SOUTHINGTON - Southington softball pitcher Kara Zazzaro set the tone right away in Mondayâ€™s matchup against Bristol Eastern ace Erin Girard.
Zazzaro struck out the side in the first inning and put together a dominant performance both on the mound and at the plate in the Blue Knightsâ€™ 6-0 season-opening win against the Lancers.
â€śI was super excited to get started,â€ť Zazzaro said. â€śIt wasnâ€™t the best or exactly what I would have liked, but I just tried to do the best with what was working today and inning by inning took it one pitch at a time.â€ť
While her performance on the mound was excellent - not allowing a hit until the fifth inning, when Bristol Easternâ€™s Taylor Keegan ripped a double to right field - Zazzaro also helped herself out at the plate with three RBI.
Chrissy Marotto sparked the offense in the first inning with an inside-the-park home run to give the Blue Knights an early advantage.
â€śChrissy really set the tone for the game,â€ť Southington head coach Davina Hernandez said. â€śRoping that down the line and running the bases opened the game up for us in the second at bat.â€ť
Bristol Eastern didnâ€™t get any opportunities offensively until the third inning.
Zazzaro began to struggle with her command at times and the Lancers showed patience at the plate.
Lauren Aparo and Riley Giblin drew a pair of walks to begin the third before Lyzah Corliss ripped a liner right at Southington third basemen Callie Gendron. It turned into a double play and erased momentum for the Lancers.
â€śWe created some opportunities,â€ť Bristol Eastern head coach Scott Redman said. â€śIn three out of seven innings we had runners in scoring position and failed to create runs. I thought that third inning when they got out of the first and second with no outs really kind of demoralized us. If we scored in that inning I think itâ€™s a completely different game.â€ť
With it still just a one run deficit after the top of the third, Southington made its push on Girard, all coming with two outs.
Zazzaro laced an RBI single that scored Francesca Ferrante to put the Blue Knights up 2-0. A couple batters later, Girardâ€™s wild pitch advanced Zazzaro to third and Gendron to second. Gabby Malachowski brought both in with a single to put Southington up 4-0.
â€śEverybody had the first day jitters,â€ť Girard said. â€śWe were supposed to play Plainville last week, but it got cancelled. So fresh on the mound in the first game is a little bit difficult, especially against such a good team.â€ť
Southington displayed its potent offense against a talented sophomore pitcher in Girard, proving the Blue Knights are once again ready for a strong season. Southington will travel to take on RHAM Wednesday afternoon at 3:45 p.m.
â€śI think we did well,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śThatâ€™s a very good team. They have a lot of young kids, like us, and obviously a very good pitcher. Our goal coming into this game was to just be more disciplined than them at the plate and I think we did a really good job laying off of her junk pitches.â€ť
For the Lancers, the game is now in the past and Bristol Eastern will look to win its home opener on Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. against Windsor.
â€śWeâ€™re going to get challenges all year, which is good,â€ť Redman said. â€śWeâ€™re going to be playing tournament teams all year. This teamâ€™s not used to losing, so hopefully theyâ€™re uncomfortable and they come back tomorrow ready to work, because we have a challenging Windsor team coming to us Wednesday. Thereâ€™s no time to pout, youâ€™ve got to turn the page and move forward.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org