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#TuesdayMemory. Sydney Matzko and Raiders beat up on Holy Cross, 15-0. From April 14, 2014.

POSTED April 19, 2016
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

TORRINGTON: She's a year older, somewhat taller, a touch faster and has a brutal change-up. Yes, Sydney Matzko is back on the hill for the Torrington Raiders.

Sorry, Naugatuck Valley League teams.

The senior hurler, who will be pounding catcher’s mitts in North Carolina this fall, is looking to get her team to the next level in her farewell tour season with the Raiders.

Matzko said a polite hello and goodbye to the Holy Cross Crusaders on Monday afternoon at Torrington High School and the result was a 15-0 mercy rule win that improved the Raiders to 3-0.

In the past four days, Matzko and company have beaten two of the teams though to be the cream of the crop by a combined 21-1 margin.

First, it was a dispatching of perennial powerhouse Seymour on the road by a 6-1 score. Granted, that was a close game until the sixth inning but Torrington found a way to put runs on the board when it counted, a critical must if this team wants to make noise when it counts; in the postseason.

Feels a little like you’re watching an NBA season that seems to simply be a formality or requirement on your way to the time that matters.

It’s hard not to flash back to a year ago when they Raiders were bounced in the first round of the Class L State Tournament by a 16th seed (Bunnell, 2-1).

Will things be different for Matzko and the Raiders?

One noticeable change so far this year is that Torrington seems to be able to pound away on offensive, something that surely will come in handy in early May against top notch pitching.

On Monday against the Crusaders, who came in 3-0, the home team was 17-for-31 at the plate with three home runs.

They batted around twice in four-plus innings, sending 11 in a seven-run fourth.

Catcher Marissa Morris, who is proving to be a force on offense and defense, had a pair of round trippers and drove in three on the day while leftfielder Alexa Potter went 2-for-3 with a grand slam while scoring a pair.

Her grand slam was unique because it was a classic THS softball field round tripper that started out as a line drive between second and third that simply kept rolling, nearly to the track it seemed.

Morris started the scoring with a blast that would have cleared most fenced fields by a wide margin, a long drive that split the gap in right center field.

That run would have been enough the way Matzko was hurling.

The senior’s change up made fans knees buckle on the other side of the fence, it’s a weapon she will need at the next level.

“It’s critical I throw that pitch well,” Matzko said. “In college, I have to keep the batters off balance. They can all time up a fastball.”

The first two batters she faced had just seemed to get a beat on the heat when the air came out of the balloon on the way to the plate.

Bugs Bunny would have gotten at least two licks in before the ball hit the catcher’s mitt.

The Crusaders managed just three hits while striking out eight times in five innings.

In the field, the Raiders played an error-free game, another critical component needed if one is going to make a deep run in the post season, something that is needed to validate just how strong this Raider program has become.

What will be the difference this year?

Head coach Maryanne Mussleman hopes the work she saw previous to the 2014 campaign pays dividends.

“These girls worked real hard during the offseason on their hitting,” Mussleman said. “Our senior leaders have helped the younger kids jell and when they get out there, it’s all business.”

Morris made the defensive play of the game when she dove for a foul bunt up the first base line and came down with it for the out.

If the Raiders have more days when every batter scores a run and five have multiple-hit games, it could be a long year for the NVL in general and hopefully the teams that follow in the States.   

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