WINSTED — A late-season Berkshire League softball game with major implications for the league championship turned into a mercy-rule contest as defending champion Northwestern allowed Wamogo a run in the top of the first inning, then bombarded the Warriors over the next 4 1/2 innings in an eventual 16-1 victory Monday.
Wamogo (14-4; 13-3 Berkshire League), a Class S semifinalist for the past three years, arrived just a game behind the Highlanders (17-1; 15-1 Berkshire League) with hopes of joining them in a three-way tie for the title with Lewis Mills, whose team beat both teams early this month.
But Monday’s game was snake-bit from the start.
The Warriors got to Northwestern late after some of their players were delayed by a school field trip, then both teams headed for the dugouts in the first inning when a downpour drenched the Highlander field.
None of it phased the Highlanders after Wamogo’s Danielle Maliszewski beat out an infield hit and rounded the bases on a sacrifice, steal and wild pitch in the top of the first inning.
“I just take it one pitch at a time,” said Northwestern pitcher Lexi Fortier, who fed her defense for just one more Warrior hit in the game.
After a long delay to refurbish the field, the Highlanders came to bat with a vengeance, blasting 16 hits, including two home runs, three triples and a double.
Three Northwestern runs crossed in the bottom of the first inning, three more in the second, four in the fourth and a final six in the fifth.
“We take it game by game,” said junior Jana Sanden, leading the charge with four runs, a homer, triple and three RBIs.
Lewis Mills’ win over Northwestern two weeks ago broke a 27-game league winning streak, stretching back through last year’s undefeated season.
Northwestern coach Stacey Zematis points out that the Highlanders got just three hits against Mills, even in an earlier win.
“We’ve been practicing and practicing our hitting,” Sanden said.
Wamogo bore the full brunt of that practice Monday.
Every Highlander batter had at least one hit; eight of nine scored at least one run and the one who didn’t drove in a run.
From top to bottom in multiple and extra-base hits, Harley Jasmin was 2-for-4 with a double and 2 runs scored; Sanden unloaded in the third spot; Riley Webb was 2-for-4, RBI, 2 runs; Ava Blanchard, 2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 runs; Sydney Sanden, 2-for-4, 2 RBI, run; freshman Raelynn Perregaux, 3-for-4, homer (she’s had several this year), triple, 3 RBI, 2 runs.
“They were the better team,” Wamogo coach Dave Sylvester said. “They hit and they played defense. “They’ve had our number for the past three years.”
Maybe so, but Coach Zematis never relaxes, even in a game like this.
“(Wamogo) can hit. I never feel comfortable,” she said. “We’ve got to come ready to play — every pitch, every inning.”
If the Highlanders do that Tuesday against Thomaston, they clinch at least a tie with Mills for the championship.
If they win again on Wednesday at Shepaug in their final regular-season game, Northwestern takes the outright BL title again.
Meanwhile, the Warriors get ready for another Class S run with two final regular-season home games — hosting Housatonic Tuesday and Terryville Wednesday.