NEW HAVEN — Julia Duprey was just looking for a pitch to drive. Speedster Jeniya Campbell was on first base, ready to go on contact.
The scenario played out like the members of the Platt Tech softball team hoped it would. Duprey went with a Kayli Taveras offering into the right-center field gap. Campbell took off and didn’t stop until she crossed home plate.
“I’m fast, so I kept running,” Campbell said.
It was a two-out, game-winning hit for Duprey in the bottom of the eighth inning, lifting No. 4 seed Platt Tech past No. 6 Abbott Tech 5-4 in the Connecticut Technical Conference softball tournament final at Albertus Magnus College Thursday afternoon.
“This team has been pleasantly surprising the entire season,” Platt Tech coach Sue Murphy said. “I didn’t know we’d be ready to get back here yet. It’s been a couple of years since we have been here. This one will be sweet because it wasn’t expected.”
It’s the 19th league championship for the Panthers (15-8) and Murphy, who is in her 30th season piloting the program. Morning practices — beginning at 5:30 a.m. — have been a staple through Murphy’s three decades, started because she had three young children — all are now in their 20s.
But after an adjustment period, Murphy has often found the kids don’t mind the cold mornings.
“It took me a year to get used to it,” said Campbell, a junior. “We all had to suck it up and do what we have to do.”
Said Murphy: “What kind of high school kids do you know who will willingly get up and come in at that hour and give you everything and I’m a tough coach. But they are the greatest kids and I wouldn’t want to coach anywhere else.”
Platt Tech had to knock off top seed Norwich Tech in the semifinals on the road, setting the stage for Thursday against Abbott Tech, which pulled a pair of seeded upsets itself.
And like Murphy, Jon Nadeau is not only the longtime softball coach at Abbott Tech, but also the athletic director.
“Jon Nadeau is an outstanding coach,” said Murphy, who won her 500th game against Abbott Tech last month. “We absolutely have a great time playing against them. They always steal a run here and there. I love the way he coaches. It is mutual respect.”
Platt Tech swept Abbott Tech during the regular season. But the Wolverines (12-11) got on the scoreboard first with two runs in the top of the second inning, highlighted by Marisa Shiland’s RBI double.
Platt Tech answered with four runs in the bottom of the inning, two of which were unearned. Taveras and her counterpart, Platt Tech’s Briana Scarantino, matched zeroes over the next four innings.
Tavahnnarie Sok led off with a double and came around to score one out later on Zoe Peterson’s RBI single.
“Our DP (designated player) Zoey has come on as of late,” Nadeau said. “She struggled early in season but figured it out.”
Then Shiland singled and Murphy intentionally walked Taveras to load the bases. Left fielder Darlene Meija dropped a fly ball and pinch-runner Alyanna King scored the tying run.
Scarantino worked out of the next bases-loaded jam to keep the game tied at 4.
“We scratch out another run, I think momentum is clearly on our side and we finish it up,” Nadeau said. “They had a few kids we kind of own coming up in the bottom of the seventh. One hit away, I guess.”
After Campbell reached on an error to start the bottom of the eighth, Taveras got the next two batters out, setting the stage for Duprey.
“She had been hitting the heck out of the ball. A captain and a leader, if you had to pick one kid on the team you would want to come up big in that situation, it would be Julia,” Murphy said.
Said Nadeau: “The girl hit it hard. You have to tip your hat to her. She reached out and got it.”
Platt Tech coach Sue Murphy now has 509 career victories after Thursday’s win.
STAR OF THE GAME
Julia Duprey, Platt Tech: Two-out, RBI double in the bottom of the eighth inning gave Platt Tech the CTC win.
“We’ve come a long way. This feels good for all of us.
— Platt Tech right fielder Jeniya Campbell, who scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
PLATT TECH 5, ABBOTT TECH 4 (8)
Abbott Tech 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 — 4 8 3
Platt Tech 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 — 5 6 2
Batteries: Abbott Tech–Kali Tavaras (0-2) and Iyana Barnes; Platt Tech–Brianna Scarantino (6-0) and Julia Duprey
Records: PT 15-8; AT 12-11.