TORRINGTON >> Holy Cross and Torrington started out undefeated at Torrington High School Monday afternoon.
Five innings later, the game was over in a 15-0 Torrington mercy win that shocked both sides.
“They had the whole package today,” said Holy Cross coach Jose Dos Santos. “(Torrington All-State pitcher Sydney Matzko) is going to North Carolina for a reason. (On offense), they had dinks, so we couldn’t play deep, but we know they can go long.”
Hitting was the only pre-season concern for the Red Raiders, who went undefeated in the regular season last year only to fall in the second round of the Class L tournament.
Last year, they had the pitching. This year, the Raiders, who lost just one of their players, vowed to beef up their offense.
“Mission accomplished,” said Holy Cross on Monday.
Matzko had what’s become a standard day on the mound for her: 8 strikeouts, 0 walks, 3 hits, in five innings.
The Raider offense lived up to its vow from the first inning on.
It began with a home run by Marissa Morris in the first inning, then swept through 15 more hits, including another homer by Morris, a grand slam by Alexa Potter and three doubles against Crusader freshman Sarah Lawton.
Morris got up with two outs for her homer in the first on her way to a perfect day at bat (3-for-3, 3 RBI).
“I’ve been working really hard, doing extra hitting on the sidelines after practice,” she said.
That ethic is infectious on the team, says Torrington coach Maryann Musselman.
“In our first game, Sydney didn’t like her changeup, so she’s out there working on it after practice,” Musselman said. “She takes personal responsibility. All our upperclassmen are like that, with extra work, and they’re passing it on to the younger kids.
“We have some kids on our JV team who would start for most varsities, but I’m not going to give up my senior leadership.”
Monday, all but two starters got at least one hit. Every one of them scored at least one run.
“I didn’t expect this at all, but no score is ever good enough,” smiled Matzko (2-for-3 at bat, 2 doubles), who learned the bitter lesson last year along with her teammates in their 2-1 tournament loss in the second round.
So this team just keeps pushing.
Ahead 1-0 after the first inning and a half, freshman Alexis Tyrell led off the second with a single.
Senior Sara Heath (2 runs) replaced her with a fielder’s choice.
Alexa Potter (2-for-3, home run, 4 RBI) and Nikki Jamieson (3-for-4, RBI) banged out singles and another run.
Morris drove in the second with a sacrifice fly to center.
Then a strikeout turned into three more runs.
The Holy Cross catcher dropped a third strike to Matzko, then sailed her throw into right field as Matzko hustled down the line.
The hustle never ended. Jamieson, Brittany Anderson (on base with an error) and Matzko made it all the way around before the throw came back from right field.
“When it was 6-0, I was so happy; I had a little flexibility,” said Coach Musselman.
You want flexibility, here’s flexibility.
After a quiet third inning, the Torrington motor revved again in the fourth for the game’s biggest inning.
Jamieson, Anderson and Morris loaded the bases on singles, no outs. Matzko walked in one run; Sam Pelow (4-for-4, double, 2 RBI) singled in another.
Cross almost escaped with two fielder’s choice outs at the plate.
The “almost” was huge.
Potter, ninth in the batting order, slammed a grounder up the middle.
“With our field, it just keeps going,” she laughed.
With the Crusader outfield shifted left, the runners kept going too.
Potter came in with a grand slam grounder, 13-0.
Two runs away from the mercy-rule 15, Morris got the first one, leading off with her second homer in the bottom of the fifth.
Matzko and Pelow followed with doubles for the second run, game over.
“It’s nice to see them having such a good start,” said Coach Dos Santos. “We hope to see them a couple more times.”
Torrington 15, Holy Cross 0 (5)
At Torrington High School
Holy Cross 000 00—0 3 2
Torrington 150 72—15 16 0
WP: Sydney Matzko. LP: Sarah Lawton. HR: T—Marissa Morris 2; Alexa Potter. 2B: T— Matzko 2; Sam Pelow.
Records: Holy Cross 3-1; Torrington 3-0.