WATERBURY — Two young, inexperienced NVL softball teams came to Waterbury’s Municipal Stadium Saturday in search of a win to bolster seasons sometimes reflecting Saturday’s cold, blustery hailstorm.
Torrington’s Red Raiders (3-7; 3-5 NVL) found a cure in a 15-0 five-inning blowout that made the weather seem tolerable. Sacred Heart (4-9; 2-9 NVL), in the second game of its double-header losses, suffered along in search of answers.
“We’ve been on a roll this week and we came in focused,” said Torrington pitcher Julia Fritz, whose stellar line — 5 innings, 3 hits, 7 strikeouts, 1 walk — laughed in the face of the wind.
For Torrington, a roll this year is a 7-6 win over Watertown Wednesday and a respectable 11-3 loss to league-leading Woodland Thursday.
“Sometimes our scores don’t show how effective Julia can be,” said Torrington coach Maryann Musselman, who’s used to great pitching. Fritz’s predecessor, Ally Dubois, carried the Raiders to the Class L state finals just two years ago.
Now, the learning curve swings back for both teams.
“We lost five starters this year,” said Sacred Heart coach Molly Blake, whose Hearts made it to the Class S second round for the second straight year last year. “We’re young and we’ve had to shift players around to new positions.”
That showed up in Saturday’s first inning, when two straight Heart errors kicked off a four-run opener for Torrington.
Then the Raiders’ new success formula added up.
Moving its home game to Municipal thanks to Torrington’s soggy field, Fritz and her defense showed their focus in the top of the inning with three quick outs after an opening throwing error.
In the bottom of the inning, they added confidence to the mix, with three hits exploiting Sacred Hearts’ errors.
“Once one of us starts hitting, the rest of us join in,” said Raider freshman Marissa Burger. “It gives us confidence we can do it.”
Confidence led Burger to a career day — 3-for-3, with a home run, a walk, 3 runs scored and 4 RBI.
And Burger was right: it was catching. Torrington’s first six batters in the lineup turned into a murderers row with 14 hits scoring five more runs in the second inning, three in the third and the final three for the 15-run mercy rule in the fifth.
Dana Cisowski was 2-for-4, with a double, 3 runs and an RBI; Alyssa Dowd scored 4 runs on an error, a hit and two walks; Sarah Walton went 3-for-4, with 3 runs and 4 RBI. Lexi Reynolds, 3-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI.
Sophomore Shae Neary joined the group with an RBI on a sacrifice fly.
Torrington’s roll is on track to continue Monday against 0-8 Wilby. A better test comes Tuesday at 4-5 Naugatuck.
Sacred Heart’s next best hope comes next Friday at 4-6 Kennedy.
At least the weather has to be better for both teams…doesn’t it?