MILFORD – There’s that old adage that it’s hard to beat a team three times. Let alone, do it in the Southern Connecticut Conference.
Foran found out about that Wednesday afternoon as sixth-seeded Hand turned the tables on a pair of regular season defeats with a 9-6 victory over the third-seeded Lions in the SCC quarterfinals. Hand will meet Lauralton Hall in the SCC semifinals Thursday at West Haven High.
“Absolutely we knew they would fight us today,” said Foran coach Stephanie Dawid, whose Lions (16-5) closed the season with three straight losses. “Each and every day, but today especially.”
One thing Foran chose to do was change pitchers. Instead of freshman Makenna Prete taking the mound, Dawid went with junior Caitlyn Parisi.
“We didn’t pitch Prete, so we’d give them a different look,” Dawid said. “Pitching Parisi was a good call.”
Parisi was the benefactor of two quick runs in the bottom of first inning. Hannah DeSousa squeeze bunted a run in and Kayla Gosselin collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly.
But things changed radically in the top of the second inning. Hand loaded the bases with two outs and Parisi seemed to pit of the inning when she got Tigers’ leadoff hitter Hollis Wivell to hit a ground ball to second. However, Hailey LaForte bobbled it and all runners were safe. The floodgates opened after that as Maddie Yaggi and Ali Buller each smacked two-run singles to give Hand a 5-2 lead.
“We have a lot of team speed at the top of the order, so we were able to pressure them,” Hand coach Mike Niekrash said after his Tigers improved to 12-9. “They made a few mistakes and we were able to capitalize on them.”
Foran clawed back to 5-3 with an unearned run in the bottom of the second before taking what would be a short-lived 6-5 lead in the fourth. Hand got sloppy for a bit in the inning, committing a pair of errors, including a big one by Buller, while a two-run double by Foran’s Natalia Hart led to the rally.
“It was out of character for our team,” Niekrash said. “We don’t have a strikeout pitcher, so we have to play to contact. For the first three innings, we didn’t play Hand softball, but we righted the ship after that. The last time they scored a lot of runs in the sixth and seventh inning. Today, we shut them out in those innings.”
The Tigers came right back in the top of the fifth to take the lead for good. Sam Pavano doubled in a run and scored on a passed ball later in the inning to give Hand a 7-6 edge. They added single runs in the sixth and seventh on hits by Buller and Claire Gravina.
Winning pitcher Abby Geshwind got the last nine batters in order.
“That’s the way the game goes sometimes, but I’m proud of the way we fought back,” Dawid said.
HAND 9, FORAN 6
Hand 050 021 1 — 9 14 3
Foran 210 300 0 — 6 6 1
Abby Geshwind and Lily Geshwind.; Caitlyn Parisi and Kayla Gosselin.
WP: Abby Geshwind (). LP: Caitlyn Parisi (). 2B: (HD) Sam Pavano; (FO) Natalia Hart, Hannah DeSousa. 3B: (HD) Hollis Wivell. RBI: Pavano, Buller (3), Wivell (2), Gravina (HD); Hannah DeSousa, Kayla Gosselin, Natalia Hart (3) (FO);
Team records: Hand 12-9; Foran 16-5.
Notes: 2B:Natalia Hart, Hannah DeSousa, Amanda Mendillo, Parisi (FO); 3B: Alli Buller
Gosselin went 1-2, Parisi went 2-4, and Alexis James went 2-3 for Foran; Hollis Wivell went 4-5, Buller went 3-4, and Claire Gravino went 2-3 for Hand.