NAUGATUCK >> For the second year in a row, in a dramatic NVL softball tournament confrontation between Holy Cross and Torrington, the Crusaders found a way to win, this time 3-2 in a semifinal game at Naugatuck High School Tuesday afternoon.
Last year, it was a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
This year, seventh inning drama only meant catching up to Torrington’s 2-0 lead. It took five more innings to push across the winning run on a two-out double by Sarah Lawton down the right-field line, followed by a throwing error on an infield grounder, bringing Lawton around for the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning.
Before that, it was the expected duel between two of the premier pitchers in the state – Lawton (12 innings, 0 earned runs, 4 hits, 13 strikeouts, 6 walks) and Torrington’s Ali DuBois (11.2 innings, 1 earned run, 11 hits, 8 strikeouts, 0 walks).
For six innings, Lawton risked throwing a losing no-hitter, thanks to aggressive Torrington base running leading to an unearned Red Raider run in the top of the fourth inning.
That inning, Lawton walked leadoff batter Nina Julian. Carissa Carbone, trying for a sacrifice bunt, made it to first on a Holy Cross wild throw, sending Julian to third. DuBois followed with a fly to short left field. Julian tagged up at third, racing for home only to meet the throw from Crusader left fielder Lizzy Diorio for an out at the plate.
Carbone made it to third on the throw, then caught the Crusdaders napping with a charge home for the run on the throw back to Lawton on the mound after the out.
Two innings later, Torrington’s first hit of the game, by Lauren Jamieson, produced the second Raider run in the top of the sixth. Another Holy Cross fielding error put Carbone on first, a walk to DuBois moving her to second. Jamieson lined a shot up the middle for the 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, DuBois gave up just three hits through those first six innings, leaving Crusaders Aubrey Defore (2-for-5) and Gabby Goldman (2-for-5) stranded on first and second for the Crusaders’ only threat.
Leading 2-0 with just one more inning to go, Torrington’s world began crumbling in the bottom of the seventh. Crusdader Val Nobrega sent a tricky fly to right field dropping for an error. Jenna Mowad (3-for-5) hit the first of her two doubles up the middle, sending Nobrega to third, then stole second. A wild pitch brought Nobrega home for one run. Goldman dropped a single to right, sending Mowad home with the tie.
“I don’t know what happens to us in the seventh inning,” said Torrington Coach Maryann Musselman.
“We knew it would be a pitchers’ duel,” said Holy Cross Coach Meg Dwyer. “It just comes down to the basics.”
The basics came down to four more innings of tense dueling. DuBois’s index finger on her index finger began to split, but she cruised past Crusdader runners on second and third with no outs in the bottom of the ninth and runners on first and third in the 11th.
“She did great,” said Lawton. “She gutted it out.”
Torrington’s Alexis Tyrrell hit her second double of the game in the top of the ninth, but Lawton made a clean sweep of the next three innings.
In the bottom of the 12th, she made her own charge with her two-out double, followed by a Torrington error.
The Crusaders play for the tournament championship tonight at 6:30 p.m. against top seed Seymour at Seymour High School.
No. 2 Holy Cross 3, No. 3 Torrington 2 (12)
At Naugatuck High School
Torrington 000 101 000 000 – 2 4 3
Holy Cross 000 000 200 001 – 3 11 3
WP: Sarah Lawton. LP: Ali DuBois. 2B: T – Alexis Tyrrell 2. HC – Lawton; Jenna Mowad 2.
Records: Torrington 18-4; Holy Cross 21-1.