STRATFORD — For two straight spring seasons, Shannon Cheh was forced to the sidelines as her Newtown visited DeLuca Field for postseason play.
On Thursday afternoon the senior first baseman walked off the field with an ear-to-ear grin and a memory she will cherish forever.
Cheh’s single to right field in the top of the eighth inning was the game winner as Newtown defeated Joel Barlow by a 4-3 score in an SWC semifinal.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t stop smiling,” said Cheh, who dislocated her knee cap and tore her ACL as a sophomore and missed her junior season recuperating. “This was a special game for me because I’ve been hurt. To be able to play at DeLuca and have that at-bat in that situation meant everything to me. It’s been a long road back, but I’ve worked hard and it’s all paid off.”
Tess Mubarek started the inning with a walk before giving way to pinch-runner Shannon Jackman.
Sara Kennedy then laid down a bunt single, bringing Cheh to the plate with nobody out.
Cheh delivered a base hit to right field, scoring Jackson putting the Nighthawks up by a run.
“She has worked so hard all year,” Newtown coach Joanna Closs said of Cheh. “She does so much with her hitting and her swing, and she’s been so hot of late. She’s been awesome and she’s a great kid.”
BARLOW BATTLES BACK
Joel Barlow — which only has 11 players in its entire program — didn’t roll over after falling behind.
In the bottom of the eighth, Claire McCann walked and Taylor Macchia reached on an error with one out.
Newtown pitcher Kennedy refocused, though, striking out two Falcons looking to end the game.
“I feel I’m a little spoiled because I expect that from her,” Closs said. “But to think about the situation, it’s truly amazing what she does.”
THIRD TIME THE CHARM
Barlow had beaten Newtown twice in the regular season by scores of 4-1 and 2-1.
The Falcons’ Caitlin Colangelo had topped the Nighthawks both times, so coach Craig Sears went with her again.
Barlow jumped on top 1-0 when Abby Ota reached on a bunt single, stole second and scored on Sabrina Lalor’s single.
Newtown got two triples from Jaclyn Moccio and Katherine Goyda (RBI), a walk from Kendra Saunders and an RBI single from Cheh to take a 3-1 lead in the third.
Barlow got one run back in the bottom of the inning when Claire McCann’s RBI single scored Ota, who had reached on a bunt single.
The Falcons tied the game in the sixth when McCann led off with a single (going to third on an error) and scored on Rebecca Mauro’s base hit.
“We knew it would be tough to get the third, especially against Sara Kennedy,” Sears said. “We got beat. I don’t think there is anything I can take from this game except they got the key hits and we didn’t.”
Cheh was 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead Newtown while Moccia was 2-for-3 with her triple.
For Barlow, McCann was 3-for-3 with a walk and Ota had two bunt singles.
NEWTOWN 4, JOEL BARLOW 3
NEWTOWN 003 000 01—4 7 2
BARLOW 101 001 00—3 7 2
Records: Newtown 17-5, Joel Barlow 16-6; Batteries: N—Sara Kennedy and Tess Mubarek; JB—Caitlin Colangelo, Claire McCann (7) and Rebecca Mauro.