Throughout much of her career, Southington senior catcher Rachel Dube played behind Rachel Harvey, who was a Register All-State selection last season.
But when Harvey graduated, it was finally Dube’s turn to take over behind the plate. Dube certainly made the most of the opportunity.
In her final high school at-bat, Dube hit a walk-off home run to lift the Lady Knights to a 1-0 victory in 15 innings over Amity in the Class LL state championship game. It was the second straight title for Southington, and 16th overall for the state’s most storied program.
Despite some obstacles, Dube persevered.
“Rachel has battled quite a few injuries over the years, and had bad luck; bad timing,” Southington coach Davina Hernandez said. “She had an amazing catcher in front of her, but you can see it in her eyes that there’s no stopping Rachel. She will give you everything that she has before she gives up. That’s what I love about her, that’s what I love about all of them. They would run through walls. Rachel would literally run through the fence to catch the ball.”
Dube also singled in the second inning, accounting for two of the six hits the Lady Knights had off Amity sophomore Katie Koshes, who struck out 21.
The Class LL final lasted nearly four hours. Southington junior pitcher Kendra Friedt scattered eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out 16.
“Going to the 15th inning zero to zero, it really takes a lot of mental strength to just not shut down,” Friedt said. “But right when she (Dube) hit it, we knew it was gone. I knew she could do it. I was telling her that we had to end it that inning.”
A FOND FAREWELL
The dream ending was not to be, but there were no regrets for Ray Ramelli when he coached his final game at Sacred Heart Academy on Saturday.
Ramelli led the Pacers on a spirited run through the Class L state tournament before losing to Fitch 3-1 in the championship game. Ramelli had previously announced he would retire at the end of the season.
“This was the group I wanted to go out with,” Ramelli said. “It couldn’t have worked out better. It was a hell of a way to go out.”
Sacred Heart Academy entered the tournament as the No. 19 seed but knocked off No. 14 E.O. Smith in the first round, No. 3 and defending champion Masuk the next round, Southern Connecticut Conference rival No. 11 Law in the quarterfinals and No. 10 Berlin in the semifinals.
“It was magical,” Ramelli said. “My heart is bursting with pride. Even after we lost, I wasn’t even down. It was a great experience. I am just so proud of them.”
Ramelli began his career as a junior varsity coach at Cheshire before becoming an assistant under Bill Iovanne at Sacred Heart Academy. Ramelli left the Pacers’ program to become the head assistant at Quinnipiac University before returning to Sacred Heart Academy.
Ramelli guided the Pacers to the program’s only state title in 2011.
“The school’s been so good to me,” Ramelli said. “It’s been like my second home.”