Raiders Get Over Hurdle, Beat Foran to Get to Class L Quarters. Story by John Torsiello.
TORRINGTON-It was a fine feeling indeed. After getting bounced out of the state tournament in the early rounds the last few years, Tuesday’s 7-3 Class L victory over Foran of Milford was some tasty home cooking for the second-ranked Torrington softball team.
The Raiders will play 10th-seeded Berlin, an 8-0 winner over seventh-ranked Rockville, Thursday at THS in a quarterfinal contest.
Torrington, now 23-1, scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and added two more in the next inning to build a 7-0 lead, giving senior hurler Sydney Matzko more runs than she would need. The lefty, who is headed to the University of North Carolina in the autumn, struck out 10 batters and only really struggled in the top of the seventh, when the visitors touched her up for three hits and their three runs.
“Getting those five runs were key today,” said Matzko, who gave up eight hits, five over the final two frames. “It gave me enough runs to work with and after getting only one in the last game we played (a Naugatuck Valley League championship loss to Seymour) it felt good to get them.”
Matzko downplayed the significance of Monday’s second round win.
“We weren’t really nervous and thinking about how we lost early in the last few years. We just focus on one game at a time and what we need to do to get to where we want to be.”
That, of course, is to the state Class L championship game, something Foran had done the last three years, winning three years ago. The Lions of the Southern Connecticut Conference and seeded 18th, were a sleeper in the tourney. Senior hurler Jess Harkness, another lefty who is headed to Division I Iona this fall, was coming off a brilliant no-hit, 18-strikeout performance in a first round win over Joel Barlow on Monday. Harkness missed 10 games this season due to a hip injury, but she returned late in the campaign and was obviously in top form on Monday.
She was strong for three innings against THS, striking out five batters in her first three innings of work. But she struggled with her control in the fourth, giving up a leadoff single to Marissa Morris and then walking five batters and throwing four wild pitches to help the Raiders to five runs. Nicole Jamieson had a sacrifice fly in the inning for Torrington.
Ashley Mendillo replaced Harkness to start the fifth and the Raiders tacked on two more runs. Alexa Potter doubled in both runs.
Meanwhile, Matzko was breezing along. Foran, which ended the season with an 11-10 mark, reached her for two hits with no outs the top of the sixth, but the southpaw settled down, striking out Ashley Mendillo to end the threat.
Foran scored its three runs the seventh when Jenna Zacarelli doubled and scored on Hannah DeSousa’s single. Amanda Mendillo then hit a booming fly ball to right center to drive in DeSousa, with Mendillo coming around to score when THS botched the relay throw. With skies threatening, Matzko got Danielle Kemp to pop up to end the game.
The only blemish on an otherwise glowing day for Torrington was when senior shortstop Samantha Pelow hurt her leg trying to catch the relay throw on Mendillo’s triple. Her status for the next game was uncertain after the contest, played before around 200 fans at THS.
Said Torrington head coach Maryann Musselman of the victory, “Playing Foran was what we needed. They were dropping down bunts and we felt pressure to make plays. But we responded nicely. When you get to this point of the season every team left the tournament can pitch, hit and field.”
On Matzko, she said, “We would not be where we are with Sydney these last four years. But Sydney will tell you that she needs the girls behind her and even the bench. She knows the players behind her will have her back.”
Torrington 7, Foran 3
Foran 000 000 3 3 8 2
Torrington 000 520 x 7 7 1
Jessica Harkness, Ashley Mendillo (4) and Danielle Kemp; Sydney Matzko and Marissa Morris. WP: Matzko. LP: Harkness. 3B: Amanda Mendillo (F); 2B: Alexa Potter (T), Jenna Zacarelli (F). Records: T-23-1; F-11-10.