Pawcatuck-North Stonington wins District 10 LL softball title

Catcher Erin Craig, left, catches a pop up just before colliding with pitcher Trinity Lennon during the fifth inning of Pawcatuck-North Stonington's 6-1 victory over Waterford South on Saturday, which clinched the District 10 Little League (11-12) softball championship.
Catcher Erin Craig, left, catches a pop up just before colliding with pitcher Trinity Lennon during the fifth inning of Pawcatuck-North Stonington's 6-1 victory over Waterford South on Saturday, which clinched the District 10 Little League (11-12) softball championship. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

Stonington - Waterford South had two innings to get back in the game Saturday, but the defense was making that impossible.

In the fifth inning alone, Pawcatuck-North Stonington catcher Erin Craig jumped on a popup, second baseman Colette Dreher caught a ball all the way in right field to rob Julie Bonilla of a bloop single and first baseman Dani Coan backhanded a ground ball and stepped on the base for the third out.

"We hit off the tee, we do soft toss, but mostly we work on defense," Pawcatuck coach Tom Lennon said. "We've probably thrown 400 balls to Colette in that area and 400 on the other side for our shortstop ... because that's the play you've got to make.

"They worked so hard, to see all that pay off ... that's a good lesson for them for life in general."

Pawcatuck held off Waterford South 6-1 to sweep the best-of-three series for the District 10 Little League softball championship, propelling Pawcatuck to the state Section II tournament next weekend being held in Norwich.

It was a breakthrough for the Pawcatuck players, who finished as runners-up last year against Mystic and were also second to Waterford North in the 9-10-year-old district finals in 2011.

Pawcatuck pitcher Trinity Lennon pitched a three-hitter with three strikeouts, with the defense making one harmless error behind her.

Lainnie Connor and Gabby Dellacono each had two of Pawcatuck's seven hits.

Pawcatuck defeated Waterford South 18-0 in the first game of the championship series on Friday.

"Today, we played softball," Waterford South coach Jay Pacheco said. "(Friday), they hit the ball; they've got a great team. They play tremendous defense, so when we put the ball in play, we weren't able to take advantage.

"They're a team that would do well in the section."

Pawcatuck took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Coan singled and scored on an RBI hit by Dellacono, though Waterford South avoided another run scoring when shortstop Ciana Chiappone took the relay and threw a strike to cut down Briana Beverly at the plate.

Lennon and Connor had back-to-back singles to lead off the third. One run scored on an RBI groundout by Abby Flakus and the other on a squeeze bunt by Coan that made it 3-0.

Waterford South scored in the bottom of the third to make it 3-1, though, when Molly Reagan drew a one-out walk and later came home on a roller by Chloe McCue that went for a hit as no one fielded it. Lennon got out of that jam, leaving two runners on base, forcing a popup and a strikeout to end the inning.

Pawcatuck added a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Connor and two in the sixth on an error and an RBI single by Flakus.

"I look at every team the same; I don't know how they play," Trinity Lennon said of facing Waterford South in the championship round. "It was nervewracking, but I have a nice group to back me up. I get them to put the ball in play and they're there to back me up."

"They never give up on anything," Tom Lennon said. "They've learned to never ever give up on a ball. ... We had dominant pitching ... we only gave up five runs the whole tournament. And we scored a lot because we had very lively bats."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

Pawcatuck-North Stonington players gather in a circle around the pitching rubber to celebrate after defeating Waterford South 6-1 on Saturday to win the District 10 Little League softball championship.
Pawcatuck-North Stonington players gather in a circle around the pitching rubber to celebrate after defeating Waterford South 6-1 on Saturday to win the District 10 Little League softball championship. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo
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