Thomaston beats Notre Dame for return trip to Class S semis
THOMASTON - The Thomaston High softball team is back in familiar territory after yet another gritty win.
Morgan Sanson retired 15 straight hitters at one point and the second-seeded Bears scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 5-3 victory over No. 23 Notre Dame-Fairfield in a Class S state tournament quarterfinal on Friday afternoon at Thomaston High.
With the win the Bears find themselves back in the Class S semifinals for the second straight season. Thomaston (18-2) will face No. 3 Coventry (19-3) on Monday or Tuesday at a time and place to be determined.
"Back in the semifinals for the second straight season, it's a great accomplishment for this team," Thomaston coach Gene Torrence said. "It was one of our goals from the start of the season. We wanted to win the Berkshire League and we fell a game short of that, so we turned to our second goal and we're right back to where we wanted to be."
Getting back to the semis hasn't been easy. After a bye, Thomaston escaped it's second-round game against St. Paul, 2-1, scoring in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game and bottom of the 10th to win it. No extra-inning heroics were required in this one, but there were still some nerve wracking moments.
Notre Dame got out to a 2-0 lead after the top of the first despite hitting just one ball out of the infield. Emily Schofield singled and scored in the inning and Thomaston committed a pair of throwing errors to help the Lancers take the lead.
Sanson then settled in and got a pair of strikeouts and a groundout to end the frame and Thomaston cut the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the first on an RBI groundout by Julia Romaniello.
"Morgan was fine, they really didn't hit any balls that hard and the two errors were more disappointing than anything that inning," Torrence said. "Morgan is a gamer and she did a great job battling back."
Sanson got into a groove and retired 15 straight batters but the Lancers still held the 2-1 lead into the sixth. The sixth inning ended up being the game as Notre Dame wasn't able to take advantage of a chance to put on more pressure and Thomaston pounced.
With runners on second and third, Dayniera Artis his a humpback liner that Thomaston shortstop Abby Hurlburt was able to snag and then step on second for an inning-ending double play. The Bears then took that momentum to the plate.
Hurlbert doubled to lead off the sixth and she scored on and RBI single by Sanson with one out. Sanson went to second on the throw home and was moved up on a single by Nicole Schaefer. A hard ground out to third by Nina Barone plated Sanson and the Bears were ahead for the first time, 3-2.
"These kids have so much heart and they never give in," Thomaston co-coach Kelly Finlay said. "I knew we'd get the offense going at some point, we just needed to be patient and we were able to get the bats going in the sixth."
Danielle Genest then gave the Bears some more breathing room with a two-run double to make it 5-2. The extra runs proved to be useful as Sanson ran into a little trouble in the seventh.
Sanson hit the first two batters of the inning but got bailed out on a nice 4-6-3 double play. The Lancers scored a run in the play but the Bears were fine with trading a run for two outs. Sanson hit one more batter, bringing the tying run to the plate, but a pop out that Sanson caught ended the game and sent the Bears to the semis.
"I just needed to settle down and regain my composure that last inning," Sanson said. "The double play was huge and the defense made some great plays today. I couldn't have done it without my teammates."
Notre Dame managed three hits and Sanson did not walk a batter. The Lancers were set down in order in the second, third, fourth and fifth and were left to wonder what might have been after coming up empty in the sixth.
"Their pitcher did a good job and when we had chances we just couldn't come through with a big hit," Notre Dame coach Ron Barber said. "That was the difference in the game, they came through with some clutch hits."
Notre Dame 2 0 0 0 0 0 1 - 3 3 1
Thomaston 1 0 0 0 0 4 x - 5 6 2