Dubois follows up perfect game with a no-hitter in 3-0 quarterfinal win over Pomperaug.
TORRINGTON: It’s a recipe used against many a team at this time of the year when we delve deep into the State Tournament in both baseball and softball.
Get a great pitching performance from a standout, upper level pitcher and some clutch hitting from batters who hang around that same elevated level and good things can happen to you.
A day after retiring 21 straight batters in a 2-0 perfect game performance against Brookfield, Torrington junior Ali Dubois was not perfect, but splendid enough to face just two batters over the minimum, pitch a no-hitter and lead her team into that rarified air known as the semi-finals of Class L.
The Raiders bunched all three of their hits into a two-run fourth inning and scored on an error in the fifth to walk away with a 3-0 win over the Panthers and a date with the top seed in Class L, Fitch, early next week.
Fitch (22-0) rolled over Mercy by an 8-3 final on Thursday as well and present a daunting task for the Raiders who at this point have to consider they are playing with house money.
Dubois, who is a blend of a constant smile and a killing instinct, may have benefited greatly from a heartbreaking mistake a week ago in the Naugatuck Valley League semi-finals when she gave up a two-run, walk off home run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
“I think it taught her (Ali) that you can’t take any batter lightly and that you have to bear down on every one,” Raiders head coach Maryanne Musselman said. “She is just not letting up, she is attacking on every pitch.”
Don’t let that nervous smile make you feel like the fire doesn’t burn deep inside this junior who is part of a pretty special junior class that knows each other very well.
“We have been playing together so long,” Dubois said. “We don’t get rattled and I trust them to take care of me.”
There are only two seniors on this team, the first seven in the batting order will all be back next year, led by Dubois on the mound and a cast of players who each found a way to contribute at different points this season.
Both starters were dealing early in this one as Dubois was matched up against fellow junior Ashley Antonazzo who walked two batters in the second inning but otherwise had the Raiders off balance with a quality change up and a moving fastball.
Dubois walked the third batter she face, taking the possibility of a second straight perfect game off the map and isn’t that something we usually reserve for the Raeanne Geffert or Sarah Lawton’s of the world?
Is Dubois approaching that zone?
She might be if she continues to throw as she has the past two games against top notch opponents like Brookfield and the Panthers.
A second Pomperaug runner reached on an error in the second inning with two outs when a throw from Lauren Jamieson pulled Amanda Thiel off the bag at first but after that, Dubois was perfect, with a little help from her friends and some good defense herself.
In the top of the third, Dubois fielded a comebacker that was spinning sideways like a cue shot the only way that would work. She stopped it with her bare hand and made the play to first.
Alexis Tyrrell, who has made a remarkable difference this season as a steadying force at second base and at the plate, made a pair of terrific plays, one in the fourth on a similar cue shot that she stayed with and a heads up play in the top of the fifth.
Pomperaug senior Annabella Pastorok hit a hard ground ball to first that went under the glove of Thiel but Tyrrell was behind her to pick up her teammate by outrunning Pastorok to the bag.
Good pitching, great defense and some timely hitting, all recipes for winning and in their half of the fourth, the Raiders got just enough offense at key times.
With one away in the frame, Dubois worked a walk ad was run for by junior Alyssa Dowd who moved to second on a bunt base hit by Taylor Rogers.
After looking to bunt and missing, third basemen Carissa Carbone drilled a hard single to center that scored Dowd and after the cutoff throw was mishandled, the Raiders had runners on second and third with one gone.
Amanda Thiel plated the second run on a liner to center that evaded the Panthers center fielder and Torrington had a two run lead.
You magnify all runs at this time of the year so when Ashley Dowd worked out a walk to open the bottom of the fifth and scored two outs later on a dropped fly ball to left, the home team was up by a three spot.
Might has well been 30 the way Dubois was dealing.
Her 13 strikeouts were certainly impressive but the fact that not one Torrington outfielder recorded an out speaks volumes as to how well this All-LCS honoree was dealing.
Dubois would retire the final 16 Panthers she faced and with that superb effort, has her team one big win away from a place in the Class L Finals.
Boston University is probably smiling right now as they watch a pitcher grow up before their eyes.
The good thing for Musselman and the Raiders? They get her one more year.