MILFORD – Foran coach Stephanie Dawid has been looking for her team to come up with a clutch hit or two. Dawid got what she was looking for.
Behind clutch hitting from Hailey LaForte and Alexis James, and the solid pitching of Makenna Prete, the Lions topped Guilford 2-1 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Hammonaset Division contest at Foran High Wednesday afternoon. The win for the Lions (8-8) qualified the for the state tournament.
“It is amazing,” Dawid said of the feat. “That has been our goal all season. It feels good to get there, especially on such a well-played game by both teams.”
Foran used a quick two-out rally to post the win in the bottom of the sixth. Senior Hannah DeSousa started the rally with a single to center and James followed with a ball hit to right field. As the ball continued to tail away and fall, James raced all the way around to third for a triple to score DeSousa with the eventual winning run.
“It feels awesome to know we are going to be playing more,” James said. “(The triple) felt awesome. I know my team was counting on me and it feels great to help us win. Now we get to play in the next season. A win like this helps because we know we can win games like this.”
Foran and Prete were in control through five innings as Guilford was held hitless until the Indians tied the score in the sixth.
Guilford, in the midst of a five-game winning streak which saw the Indians take down top-ranked Cheshire, started the rally with a leadoff single by Mary Evans. Charlotte Young attempted to sacrifice, but her bunt was thrown away, putting runners on the corners with no outs.
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Ava Gladwin made the error hurt as she delivered Evans with a single to center. After a sacrifice put a pair of runners in scoring position, the Indians had a golden opportunity to take the lead, but Prete escaped a bases loaded jam by striking out Emily Torre and getting Jordyn Goldstein on a fly ball to right.
“These kids are pretty resilient,” Guilford coach Steve Zajac said. “We knew we were going to get everyone’s best, especially after we beat Cheshire. We are ready for the challenge. That win was a confidence boost for us. The kids have not had a chance to let it settle in as we have had games, but I think once it does, they will see what they accomplished knocking off a well-coached team like Cheshire. They should be proud of that.”
After squandering an early scoring chance, Foran took a 1-0 lead in the third as Kalie Mendola led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice by Caitlyn Parisi and scored on LaForte’s sharp single to center.
The rest was up to Prete as she allowed just a pair of Guilford hits, while striking out two and walking one in the win.
“She was very composed out there,” Dawid said of Prete. “She hit her spots and kept the ball low. It was nice to see her composed the whole game and make adjustments, especially against the three, four, five batters. She put forth an awesome effort.”
Not to be outdone was the pitching of Guilford’s Amanda King, who allowed just four hits and struck out seven.
“We did not get off to a quick start,” King said. “We have struggled with that. I think the win (Cheshire) brought the team closer together. We showed what can happen when you work had. We are young, but we have a lot of talent. We know we can do it.”
Guilford fell to 11-4 with the loss.
FORAN 2, GUILFORD 1
Guilford 000 001 0 — 1 2 2
Foran 001 001 X — 2 4 2
Amanda King and Leah Kornguth; Makenna Prete and Alexis James. WP: Makenna Prete. LP: Amanda King. RBI: Gladwin (GU); Hailey LaForte, Alexis James (FO); Team records: Guilford 11-4; Foran 8-8.