SOUTHINGTON â€“ A 7-0 shutout of Simsbury secured Southington softballâ€™s fifth-straight win Wednesday, as the Blue Knights put in an all-around strong performance.
Southingtonâ€™s offense took some time to get going, until the hosts sent six runs across in three innings to pull away from Simsbury late.
â€śWe had a little bit of a slow start but I thought we did a really good job manufacturing a couple runs, sac-fly, some bunts, until our bats came alive and then they started to come alive a little bit,â€ť Blue Knights coach Davina Hernandez said.
Starter Julia Panarella pitched six shutout innings for Southington, setting 14 Simsbury batters down on strikes in the contest. Panarella also allowed just three hits and walked two batters.
â€śWe have some really good pitchers,â€ť Hernandez. â€śI thought Julia looked great today on the mound, I donâ€™t think she gave up too many hits. Then our freshman pitcher, Maddie [Furniss] came in and did a really good job as well.â€ť
Furniss closed out the game with a spotless inning for herself as she struck out two.
A lead-off triple from Ashlyn Desaulniers appeared to set the tone early once Alison Rembish drove her in with a fielderâ€™s choice infield RBI. However, the Blue Knights didnâ€™t score again until the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly and an RBI single from Desaulniers. Desaulniers and catcher Kate Griffin each finished with two hits to pace Southington.
â€śI thought Simsbury played a really tough game, they made like every play on defense, they had a really good defense,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śThey really kept it close until we broke it open a little bit towards the end of the game.â€ť
The fifth inning proved to be the turning point as Simsbury threatened a comeback with two on and no out, but Panarella stepped up and set down three straight batters to keep the shutout intact.
â€śThat was huge,â€ť Herandez said. â€śI remember Julia getting a big strikeout that inning to make it go to two outs, so that was really good, because we have to get better at staying calm when thereâ€™s runners in scoring position, especially when it was 3-0 at that point.
â€śIt was a really close game and just staying calm and in the zone, I think weâ€™ll continue to do well,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śNot every single ball will bounce your way, but I thought they did a really good job as a group today.â€ť
The Blue Knights went to work in the batterâ€™s box right after that, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the fifth to open up the game.
â€śI think thatâ€™s all the momentum,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śI always tell the girls, you kind of run with it. When you have a really good inning on defense or you come off a great play or a big strikeout, come in and carry that momentum over to offense.â€ť
A double from Griffin highlighted the Blue Knightsâ€™ fifth-inning offense as Sam Sullivan, Nikki Greco and Griffin all scored in the frame.
Â â€śWe had a lot of base hits, which I thought was good,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śDigging out balls in the infield so I thought we did a really good job.
â€śWe got, I want to say, 20 different players into the game so I thought that was really good, just to get some of the girls on the bench playing,â€ť Hernandez said. â€śUnfortunately we had an injury so those girls that stepped in today felt prepared because they have been subbing in the games.â€ť
Lillian Cournoyer, Rachel Jano and Gianna Valentino registered hits for Simsbury.
Southington (6-1) will look to keep the good fortune rolling when it travels to Avon on Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 3:45 p.m. Ryan Ames can be reached at 860-801-5094 or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.