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Raiders softball falls to No.1 Fitch, 3-0 in Class L semifinals.

POSTED June 07, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

STRATFORD - Seven pitches into her semifinal match up against top seeded Fitch, Torrington standout Ali Dubois had not quite gotten the adrenaline rush of playing at this level under control.

“When I get nervous,” Dubois said, “my ball tends to be high in the strike zone and I paid for it.”

That seventh pitch was to the exact player she did not want to be up in the zone to, Fitch catcher Taylor Wolfgang, who deposited a 1-1 pitch over the right-center field fence for a fast 2-0 lead that the Raiders never recovered from in an eventual 3-0 loss.

The Falcons head to another Class L title game, this time against a Masuk team that beat Foran by a 7-6 final in game one of the doubleheader at DeLuca Field.

Take away that nerve-racking pitch and the Raiders, a team not accustomed to being this deep into the State Tournament, presented themselves well against a team that now sits with a perfect 26-0 mark with one to go for the title.

Being at this level tends to do things to those experiencing it for the first time, but take away the early hiccup and it may seem as if this Raider team, deep in juniors, might find themselves back in a similar spot a year from now.

The heartbreak that you saw after the Raiders lost on a walk-off home run in the NVL semifinals was not something you sensed this time around.

After all, Torrington was facing the Gatorade Player of the Year in Caroline Taber and the hard throwing right hander was dealing early, retiring the first 14 batters she faced before Carissa Carbone dropped a single over third with two outs in the fifth.

Taber would finish with a one-hit shutout that featured 10 strikeouts and just two runners all game.

Alexis Tyrrell reached safely in the top of the sixth on the third illegal pitch thrown by Taber on this day. This one came with the count full and even though Tyrrell popped to second for the apparent out, she was awarded first base after the call was made.

If a pitcher does not drag their back foot after getting off the pitch, it could give them a big advantage if they are jumping towards the plate. Not something you see called often, but at this stage, the umpires are looking for it.

While the performance of Taber was very good, you wouldn’t call it completely dominating or overwhelming, but with a fundamentally sound defense behind her, Taber did not have to do it all herself.

After giving up the two early runs, Dubois settled down and retired the next 10 batters she faced before the Falcons struck for another run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Rylee MacMillan that scored Jayden Delaporta.

Raider head coach Maryann Musselman reminded her players after the loss that they had nothing to hang their heads about.

“I told them I was very proud of them,” Musselman said. “I think they had a great year, but you could see we were a little jittery at the start. Playing here in front of everybody and playing against the number one pitcher in the state got to us early.”

Getting here is one thing, being ready to be here is another. The head coach feels this is going to benefit her team in the long run.

“This is a great prep for them for next year,” Musselman said. “This is the first time that they played here like this. I think we have big year next season and I’m looking for big things from all of them.”

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