Raiders championship dream comes up a win short in Class L Final.
WEST HAVEN: Joel Barlow senior standout, Briana Marcelino, never hesitated when she took off on a hit and run from first in the opening inning of her teams Class L Championship game against Torrington.
Marcelino would score all the way from first on a single to center, setting the stage for the Falcons 4-2 win over the Raiders, giving them their first ever State softball title.
‘My coach gave me the steal sign,” Marcelino said. “I knew that when CC (Taylor Macchia) hit the ball anywhere for a single that I was going all the way. Coach was waving me on so we were being really aggressive on that play.”
Marcelino had worked hard to get on base in that first inning at bat, finally walking after a 10-pitch battle with Torrington ace Ali DuBois.
Joel Barlow head coach, Craig Sears knew what his team was up against in the Falcons Class L championship game against Ali DuBois and the Torrington Raiders softball team.
“Look who they have in the circle (DuBois), Sears said. “That kids as good as we have seen all year so I felt that if we could make something happen early I was going to take my chances because you don’t know once she settles in when you’re going to get them again.”
Torrington comes up a win short in their search of that elusive championship, a year after making it to the Class L semi’s where they fell to Fitch, the eventual champion.
It ends a year and a remarkable chapter in Raiders softball history as a team, comprised mostly of seniors (nine) took the school and community on a two-year run that pushed the program farther than it had ever gone before.
On Saturday though, the Falcons would spoil the ending Torrington had hoped for with a two-headed pitching performance from freshman Claire McCann (4 innings, 1 run, 4 hits and 6 strikeouts) and junior Caitlin Colangelo (3 innings, 1 run, 4 hits) to hold off the Raiders when it counted.
Having two quality pitchers in any game, none the less a championship game, is certainly an advantage for any coach and Sears used it to his advantage.
“After McCann gave us four good innings,” Sears said. “I figured we would give them (Torrington) a different look.”
McCann gave up a solo home run to DuBois in the bottom of the fourth but escaped further damage by stranding a runner on third after two were out.
The Falcons tacked on a pair of runs in their half of the third, taking advantage of a leadoff walk (DuBois walked five, a rarity) that led to one run scoring on a sacrifice fly by Samantha Hilford and an RBI single by Marcelino to go up 3-0.
DuBois got her team on the board with her blast to left field that cleared the fence with ease for the Raiders first run.
Torrington had their best chance to tie things the next time the heart of the order came up in the bottom of the sixth, starting with an infield hit by Carissa Carbone, who was a game time decision because of a badly sprained ankle she hurt in the Raiders semi-final win over Pomperaug on Thursday.
DuBois then launched a shot to deep left center that went to the wall. Carbone was sent home on the play but was thrown out after a perfect relay from Marcelino as DuBois moved over to third on the throw.
With Amanda Thiel at the plate and one out, McCann uncorked a wild pitch, allowing pinch runner Alexa Reynolds to score and bring the Raiders within one at 3-2.
Thiel would single and Lauren Jamieson would reach on an infield hit, leaving runners on first and third with just one out but McCann would get the next two batters on a strikeout and a foul pop to third to escape further damage.
In the top of the seventh though, the Falcons would add that all important insurance run on a booming double off the bat of the number nine hitter, freshman catcher Catie Boudiette that scored sophomore Scotland Davis, who had walked with one out.
Down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Raiders still had life when Alexis Tyrrell walked with one out.
Nina Julian was next and sent a hard ground ball between first and second that was fielded by Falcons second baseman Sabrina Lalor, who fielded the hard shot to her left, made the tough pivot back towards second to get the lead runner, a tough but championship caliber play.
Carbone would walk to bring DuBois to the plate as the potential game winning run but the Boston University bound senior, who carried the Raiders in the circle the last three years, grounded back to Colangelo on a check swing and the Falcons were the Class L champs.
NOTES: The dream may have ended a win short but the Raiders played a tremendous defensive game on Saturday, starting with Carbone who was heavily taped before the game with an assist from left fielder Sidnee Kovall.
With a runner on first and one out, Davis placed a bunt down the third base line that Carbone fielded and threw on to first for the out as Davis looked to go all the way to third once Carbone let the ball go.
Kovall though, was in position to cover third and took the throw from Thiel for the inning ending double play.
In the fourth, Rebecca Mauro walked with one out, bringing Davis at the plate, looking to sacrifice.
Her bunt was popped down the line in foul ground but Carbone dove, made the play, got up and threw back to first, doubling up Mauro.
This is a team that will go down in school history as one that went to places no Raider softball team had and did their school, families and selves proud.
“Honestly, I feel nothing but proud,” Carbone said. “Proud of everyone and everything they contributed. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to but we gave them a fight.”