EAST HAVEN — Becky Flynn knew the game was over the moment she connected with the softball.
The East Haven junior rightfielder got all of a 2-0 pitch right down the middle and belted it over the fence in left-center for a walk-off two-run home run that gave the Yellowjackets a 4-3 victory over Hand Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the CIAC Class L softball tournament.
Flynn, who had two doubles earlier in the contest, came to the plate with one out and winning pitcher Tori Heaphy on second base.
“Two-oh counts are the best counts to hit,” Flynn said. “I was trying to find something that was hittable and that I could drive. I was so stoked I walked it off to win the game.”
The plan was to pitch around Flynn without actually intentionally walking her.
“We were going to pitch away from her,” Hand coach Mike Niekrash said. “Give her credit. That 2-0 pitch was just too good and she made us pay.”
East Haven (12-9), the 16th seed in the Class L bracket, will visit top-seeded St. Joseph Thursday in the second round of the tournament at 3:45 p.m. The Cadets, the top-ranked team in the GametimeCT softball poll, are 23-0 this spring and have won 35 consecutive games.
“We told them to take care of business today and we’ll see what happens tomorrow,” East Haven coach Ed Crisafi said. “We have nothing to lose. The SCC gets you ready for the state tournament.”
Hand came back from a 2-0 deficit after three innings when freshman rightfielder Brooke Salutari tied it with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, The Tigers then took a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning when Caroline O’Connor cracked a solo homer to almost the same spot that Flynn hit the game-winner.
“We got the lead by the home run and we lost the game by the home run,” Niekrash said.
East Haven got single runs in both the second and third innings to take the early 2-0 edge. In the second inning, Kayla Rosario doubled to rightcenter to score Emilee Bishop, who had reached base on a fielders’ choice.
In the third inning, Heaphy collected the first of three singles at the plate, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Brooke Clancy.
Heaphy struck out 13 batters and allowed just five hits to collect the win.
“It really makes me happy we pulled through and won this game,” Heaphy said.
“It would have been an utter shame if Tori lost that game the way she pitched,” Crisafi said.
Hand finished the season with an 11-11 mark.
“It’s a tough way to end the year, but this team overachieved all season,” Niekrash said. “Most people had low expectations for this team with all the players we lost last year, so I am so proud of this group of girls.”