NAUGATUCK >> Seymour leadoff hitter Becca Johnson has been the sparkplug of the Wildcats’ offense all season. Little changed in the NVL tournament championship game against second-seeded Holy Cross.
Johnson, a left-handed slap hitter, had four hits, scored three runs and stole four bases to pace No. 1 Seymour to a 6-0 victory over the Crusaders Wednesday.
“I love being leadoff,” said Johnson, a sophomore. “I’ve had the opportunity to start since my freshman year, hitting and helping out my team. It’s great.”
Johnson singled to leadoff the bottom of the first inning. She stole second, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Shari Minalga, and then scored on a wild pitch to give her team the lead for good. Johnson was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“She hits well, she slaps well, she bunts well, she gets on base,” Seymour coach Ken Pereiras said about Johnson. “Once she gets on base, she’s hard to stop. She makes us go. When she’s on, we usually score.”
It was the 16th NVL title for the Wildcats. Seymour (22-1), ranked fifth in the Register/GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll, has appeared in every NVL championship game since the inaugural tournament began in 1999. The final was cancelled twice due to inclement weather.
The Wildcats lost to Oxford in last year’s final. Seymour defeated Oxford in this year’s semifinals.
“It’s really nice to take it home senior year,” Seymour senior pitcher Raeanne Geffert said. “I feel like I’ve come full circle from sophomore year, and I am glad we have it back at Seymour.”
Geffert allowed only a fourth-inning single to Holy Cross pitcher Sarah Lawton and a single to shortstop Allie Brown in the sixth. Geffert walked one and struck out 12.
The Wildcats entered the NVL tournament coming off a loss to Westhill in their regular season finale. Seymour defeated Woodland 1-0 in the quarterfinals before earning a 9-0 win over Oxford in the next round.
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“Geffert has been dominant most of the year,” Pereiras said. “And we hit. We’re a good hitting team, and we’re back to hitting well. And defensively we’re pretty solid. Second base (Minalga) played well today; third base (Tori Kellogg).”
The Crusaders (20-3) threatened in the fourth when Lawton singled with one out. Geffert then walked Alex Lombardo, but Geffert worked an infield fly out and a strikeout to end the threat. The infield out was on a bunt attempt.
“Obviously anytime you get anybody on base, it’s really important to execute and do the little things,” Holy Cross coach Megan Dwyer. “We misplaced a bunt in that situation and they made the right play.”
Cassie Rossetti hit a solo home run in the fourth inning and added an run-scoring single in the fifth for Seymour. Minalga added an RBI ground out in the sixth. Rossetti finished with two hits, while Amanda Harkins and Chelsea Avila had one each.
“It (winning the NVL title) was one of our goals,” Pereiras said. “I think the kids were excited to be here. They wanted to play in the league title. It worked out well. They came to play.”
SEYMOUR 6, HOLY CROSS 0
Holy Cross 000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Seymour 100 131 X — 6 8 0
Sarah Lawton and Aubrey DeFoe; Raeanne Geffert and Amanda Harkins.
WP: Raeanne Geffert (20-1). LP: Sarah Lawton. Hr: Cassie Rossetti (SE); RBI: Shari Minalga, Rossetti (2) (SE);
Team records: Holy Cross 20-3; Seymour 22-1.