Lawton, Crusaders oust Bears from tourney

WATERBURY – It’s been nine years between Lawtons for the Thomaston High softball team. And almost a decade later, not much has changed.

This time around it was Samantha Lawton ruling the day with both arm and bat as No. 9 Holy Cross blanked the 16th ranked Bears, 9-0, in Class S state tournament quarterfinal action Friday.  The victory moved the Crusaders (17-7) into the semifinals against Naugatuck Valley League foe St. Paul. The Bears finished a solid season with a 13-8 mark.

In 2015 it was Sarah Lawton who one-hit Thomaston in a 4-0 victory for the Class S state title. With big sister watching proudly, Lawton the Younger had her day. She scattered five hits while striking out nine, walking two and hitting a batter. The bat also was a major factor driving in three runs with a two-run single and sacrifice fly.

“It’s been a while,” said Bears coach Kelly Finlay who was an assistant coach in that 2015 game. “It would have been nice to get them today. But (Sam Lawton) is a great pitcher, she’s up there the best of them. “

Having played a difficult schedule that included Class LL teams, Newtown and Staples along with NVL champion Watertown with their outstanding pitcher Nadia Andarowski and BL champion Shepaug with their brilliant hurler Amelia Jacobs, Thomaston saw top-notch hurlers and Lawton fit into that category.

Lawton wasn’t perfect but she was darn good and worked a number of jams in a game that was much closer than the final score. Thomaston trailed just 1-0 before the Crusaders broke the game open with a six-run outburst, keyed by four hits in the bottom of the fifth.

Prior to the explosion, The Bears left two runners on base in the second inning when Jacqueline Phillips was hit by a pitch and Samantha Armstrong walked. Lawton responded by retiring Faith Spring on a pop-up and Emily Morton on a ground out.

With one out and Sloan Walmsley on third base in the third inning, Lawton was at it again. This time she struck out Ava Harkness and Addison Patchell to retire the side.

Trailing, 7-0, in the sixth inning the Bears loaded the bases with no outs on Patchell’s single to center, Maddison Decker’s bunt hit and a fielder’s choice. A foul pop to third and two strikeouts later the rally was doused.

“It was really important to get out of that,” Lawton said. “I felt great. I knew the defense was behind me. “

Thomaston’s best chance to score came in the fourth inning only to be thwarted by the Holy Cross defense. With Samantha Armstrong on third base, Spring punched what looked like a base hit through the right side. But Holy Cross right fielder Mari Beradis was playing shallow and her throw to first base was in time to end the inning.

Holy Cross broke the scoreless tie in the fourth inning when Haley Dibona singled, stole second and then took third and home on wild pitches.  But it was the bottom of the fifth inning that changed the complexion of the game.

With two outs and a runner on first base consecutive singles from Kendall Raudenbush and Juliana McClary brought in one run and a wild pitch another to make it 3-0. Lawton than belted a two-run single up the middle.  Mari Beradis followed with a long RBI triple to center field and eventually came home to make it 7-0.

The Crusaders made added two more runs in the sixth inning on Dibona’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly from Lawton to complete the scoring.

At the end, Finlay spoke of both a proud season and the somewhat misleading final score.

“I don’t think a lot of people thought we would make it this far with a team of 11,” Finlay said. “We held our own for a while, especially in this game. It was 0-0 for a while. We gave up a couple of hits and they went on a run and got a little momentum. If you watched the whole game it was one big inning.

But I am proud of my girls. They did awesome and they really tried their hardest all season. The outcome wasn’t in our favor, but we gave them a run. “

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