MERIDEN >> Still feeling the sting of losing in last year’s state semifinals, the Seymour softball team set a goal at the beginning of the season to advance and win a state championship.
The first part of the mission has been accomplished.
Behind the 2-hit pitching of Raeanne Geffert and an offensive attack which produced 17 hits, third-seeded Seymour advanced to the CIAC Class M finals with a 10-1 semifinal victory over 10th-seeded Stonington at the Dunn Sports Complex in Meriden Monday afternoon.
The Wildcats, 26-1 and ranked fifth in the Register/GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, will face the winner of St. Joseph and Rocky Hill this weekend at a site and time to be determined.
Seymour, looking to win its tenth state title since 1985, last won a state title in 2014.
“She was great today,” Seymour coach Ken Pereiras said of Geffert. “Today, we hit well. We needed that.
“It feels great to get back. These kids have a goal every season to get to the state championship and win the state championship. We were disappointed at the end of the season we had last year.”
After walking the first two batters of the game, Geffert settled down nicely. The senior ace ended the inning with a pair of strikeouts and finished with 10 strikeouts.
She only allowed two hits: A double by Cameron Dreher and a run-scoring single by Abby Flakus in the fourth inning.
— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) June 6, 2016
The hit by Flakus would be the last baserunner in the game for the Bears. Geffert retired the next twelve batters in order to close out the win.
“We lost in the semis last year,” Geffert said. “We are glad to be going back. I think it (two walks) was nerves. I knew the first two batters were fast and I did not want them to get on base. I think I was just overthinking it.”
The fourth inning rally by the Bears cut their deficit to 3-1. But Geffert never allowed Stonington to get closer. She used a strikeout, a pop out and a grounder to second to escape without any further damage.
“We came into the game feeling we were going to win,” Stonington coach Ann Marie Houle said after her team finished the year at 20-6.
“We practiced our game plan a lot this weekend. We wanted to shorten up our swings. We did not execute that. We watched too many balls go by. We may have been the Cinderella story to some people, but we worked hard to get here. They hit well and they made all the plays they had to make.”
Leading 3-1, the Wildcats put the game away with one run in the fourth and five more in the fifth to take a 9-1 lead.
In the fourth, Victoria Kellogg started the rally with a single to center and moved to third on an error on the play. Chelsea Avila, who had two hits, followed with a single to left that scored Kellogg for a 4-1 lead.
The Wildcats put the game away in the fifth with a quick striking rally. Geffert led off with a single and sophomore Rebecca Findley, who finished with four hits and three runs batted in in the game, homered to left for a 6-1 lead.
“We did a very good job of hitting today,” said Findley, who scored three times. “Our last game, we did not hit very well. All we did all practice was hit. We came out here and did well, unlike our last game.”
Cassie Rossetti followed with a double and Kellogg laced a run-scoring single to right. Avila then put the game out of reach with a long homer to center for a 9-1 advantage.
The rest was up to Geffert and the senior did not disappoint. Geffert did not allow a ball out of the infield in retiring the side in order in the sixth, and recorded her tenth strikeout to start the seventh.
Geffert got Stonington pitcher Trinity Lennon to pop to short for the final out.
Seymour took a 2-0 lead in the second when Findley and Rossetti opened the frame with singles. Findley scored on a grounder to short by Amanda Harkins, and Rossetti scored on Kellogg’s run-scoring single.
Findley’s run-scoring single in the third scored Rebecca Johnson, who had opened the inning with a single.
Kellogg had a solid day at the plate with three hits and two runs batted in, while Johnson, Rossetti, Avila and Caitlyn O’Hara each finished with a pair of hits. Rossetti scored twice, Avila knocked in three runs and Harkins drove in a pair.