Amity holds off Westhill in LL semis
Three runs had already crossed the plate in the bottom of the third inning, and the Westhill softball team was threatening for more.
Clearly, the momentum had shifted in the Vikings favor.
Amity needed a spark, a player -- better yet a pitcher -- to help get it back.
Enter Heather Ferranti.
Showing no fear and poise beyond her years, the sophomore came on with one out and the go-ahead runs on base -- and promptly struck out the next two batters to get the Spartans out of the inning.
Ferranti would also hold the second-seeded Vikings off he scoreboard the rest of the way, leading the sixth-seeded Spartans to a 4-3 victory Monday night and into the CIAC Class LL finals for the first time since 2006.
"I'm just so happy for all of the seniors," said Ferranti, who allowed the first two Westhill batters to reach in the seventh before ultimately striking out the final two to clinch the win. "The main thing when I came in was that I had total confidence in my defense. They made some great plays and offensively we did just enough in those first three innings."
So Amity (22-5), the team without an All-State selections, will go for its fifth state title against top-seeded Southington on Friday or Saturday, possibly back at Stratford's DeLuca Field -- the site of Monday's windy, damp and dramatic LL semifinal.
It started with a single by CJ Semones -- who scored an early unearned run on a sacrifice fly to left by freshman Jenna DiLorenzo -- and ended over two hours later when Ferranti gave up back-to-back singles to Cassandra Kish (3 for 4) and Allison Macari (2 for 4) in the bottom of the seventh, only to retire the next three batters.
"That was one long game but we'll take it," Amity coach Bob Purcell said. "We've used Heather is some big spots before, and she really came in and did a great job tonight. I'm happy for all the girls, we've had different players step up at different times. We didn't have an All-State players, but we have a team full of good players, and they're showing that."
The Spartans finished with seven hits and scored three more runs in the third -- highlighted by a two-run single by senior right fielder and No. 3 hitter Jacqui Ferraiolo. Another potential run was gunned down at the plate on a beautiful throw from left fielder Kate Brainard to catcher Elizabeth Joseph.
Bidding for its third straight trip to the Class LL finals, Westhill (23-4) rallied in the third behind a two-run triple by starting pitcher Allison Macari.
Cleanup batter Tami Wise added an RBI single off Dana Blydenburg, the senior who pitched the Spartans to a 4-2 victory over FCIAC champ Darien in the quarterfinals.
But after a single by Brainard, the game would change upon the entrance of Ferranti, who struck out seven in 3 2/3 innings of brilliant relief while backed by a flawless defense that did not commit an error.
Westhill never did give in despite a shaky start -- playing much better defensively in the final few innings -- but when the game was over, so was an era.
Five seniors -- Macari, Joseph, Kish, Emily Spoto and Allie Souza, who had two of the Vikings' 11 hits -- were driving forces behind a remarkable three-year run.
"Give Amity credit," Westhill coach Tom Pia said. "We played much better after the first few innings, but it was too little, too late. This is such a great group of kids, they're just winners and a group you don't want to see lose. I hope it carries over to the rest of the team that takes their spots."