TORRINGTON — In a season chock full of high school baseball and softball blowouts so far, a well-played, exciting softball game comes off like a classic, even when it’s not.
Naugatuck beat Torrington 6-4 on another blustery day Monday afternoon in just such a game.
“We played decently against a quality team,” said Naugatuck coach Kevin Wesche, whose Greyhounds drubbed two NVL teams near the bottom of the unbalanced league, then lost respectably to three near the top before the Torrington game.
“We came out with intensity today,” said Torringon coach Sarah Arburr, leading her 4-3 team through a similar early schedule before Monday’s gem. “We haven’t reached our full potential yet, but we came out with passion.”
Naugatuck lit the match with three hits in the first inning for two runs heralding a 3-for-4, two-run, two-RBI day at bat for lead-off hitter Samantha Mullin and Kendall Allen.
“Having her leading off is such a confidence builder for me,” said Naugatuck winning pitcher Alyssa Roberts, after Mullin was perfect at the plate in her first three appearances.
Allen, with back-to-back doubles and runs scored in her first two at-bats made the effort worthwhile for Mullin.
But it’s the exciting scramble of a challenging game that’s most worthwhile for fans. In that first inning, Mullin put herself in scoring position for Allen’s first double with a stolen base. Allen got around to third on a single by Roberts, then scored on a ground-out.
The excitement hits the pitchers first, then spreads.
Torrington’s Amelia Boulli, a sophomore, finished that first inning with one of her six strikeouts for what Arburr declared her best game yet.
Roberts (nine strikeouts) weathered a lead-off double by Torrington’s Amelia Russell in the second inning, then set the Raiders down in order in the third after Allen manufactured another Naugatuck run with a leadoff double, tag-up on a pop-up and a Torrington throwing error.
Down 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth after thee more Greyhound runs in the top of the inning on three hits capped by a two-run single by sophomore Lauryn Ramahlo, the passion finally reached the Raiders.
Brianna Murelli made Roberts pay for a walk to Aubrie Jones with an RBI triple for Torrington’s first run
The Raider defense turned the first of two inning-ending double plays in the top of the fifth on Boulli’s way to facing one more than the minimum number of Greyhound batters for her final three innings.
Torrington batters jumped on Naugatuck errors for three runs in the bottom of the fifth on just one hit, by Marissa Burger (2-for-4) and now, at 6-4, it was the game softball and baseball are supposed to be.
Boulli and her defense held Naugatuck in place for the final two innings with the help of a devastating change-up — “the best I’ve had this year,” she said.
Torrington made it rougher on Roberts, with two runners on, in the sixth and seventh, including a one-out double in the seventh from Aubrie Jones.
Such games enable heroics on both sides.
With Torrington runners poised on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, Greyhound shortstop Felicia Salvati made the final out a great play on a drifting, over-her-head popup to end the game.
“She stuck through them all,” said Naugatuck lead-off hitter Mullin of her pitcher.
And, at the end, win or lose, it was a game to make athletes remember why they play and fans glad they watched.