Spartan rule: Amity wins Class LL title
The Amity softball team would not have been playing for a state championship without the efforts of senior left-hander Dana Blydenburg, who had her share of dominant performances on the mound this season.
However, unlike the typical team that values pitching over every other facet of the game, the sixth-seeded Spartans like to think of themselves as a group that hits to win.
“Dana is a great pitcher,” standout senior first-baseman C.J. Semones said. “But pitching is not all of it. We know we have to be able to hit the ball to win games.”
Amity definitely came through in that area Friday night, collecting a season-high 17 hits to post a wild 10-6 victory over No. 1 Southington to capture the Class LL title at DeLuca Field in Stratford.
Semones, a left-handed batter who displayed lightning-quick hands and solid speed out of the leadoff spot, went 4-for-5 with two doubles, one RBI and three runs scored to earn MVP honors.
Senior Jacqui Ferraiolo was the big bopper of the night, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs, including a three-run home run in the top of the first inning to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead.
Second baseman Taylor Baker, who made a sparkling diving pickup to deny Nicole Rossitto of a hit in the fifth, had three hits and one run scored while Jenna DiLorenzo added a single, double and two RBIs for the Spartans (23-5), who captured their first state title since 2005 and fifth overall.
“We definitely have the ability to hit like this,” Ferraiolo said. “Tonight we just played to our greatest potential, and it showed. This was definitely our best hitting game all year. It came at a great time.”
Amity and Southington have met six times in the state championship game with each team winning three.
This latest battle was defined by Amity’s ability to find the gaps in Southington’s defense, doing it on long drives by Semones, Ferraiolo and DiLorenzo as well as by bunting and running. Four of Amity’s hits came on well-placed bunts, including two by leftfielder Emily Fox.
Amity’s five-run fifth inning, that put the Spartans up 9-2, was a microcosm of the game. The Spartans scored two runs on one bunt play with the help of a Southington throwing error then finished things off with three RBI-doubles.
Amity has been a good hitting team all season, but no one could have foreseen this type of avalanche.
“I didn’t expect that many hits,” Purcell said. “They’re a good hitting team as well, so we thought it could be a high-scoring game. But we didn’t expect this.”
Neither did Southington head coach John Bores, who tried to stop the Amity carousel by using two different pitchers. Junior Jordyn Moquin allowed seven hits over the first three innings and was lifted abruptly after Semones doubled to lead off the fourth. Freshman Kendra Friedt fared no better, allowing four hits and five runs in the fifth. Moquin actually came back to the mound in the sixth and finished things up for an exasperated Bores.
“We usually don’t give up 17 hits in two weeks,” Bores said. “I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life, for them. That’s not a true showing of how they played all season. I thought this was going to be our year, but after two or three innings, you needed an Abbacus to count the hits.”
After losing in the Southern Connecticut Conference championship game against Foran of Milford, the Class L finalist which handed Amity three of its five losses, the Spartans were determined to bring home a state title.
“That loss to Foran was a heart-breaker,” Semones said. “After that, we just decided that we were not losing again. We’re not losing until the end of the year.”
Semones led the game off with an infield single and Emily Fox reached on an error after putting down a sacrifice bunt. Ferraiolo then blasted a 3-2 fastball over the fence in left-center to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead.
It was Ferraiolo’s fourth home run of the season, but without a doubt her most memorable one.
“When I hit it I hoped it was going out,” she said. “When I saw it go over the fence it was just a great feeling.”
Blydenburg wasn’t getting the benefit of many calls in the first inning and walked the first two batters she faced on eight pitches. Both came around to score on an infield single by Sydney Ferrante past a drawn-in infield.
“She was getting a little frustrated by the balls and strikes,” Purcell said. “She wasn’t getting the outside corner, so I told her, ‘You gotta come inside. You gotta go get’em.”
Blydenburg settled down and threw three straight scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one run over the next five frames as Amity built a 10-3 lead.
Southington made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs on two hits, one walk, one error and a sacrifice fly.
But the deficit was too large to overcome and Blydenburg got first-baseman Kaitlin Paterson on a popup to first base to end the game, igniting a raucous celebration by the Spartans.
“This means everything,” Ferraiolo said. “This group of seniors have worked so hard since freshman year. Most of us have been on varsity since then. To see it all come together now means the world.”