WEST HAVEN >> Even with hard-throwing junior pitcher Kendra Friedt in its circle, Southington did not want to settle for one or two runs against Hand in the Class LL state semifinals.
So, even after Sydney Ferrante launched a three-run home run over the center field fence for the Lady Knights, Southington coach Davina Hernandez still wasn’t content.
Hernandez was aware of how dangerous the Tigers’ offense could be, especially after Hand rallied for an 8-7 victory over Bristol Central, Hernandez’s alma mater, in the quarterfinals.
“I told them coming into this game that we can’t settle for one or two runs,” Hernandez said, “because they’re a team that all year has put up lots of runs against great pitchers. I don’t think they got complacent at that point when it was 3-0. They actually said that they wanted to score more.”
Top-seeded Southington did just that. The Lady Knights banged out nine hits off Hand junior Katie Omdahl, including two by Ferrante, in an 8-0 victory over the No. 5 Tigers Tuesday at Biondi Field.
Southington (23-0) advances to its third straight Class LL title game. It will play Amity, a 2-1 winner over South Windsor, in a rematch of the championship game from 2012, won by the Spartans. The Lady Knights, who have won 41 straight games, defeated another Southern Connecticut Conference team, Mercy, in last year’s final.
After stranding a runner on second in the first inning and third in the second inning, Southington finally broke through in the third. Caroline Burke led off with a single and Lauren Zazzaro reached on an error with two outs. Ferrante then connected for the three-run home run to put the Lady Knights up 3-0.
“I think (Ferrante’s home run) lifted a weight off everybody’s shoulders,” Hernandez said. “When you’re loose at the plate, you’re going to hit better, and I think that sort of chain reaction happened throughout the lineup, and even onto the bench. Everyone who came off the bench drilled it.”
Ferrante finished with four RBIs. She added an RBI single in a three-run run fifth inning. Natalie Wadolowski hit her second double of the day to drive in Ferrante. Southington added two runs in the sixth off a Hand error.
Friedt allowed just two hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out 11. Sam Pavano broke up the no-hit bid with one out in the fifth for Hand, while Mel Rennie had an infield single in the seventh.
“When (Friedt) is so dominant the way she was, there’s no room for error,” Hand coach Mike Niekrash said. “Katie made one bad pitch that got up in the zone and the girl hit it over the fence, and that was basically the game.
“When you only get two hits and no opportunities to put any pressure on them, that was basically the ballgame. It made it tough. We just didn’t put any pressure on them.”
Still, it was a successful year for the Tigers (20-6), who also advanced to the semifinals of the SCC tournament.
“Speaking for the Hand team and all our players, I couldn’t be prouder of the team,” Niekrash said. “To win 20 games in our league and in the playoffs is a lot to be proud of. That’s what I told the girls. I couldn’t be prouder of this group of girls.”
SOUTHINGTON 8, HAND 0
(at West Haven)
Hand 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
Southington 003 032 X — 8 9 1
Katie Omdahl and Mel Rennie; Kendra Friedt and Rachel Dube.
WP: Kendra Friedt. LP: Katie Omdahl. 2B: (STH) Kait Paterson, Lauren Zazzaro, Natalie Wadolowski 2. hr: Sydney Ferrante (STH); RBI: Ferrante (4), Natalie Wadolowski (STH);
Team records: Hand 20-6; Southington 23-0.