West Haven >> It didn’t take long. Just two pitches to be exact.
Fitch leadoff hitter Jackie Lewis wasted little time, driving the second pitch she saw Wednesday over the left field fence for a home run.
That set the tone.
Just two batters later, teammate Caroline Taber drilled another home run just over the center field fence.
The Falcons’ impressive offensive onslaught keyed an 8-4 victory over Lauralton Hall in the Class L semifinals at West Haven High.
“Hey, that’s fireworks right there,” Fitch coach Arielle Cooper said. “That starts us off and we’re on our way. We came out strong and it showed. The first inning, we made a statement.”
Top-seeded Fitch’s win over the No. 5 Crusaders puts it in the state final for the first time since 2009. Fitch will play in the title game either Friday or Saturday.
Lewis went on to belt another homer in the third. She finished 3-for-3 with two solo home runs, a sharp single in the sixth and an intentional walk.
“She’s been holding us down since game one,” Cooper said. “She’s been doing a great job throughout this season. She’s a strong hitter. She’s smart playing the field. She’s doing a great job as a junior. It’s all you can ask for, really.”
Lauralton Hall trailed by as many as seven runs in the fourth. Christina Cottrell had an RBI double and Ireland Miessau scored on a passed ball in the sixth to cut the deficit to four. Jaclyn Brewster went 2-for-2 with two doubles and two RBIs for the Crusaders.
Lauralton Hall wouldn’t quit and tried to rally with Brewster’s leadoff double in the seventh. But Taber, Fitch’s sophomore pitcher, kept her composure. She finished with seven strikeouts and scattered seven hits.
“You’re totally relaxed and you trust the defense behind you and just pitch the ball,” said Taber about her mindset after the strong start. “It gives you a lot more room and makes you calmer.”
As for Lauralton Hall, after a not-so-promising start to the season the Crusaders righted the ship. Lauralton Hall dropped their first two of the season, but finished winning 18 of their final 20.
“We started 0-2,” Lauralton Hall first-year coach Amanda Acampora said. “We aren’t even supposed to be here. We’re young. We don’t have a superstar. They could’ve rolled over after those two losses, but they didn’t. They chose, as a team, to fight for something bigger than themselves and they played in the South-West Conference final and the semifinals of the state tournament.”