— CT Sports Now (@CT_Sports_Now) June 9, 2017
WEST HAVEN – Sometimes the effects of a loss are not felt for some time. In the case of the Torrington softball team, it took one year.
Just 12 months after falling to Fitch in the state semifinals, a more seasoned Torrington team used that lesson to perfection.
Behind the five-hit pitching of Alexandra Dubois, the fourth-seeded Red Raiders posted a 5-1 victory over top-seeded Pomperaug in the Class L semifinals at Biondi Field in West Haven Thursday evening.
With the win, the Red Raiders will play in their first state title in the program’s history against Barlow, a 6-5 winner over Fitch in the other semifinal, at Biondi Field Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
“My rise ball was working and so was my drop,” said Dubois, who struck out 13 batters. “They are two opposite pitches and they did not know what was coming. It worked out for us.”
Dubois struck out the first eight batters she faced until Pomperaug’s Ashley Antonazzo singled with two outs in the third. The single by Antonazzo marked the start of three straight innings the Panthers left a runner on base against Dubois.
Pomperaug then had a golden opportunity in the sixth to take the lead despite trailing 1-0. Laurel Williams walked and Christiana Stiber reached on a bunt single to start the frame. After both advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice, Dubois escaped with any damage by getting a pair of ground ball outs to end the threat.
“I knew she would dominate,” Torrington coach Maryann Musselman said of Dubois. “They are a good hitting team and they are well-coached, but they have not hit against her. She is a force to be reckoned with.
“Getting out of that (jam) was huge. These kids have senior moments. These kids are used to playing under pressure. Last year, we were scared and lost in the semifinals. This year, we were confident to get out of those jams.”
With Pomperaug’s best scoring opportunity of the evening flushed away, Torrington gave Dubois some breathing room with four runs in the seventh.
The first run scored on a wild pitch, before Taylor Rogers reached on an error to score another for a 3-0 advantage. Mariah Herczeg then doubled to right to score Lauren Jamieson and Rogers for a 5-0 lead.
“Those runs were so big,” Dubois said. “They took a huge load off my chest. We were able to get the big lead which helped a lot.”
Pomperaug (20-3) scored in the bottom of the seventh on a run-scoring single by Williams, but as was the case in the latter part of the contest, the Panthers stranded a pair of runners to end the game.
“She (Dubois) overpowered us in the first few innings,” Pomperaug coach Paul Masotto said. “We could not put the ball in play. We had the one inning of errors. The kids played hard and did not give up. She threw the ball well for them. She did a good job. We had one or two opportunities, but we just could not do it.”
Torrington (20-3) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning as Herczeg singled to right with the bases loaded to score Amanda Thiel.
Rogers and Herczeg each had a pair of hits in the game for Torrington.