WEST HAVEN >> During the final at-bat of a classic Class LL state championship game, Southington senior Rachel Dube thought about bunting when she stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 15th inning.
Locked in a scoreless game, where baserunners were at a premium, bunting certainly seemed like a good idea.
Instead, Dube launched a home run to left field and the Lady Knights walked off with a 1-0 victory over Amity Saturday at Biondi Field in a thrilling and dramatic contest that lasted nearly four hours.
“They were catching everything, so when push comes to shove, we were just trying to get someone on,” Dube said about her intentions to bunt. “We were just trying to put a score on the board, so you had to do what you had to do. I had two strikes on me, and I knew I had to swing, but I was actually thinking about bunting on that hit. But then I said, ‘Just go for it.’”
It is the second straight title, and 16th overall, for top-seeded Southington, which capped an unbeaten season at 24-0. The Lady Knights were ranked No. 1 in the Register Top 10 Poll entering the playoffs and should stay in the spot when the final poll is released on Monday.
“It’s a great feeling,” Dube said. “We went undefeated. I love my team, they’re my family. I wouldn’t want to share this with anyone else.”
Dube, a first-year varsity starter at catcher, singled in her first plate appearance in the second inning.
“We talked about (bunting),” Southington coach Davina Hernandez said. “I said, ‘Take a cut.’ She took a cut, and was right on it. I said, ‘No, hit away, but crowd the plate even more.’ She hit away and just got a hold of it.”
The Lady Knights had just six hits off Amity sophomore Katie Koshes, who walked one and struck out 21. The seventh-seeded Spartans (22-6) had several golden opportunities throughout the contest, but couldn’t push a run across.
In the second inning, with Amity pinch-runner Cassidy Kirby at first, a ball was hit to second baseman Kait Paterson. She fielded the grounder cleanly, but the throw to second forced shortstop Sydney Ferrante off the bag and Kirby was called safe. Thinking she was out, Kirby left the base and was then tagged out.
In the sixth, Amity’s Krista Reynolds was tagged out at home on a double steal attempt. Southington also turned a 6-3-5 double play in the 10th after Jill DeMaio slipped while rounding second on the throw to first. In the 13th, Haley Kober tried to advance from second on a grounder to short, but was tagged out at third.
“We made quite a few running errors,” Amity coach Loren Purcell said. “It’s very surprising, those baserunning errors, because they were by upperclassmen. We had many opportunities to change this game early on, and we kind of let them slide. We almost gave them the game early on. They hung in, the girls played well. Katie threw a fantastic game, actually two games. Can’t complain about it. One pitch. Hey, what are you going to do about that?”
Southington junior Kendra Friedt scattered eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out 16.
Reynolds and Koshes had two hits for Amity, which defeated Southington 10-6 in the Class LL championship game in 2012. The Spartans and Lady Knights have played seven times in the championship, with Southington now holding a 4-3 advantage.
SOUTHINGTON 1, AMITY 0 (15)
(at West Haven)
Amity 000 000 000000000 — 0 8 0
Southington 000 000 000000001 — 1 6 2
Katie Koshes and Janaya Young; Kendra Friedt and Rachel Dube.
WP: Kendra Friedt. LP: Katie Koshes. hr: Rachel Dube (STH); RBI: Dube (STH);
Team records: Amity 22-6; Southington 24-0.