Raiders drop season opener in extras to Seymour, 2-1.
SEYMOUR: For a spring season that has seemed more like the previous one that brings with it the same kind of temperatures two Naugatuck Valley League rivals played in on Friday, one team’s head coach is thrilled with how his team has handled adversity.
The Class M defending state champions from Seymour used a walk-off home run off the bat of junior Rebecca Findley in the bottom of the eighth to come away with a 2-1 win over Torrington, their second consecutive win NVL top flight teams.
On Monday, the Wildcats took care of the defending Class S champions from Holy Cross by a 1-0 final, two results that made head coach Ken Pereiras pretty happy.
“We have had a good winter so far,” Pereiras said with a grin. “To beat two great teams like Holy Cross and Torrington to start the season is pretty good news.”
The match up featured two of the best starters in the game, Raider senior Ali DuBois and Seymour sophomore Jenna Geffert.
No, not Raeanne but her younger sister who now has a pair of impressive wins under her belt after blanking the Crusaders and holding Torrington to just two hits and a run on a long home run by DuBois.
Geffert struck out a dozen while walking four but worked out of trouble when she had to.
DuBois, who like her team, has not seem much time outside because of the late winter blizzard that kept the Raiders off their field at the high school nearly all pre-season, gave up six hits while striking out six in her senior season debut.
The Wildcats struck first and hard in the bottom of the first when leadoff hitter Rebecca Johnson drilled a rocked through the left side of the infield that made it all the way to the wall, allowing the speedy leadoff hitter to motor around for the game’s first run.
After the next batter, Shari Minalga reached on a throwing error, it appeared as if the Raiders lack of time on the field might cost them but DuBois settled down, retiring the next three batters.
DuBois, who will attend Boston University this fall, retired 13 of the next 15 hitters she faced while helping herself at the plate in the bottom of the fourth when she launched a deep home run over the left-center field fence, knotting things at a run apiece.
It could have been more for the visitors, but a pair of base running mistakes cost Torrington a shot at more runs.
Both outs came on hustle plays, the first by leadoff hitter Alexis Tyrrell who worked out a one-out walk before Nina Julian looked to sacrifice her to second.
Julian put down a good bunt, was thrown out at first but Tyrrell kept going, trying to steal third but was gunned down on a perfect throw from Seymour first baseman Chelsea Avila.
“Alexis has the green light on that play every time,” head coach Marianne Musselman said. “It took that perfect throw to get her so I’m not upset that she tried to make something happen.”
In the fifth inning, the Raiders aggression got the best of them again, this time it was first baseman Amanda Thiel who tried to make something happen for her team in a game you knew was not going to feature a ton of runs.
Thiel reached first when she drilled a hard single to right off Geffert and took second on a terrific sacrifice by freshman Dana Cisowski.
Tyrrell was next and also put down a quality bunt that Findley made the play on at third and threw over to first for the out. Thiel held until Findley let the throw go, then took off but Avila made another perfect throw back to third to complete the double play.
In games like this against teams like this, the little things make all the difference.
In the top of the seventh, Lauren Jameison led off with a single to left and the Raiders looked to push across a run.
Taylor Rogers grounded a ball in the hole between first and second that was fielded by Wildcat Minalga at second and made the nice turn to get the lead runner.
A little thing that mattered as Geffert retired the next two batters on a foul pop and a strikeout to get out of the jam.
Seymour threatened in the bottom of the seventh when they loaded the bases on three singles but DuBois got Minalga to foul out to Raider third basemen Carissa Carbone for the final out.
Torrington put two runners on in their half of the eighth on an error and walk but Geffert got DuBois to ground out on a hard grounder for the third out.
It didn’t take long for the bottom of the eighth to end as Findley launched a 1-0 pitch deep over the left field fence for the walk-off win that made the cold, drizzly afternoon complete for the coach who has enjoyed his teams winter performance to date.
Imagine when the warm weather hits?
NOTES: The Raiders are off to Orlando on Monday to play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. They will arrive on Monday and play rival Naugatuck at 10 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
Look for reports back from LCS as we send back everything that happens on this once in a lifetime trip.