MILFORD – A day removed from a thrilling victory over previously undefeated Cheshire, Lauralton Hall coach Amanda Acampora had some concerns. An emotional victory coupled with Lauralton’s Senior Night would be added to a mix which saw a Foran team needing a win or some help to qualify for the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament.
Seniors Alexa Dawid and Lindsey Spitz alleviated Acampora’s concerns as Dawid used her speed to produce two runs and save more on defense, while Spitz had three clutch hits to lead Lauralton Hall to a 6-1 victory over Foran in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Lauralton Hall Friday afternoon.
“We needed to set the tone early,” Dawid said after scoring on a short wild pitch in the first inning and on a grounder back to Foran pitcher Ashley Mendillo in the third inning. “We know we need to manufacture runs. This is a big win for us coming off a big win yesterday. I feel we are peaking at the right time.”
The win for the Crusaders not only improved the team’s record to 17-3, but also locked up the second spot in the upcoming SCC tournament and more than likely the second seed in the Class L state tournament.
“Being seniors, we are starting to realize it is getting closer to the end,” Spitz said of her career at Lauralton Hall. “I feel like everyone is working harder. We wanted to stay up and keep the intensity up today after yesterday’s great win. We had the same type of intensity today.”
The Crusaders, the ninth-ranked team in the GameTimeCT/RegisterTop 10 poll, took control of the game early, then watched a solid defense contribute to the win.
Dawid and Spitz singled with one out in the first and the speedy Dawid scored when a pitch by Mendillo barely got away from catcher Kayla Gosselin, but was enough to score Dawid.
“You can’t defend speed,” Acampora said. “I don’t know who else could have scored on those. And you look at what she does in the outfield. She saves us runs. She did the same thing yesterday. She was just flying all over the place.”
After Foran left runners on second and third in the second inning when Lauralton pitcher Haley Congdon got a strike out and catcher Alex Moleski picked the lead runner off third, the Crusaders added two more runs for a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the inning.
With two outs, Moleski reached on an error, Erin McCann doubled to right and freshman Emma Larke singled to left to score a pair.
“We did not play a good game today,” Foran coach Jeff Bevino said after his team finished the regular season at 11-9. “We made some uncharacteristic errors today and did not bring our top game against a very good team over there.”
The Lions, who left six runners on in the first four innings and nine in the game, got on the score board in the third when Hannah DeSousa’s long drive to left went for a triple, before DeSousa scored on an error on the play.
Foran had an opportunity to score more runs in the inning as Dani Kemp followed with a single and Mendillo singled to the gap in center. Dawid used her speed to cut the ball off, preventing Kemp from scoring.
Dawid’s play would prove to be big as Ireland Miessau relieved Congdon and struck out Alex Ives to end the threat.
“They were very opportunistic today,” Bevino, who announced yesterday he will be stepping down at season’s end, said of Lauralton. “That Dawid girl is something else. She is so fast. She’s a pain in the neck to deal with as an opposing team. She scores on a ball that went not even two feet from the catcher and she scores on a ball hit to our pitcher. Plus, her speed in the outfield saved them runs today. She was fantastic. We got beat by the better team today, but we did not represent ourselves the way we know we can play.”
Lauralton took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the third inning as Dawid and Spitz started the inning with singles to put runners on the corners. With both in scoring position, Miessau hit a one-out grounder back to Mendillo in the circle, but Dawid beat the throw home for a 4-1 lead.
“We talked a lot about it,” Acampora said of avoiding a letdown after the win over Cheshire. “If we lost today, yesterday was for nothing. Our one through nine hitters can all hit the ball. It is somebody different every game. Our defense has picked it up.”
Spitz doubled and scored in the fifth and Miessau’s single in the sixth brought home Jackie Brewster, who had reached on an error to lead off the inning.
“We knew Foran was coming in needing a win to get into the SCC tournament,” Brewster said. “We knew they were going to come out fast. We worked really hard. It was a good team effort as it has been.”
The Lions stranded a pair of runners against Miessau in each of the fourth and fifth innings, and stranded another in scoring position in the sixth.
DeSousa, Mendillo and Jenna Zacarelli each had two hits for the Lions. Dawid added two hits for Lauralton.