Dubois, Raiders have just enough to get by Wolcott, 1-0.
TORRINGTON: It was a game that as it rolled on, you knew was going to come down to one play. One play that would determine the winner.
Two quality pitchers going at it with a stiff defense behind them.
Such was the case on Wednesday when the Torrington and Wolcott softball teams got together on a magnificent sunny afternoon that almost made us forget about the lousy weather we have been having before this week (I said almost, Mother Nature).
The Raiders Ali Dubois was dealing zeros, or make that K’s (she struck out eight of the first nine she faced) as was Eagles hurler Nicole Antonowicz who gave up a walk and a single in the bottom of the second but not much else.
It was a game that came at a good time for both teams with the State Tournament right around the corner. One that hung on every pitch, every potential mistake.
The Raiders and Dubois had just a little more than Antonowicz and company and came away with a 1-0 win.
Both teams showcased their defense. Wolcott has a leftfielder in Jayda Cavanaugh who caught everything hit between Torrington and Litchfield, including as relaxed a glide and grab of a long, long drive off the bat of Raider Amanda Thiel in the bottom of the fifth.
Infield play was sharp by both teams.
The Eagles got an outfield assist from right fielder Nicole Ward who nipped Torrington’s Nina Julian as she tried to stretch a first inning single into a double.
Raider third basemen Carissa Carbone made a nice play on a bunt by Rene Miller that had more back spin on it then a professional cue shot backing away from the rail.
If Carbone had not attacked the ball mid-spin in an aggressive fashion, it becomes an impossible ball to handle and a baserunner when they were hard to come by.
The Eagles had a golden opportunity to push a run across in their half of the fifth when and error and a hit batsmen but runners on first and second with nobody out.
Add a successful sacrifice bunt by Alayna Greene to the mix and Dubois was faced with second and third with just one out.
Calm a can be though, the talented junior struck out the next batter and grabbed a harmless pop up back to her for the final out of the frame.
The Raiders were not having much luck against the stubborn Antonowicz either. Carbone singled with two outs in the bottom of the second but until the sixth, Torrington made solid contact but hit it to the strength of the Eagles defense.
Namely, Cavanaugh who led a busy outfield that recorded seven fly ball outs.
Torrington head coach Maryanne Mussleman gathered her team as the game wore on and had a message for them.
“I told them that we were hitting the ball to their best defender,” Musselman said. “I told them that they needed to play within themselves. You don’t have to hit the home run, just put the ball in play.”
Musselman’s message got across to her team who responded in the bottom of the sixth for the game’s only run.
No long ball, no big blast needed.
Julian lifted a flair to short right for a single which was followed by a drive to medium centerfield that the Eagle defender tried to make a diving catch on but came up short and the ball rolled behind her for a run scoring double.
That would be all Dubois would need as she struck out the side in the top of the seventh, giving her 13 for the game.
“It was really nerve racking out there,’ Dubois said. “I knew I had to have my best stuff working and today it was.”
A one-hit shutout with 13 punch outs is just what her team needed ad what the hard throwing righty delivered.
….The Raiders week is hardly done, their fourth of five games this week happens Thursday when they visit Naugatuck followed by an important match up against St Paul in Bristol on Friday.
The Falcons sport a 9-3 mark while Raiders start the day 11-4 and on a five game winning streak.