CHESHIRE >> So that’s what an undefeated Class LL Final Four softball team looks like.
That may well be what the members of the Middletown High softball team were saying to themselves on the bus ride home from their Class LL quarterfinal match with Cheshire after the Rams dismantled the Blue Dragons, 9-0, at Cheshire High Thursday afternoon.
“We couldn’t get anything going,” Middletown coach Scott Ahlers said. “Their pitcher was really good. We haven’t seen anyone with quite that speed. We’ve seen some slower pitchers lately and with no time off between games, we had no time to prepare for this. It was a tough day.”
Ahlers was right on all counts.
Pitcher Abby Abramson pitched about as well as a human can. She struck out 17 in firing a one-hitter, walked two, hit a batter and that’s it. Middletown managed to hit just three fair balls — and one was a double play.
“Abby came out awfully strong,” Cheshire coach Kristine Drust said. “She was on a mission and she was ready to take on anyone. She had extra pop on her ball today.”
The rest of the team also came out with a little extra, and that had a lot to do with Wednesday’s 1-0 second-round narrow escape over Stamford.
“We had a talk after yesterday’s game, so we came in with a game plan to attack strikes and we did that,” Drust said. “Then when their pitcher had a little trouble finding the strike zone early, we adjusted and made her throw strikes. We got timely hits today and when you do that, it really builds momentum.”
Cheshire (25-0), the Southern Connecticut Conference champion, pecked away for single runs in the first and second. A two-out base hit by Megan Hodgdon (2-for-4) after a leadoff walk gave the Rams a 1-0 first inning lead. It would have been worse if not for a strong throw from center fielder Alex Giardina that cut down a second run at the plate.
The score went to 2-0 in the second when, with runners on first and third, Drust called for the double steal. Middletown chose to get the runner from first with the run scoring on the fielder’s choice.
The roof fell in for Middletown in the third.
Cheshire got to losing pitcher Sam Pizzonia for four runs on six hits, including an RBI single by Sam Simione, a run-scoring double by Hannah Salvietti and a two-out, two-run single by Alex Czarkosky.
The winners got an unearned run in the fifth, then capped the scoring when Simione (3-for-3) slammed a two-run home run over the left field fence in the sixth.
Cheshire finished with 13 hits, including two each by Mia Juodaitis and Abramson.
Middletown (16-7) broke up Abramson’s no-hitter when Kayla Pieta singled to right with two outs in the sixth. The Dragons’ only other baserunners were Giardina, who was hit by a pitch, and Pizzonia and Kelsey White, who drew walks.
Abramson struck out the first nine Middletown hitters she faced, and through five innings had 15 strikeouts.
Cheshire will face Norwich Free Academy in the Class LL semifinal round next week at a location, date and time to be announced by the CIAC.
CHESHIRE 9, MIDDLETOWN 0
Middletown 000 000 0 — 0 1 1
Cheshire 114 012 X — 9 13 0
Pizzonia and Thompson; Abby Abramson and Megan Hodgdon.
WP: Abby Abramson. LP: Samantha Pizzonia. hr: Sam Simione (CH); RBI: Simione (2), Megan Hodgdon (CH);
Comments: Abramson went 2-3 at the plate and struck out 17 and allowing only 2 walks on the mound. Sam Simione went 3-3 with a 2run HR in the game. Mia Juodaitis also went 2-3 and Megan Hodgdon was 2-4 with an RBI.