbert from second in the bottom of the ninth to send Thomaston to its third Class S title game and first since 2005.
"We just don't like to lose," Sanson said. "In practice, games, wherever it is, no one on this team likes to lose and we never give up."
Sanson will take the mound as she has all season and look to pitch the Bears to a state title. She allowed a run to Coventry in the first inning and then shut them down over the final eight innings, including getting out of a pair of bases loaded jams.
"Morgan is just a gamer," Torrence said. "She's been that way for us all season."
Old Saybrook is in its first state final since 1989 and got to Saturday's game with some good fortune of its own. The Rams managed one hit, a single in the first inning, but managed to score five runs in the fifth inning en route to a 5-4 victory over No. 12 Coginchaug in the semifinals.
Thomaston is looking to win the Bershire League's first softball title since Terryville captured the Class S crown in 2010. The Kangaroos, who defeated Thomaston in the semifinals last season, also lost in the Class S title game in 2011 and 2013.