ORANGE >> Speed and base-running ability are a pair of powerful tools in softball on any level. Jill Andes showcased that potent combination in the Little League Softball 11-12 division best-of-three Connecticut championship series on Saturday at Stankye Field.
Andes would ultimately score from third base on a wild pitch with two outs in the top of the sixth inning to lead defending champion Seymour to a 1-0 victory over Mystic/Groton in the opening game of the series.
The teams face each other today at 4 p.m. at Stankye Field in the second game. The “if” game would be Monday at 7 p.m. The series champion will represent Connecticut in the Little League East Regional that starts Friday in Bristol.
Pitching and defense dominated the scoreless game heading into the sixth inning, and Seymour manager Dawn Supranovich figured it was time to try something different.
“Mystic’s pitching and defense were pretty good, so after one out in the sixth inning we were looking for a game changer,” Supranovich said. “We had one of our fastest players and a solid base runner coming up, so I wanted to take advantage of that part of our game.”
Supranovich had Andes bunt, and she laid down a perfect one between the mound and first base just out of the reach of Mystic/Groton pitcher Aspen Ryan. With Andes on first, Kolby Sirowich hit a slow-rolling sacrifice bunt to the pitcher and without hesitation Andes did not break stride rounding second base. She was called safe as she beat the throw to third base, setting up the game-winning run.
“We told Jill not to stop and go all the way to third on the bunt,” Supranovich said. “Jill has speed and is a savvy base runner. She’s been manufacturing runs for us like that a whole bunch this season.
“When Jill scored it gave us all a lift in the dugout.”
It was a thrilling moment for Andes.
“It was a huge adrenalin rush when I crossed the plate,” Andes said. “And when I saw how excited my teammates were I really felt energized. But all I kept thinking to myself is we needed to be focused and keep playing defense in the bottom of the sixth.”
Seymour pitcher Megan Condo allowed just two hits and struck out five. Ryan allowed two hits and struck out three for Mystic/Groton