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Griswold - Kirsten Drobiak was pleased with her two-run double into the right-center field gap in the fifth inning for a couple of reasons.
One, it gave the Griswold High School softball team a 2-0 lead Wednesday in a key Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division game against Stonington. Two, it relieved the tension in what was previously a scoreless pitchers' duel.
"I knew we had to get a couple runs," said Drobiak, whose hit scored Nycole Sylvestre and Emily Slonski, both of whom singled before her.
The problem was that Drobiak's hit also seemed to break the tension for Stonington, which tied the game with unearned runs in the sixth and seventh.
In what was a furious finish, Griswold outlasted Stonington 3-2 in eight innings to remain unbeaten in the Medium Division. Griswold, the defending champion, is 11-2 overall, 5-0; Stonington is 10-2, 4-1.
"It was a very exciting game," Griswold coach Rick Arremony said. "Some of our kids on the team haven't got to experience an extra-inning game in their lives. We have six sophomores; in a pressure-filled game you're always concerned.
"... We got a couple key hits. We just try to get better each time we come to the plate."
Griswold got the game-winning hit in the bottom of the eighth inning from sophomore No. 5 hitter Kasey Ayer, who singled up the middle with two outs to score Elizabeth Olszewski. Olszewski, also a sophomore, walked to start the inning, followed by a sacrifice bunt from Samantha Rentz and a chop in front of the plate from Taylor Dansereau to move the runner to third.
That gave the Wolverines the victory over Stonington junior pitcher Andrea Chiaradio, who had the distinction earlier in the season of pitching back-to-back no-hitters, the first a perfect game with 21 strikeouts.
Chiaradio (5-2) gave up six hits, striking out eight and walking three. Drobiak, meanwhile, pitched a four-hitter for Griswold, striking out four and walking none. She is 10-2.
"We showed up offensively too late," Stonington coach Ann-Marie Houle said.
Trailing 2-0, Stonington scored a run in the sixth when Jackie Albert reached on an error after a sacrifice bunt, stole second and took third on a groundout. With runners on first and third, Ayer, the Griswold catcher, tried to get Albert leading off third, but threw the ball into left field to allow the run.
In the bottom of the sixth, Stonington turned a double play as Chiaradio caught a popup and threw a line drive to first base to double off a runner. And the Bears carried the momentum into the top of the seventh when Alexis Baker reached on a dropped fly ball, was sacrificed to second and scored on a two-out bloop RBI single by Chiaradio.
Chiaradio got Drobiak to pop up with two runners on to end the seventh, forcing the extra inning.
Houle credited Stonington with not quitting after trailing for the first time this season - the Bears' previous loss to East Lyme came in the bottom of the seventh.
"No one likes to lose," Houle said. "But to be down 2-0 and come back ... at the end of the day, I know the girls are not going to give up. They're going to fight back."
Houle said the team has tried to maintain a sense of normalcy following the attention that's been lavished on Chiaradio following her 21-strikeout performance.
"We've kept as grounded as we can," Houle said. "This loss has nothing to do with us thinking we're better than we are. We learned from our loss against East Lyme and we'll learn from today."
The teams play again at Stonington on May 16.