WOODBRIDGE – Amity sophomore Teresa Marchitto had plenty of time to think. Trailing by a run in the bottom of the seventh inning against Cheshire, Marchitto watched as fellow sophomore Katie Koshes walked to load the bases.
Having already driven in a pair of runs, Marchitto knew relaxing was the only option. The sophomore proved to be correct as her line single scored Heather Watt and Krista Reynolds to lead Amity to a 4-3 victory over Cheshire in the quarterfinal round of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament in Woodbridge Wednesday afternoon.
No. 3 Amity improved to 17-4 with its fifth straight win and advanced to Thursday evening’s semifinal contest against No. 7 Jonathan Law at Biondi Field in West Haven at 7 p.m.
“I had to keep my composure and stay calm,” Marchitto said after finishing with three hits, a walk and four runs batted in. “If you get all riled up, you won’t be able to do it.
“It was not just my at bat. We are a team and we all work together. We all did it together. We had the runners on base. It feels great to win this game.”
Things were not looking good for the Spartans as Cheshire (15-6) finally took advantage of its abundance of scoring opportunities by scoring three times in the sixth inning to take a 3-2 lead. The big blow was a long two-run home run by BryAnna McIntosh to give the Rams the lead.
Amity coach Loren Purcell tried one of her last threats in the sixth inning when she sent senior Heather Ferranti up to pinch-hit with two outs and a pair of runners in scoring position. Ferranti, who has been out with an injury, hit a fly ball to right to end the frame and dampen Amity’s hopes of playing in the semifinals.
That all changed in an instant in the seventh inning. Janaya Young started the rally with a one-out single to left, but pinch-runner Alessandra Gusmano was erased on a fielder’s choice. With two outs, Reynolds singled and Cheshire pitcher MacKenzie Juodaitis walked Koshes to load the bases, setting up Marchitto’s heroics.
“Tee has looked very comfortable up there,” Purcell said. “She has a great eye up there. She came up with a big hit for us. We were able to get the runners on base. Janaya had a big hit and Katie was big with the walk.
“We have not lost on our home field all year. This game meant a lot to the girls. We did a great job staying focused to the end.”
The seventh inning rally became necessary after Cheshire finally cracked Koshes in the sixth. After having runners on base in every inning except the first, Cheshire did its damage in the sixth.
Alexa DiLeo led off with a single and pinch-runner Alyssa Hajjar moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Maraide O’Reilly. With two outs, Courtney Goggin singled to left to score Hajjar and Goggin continued to second on an error on the play.
Koshes had a chance to escape with the lead as McIntosh hit a pop up in foul territory, but the ball fell between three Amity players. McIntosh then ripped a shot deep over the fence in left for a 3-2 lead.
“We had a good start,” Goggin said after finishing with two hits and a run batted in. “We had runners on base, but we just couldn’t get the big hit. I thought we stayed confident the whole game. They got the hit in the last inning.”
The Spartans got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Reynolds started the rally with a single to right, advanced to second on a sacrifice by Koshes and scored on Marchitto’s double to right.
“We are in it to win it,” Marchitto said. “We are all working together.”
Amity increased the lead against Juodaitis in the third. Watt reached on a single past O’Reilly at second, moved to second on a ground out by Koshes and scored on Marchitto’s single to left.
“We got some big hits early on as well,” Purcell said.
While Amity was piecing its runs together, Cheshire was squandering its opportunities.
The Rams had a golden scoring opportunity in the second inning but left the bases loaded.
Casey Harding walked, stole second and moved to third on DiLeo’s single. DiLeo moved to second on the throw and O’Reilly reached on an error to load the bases, but Koshes struck out Megan Hodgdon looking and Goggin swinging to end the frame.
“Our bats were not ready to go early on,” Goggin said.
The Rams loaded the bases again in the third inning when Koshes hit Olivia Odermatt and walked Harding and Sarah Como with two outs. Koshes escaped again when she got DiLeo to pop out to end the inning.
Goggin doubled with two outs in the fourth, but was left stranded on third when McIntosh popped out to right. Amity’s defense came up big in the fifth when Cheshire’s two-on, no-out rally was halted as Jenna DiLorenzo caught Harding’s fly ball in center and fired to third to nail Andrea Russo.
“Defensively, we held mentally strong,” Purcell said. “We had some jitters early that we worked out. We made some big plays to get us out of some innings.”
DiLeo and McIntosh each finished with two hits for Cheshire. Reynolds finished with a pair of hits for Amity.
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