WALLINGFORD – Waiting an extra two days before the start of the state tournament due to inclement weather, Sheehan seniors Mikaeyla Daddio and Melissa Pereira were itching to get on the field. The extra days proved to be good for the seniors and the Titans.
Behind a nice hitting performance from Daddio and a solid pitching performance from Pereira, the eighth-seeded Titans defeated Southern Connecticut Conference foe and No. 25 Sacred Heart Academy, 7-2, in the opening round of the Class L state tournament at Pragemann Park Wednesday afternoon.
Knowing the difficulty of beating a team three times in the same season, Sheehan used its final two at bats to seal the deal. With the win, the Pacers will host No. 24 RHAM, a 2-1 upset winner over No. 9 Barlow, Thursday afternoon in Wallingford at 4 p.m.
“We kept telling the kids it is hard to beat a team three times, especially a good team,” Sheehan coach Jocelyn Chang said. “They are a good team. We just had to focus on the state tournament and keep thinking we were 0-0 against them.”
Through four innings, the Pacers hung with Sheehan, tying the game with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. After Sacred Heart went down quietly in the fifth, Sheehan took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning.
Daddio, the team’s leadoff hitter who had three hits in the game and drove in one run, led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice by Rebecca Souza and to third on walks to Hunter Selvaggi and Pereira.
With two outs and an 0-2 count on Kelly Brosnan, Sacred Heart pitcher Julia Haeckel hit Brosnan in the foot to force home Daddio with the go-ahead run.
“We took a chance walking two batters to load the bases,” Sacred Heart coach Al Ramelli said. “We got the count we wanted. We just did not get the pitch we wanted. It did not go our way.”
The Titans put the game away with four more runs in the sixth inning as the bottom of the order came up big.
Number eight hitter Marissa Vaiana led off with a single to center, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on Meghan Gavin’s line double to left.
“That was a big hit,” Chang said of Gavin’s double. “Marissa Vaiana started the inning with a big hit and Meghan got the key hit. Every other run we got took the pressure off.”
Daddio tripled to score Gavin, before Daddio beat the throw home when Souza grounded back to Haeckel in the pitching circle. Souza scored the final run of the inning on a wild pitch.
“My job in the leadoff spot is to get my team going,” Daddio said. “We have a really good offensive team. We knew it was going to be hard to beat a team three times. They gave us a good run for four innings. We came through in the last few innings.”
Pereira went the distance for Sheehan, allowing four hits, striking out 12, walking one and hitting three batters.
Pereira’s only trouble came in the fourth inning when the Pacers scored twice to even the game at two. Taylor Weiss started the rally with a one-out single, Haeckel walked and both advanced when Kate Napierkowski reached on a fielder’s choice.
With two outs, Weiss scored on a wild pitch, before Haeckel scored when Brittany LaChance reached on an error.
“We came with the fire and it never went out,” Pereira said. “We kept it burning. We came back and got some big runs at the end.”
Sheehan took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Daddio led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored when Selvaggi reached on an error. Selvaggi extended the lead to 2-0 in the third inning when her single scored Daddio, who had reached on a one-out error.
LaChance led Sheehan with a pair of hits. Haeckel went six innings, allowed seven hits, struck out eight and walked two in the loss.
SHEEHAN 7, SACRED HEART ACADEMY 2
SHA 000 200 0 — 2 5 5
Sheehan 101 014 X — 7 8 1
Julia Haeckel and Brittany LaChance; Missy Pereira and Mikaeyla Daddio.
WP: Missy Pereira. LP: Julia Haeckel. 2B: (SH) Mikaeyla Daddio, Meghan Gavin. RBI: Lachance (SHA); Mikaeyla Daddio, Rebecca Souza, Hunter Selvaggi (2), Kelly Brosnan, Meghan Gavin (SH).