STRATFORD >> Top-seeded Fitch-Groton is on its way to its third straight Class L Softball Finals after a 3-0 win over No. 4 Torrington Tuesday night at Stratford’s DeLuca Field.
Last year, the Falcons (23-0), were undefeated going into the finals only to lose to East Haven. The year before, with one regular-season loss, they won it all with a win over Sacred Heart Academy.
“Maybe the third time is the charm,” smiled winning pitcher Caroline Taber.
Taber (7 innings, 1 hit, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts) and Torrington’s Ali Dubois (6 innings, 3 earned runs, 4 hits, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts) gave up just 5 hits between them.
“We knew we just had to hit Ali,” Taber said. “She’s an incredible pitcher.”
Dubois led the Red Raiders to Torrington’s first semifinal in decades with a perfect game followed by a no-hitter. Tuesday, Taber had the no-hitter until Carissa Carbone dropped a fly ball into short left field.
Dubois’s adrenaline got to her early, throwing four straight balls high to Fitch leadoff batter Cassie Woods in the bottom of the first inning.
Taylor Wolfgang stepped up next, her right wrist in a soft cast from a stress fracture.
“I couldn’t practice, so I went to a batting cage with my Dad and watched pitches,” said Wolfgang. “I didn’t swing because I didn’t want to aggravate the fracture.”
Tuesday, she watched two pitches from Dubois, then sent a home run over the right field fence.”
“My wrist felt good,” she grinned.
Dubois settled in for clear sailing through the next two innings while Taber chased her no-hitter.
In the bottom of the fourth, Falcon Jonelle Hobert lined the second hit of the game up the middle. A failed fielder’s choice put Jayden Delaporta on first. Another fielder’s choice got Hobert at third for the second out.
Rylee MacMillen threaded a grounder to the left of second base for an RBI single and Fitch’s 3-0 lead.
The game was sewn up for the Falcons.
Carbone broke the no-hitter in the top of the fifth inning. Alexis Tyrrell reached first in the sixth when the field umpire ruled an illegal pitch on a pop-up.
Falcon fans were outraged; Taber was unfazed.
“It was a crow-hop,” she said, explaining the rule that softball pitchers are required to drag their trailing foot on every pitch.
“Ali digs her foot deep; I like to trail it lightly. I just had to remember to fill in her grooves,” Taber said.
“Semis are a little stressful,” said Fitch Coach Arielle Cooper, with three straight years of good stress.
“Maybe next year,” said Torrington Coach Maryann Musselman. “The experience is good for them. We’re just losing two seniors.”
One of the seniors is Dubois, slated to pitch for Boston College this fall.
Taber, also a senior, has one more high school assignment this weekend against No. 2 Masuk-Monroe, a 7-6 winner over No. 6 Foran-Milford in Tuesday’s first semifinal.
No. 1 Fitch 3, No. 4 Torrington 0
At DeLuca Field, Stratford
Torrington 000 000 0 – 0 1 0
Fitch 200 100 X – 3 4 0
WP: Caroline Taber. LP: Ali Dubois. HR: F – Taylor Wolfgang. 2B: F – Wolfgang.
Records: Torrington 19-6; Fitch 23-0.