SHELTON >> West Haven coach Joe Morrell has been stressing to his team to drive the ball up the middle. Morrell’s words have not gone unheard.
The Westies followed up a thorough win over Hillhouse with another solid effort, combining 15 hits with a handful of Shelton errors to defeat the Gaels 13-4 in Shelton Friday morning. At least every spot in the West Haven lineup had a hit, each player in the lineup reached base, and the Westies improved to 3-2 with the win.
Madison Watts led the way for West Haven with four hits, three runs scored, reached base five times and knocked in one run. Kial Watts had three hits, reached base four times, scored three runs and drove in a pair, and Marisa Pacapelli had three hits, scored twice and drove in two runs.
“It is nice to see an explosion with our hitting,” Morrell said. “Madison (Watts), Kial (Watts) and Marisa (Pacapelli) had big days. We have spent a lot of time on our hitting in practice. It showed today.”
The Westies jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the second inning off Shelton pitcher Gina Ciambriello, watched as Shelton answered with four in the third, then used a five-run fourth inning to pull away for good.
Pacapelli started the second inning with a single, moved to second on Alex Marron’s sacrifice and scored on Makenna White’s single. After White stole second, Alissa Tonucci doubled for a 2-0 lead and Kial delivered Tonucci with a two-out triple. After Jolie Morrell singled to score Kial and Morrell advanced on a passed ball, Madison increased the lead to 5-0 with another single.
Shelton quickly responded in the bottom of the third inning, drawing within one run with a four-run inning. With one out, Sam Woods walked, stole second and scored on freshman Kayla Resto’s single.
Sophomore Mackenzie Bures walked to put two runners on and Ciambriello’s triple plated two more.
Ciambriello scored on a passed ball and with two runners on, Kial Watts escaped further trouble by getting Carolyn Taylor on a pop out to strand a pair of runners on the corners.
“It was good to see us come back like that,” Shelton coach Joann Desrochers said.
As big as the third inning was for Shelton, the fourth was even bigger for the Westies as they came right back with five runs of their own to take a commanding 10-4 lead.
The Westies used two walks, two singles and two Shelton errors to again seize the momentum as Tonucci led off the inning with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice by Alexis Severino and scored on a single by Kial. With two outs, Madison reached on an error to score Kial, and Pacapelli followed two batters later with a two-run single to plate Madison and Julia Bothwell.
“That fourth inning was huge,” Joe Morrell said. “We looked at it as a little glitch in the game and we wanted to come back with at least one run. We came back with five. That was a huge difference in the game right there”
With just three seniors on the roster, Shelton has gone through some growing pains, alternating wins and losses to a a record of 2-3. Desrochers agreed with Morrell, feeling the big inning by the Westies hurt the Gaels.
“After that, it sort of deflated us,” Desrochers said. “We came back, but they answered with the five runs. The errors hurt.”
With Kial under the weather, Bothwell relieved in the fourth and allowed only three runners in the last four innings. Bothwell hit Woods with one out in the fourth, but got two grounders to end the inning.
Alexis Calhoun singled with two outs in the sixth and Lillian Rivera walked, but Bothwell got Taylor to pop to center for the final out of the inning. Bothwell then retired the side in order in both the sixth and seventh innings to close the contest.
“She came in there and got the job done,” Joe Morrell said of Bothwell “She did a good job of settling down to throw strikes. She was mixing her pitches, hitting corners. It is nice to have that.”
West Haven put the game away with two runs in the fifth on a two-run single by Madison, and one more in the seventh on Bothwell’s run-scoring single.
Calhoun led Shelton with two hits.