WEST HAVEN >> The Amity softball team entered Saturday night’s Southern Connecticut Conference final against Mercy having won six games in a row and 10 of 11. The Spartans did so by playing solid defense and getting timely hits.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, those characteristics were missing in the title game. Committing three errors and not running the bases particularly well, Amity was defeated for its second straight league title game appearance as Mercy posted a 4-0 victory at Biondi Field in West Haven. Amity also reached the final in 2012.
“We did not play like we played all year,” Amity coach Loren Purcell said. “Today was definitely not our day.”
The Tigers scored the only runs they needed in the first on one hit, three stolen bases, an Amity error and one costly wild pitch. With Astin Donovan and Stephanie Mangiameli in scoring position, Amity pitcher Katie Koshes uncorked a wild pitch. Donovan scored easily and an alert Mangiameli kept coming and scored the second run on the
“I was absolutely disgusted with the first inning,” Purcell said after her team fell to 18-5. “It was not very good.”
The two runs in the first inning were all Mercy pitcher Brianna Sawicki needed as the Tigers’ defense was at its best, making several stellar plays and taking advantage of too many mental errors by the Spartans.
Sawicki robbed Heather Ferranti of a hit in the fifth and the Mercy defense turned a double play after Haley Kober singled, but was caught off first on Janaya Young’s soft liner to second.
“We have a ball hit right in front of us,” Purcell said. “We have to see that.”
Trailing 4-0, the Spartans again stalled another scoring opportunity in the sixth. Heather Watt led off with a single, but was quickly caught off first as a laser off the bat of Krista Reynolds was turned into a double play when Donovan snared the liner and fired to first.
“We made a lot of mental mistakes,” Purcell said. “You can’t do that and expect to win.”
While the league title game did not go the way the Spartans would have liked, there is plenty to be optimistic about as the state tournament begins. Not only will Amity open at home, they will add an extra bat to the lineup.
Ferranti, a senior who has been out with a leg injury, has seen some plate appearances lately. Saturday night, Ferranti was in the starting lineup and hit the ball hard, despite having just one hit to show for it.
Ferranti’s presence instantly changes the dynamic of the Amity offense as one through nine becomes deeper. Purcell’s offense has been solid and now becomes even more dangerous.
“With Heather coming back, our three, four, five and six become deeper,” Purcell said of Ferranti. “The lineup is deeper. The whole lineup has been swinging the bat pretty well.”
For Purcell, winning the league title was important, but just as important was getting the senior slugger as many at bats as possible.
“That was huge,” Purcell said of Ferranti’s at bats. “She has been swinging a lot in practice since she was cleared. It is nice to have her bat back in the lineup.”
Sophomore Teresa Marchitto has also been swinging the bat well. Marchitto had three hits, reached base four times and drove in all four runs in a quarterfinal contest against Cheshire. Marchitto got on base once in a semifinal win over Law and added two more hits against Mercy.
Marchitto and Koshes are the only underclassmen in the starting lineup. If Amity is to advance deep into the postseason, the play of the two sophomores and the return of Ferranti could be just the recipe for success.