NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain softball teamâ€™s first-round Class LL tournament game had a little bit of everything Tuesday afternoon - a lot of offense early, a lull in the middle and late drama.
The Hurricanes were the ones who were able to get a large early lead, but nearly collapsed en route to a 13-10 victory over New Milford at Martha Hart Park.
The win marks the first time since 2009 New Britain made it out of the first round of the tournament.
â€śEverybody one through nine swung the bats well and we were fortunate to be able to barley hang on,â€ť Hurricanes head coach Joel Simmone said.
New Britain jumped out with an aggressive offense, scoring in each of the first four innings, including six runs in the second, and led by as much as 10-2 after four frames.
But New Milford finally got going in the last two innings, scoring two in the sixth and six in the seventh. Much of the runs were due to two critical errors made by the Hurricanes in the seventh inning.
â€śUsually, it takes us a little while to get going,â€ť Simmone said. â€śBut [we] got going right off the bat. Today [we] came to play. We played an outstanding first five innings, but we got complacent. We got comfortable. We got lazy. We had the opportunity to go for the jugular, and we just didnâ€™t do that.â€ť
New Britain was able to fight back with three runs in the sixth inning that would ultimately be the difference.
The star of the game for the Hurricanes was sophomore Josleen Rivera.
She set the tone at the top of the order, reaching base four times, with three singles and a walk. Rivera also scored three runs and drove in two.
â€śWe just did a great job as a team,â€ť Rivera said. â€ś[Amanda Jacobs] started us off in that second inning and we just kept rolling with it. We did a great job adjusting to the pitching.â€ť
Rivera also had a decent game out of the bullpen. Coming in relief of starter Gianna Gonzalez, Rivera pitched 3.1 innings, giving up eight runs, but just four of them were earned. The sophomore also gave up six hits and struck out four.
â€śI think I came in pretty strong, but could have come in a little stronger,â€ť Rivera said. â€śAs time goes, you get tired. Your arm gets tired. But all I can really do is stay strong mentally and just keep going.â€ť
Outside of the two errors in the seventh, the Hurricanes were strong defensively.
Simmone called it â€śas good of a game as Iâ€™ve seen them play all year.â€ť First baseman Valentina Hernandez thought the defense was a huge part of the teamâ€™s early success.
â€śI feel like we all just did our part,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śWe all played our positions and we all came together to not allow them to have good hits and score runs.â€ť
Hernandez was strong on the offensive effort as well. She reached base all four times at the plate, getting two base hits. She also scored three of the teamâ€™s runs.
The win means the Hurricanes face off against top-ranked Southington in the second round this afternoon at 3:30 p.m.. The Blue Knights are 19-1 on the season, but New Britain isnâ€™t at all intimidated.
â€śThey are a good team, but they are also a beatable team,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śIf we play against them the way we played the first five innings today, we are going to play with them and have a chance to beat them.â€ť
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org