BRISTOL - Connecticut woke up in the morning looking to stay undefeated, but quickly was forced into a must-win game in the afternoon following a 3-2 loss to Pennsylvania.
Facing elimination and an early two-run deficit against New York after the first inning, the group from Fairfield Girls Softball Little League wasn’t ready to go down just yet.
The Connecticut offense came to life with 10 hits, defeating Pennsylvania 8-5 in the nightcap and advancing to the losers’ bracket semifinal game Wednesday at 11 a.m. against the winner of Tuesday night’s late game between Delaware and Maine.
“After the loss we were all pretty sad, because we were undefeated throughout districts, sectionals and states,” Connecticut’s Chelsea Villar said. “It was disappointing, but we wiped that game out of our memory so we’d come out with a fresh start for this [second] game.”
Connecticut coach Jim Andretta put the ball in the hands of Kira Fazio, who hadn’t pitched since a 13-1 sectional win over Darien. Anna Gedacht had pitched the other games for Connecticut in Bristol, including the morning game against Pennsylvania.
Fazio responded with a clutch performance on the mound. She pitched a complete game and limited the damage to four earned runs on eight hits and a pair of walks.
“I was pretty confident because our defense is really good and stuff,” Fazio said. “Everyone was always cheering me on and it made everything easier.”
Offensively, Villar paced the team in a day to remember. She finished the day 3-for-6 with three RBI, two runs scored and stole home against Pennsylvania.
Being able to get a chance to move on to the championship game and represent her home state adds to the excitement.
“It’s really cool, because over the years we haven’t gotten past districts and to get all the way here is really cool,” Villar said. “And to know that we’re representing our state, our state will be proud of us if we win and I think that’s pretty cool.”
Della Jackson, Villar and Vinchenza Andretta all had multi-hit games for Connecticut against New York.
Katie Tournas, Ellie Gallagi, Fazio and Gedacht accounted for the rest of Connecticut’s 10 total hits.
In the first game, Connecticut struggled offensively against Pennsylvania starter Kaya Hannon, who finished the game with 10 strikeouts in a complete game performance, allowing just three hits and walking three.
Over the course of the tournament the middle of Connecticut’s batting order has been the difference, and it continued as the three hits were from Elena Ohe, Villar and Allie Ortiz. Villar scored both of the runs, one on her steal of home in the fourth inning. Ortiz had the only RBI of the game for Connecticut.
Gedacht pitched strong for Connecticut, with three strikeouts in a complete game. All three runs were charged to Gedacht. She walked one and threw 54 of her 75 pitches for strikes, a consistent trend for Gedacht in the tournament.
After going 9-0 in districts, sectionals and states, Connecticut got its first loss out of the way and is now ready to keep winning all the way to Portland, Ore.
“I think it’s going to serve us well,” Connecticut coach Jim Andretta said. “These girls are gamers, they show up each day. They want to be here, they want to battle and they want to fight. All 13 of them deserve it and I don’t see them going down without a fight against any one of these teams going forward.”