Torrington softball ends 2015 campaign with a loss but also on a high note.
TORRINGTON: They didn’t beat themselves. They got beat.
In years past, a wild throw or a bad base running mistake may have prevented a better showing this time of the year and an early exit from the states.
The Torrington Raiders softball team dropped a 1-0 decision to North Haven on Friday afternoon at Torrington in a fashion that while not a win, was not a devastating loss either.
Face it, it’s the quarterfinals of the Class L States and while the Indians from North Haven came in ranked # 20, they play in the SCC against the likes of Cheshire (#2 in LL), Lauralton Hall (# 2 in L) and Sheehan (#8 in L).
Not a push over game by any means but for the Raiders, who advanced farther than any other Torrington team had in school history, this was not supposed to be after they lost two senior starters just before the States began.
They simply ran out of steam and into a pitcher who didn’t have Ashley Guillette or Raeanne Geffert stuff, kept them off balanced all afternoon with a variety of off speed pitches that bit on different corners of the plate all game.
North Haven senior Haley Arnaoutis pitched a four hit shutout with 10 strikeouts and has not allowed a run in her teams three state tournament wins (Watertown 7-0, Rockville 3-0, and Torrington, 1-0).
The game’s only run scored on a fifth inning home run by senior Victoria Bouffard that just eluded Raider leftfielder Taylor Rogers, who was playing just her third game in left field all season.
“I am so proud of them,” head coach Marianne Musselman said, “I think they all stepped up in a big way. We didn’t kick it away, we didn’t give it away. It was one very well hit ball that was the difference. The beat us.”
In three days, Torrington and their sophomore ace, Ali Dubois gave up just one run on 15 hits, all while playing on a less than favorable hamstring.
“Talk about a Warrior,” Musselman said about her sophomore pitcher, “She’s playing with three small fibers tears in her hamstring that she has had for the last week and just pitched three days in a row.”
After striking out 12 and 10 batters respectfully in her last two outings coming in, DuBois fanned eight while allowing six hits.
The Raiders had chances early with runners in scoring position in the first and second innings but Arnaoutis got out of both unscathed.
Alexis Tyrell, who was the hero on Thursday, again paced the Torrington offense with three hits, two of them led off innings.
Arnaoutis got stronger as the game went on, striking out five in a row at one point as her offense tried to get something going against DuBois.
In the top of the fifth, Bouffard jumped on the first pitch she saw and launched a long, high drive to left that McGowen nearly came away with but the ball rolled just far enough for the Indians to score the only run they would need.
North Haven moves on to face top ranked Fitch (21-0) either Monday or Tuesday next week in the semi-finals.
The Raiders, who certainly would have wanted to keep going, lose a true leader in Marissa Morris, who will take her skills to the University of Connecticut next year but return a very talented sophomore class that helped them make a run deeper than ever before.
“We’re sophomores,” DuBois said, “We’ll get them next year. We were so underestimated coming in to the states and to take it this far was great.”
Morris, the clear heart and soul of this team, sacrificed and did what she had to do all year in order to bring her team as far as she did until one play decided things.
“They had a clutch hit and we didn’t,” Morris said, “It could have gone either way, it was that kind of game. It wasn’t a game in that we made a crucial error in.”
The soon to be Huskies looked back on a career that saw her catch a couple of pretty good pitchers. Sydney Matzko (who is back in town and was at the game) stands as the all-time leader in wins and strikeouts for Torrington while DuBois earned All-NVL and All-LCS team honors this season.
Morris also earned both the above mentioned awards.
So, a season that began with a lot of doubt about how the Raiders would do without their All-State hurler while returning a relatively young squad ends with an unlikely run that showed the teams character when faced with adversity.
A positive future awaits Torrington softball fans next year and with the prospect of the field they play on being upgraded, what’s not to like?