WEST HAVEN >> After defeating a pair of SCC opponents to advance to the semifinals, the Fitch softball team knew they had to finish a trifecta if the Falcons had hopes of defending their Class L title.
Sophomores Cassie Woods and Taylor Wolfgang made sure of it. Led by Wolfgang’s run-scoring triple to score Woods in the decisive fifth inning, top-seeded Fitch rallied to defeat No. 20 North Haven 2-1 Monday in a Class L semifinal at Biondi Field in West Haven.
The undefeated Falcons will play 10th-seeded East Haven, a 4-3 winner over Nonnewaug, at a site and time to be determined this weekend.
“This feels great,” Fitch coach Kate Prpich said of returning to the finals. “They are awesome kids. They enjoy playing together. They love the game. They are great to be around.”
The Falcons, ranked second in the GameTimeCt/Register Top 10 poll, needed more late-inning dramatics. Fitch rallied with one out remaining in its quarterfinal victory over Sheehan.
Against North Haven, Wolfgang laced a triple to right center to score Woods, who had reached on a one-out single, to even the game at one. After North Haven shortstop Amanda Kenny made a nice play on a line drive by Jonell Hobert to save a run for the second out of the inning, the Indians decided to intentionally walk Caroline Taber.
However, the pitch from Haley Arnaoutis sailed away from catcher Rachel Card to score Wolfgang with the eventual winning run. North Haven had not allowed a run in the tournament.
“I would do it again,” North Haven coach Sally Maher said of the intentional walk. “That is their best hitter. I am really proud of these kids. It was a heck of a run. We came in here as the 20th seed. We came into the tournament 10-10. We won three road games. We beat a four (Rockville), a five (Torrington) and a thirteen (Watertown) and we played with the number one seed.”
Wolfgang, who was part of the rally which helped the Falcons defeat Sheehan in the quarterfinals, found a way once again to come up with the big hit.
“We were in that situation in our last game (Sheehan) when we were down to our last out,” Wolfgang said. “I knew the situation. I just wanted to make contact and let the ball travel. I feel we are a team of destiny. We get a chance to defend our title. We know every team is out to get us. We have to trust our ability.”
The Indians (13-11) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Mia Martinez led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Arnaoutis, and scored on a double by Kenny to the gap in left center.
But Taber struck out the next two batters to end the frame and North Haven’s threat.
“They scored their runs in one inning, getting two of their three hits,” Prpich said after her team improved to 25-0. “We knew we could hit the ball. We just had to put the pieces together. I thought Caroline Taber was phenomenal. She just made her pitches. She was great.”
After Kenny’s run-scoring double in the fourth, Taber was at her best, retiring the final 11 hitters, including six by strikeout.
“We decided to go with our two-seamer as it cut more,” Taber said. “That ended up being better as they were chasing the two-seamer away. I am so excited. I can’t describe the feeling. We get a chance to go back and defend our title. That is the best feeling. I am floating right now.”
The Falcons had a chance to get on the scoreboard in the second inning when Nalissa Lynn Amar singled and Haley Flax reached on a two-out error. Amar tried to score on the play, but was cut down on a perfect relay from Victoria Bouffard to Card at the plate.
Arnaoutis took the loss for the Indians, despite a solid effort in which she allowed just four hits and struck out three.
TOOOOOOO THE SHIP?????????? pic.twitter.com/9u9dFshDhK
— Jay (@jdelaporta_14) June 8, 2015