#FlashbackFriday - Sydney Matzko leads Raiders to NVL semifinals in 2011
WOLCOTT - Freshman sensation Sydney Matzko had seen this movie before. A tight game with no runs on the board late in the game. Too often this year, the Torrington girls softball team found themselves on the wrong end of this type of game.
Not Tuesday afternoon against Watertown.
Niki Jamieson singled to deep short in the top of the sixth, scoring Alyssa Michinevitz from third and Matzko made sure it held up for a 1-0 win, her team's first Naugatuck Valley League Tournament win since 2005.
“I just had to stay in the zone and focus,” Matzko said. “We were able to take advantage of their mistake and got the job done.”
The ninth graderwill be haunting NVL coaches like Watertown’s Keith Borkowski for three more years.
“That kid is something special,” Borkowski said. “She is going to be a great player in this league for years to come.”
The Raiders have played in their share of 1-0 or 2-0 games this season.
The Indians and hard throwing Meg Cordon (complete game, six strikeouts) had been on the plus side of the first meeting, a 1-0 win at THS that was decided on Torrington miscues.
When you put two hard-throwing strike machines (neither pitcher issued a walk) like Cordon and Matzko on the hill, two things happen.
It’s a fast paced, keep your fielders on their toes kind of afternoon, and the team that blinks in the form of a mistake usually comes up short.
Only a two-out single by Matzko in the first and another by Jamieson in the fourth interrupted Cordon’s flow, while on the other side of the rubber, the Torrington hurler was working with runners on in six of her seven innings.
In the bottom of the first, Matzko hit right fielder Jess Wheelahan with a pitch. After a strikeout, Indians shortstop Nikki Hodorowski hit a routine grounder to second that scooted under the glove of Jamieson for an error that could have been worse if the ball had not bounced off the umpire and back towards second base.
The re-direction held the runner at second and Matzko settled down to get the next two hitters.
The Indians had their chances all game, that was for certain, but could not take advantage of them.
“No disrespect to Torrington or their pitcher,” Borkowski said, “but that is a game we should win. We left too many runners on and didn’t get any of them in. We made too many mental errors.”
Whenever the Indians (15-5 in the regular season) seemed on the verge of breaking through, the freshman bore down and got a key strikeout.
A first and third two out rally was thwarted when Matzko got one of many called third strikes to end the threat.
In the top of the sixth, the Raiders took advantage of a mistake and broke threw with the games only run and they did it by forcing the action.
“Put the ball in play, something good might happen,” coach Maryann Musselman said. “We stayed aggressive and it worked out.”
Michinevitz led off with a routine grounder to third that was thrown away for a two-base error.
After a strikeout, Talia Zabbara lifted a pop fly behind third that was dropped by the Watertown shortstop for the inning's second error that put runners on first and third, setting the stage for the Jamieson single to deep short.
It could have been more in the inning, insurance runs keep coaches ulcers down, but the Raiders could not cash in.
A fly ball by Matzko seemed deep enough to score Zabbara, but when she did not take off right away, the chance was lost.
So Matzko had a one run lead. In time they will seem like 12-run leads as the lefty standout gets even better with time.
Matzko worked around a one-out single in the sixth and went to the bottom of the seventh up by that slim 1-0 margin.
It didn’t start well for the Raiders as Watertown second baseman Ali Brown led of with a terrific bunt single.
The next two batters went down on strikes, the second on one nasty change-up that froze Mary Fealder for the second out.
A lined single to center put runners on first and second, much to the chagrin of Borkowksi, who was waving his runner to third.
The runners moved up to second and third on a wild pitch.
Crunch time for a player who seems to thrive on it.
The Indians number three hitter, Nikki Hodorowski, hit a sharp grounder to second and Jamieson who made a clean pickup and threw to first for the moving on last out, and Torrington moves on.