STRATFORD >> Pitcher Kendra Friedt was once again dominant, but unheralded senior Bella Russo helped ignite the Southington offense in its Class LL state semifinal victory over fellow CCC member South Windsor.
Russo hit a two-run home run for the game’s first runs in the second inning, then added an RBI groundout in the fourth as the top-seeded Knights emerged with an 8-2 victory Wednesday at DeLuca Field.
Southington (23-0), which won its 69th straight game, advanced to its fourth straight championship game. The Knights are the two-time defending champions.
“We are so excited,” Russo said. “I can’t even say I because we’ve been together for so long. We’ve been wanting it, and been pushing every year, and we’re ready.”
Hayley Arduini singled with two outs in the second before Russo, the No. 9 batter, launched a ball that bounced off the left field fence for a home run.
“She is just a ball of energy for us,” Southington coach Davina Hernandez said. “I just said before, when your nine hitter comes out and ropes a line drive over the left field fence, that’s just something … I’m not surprised. It’s hard to find spots for them in the lineup because like I said: One through nine can hit it out. One through nine can drop a bunt. One through nine can steal a base. As a coach, it’s awesome to have those options.”
Friedt, a senior who is committed to play at Boston College, walked the first batter she faced, but struck out the side in each of the first five innings. Friedt allowed four hits, walked two and struck out 16.
Emily Lippincott and Lauren Zazzaro had RBI singles in the fourth for Southington, while Zazzaro added a run-scoring single in the sixth.
Peyton Silverman (RBI double) and Becca Marchessault (RBI groundout) put South Windsor on the board in the seventh. Silverman had two hits. In the circle, Silverman allowed seven hits, walked three, hit two batters and struck out nine.
Southington has won the last two titles in Class LL and advanced to the final in 2012.
“I think the discipline,” Hernandez said about her team’s success recently in the state tournament. “There’s an expectation there to withhold that tradition.”
SOUTHINGTON 8, SOUTH WINDSOR 2
South Windsor 000 000 2 — 2 4 1
Southington 021 302 X — 8 7 0
Peyton Silverman and Miread Kelly; Kendra Friedt and Maighread Scafariello.
WP: Kendra Friedt. LP: Peyton Silverman. 2B: (SWN) Peyton Silverman. 3B: (STH) Kaitlin Paterson. hr: Bella Russo (STH); RBI: Silverman, Marchessault (SWN); Emily Lippincott, Lauren Zazzaro (2), Russo (3) (STH);
Team records: South Windsor 19-4; Southington 23-0.