Taber sparks Mystic to Junior League softball state title

Orange - One way or another, Caroline Taber figured that softball would be a big part of her summer vacation.

Softball will continue to be a big part of the summer for Taber and the Mystic softball team. They beat Fairfield Sunday, 8-2, to sweep the best-of-three state Junior League (13-14) series at Robert E. Stankye Memorial Field.

"I knew I'd be playing softball," Taber said. "If I wasn't playing all-stars, I'd probably be playing travel ball.

"As soon as I saw who our all-star team was, I knew we'd be pretty hard to beat. … A lot of the girls on this team are excellent players. I thought we were going to do pretty well."

Mystic advances to the Eastern Regional tournament at West Haven. It begins play Saturday.

"I didn't think we'd go this far, actually," third baseman Katherine Georgetti said. "I'm really happy to have gotten this far."

Taber scattered seven hits with 11 strikeouts, no earned runs and no walks for Mystic. She also had two doubles and three RBI.

Katy Grant had two singles and scored twice for Mystic and Georgetti added two RBI singles. Also, Nalissa Amar hit a two-run single and scored and Jackie Lewis had two hits, including a triple, and scored.

"I'm glad to win it for southeastern Connecticut," Mystic manager Tom Taber. "These girls have been trying to (win a state title) since they were seven."

Several Mystic players lost to Fairfield in last summer's state Little League (11-12) tournament.

"I knew that everyone just wanted to come back and get revenge," Caroline Taber said.

The top of the first inning was a bit dicey for Mystic as Fairfield hit three singles to load the bases with two outs.

Taber got out of it unscathed by striking out Julia Wilson.

"I was kind of expecting (the early offense) because they're a very good hitting team," Taber said, "but I know that my team does really well keeping (the ball) in the infield."

Mystic wasted no time scoring. Lewis tripled with one out and scored on Taber's RBI double.

Georgetti followed with an RBI single, scoring courtesy runner Lauren Szczsney.

Grant led off the Mystic second with a bloop single. She was sacrificed to second base by Haley Flax with one out and scored on an error to give her team a 3-0 lead.

Fairfield used two Mystic errors in the top of the third inning to cut its deficit to 3-2.

Mystic broke the game open in its half of the sixth inning. Olivia Knotts led off with a bunt single, Grant singled, and Amber Salazar was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Amar, who had struck out twice, came to bat with one out. She got down in the count and fouled off several pitches with two strikes.

Amar finally hit a two-run single to give Mystic a 5-2 lead.

"The at bat before that, she struggled," Georgetti said, "but she singled there, and we were so very happy. That really got us going."

Taber said, "She had me nervous there, fouling off a couple, but Nalissa is amazing. I know that she's got a great bat. I knew she was going to get on it. You knew she was due."

Taber hit a two-run double with two outs, and Georgetti followed with an RBI single.

MacKenzie Aldridge, Katie Hodgkinson, Taylor Kenyon and Olivia Watts also played for Mystic.

n.griffen@theday.com

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