WEST HAVEN >> It’s No. 2 Thomaston against No. 5 Holy Cross for the CIAC Class S softball state title Saturday at 1 p.m. at West Haven.
Holy Cross put away No. 1 East Granby 2-0 in an efficient hour and 10 minutes in the first game of a semifinal doubleheader Wednesday at West Haven High School.
Thomaston, the defending state champions, waited for a big inning, then pounced on No. 22 Hale-Ray for 10 runs in the fifth on the way to a 14-4 win.
“I’m sad,” said Hale-Ray coach Sue Miner. “The score doesn’t reflect. This game represents how far we’ve come.”
Both teams are young. The Noises (13-11) have just one senior; Thomaston (23-0) has two. Hale-Ray starts three freshmen; the Golden Bears, one.
Both teams have softball tradition. Hale-Ray won the championship in 2011; Thomaston, last year.
So, while Thomaston rolled through the Berkshire League on the strength of recent high-level experience, the Noises took half the season to adjust to the Shoreline Conference, said Miner. Then they, too, rolled.
The Bears came to West Haven with an unbeatable aura, many of them members of Thomaston’s two-time Class S basketball team as well.
The Noises, riding a Cinderella chariot through their first three tournament games, refused to wash off the magic dust all week.
The dirty uniforms seemed to work in the first inning. Two straight bunts, by leadoff hitter Cailey Botteon and Callie Burke, put the Noises on the scoreboard first.
Botteon out-ran her bunt for a hit; a bad throw on Burke’s bunt scored Botteon and got Burke all the way to third without an out.
“We didn’t start as nicely as I’d have liked,” smiled Thomaston pitcher Morgan Sanson (5 hits, 6 strikeouts).
Sanson, a junior who pitched the Bears to last year’s championship, found her stride for a strikeout.
Hale-Ray’s Aidan Fiala flew out to right in an apparent sacrifice fly. The umpire called an out instead when the Hale-Ray runner didn’t get all the way back to third before making her break.
The Bears roared back in the bottom of the inning – three runs on hits by Gabrielle Hurlbert and Sanson (2 triples, 2 RBI) and a sacrifice fly by Jensyn Cleveland (2 RBI).
Down 3-1, the Noises were back in the top of the third. Lizzie Houle beat out a pass-ball third strike. Botteon beat out another bunt. Emily Traceski (RBI) and Fiala (2 RBI) hit back-to-back doubles, 4-3 Hale-Ray.
Cinderella rode through another inning-and-a-half. Then the carriage wheels fell off.
“We started a little slow,” said Thomaston coach Kelly Finlay. “I told them to be more patient at the plate and they started finding their pitch.”
Hale-Ray starter Leah Brownell got two outs on a fly to right and a great play by senior third-baseman Traceski with Julia Romaniello (single) on first.
“My teammates had my back,” said Thomaston’s Sanson.
With two outs, they stood in for four walks, Romaniello’s single, and a barrage of hits by Cleveland, Sam Brostek (2 RBI), Danielle Genest (double, RBI), Alexa Milius (double, 3 RBI) and Sanson.
When Hale-Ray first baseman Nicole Trapp caught a pop-up for the final out, 13-4, most of the crowd on both sides was ready to go home.
Sanson didn’t allow another hit.
“She seems to get stronger as the game goes on,” said Finlay.
Thomaston scored one more run in the sixth, on a triple by Nina Barone and a wild pitch.