WEST HAVEN >> It appeared from the onset of the Class LL semifinal between top-seeded Cheshire and No. 5 Norwich Free Academy that runs would be at a premium.
That was the case for much of the contest. But Cheshire found a way, yet again, to keep its unbeaten season in tact.
Sophomore left fielder Sara Mulligan roped a two-run single in the fourth inning for the game’s only runs and the Rams advanced with a 2-0 victory Monday at Biondi Field.
“It felt really great to be able to help my team out,” Mulligan said
Cheshire (26-0) will play either Amity or Southington in the championship game this weekend. The Rams lost to Southington in the final last season.
Hannah Salvietti reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs in the fourth for the Rams. Salvietti stole second and then went to third on a throwing error. Megan Hodgdon walked later in the inning and went to second on a defensive indifference to set up Mulligan’s heroics.
“From the very beginning of the season, she (Mulligan) has never been a real big power hitter,” Cheshire coach Kristine Drust said.
“But she knows how to make contact, and she knows how to put the bat on the ball. She doesn’t get rattled, and she has a great eye. She has a great eye for strikes and she doesn’t chase balls out of the zone. She came up big just keeping her mind simple and attacking strikes.”
Mulligan’s hit was the first of the game for the Rams off NFA junior Beth Fleming. That was all the support Cheshire junior pitcher Abby Abramson would need. Abramson allowed three hits, walked three and struck out 10.
“The fact that we scratched out three (hits) against her, and we did get a couple of base on balls,” NFA coach Bryan Burdick said. “We just couldn’t capitalize. They did a great job mitigating any type of potential threat that we had.”
Abramson walked two in the second but recorded a strikeout to end the inning. Shea Gendron singled with one out for the Wildcats (21-6) and went to second on a sacrifice bunt but was stranded after Abramsom worked a strikeout. An NFA runner also reached second in the sixth but a ground out ended that threat.
“Things didn’t go our way,” Burdick said. “If we had a couple of better at-bats, we might have been able to pull it off. But, the thing is, she’s that good. She kept us off-balanced, especially in that inning (the second). She kind of put the team on her shoulders and carried them in that inning and got out of that. She did a great job.”
A single by Mia Juodaitis later in the fourth inning was the only other hit the Rams got off Fleming, who walked five and struck out 10.
CHESHIRE 2, NORWICH FREE ACADEMY 0
(at West Haven)
Norwich Free Academy 000 000 0 — 0 3 2
Cheshire 000 200 X — 2 2 0
Beth Fleming and Shea Gendron; Abby Abramson and Megan Hodgdon.
WP: Abby Abramson (26-0). LP: Beth Fleming (19-6). RBI: Sara Mulligan (2) (CH);
Team records: Norwich Free Academy 21-6; Cheshire 26-0.