Sanson's heroics send Thomaston to Class S softball title game
STRATFORD - Two outs, two strikes and down a run. Turns out Thomaston had Coventry right where it wanted them.
Writing another chapter in an amazing sports run this year, the Thomaston softball team is headed to the Class S title game thanks to a pair of big hits and a gutsy pitching performance from Morgan Sanson sparked the Bears to a 2-1 victory over Coventry in nine innings in a Class S semifinal matchup at DeLuca Field.
The second-seeded Bears (19-2) advance to the Class S final where they will meet No. 8 Old Saybrook (18-6). Old Saybrook defeated No. 12 Coginchaug, 5-4, in the other Class S semifinal Tuesday night. The Class S title game will be played either Friday or Saturday at a time and place yet to be determined.
"It's just amazing, an amazing feeling," Sanson said. "We just don't like to lose and I knew we would find a way to win this game."
That way came in the bottom of the seventh with Sanson at the plate. She was down in the count 0-2 before hammering an offering from Coventry starter over the fence in left-center to tie the game, 1-1.
"I saw it go up and I was like Carlton Fisk," Thomaston coach Gene Torrence said. "Except I wasn't waving it fair, I just was trying to wave it out."
The ball ended up clearing the fence with plenty to spare and it gave the Bears new life. In the eighth Sanson worked around a bloop single but the Bears were unable to score a runner from second with two outs. Sanson then retired the side in order in the ninth to set up her winning at bat.
Abby Hurlbert worked a one-out walk and got to second on a nice bunt by Erin O'Neill. That brought Sanson up again and once again Zadrozny got ahead 0-2. Sanson took a ball and then connected for a single to center. With Hurlbert running on contact she scored easily and the Bears celebrated yet another heart-stopping win.
So far this post season Thomaston won a game in 10 innings that it tied in the bottom of the seventh, came back late to win its quarterfinal 5-3 and survived this semifinal battle for a shot at a state crown.
"We always say it's not over til we are in that line shaking hands," Torrence said. "These kids just hate to lose and they never give in or give up."
Sanson allowed an RBI groundout to Lindsay Williams in the top of the first and that was it. Sanson finished allowing six hits with seven strikeouts and was able to work her way out of a couple jams late in the game to keep the Bears close.
The Patriots loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth but failed to capitalize as each time Sanson buckled down and ended the threat with a strikeout.
"Morgan is such a gamer," Torrence said. "She's come up big for us all season and did it again today."
No. 3 Coventry (19-4) got a strong start from Zadrozny as she allowed just five hits and struck out three. Zadrozny wasn't overpowering but hit spots and was able to keep Thomaston off balance for much of the afternoon.
"She pitched so well and being a senior, I hate to see it end like this for her," Coventry coach Tom Williams said. "We had a couple chances to tack on an insurance run or two but we also had two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the seventh."
Williams is right and two strikes and two outs is close, but with these Bears, close is not close enough.