STRATFORD >> Inning after inning Southington softball coach Davina Hernandez reminded her players of the game plan against recently-named Gatorade state player of the year Abby Abramson.
Four innings into the Class LL semifinal at DeLuca Field, it didn’t appear as if the message was getting across.
That all changed in one action-packed fifth inning as the opportunistic Blue Knights touched up the Cheshire ace for six runs en route to a 6-2 victory over the defending Class LL champions at DeLuca Field on Thursday night.
After only one Southington batter worked her way to a three-ball count in the first four innings when Abramson struck out eight of the 12 batters she face en route to taking a perfect game into the fifth inning, Abby Lamson and Maighread Scafariello opened the fifth inning with back to back walks, a double steal was followed by a suicide squeeze with the throw home arriving late and off target to give Southington a run before it recorded a hit.
Five hits would follow including an RBI single by Michelle Woodruff and two-run single by Amanda Delorne.
Cheshire, which had given up a total of four runs in the 2015 and 2016 Class LL tournament, shockingly surrendered six in the inning.
“We had a plan going in,” Hernandez said. “Abby has been on the mound for a couple of years, she has some really good pitches you don’t want to go for because you won’t be successful.
“We didn’t really stick to the plan in the early innings. We were swinging for the fence and I told them look at the flag, the wind is blowing straight in, we are not going to be popping every ball out and we need to stick to the plan, line drives, small ball and it worked out for us.”
Cheshire got two runs on Abramson’s two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Rams would get four runners on the rest of the way but Southington pitcher Kara Zazzaro never let the Rams get any closer.
Zazzaro ended the game in style striking out Cheshire’s No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters to send Southington into Saturday’s Class LL final against Trumbull.
“These are the most fun games to play in, my favorite spot to be in so just putting in the energy of our fans, my teammates gave me an extra push,” Zazzaro said.
Cheshire had won its last 13 postseason games and the losses ended a remarkable four-year run for the Cheshire seniors.
“They are amazing girls,” Cheshire coach Kristine Drust said. “They are the first class since I’ve been head coach and they not just amazing players, they are amazing people. Away from being their coach, they are my friends and you don’t say that a lot about your players.
“We just had a close-knit team from parents to administrators, coaches, it was a real special team. What I told the girls that the pain of losses goes away but what you have together just never goes away. Moments like this, it makes what you have together minus the losses, it makes those feelings shine. I’ve said this before, trophies get dusty but what we have together it just really special.”
Abramson (20-2) struck out 12 and reached base four times for the second-seeded Rams (25-2). Mia Juodiatis had two hits for Cheshire.
Amanda Delorme and Chrissy Marotto had two hits each for Southington (22-2).
Trumbull advanced to the final as Alexandra Szabo tossed a three-hit shutout while Lea Thompson and Delilha Destefano had homer in the seventh inning for Trumbull.
The game, originally scheduled for DeLuca Field, is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. at Biondi Field in West Haven.