WESTBROOK >> The Morgan School softball team got its revenge.
In last year’s Shoreline Conference championship game, the Huskies lost an extra-inning game to Haddam-Killingworth. It took a year, but Morgan got even, beating H-K, 2-1, in the SLC title game Saturday afternoon at Westbrook High School.
“We redeemed ourselves today,” Morgan coach Sal Fiorillo said. “We lost last year, but today we got great defense and great pitching. It was a tremendous effort by my team. I’m really a lucky guy to have these kids. They have won at every level — volleyball, basketball and now softball.”
To get this title, the Huskies had to dodge some bullets. Make that lots of bullets.
“We had our chances,” H-K coach Jeff Talbott said. “Four times we had two runners on base and couldn’t score. We got that one run in the third, but we left two on in that inning and then did it again and again.”
The Cougars stranded nine runners. They got the first two batters of the game on base and came up empty. They got the leadoff hitter on base in the second, but Meghan Sepega (2-for-3) watched as the next three hitters went down. They got three hits in the third, got their only run, and proceeded to leave two more on.
The killer was the sixth.
Kolby Burger (2-for-4) and Sepega (2-for-3) opened the inning with ringing singles. Talbott ordered a bunt, but Rachel Senechal fouled off the bunt, then popped out. Winning pitcher Emily Popp then got Meghan Cerino and Tiana Field to ground out to strand the runners.
H-K had one more chance in the seventh, but it was the same old story. With two out, McCann and Casey Jackson singled, but Burger lined to short to end it.
“Popp managed to get out of a lot of jams,” Fiorillo said. “She just gritted it out. H-K’s Nos. 1-5 hitters are the best in the league, but Popp got out of every jam.”
Morgan took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Tori Hopkins (2-for-3) led the inning with a pop fly double to short right field. She went to third on a bouncer to losing pitcher Ciara Samuel. Kelsey Hopkins walked and Fiorillo then called for the double steal. The throw went through and Teri Hopkins scored without a return throw as H-K opted to get the out on the bases.
H-K tied it on Burger’s single in the third 1-1. The Huskies won the championship in the fourth.
Jen Dawson (2-for-3) opened the fourth with a single, went to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a base hit to left by Jamie Fitzgerald.
“Samuel has pitched the title game three years in a row,” Talbott said. “She won in nine innings last year [3-2]. She had a little bit of a control issue today and wasn’t quite as strong as she was yesterday. But she still pitched very well; things just didn’t work out for us.”
The game was H-K’s fourth straight title game appearance, The Cougars lost to Hale-Ray in 2011 and lost again to Coginchaug in 2012 before winning last year.
“We played great,” said Fiorillo. “One of things we talked about all week was what Theodore Roosevelt used to say: ‘If you believe you can, you’re halfway there.’ ”
Popp scattered nine hits, walked none and struck out two. Samuels gave up seven hits, struck out one and walked three.
H-K (15-8) and Morgan (19-4) will play in he CIAC tournament on Monday, H-K in Class M and Morgan in Class S.
MORGAN 2, HADDAM-KILLINGWORTH 1
H-K 001 000 0 — 1 9 1
Morgan 010 100 x — 2 7 1
WP: Popp LP: Samuels.
2B: T. Hopkins.