Raiders softball back in Class L semi's after 2-0 win over North Haven
TORRINGTON: Getting one game from the championship game might have been enough for the 2016 version of the Torrington softball team.
The 2017 version though, has much different expectations and aspirations this year and they return to the game that got away from them last year after a brilliant pitching performance from ace Ali DuBois (2 hits, 13 K’s) and clutch sixth inning hitting by Nina Julian and Carissa Carbone in a 2-0 win over North Haven.
This is a team that has been playing together since they were spending time in nursery school, or so it seems, they ae that tight, that much a family and in this post season, it has kept the train moving.
The Raiders will take on a foe they beat in this game a year ago, Pomperaug in the semi-finals that will be played either Monday or Tuesday of next week at a site and time to be determined.
Pomperaug beat up on Daniel Hand by a 16-1 score on Friday and returns most of the team that got bounced by the Raiders a year ago.
Getting near the dance is one thing, opening the door is another and after going farther than any other team in school history, this unit has some unfinished business to attend to.
Torrington was beaten by Fitch and their All-World ace, Caroline Tabor a year ago but really may have been beaten before they stepped out on the field.
“We were scared to death to be there last year,” head coach Maryanne Musselman said. “This year, it’s a whole different ball game. This team trusts each other and they have each other’s back.”
In order to get a chance to play in the ultimate game, the Raiders had to first take care of the Indians who came in with an identical 17-3 regular season mark and were ranked No 5 to the Raiders No 4 ranking so one would have expected an evenly played game and they got one.
Torrington put a pair of runners on in their half of the first on back to back singles by Carbone and DuBois but could not get them across while North Haven wasn’t having much luck against DuBois who seemed to have her post season game face on.
The Boston University bound senior struck out nine over the first four innings, including the side in the fourth while allowing just one hit during that time.
DuBois faced just four batters over the minimum allowing just a pair of singles that never led to trouble.
After the two base runners in the first, Indians ace Lauren Card settled down and retired eight in a row before DuBois launched a long double to straight away center field in the bottom of the fourth.
The Raiders hope of plating the game’s first run fell apart as courtesy runner Olivia Mooney was caught trying to steal third with Lauren Jamieson at the plate, looking to bunt.
Erasing a scoring threat at this time of the year can sometimes come back to haunt teams but with the way DuBois was dealing, it didn’t seem to matter.
The Raiders would break through in the bottom of the sixth with a key contribution from their number nine hitter, Alyssa Dowd who punched an infield hit into no-man’s land for the leadoff hit.
Would the Raiders and Musselman as leadoff hitter Alexis Tyrrell to sacrifice?
“Alexis had been struggling at the plate lately,” Musselman said. “But I was going to give her a chance to come up big and she did.”
Tyrrell lined a double over the third base bag and down the left field line, sending Dowd to third with nobody out and the heart of the order coming up.
Julian was next and as one of the most consistent bunters on the team, putting one down was on everyone’s mind but Julian swung away and put the ball in play towards third where the Indians third baseman came up with the ball but was unable to get the ball out her glove cleanly, allowing Dowd to race home and Julian to reach safely.
Carbone, who has three RBI’s in her teams last two games, lined a hard single through the hole at short, scoring Tyrrell and giving the dominate DuBois more than enough runs.
The Indians would put the leadoff hitter on with a sharp single to right center but DuBois would get the next three outs, the last two on strikeouts to move her team back to the game they want most.
“Last year we went into the game almost feeling like it was the end,” DuBois said. “We were just happy to be there, it was a big stadium and it was tough. This year, this is not the end, we have unfinished business to attend to. It’s not the end, not even close to the end.”
Back to back semi-finals appearances for a program that had yet to experience one before last year is something to hang their collective hats on but it appears this Torrington team will no longer be content just to get close to the finish line. They are looking to break through and cross over into the Championship.
Time will tell.