Throughout the season, the basic game plan for the Seymour 11-12 Little League softball team was to score early and often and then let its strong pitching and fielding take over.
The game plan worked to perfection on Tuesday against North Branford in the third and decisive game in the Little League’s best-of-three championship round.
Seymour scored five runs in the first inning, pitcher Erin Lifrieri had seven strikeouts and the defense didn’t allow a runner past first base in five of the six innings in a 6-1 win over North Branford to secure the 11-12 Little League state championship.
Seymour sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning with leadoff hitter Jacey Cosciello producing two hits, an RBI and run scored in the first frame.
“Getting an early lead like that gives you momentum,” Cosciello said. “We all got pumped up after that first inning. Everyone contributed in that inning and throughout the game. That was probably one of my best games.
“As the leadoff hitter I don’t think about any pressure. I just do whatever I can to get on base.”
Seymour advances to the Little League 11-12 softball Eastern Regional and will face Robinsville, N.J. in a double-elimination round game at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Breen Field in Bristol.
Mackenzie Sirowich and Alyssa Johnson added RBI singles for Seymour.
“The last couple of games we knew we needed to respect their team (North Branford),” Seymour manager Bob Rousseau said. “We wanted to come out in the first and second innings and score early. Momentum in sports is a funny thing, it can make a big difference.
“You can never feel too good with a lead, especially against a tough team like North Branford. But we all have a lot of confidence in our pitching and fielding to carry us whenever we do get a lead. There have been two key strengths for this team. This team is very close, they played a lot together and they truly are all good friends. Second, we have great fielding thanks to great communication in the field.”
Erica Piercey led North Branford with an RBI single in the third inning, the only inning Seymour allowed a runner past first base.
“We’re a better team than what we showed defensively in that first inning,” North Branford manager Russ Senerchia said. “We made some mistakes. Give credit to Seymour who played aggressive and scored most of their runs in the first inning the past two games. We have a good team and we shut them down after that first inning. Throughout the game, I thought we could come back and score on them.”