BRISTOL — She didn’t even have time to take her mask off.
Bristol Eastern catcher Paige McLaughlin had an instant to react to a foul ball headed her way in the top of the seventh with a one-run lead. The diving play was made sweeter by a throw to first base for an improbable double play to give the Lancers the win.
McLaughlin’s heroics confirmed a win after an infield single by Lyzah Corliss broke a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the sixth, keeping Bristol Eastern undefeated at the expense of defending Class LL champion Amity 4-3 Tuesday at Casey Field.
“It was definitely just instinct,” said McLaughlin. “Everyone screaming in my ear definitely helped but it was just natural. It felt good. I didn’t have a good hitting day so to do something well defensively made up for it a little bit.”
The lone senior starter for the Lancers delivered in the clutch to continue what’s been outstanding start for the 10th ranked team in the GameTimeCT/Register Top 10 poll. Bristol Eastern improved to 6-0 with the win. Amity had runners on first and second with no outs in the seventh, but a fly out was followed by the double play.
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“She’s just an absolute grinder,” Bristol Eastern coach Scott Redman said. “She’s an absolute workhorse, she would be the kid who would lay out for that, and has the wherewithal to snap up and make a good throw to first. If she throws that into right field it’s a different story.”
The Lancers rallied again after having done so in a win over Southington April 9. Amity led 2-0 heading into the fifth inning before the hosts turned the game on its head. Zoe Lowe clobbered a two-run triple deep in left field to tie the game before pitcher Erin Girard hit a single to give her team the lead.
“We knew (the 2-0 lead) wasn’t going to be enough against this team,” Amity coach Sara Hale said. “We scored early but then we were stalling. I knew we had to get some more runs on the board, but unfortunately we didn’t do it.”
Amity responded with an RBI groundout to tie the game before the deciding frame. Rachel Crow and Elizabeth Brownfield each had a pair of hits for the Spartans (5-3) who have lost to only undefeated top 10 teams (North Haven, West Haven).
“We’ve set some challenging goals for ourselves for sure,” Redman said. “Picking up Amity as an added game, we’re trying to schedule good teams so we’re tested before the (Class L) tournament. We’ve fared pretty well. Hopefully the kids are starting to realize we can be a really good team.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Lyzah Corliss, Bristol Eastern: Went 3-for-3 at the plate with a run scored and the winning hit.
“It is frustrating because we need to have smart base-running and understand the situation,” Hale said. “That was the second one of the game. Things like that hurt us.”
“I feel like we have a lot of potential,” McLaughlin said. “I think we can make it far in the tournament if we keep playing as a team. We can only go up.”