Griswold - Earlier in the week, Kelli Connors, all-state pitcher, alluded to the fact that shortstop Alyssa Hancock, a fellow senior, might be the best player on the Waterford High School team - or "one of the best" Connors added, wanting to be politically correct.
It's just that Connors didn't exactly fall off the discount rack. Nor did any of her teammates, for that matter.
"It's Kelli's job to keep her composure no matter the situation," Waterford coach Liz Sutman said, asked to compare her two star players. "It's Alyssa's job to make something happen every chance she gets. That's why Alyssa looks the way she does ... dirty."
While Hancock helped provide the Lancers fire once again Friday night, launching a three-run triple to spark an eight-run fifth inning, stealing three bases and scoring three runs, one from second base on a bunt, Connors was the ice.
Pitching for the third straight day in a pressure-filled situation, encompassing 23 innings altogether, Connors remained her stoic self. This time she authored a five-hitter, as well as connecting for a two-run triple in the first, as top-seeded Waterford defeated No. 2 Stonington 14-2 to win the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament championship at Griswold High School.
It was a rematch of a game from Wednesday afternoon that lasted nine innings, with Waterford winning a 2-0 pitchers' dual.
It was also, not coincidentally, the fourth straight tournament title for Waterford's senior class.
"We looked good," Sutman said, still clutching the championship plaque. "We were attacking right away. We had a seriousness of purpose, but at the same time we were loose."
After Wednesday's nine-inning epic, both teams had to win twice in the ECC tournament on Thursday to get to Friday's title game.
Waterford (22-1) used pitcher Megan Spellman to beat Plainfield 15-0 in five innings in the quarterfinals Thursday before Connors came on to beat Fitch 4-2 in the semifinals, striking out 13. Hancock homered to lead off the first inning against Fitch. Stonington (19-4) used Theresa Kane to pitch a 7-2 victory over Ledyard in the quarterfinals, then went to Andrea Chiaradio to pitch a 9-2 semifinal win over Griswold.
This time, however, Waterford, ranked third in the state, jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings and piled on eight in the fifth against Stonington, at which time the Lancers led 14-1.
Talia Rickerson, Connors and Christine Hadfield each had two hits for Waterford, with Hadfield leading off the eventful fifth inning with a triple to center field.
Stonington scored one in the fifth on an RBI double by Chiaradio and one in the seventh when Connors made an error to load the bases, then walked Theresa Kane to force in a run.
But Connors (18-1) came back with a fly ball out and a strikeout, her sixth, to end the game.
"I'll probably feel it later," Connors said of her three-games-in-three-days effort. "But when it's time for the game, you put that pain the back of your mind. ... I love this feeling; there's nothing like it your senior year."
Kane and Chiaradio had two hits each for Stonington.
Both teams will compete in the Class M tournament, which begins Tuesday.
"We were hoping for better. Two days ago it was a 2-0 game," Stonington coach Ann-Marie Houle said. "It's frustrating because this isn't the team you're with every day. But I'm not worried, I know my team. We'll be fine."