THOMASTON >> Trailing 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, Thomaston co-head coach Gene Torrence brought his team together and tried to motivate them, telling they needed to start hitting if they wanted to win the game.
It worked as the Golden Bears scored four runs in the inning, to lift them past Notre Dame-Fairfield, 5-3, and into the Class S semifinals for the second year in a row.
“We set our goals early this season,” said Torrence, of the Golden Bears goals to win the Berkshire League, which they didn’t do, and go to the State Championship. “Now we’re going back for a chance at our second goal.”
Thomaston’s Abby Hurlbert, senior, led off the sixth with a base hit and moved up to second on an error in left field by Jenna Emanuel. Hurlbert then went to third on a passed ball, setting up Morgan Sanson, sophomore, who drove her in to tie the game.
“Sooner or later, we knew the hits would come around,” Thomaston co-coach Kelly Finlay said. “It was only a matter of time.”
Nicole Schaefer followed with a base hit of her own, sending Sanson to third. Nina Barone would drive Sanson with an RBI groundout. Jensyn Cleveland was then hit by a pitch.
Sophomore Danielle Genest, the hero from the Golden Bears 2-1 extra inning win against St. Paul in the quarterfinals, stepped up and again came through knocking home Schaefer and Sam Brostek, who pinch ran for Cleveland, after the ball was misplayed in the outfield. Thomaston led 5-2.
“We needed to get that clutch hit and they did,” Notre Dame-Fairfield head coach Ron Barber said. “They got hits when they needed to.”
The Lancers though wouldn’t go away quietly in the seventh, after Sanson hit the two first two batters, they were threatening.
“I’ve learned to check my nerves at the door with Morgan,” Torrence said. “Words can’t describe her, she’s a gamer.”
Sanson though would calm down and get a, 4-6-3, double play, but Dayneira Artis, who was on second, came all the way around the score, while the Golden Bears were celebrating the double play.
With two outs, Sanson again hit a batter, but she got Shelby Nolan to pop out to herself to end the game.
“We play with a lot of heart, they want to win, they hate to lose,” Finlay said.
The Lancers got to Sanson early, putting up two runs in the first inning.
Emily Schofield led off the game with a single and came around on a Becky Stefanatos base hit. Mackenzie Dobbins came around on, when Stefanatos stole second and the throw went to center field.
Thomaston would get one back in the bottom of the first, when Gabby Hurlbert led off with a walk and then stole second and third base. She would come home on a Julia Romaniello RBI ground out.
“Once we got going, it motivated us to not let them on,” Sanson said.
From the second inning till the sixth it was a pitching duel between Sanson and the Lancers’ Madison Letizia.
“Madison pitched well,” Barber said. “That’s softball.”
Thomaston will play Coventry in the Class S semifinals on Tuesday at DeLuca Field in Stratford at 4 p.m.
Thomaston 5, Notre Dame-Fairfield 3
Notre Dame-Fairfield 200 000 1 — 3 3 1
Thomaston 100 004 X — 5 6 2
Madison Letiza and Dayneira Artis; Morgan Sanson and Nicole Schaefer.
WP: Morgan Sanson (). LP: Madison Letiza (). 3B: (THOM) Nina Barone. RBI: Stefanatos (NDF); Julia Romaniello, Nina Barone, Danielle Genest, Morgan Sanson (THOM);
Team records: Notre Dame-Fairfield 11-12; Thomaston 17-2.