STRATFORD - The Class LL semifinal game between Southington and Cheshire on Thursday felt like a championship game. The energy, the environment and the skill level was certainly on par with what you would expect from two teams fighting for a state title.
Each team had plenty of fans make the trek down to Stratford to fill up the stands at Deluca Field to make the game a memorable one. By winning the game 6-2, though, Southington now has to prepare for one more game and that comes tonight against Trumbull.
The No. 9 seeded Eagles defeated top-seeded NFA in the quarterfinals before shutting out Stamford in the semis. A big key for the Blue Knights is to avoid a letdown after an emotional game against their biggest rival in the semifinals.
“Win,” Southington head coach Davina Hernandez said when asked how the team can avoid a letdown in the championship game. “I think that if we continue what we have been doing all year we will at least give ourselves a good shot.”
Unlike Cheshire, Trumbull is not a team that Southington sees very often and therefore the coaches and players don’t know much about what the Eagles bring to the table. That fact makes this championship game all the more intriguing because both teams will have to adjust on the fly.
“I don’t know much on Trumbull except what I saw [in its semifinal game],” Hernandez said. “They have some big bats, I saw that, but we came late in the game. What I have been told is that they are not a team that is going to let up and they are not going to give up until that game is over.”
Hernandez made it clear that she was not going to be making a ton of phone calls to get as much information as possible on the team’s upcoming opponent. The head coach isn’t a huge believer in compiling scouting reports. She instead prefers to trust her instincts.
“A lot of my pitch calling is based off of what I am seeing with swing fundamentals and where people are in the box,” Hernandez said. “So I don’t always have a ton of information. When I do have information I use it sparingly because every pitcher is different and every pitcher has different speeds.
“Some of the basics you can get from a scouting report but there is a lot that you have to observe with your eyes and make calls based on what people are doing in the box at that moment.”
Unfamiliarity aside, the Blue Knights enter the championship game playing at an extremely high level. The offense put together a six-run inning that featured 11 batters coming to the plate against one of the best pitchers in the state on Thursday and starting pitcher Kara Zazzaro continues to impress in the circle.
The junior hurler has allowed just seven runs in four tournament games up to this point, and sees no reason why that can’t continue tonight.
“I had no doubt in my mind that we would get it done [against Cheshire],” Zazzaro said. “That gives us great momentum heading into [tonight] and now we just have to keep it going for one more game.”
That momentum was a big talking point after Thursday night’s win. Through four innings against Cheshire, Southington was unable to get a single base runner but after that point, the hits started to come and the offense found its groove. The players believe they will be able to carry that into tonight.
“We feel like we have a ton of momentum going right now and we are all hyped,” second baseman Michelle Woodruff said. “We are going to stay high on the energy and just bust it open.
“I am expecting us to play the same game we have been playing this whole year. We are going to continue to work on our communication and everything. We are not going to take Trumbull lightly at all, but we are going to come out and play our own game.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @bigwoolf5