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Raiders softball jumps out early but fall to Seymour by a 7-2 score

POSTED May 26, 2011
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

The Torrington softball team and Sydney Matzko will be in action on Tuesday afternoon at THS when they face Guilford in a Class L State Tournament opening round game.

NAUGATUCK HIGH SCHOOL:  When you have a chance to add on runs against one of the strongest softball programs in the state, you have to cash in on those chances.
They don’t come around very often.
The young Torrington girls softball team learned that lesson against the Seymour Wildcats in the semi-finals of the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament as they dropped a 7-2 decision.
Up 2-0, the Raiders had a chance to do more damage but left runners on in key spots in two innings, leaving the door open for the power hitting Wildcats to bull their way through.
“They are just a hitting machine,” Raiders coach Maryann Musselman said, “They got down but just did what they do while we made mistakes.”
Still, the Raiders, who won their first Tournament game since 2005 when they beat Watertown the day before by a 1-0 score, put a scare into a team that is not used to looking a deficits mid-way through a game.
“We’re not used to being behind,” winning pitcher Step Burt said afterwords while icing down a well used arm, “Our coaches told us to choke up and just try to put the ball in play and it worked.”
While the now 21-1 Wildcats started slow, the 15-8 Raiders came out like a house on fire in the first, led by pitcher Sydney Matzko, who also bats in the third spot in the order.
Torrington second baseman Nikki Jamieson laid down a terrific bunt and moved to third as Matzko blasted a long double to the right field fence.
Chelsea Matzko followed with a grounder to second and when Seymour came home, Jamieson used her sped to beat the tag and give her team a 1-0 lead.
Burt got the next two batters to limit the damage but this Raiders team was feeling a sense of confidence with their strong armed lefty throwing strikes.
As she did the night before, Matzko worked in and out of trouble while her team mounted another scoring opportunity in the top of the third.
Runs are always at a premium at this stage of the game so when third baseman Talia Zabbara led off the inning with a booming double to the left center field fence, the Raiders were in business again.
After a Jamieson beat out a bunt try for a base hit, runners where at the corners with no-outs and the heart of the Torrington order coming up.
Sydney Matzko waisted little time in giving herself a two run cushion with a hard ground single over third that scored Zabbara for a 2-0 lead.
A walk to Chelsea Matzko loaded the bases with no outs; a perfect opportunity to pile on some runs on a team you know is going to get their share by the end of the game.
But Burt dug deep and got the next three batters, two on called strikes, the other on a force out at the plate.
A wasted scoring chance that you just knew had the potential to blow up.
Still, going into the bottom of the fourth, the 2-0 lead was intact and the freshman was throwing heat.
Seymour would get on the board with just a single hit, a swinging bunt by center-fielder Katie Petroski got to a charging Chelsea Matzko down the first base line but Petroski was by before she could make the tag.
A wild pitch, a ground out and a passed ball later and the lead was cut to 2-1.
Sydney Matzko and Torrington escaped further trouble and took that lead into the top of the fifth where they looked to extend it.
Sydney Matzko walked on four pitches to start the inning; it clearly looked like Burt wanted nothing to do with the hard hitting ninth grader. 
After a strikeout, a walk to freshman catcher Sam Pelow and two wild pitches put runners on second and third with just one out.
Not scoring extra runs the night before against the Indians didn’t come back to haunt the Raiders; not breaking through for anymore Wednesday night did.
Burt got a called third strike and a grounder to short to escape trouble and set her team for a rally of their own.
In that fateful top of the fifth, an error and a booming double to the left centerfield wall by Burt would score three runs, giving the Wildcats the lead they would not give back.
Still, Musselman was happy with what her team had accomplished this season and so far this post-season.
“I am so proud of how this team performed all year,” Musselman said, “We have had 9-11 record the past three or four years and to go 13-7 and win a NVL tournament game is great. They put a scare into one of the best teams in the State. That’s saying something.”

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