WEST HAVEN >> The memories of an 11-run loss in the FCIAC tournament certainly lessened the profile of the Trumbull softball team heading into the always competitive CIAC Class LL tournament.
When picking the favorites to emerge victorious in LL, Trumbull might have been behind conference rivals Stamford, Westhill and Darien as well as top-seeded Norwich Free Academy and Southington and Cheshire, the last two Class LL champions.
Yet, when the final pitch was tossed, the ninth-seeded Eagles were the only celebrating after a 4-3 win over No. 6 Southington at the most heavily-attended of the four state softball finals held at Biondi Field.
“The FCIAC tournament was pretty rough but I think we believed in ourselves going into this tournament,” said Erica Fluskey, who had a two-run single in the title game. “I don’t think a lot of other people believed in us but we knew we could it, we knew our potential, how much talent we had on this team.”
After dispatching of Southern Connecticut Conference teams Shelton and Lyman Hall by a combined score of 17-6, the Eagles outslugged top-seeded NFA and then rode the clutch pitching of Ally Szabo to eliminate Stamford in the semifinals.
Southington, fresh off a win over a Cheshire team that has been the top-ranked team in the GameTimeCT/New Haven Register Top 10 poll all season long, figured to be the favorite in the last of the 2017 state finals.
When senior shortstop Taylor Brown hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning, Trumbull was sitting pretty with a two-run lead.
It could have been a 4-1 game but in the previous inning Szabo hit a ground ball to shortstop but after a collision, obstruction was called and rather than Alexa Adinolfi trotting home with a crucial run, she was sent back to third base and Lea Thompson returned to second. Trumbull ended up not scoring in the inning.
Southington (22-3) made Trumbull pay as Kaitlin Semmel, the No. 9 hitter, tied the game at 3 with a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning. Szabo got Michelle Woodruff to ground out to strand two runners.
Szabo was in the middle of things a few minutes later.
— Scott Ericson (@EricsonSports) June 11, 2017
Adinolfi led off the top of the seventh with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Thompson and then Szabo came through with the RBI single to put the Eagles up 4-3.
After getting two quick outs, Szabo surrendered a single to Abby Lamson and then Maighread Scafariello was walked before Szabo struck out Frankie Ferrante to give Trumbul l(21-5) its first state softball title.
“Somebody was on base, I knew I had to get a hit,” said Szabo, who scattered seven hits. “I didn’t care where it went, I knew I had to get it down, I took a deep breath and relaxed. I just had a feeling that we would come back
“It is an amazing feeling, I never felt anything like this, it is crazy.”
Southington, which played a nearly flawless game in beating Cheshire in the semifinals, committed five errors including two resulting in two unearned runs in the fourth inning.
The loss ended a memorable season for Southington.
“They have a lot to be proud of,” Southington coach Davina Hernandez said. “We were the sixth seed, there was a lot of doubt, there always had been this year and I think we showed a lot of people that we did have a good team.”
If Southington’s season was memorable. Trumbull’s run to the title could be best summed up as improbable especially after its postseason began with a humbling 11-0 loss to St. Joseph.
“After we beat St. Joe’s (in the regular season), we had confidence that we beat them once but we kind of took that confidence for granted,” Brown said.
“St. Joe’s played amazing and when we got knocked out, it got to us. It made us think that, ‘OK, we might not win the FCIAC tournament but let’s go out and win the state tournament.’ I think definitely the fact that we lost gave us motivation to win this.”
TRUMBULL 4, SOUTHINGTON 3
TRUMBULL 000 201 1—4 5 0
SOUTHINGTON 010 002 0—3 7 5
Batteries: T—Ally Szabo (W) and Courtney Fairfield; S—Kara Zazzaro (L) and Ellen Scafariello
Records: T—21-4; S—22-3