STRATFORD >> Down to her last strike with two outs and Golden Bears trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Morgan Sanson connected with an Eileen Zadrozny pitch and set it flying over the center field fence tying the game. Then in the ninth, again with two outs, Sanson stepped to the plate and drove in Abby Hurlbert from second, with a base hit, sending the Golden Bears to the Class S softball final, 2-1 over Coventry.
“I have no words, it’s an amazing feeling,” Sanson said. “I just did not want to lose.”
Off the bat, neither coach knew if the ball would leave the field.
“I was a little surprised it carried over,” Coventry head coach Thomas Williams said.
“I saw it go up, it had the height,” Thomaston co-head coach Gene Torrence said. “I felt like Carlton Fisk, but I was using my hot air to get it over.”
Sanson was 0-for-2 on the day when she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh and the Golden Bears had only managed to get two hits up to that point.
“I was just trying to get on base,” she said.
In the ninth, Hurlbert worked a one out walk and then advanced to second on a Erin O’Neill bunt, bringing Sanson to the plate with two outs and first base open.
“Eileen is such a competitor,” Williams said of the decision not to walk Sanson, which he left up to Zadrozny. “In hindsight maybe, but she is a fierce competitor, she wanted to compete. She had my vote, whichever way she went.”
Thomaston co-head coach Kelly Finlay had a feeling Sanson would come through again.
“She had the big home run, she had the momentum and the energy,” Finlay said. “I had a feeling she would come through.”
Sanson would take advantage and drop a base hit in between Coventry’s shortstop Lindsay Williams and center fielder Julia Caromile, with Hurlbert running on contact, she scored easily.
“No pressure,” Sanson smiled. “A lot of pressure, but I’ve been there before, I knew I could do it.”
After a pitching performance, where the Zadrozy (8.2 innings, six hits, two runs, three strikeouts) had the Patriots one strike away from the finals, Williams couldn’t help by feel bad for his senior pitcher.
“I hate it for my pitcher,” Williams said. “It broke my heart for her.”
On top of the two biggest hits of the season for the Golden Bears, Sanson was also dealing on the mound.
After allowing the Patriots only run in the first on a RBI groundout by Lindsay Williams, scoring Zadrozny, she settled down allowing only five hits the game, striking out seven.
“She’s unflappable,” Torrence said. “They’re gamers, they don’t want to lose.”
Thomaston will play Old Saybrook in the Class S finals. The Rams defeated Coginchaug 5-4.
This is the Golden Bears third appearance in the Class S softball finals, first since 2005.
Thomaston 2 Coventry 1 (9)
At DeLuca Field
Thomaston 000000101 2 5 0
Coventry 100000000 1 6 0
WP: Morgan Sanson
LP: Eileen Zadrozny
2B: C – Zadrozny. HR: T – Sanson
RBI: T – Sanson 2. C – Lindsay Williams
Records: Thomaston 19-2 Coventry 19-4