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You voted. The top story of 2014. #2-Thomaston softball: Class S Champs.

POSTED January 02, 2015
BY Timothy W. Gaffney
Twitter: @TimothyGaffney

Join the Thomaston softball team on Monday night, June 30 at the Applebee's in Torrington between 6-7 p.m. as we celebrate their Class S title on the Litchfield County Sports Show.

WEST HAVEN: We have long since run out of superlatives when talking about the remarkable resiliency of the Thomaston Golden Bears softball team.

Here are a few.

Astonishing, fantastic, incredible, marvelous, miraculous, phenomenal, prodigious, stupendous, unbelievable, wondrous, extraordinary, wicked, awesome (wicked-awesome is better I think), glorious, fabulous, magnificent and above all, excellent.

Yeah, I think that covers some of the ways you could describe a group of 11 players, yes I said less than a dozen players who find themselves at the top of the Class S pile after staging another mind blowing comeback after being left as good as gone after just two innings.

Against the eighth ranked Old Saybrook Rams, the Bears clawed, grabbed bird feeders, knocked over garbage cans and did whatever else they had to do to come back from a six run deficit before they stepped to the plate for the second time.

A two-run fifth inning was followed by a four-run sixth that led to a two-out single by senior Erin O’Neill that plated Gabby Hurlbert and sent a hysterical Thomaston team and supporters home with their second Class S Championship this spring by a 7-6 score.

If you recall back to March 22 of this year, some of these same girls brought home the hardware from Mohegan Sun with one of the most thrilling wins in school history.

Until Saturday.

We have been driving another saying into the ground this spring but it bears (sorry) repeating.

“You Can’t Kill The Bear.”

Many have tried. St Paul thought they had them in the second round. Sorry, 2-1. Coventry really thought they had them in the semi-finals. Two strikes, two outs in the bottom of the seventh up 1-0. Sorry. 2-1 in nine innings.

Many a writer has had the headline written only to have to come up with some way to adequately describe what had just happened, right in front of them.

The “nice season that had to come to an end sometime” story was partially written on Saturday as well.

After witnessing the boys team fall behind 4-0 after one inning a few hours earlier, those who made the trip south from Middletown to West Haven surely thought they had seen this movie before.

A misplayed triple, a couple of singles and an error found the softball team running towards a similar hole, down 3-0 in a blink.

It didn’t get much better in the second inning as the Rams sent seven to the plate and scored three more before Thomaston starter Morgan Sanson recorded an out.

Having two local teams from the same school in the finals is a small victory in itself but losing both would have just not felt right but it looked for all the world that outcome was looking very likely.

Oh, but did I just mention Sanson?

This is a sophomore, part of a school that tallies but 270 or so students but is quickly becoming one who will go down in school history as one of the toughest competitors ever.

From that second inning, Sanson worked in and out of trouble, as she did most of 2014. Nothing was ever real easy. Sanson would get hit or lose the plate for a while but always found that extra gear that got her out of trouble.

Turns out Old Saybrook left too much time on the clock and innings on the board.

“I knew we had time to comeback if I just held them,” Sanson said. “We just don’t know how to give up.”

A Bears coat is over an inch thick in places. Seriously, I looked it up…

Obviously, these Bears opponents have not had any idea whether they had done any damage to this group’s external protection.

For four innings on Saturday, Thomaston could not get much going while the Rams were making every play look easy.

That is until a controversial pick off play at third base seemed to poke the Bears awake.

Junior Jensyn Cleveland launched a long triple to right center with one out in the bottom of the fifth but was cut down by a throw from Old Saybrook catcher, Paige Trabucchi, who threw behind her.

Cleveland appeared to beat the throw back after not being far off the bag at all but the third base umpire called her out.

With runs and rallies at a premium for the Bears, it could have spelled doom but the determination of this team came to the surface instead.

Danielle Genest worked out a walk which was followed by a single by Gabby Hurlbert. A single by Julia Romaniello played the first Thomaston run, an error by the Rams third baseman plated the second.

Two runs back. Two more innings to get the rest.

“That pickoff play got us fired up,” head coach Gene Torrence said. “We knew we could come back then. I saw it in their eyes and they believed.”

Sanson did her part by working around a leadoff walk in the sixth and with six outs between them and the end of their season without their desired goal, the Bears got to work in the bottom of the sixth like a determined brown bear goes after bird seed hung far too low for a determined hunter.

Sanson started things with a single up the middle which was followed by a single by Nicole Schaeffer and an RBI knock by Nina Barone. 6-3.

Bird feeder within sight.

 A walk loaded the bases and led to four fielder’s choice plays at the plate, three of the runners scored to tie things at a half a dozen each.

Was there anybody on the Brown and Gold side that thought this team would lose at this point? Not likely.

Old Saybrook though, may have suffered a massive crack in the foundation but stopped the bleeding with the four runs and forced extra innings.

Sanson would retire the last nine she faced after that sixth inning leadoff walk, the tenth grader simply got stronger as her team did the same.

In the bottom of the eighth, Gabby Hurlbert led off with a four pitch walk and was sacrificed to second by Romaniello, setting up one the state’s best hitters, Abigail Hurlbert with a chance to repeat her heroics from the basketball season when she hit three free throws with .06 left in the second overtime against St Paul.

Hurlbert, who you thought the Rams might walk intentionally, lined a shot to left but right at the left fielder who made the play for the second out.

It was all left to another senior, O’Neill who had a single and a run scored on her resume coming into the at bat.

When O’Neiil lined a single that landed two feet in front of the centerfielder for a hit, no power on earth was going to stop Gabby Hurlbert from crossing the plate and completing one of the most remarkably unlikely results.

Unless you had seen this team before.

For the Golden Bears fans, they have their own adjectives that describe their feelings for their team.

Elation, fantastic, glorious, joyful, proud, thankful and finally, victorious. 

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