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Stonington - Her mom, Traci, the Waterford manager, kept yelling to Cassidy Susi not to pitch the ball too far over the plate, not to a hulking Groton/Mystic lineup that rifled a pair of hits for two runs in the first inning and was waiting to do more damage.
Then in the bottom of the sixth and final inning, with two outs and a 2-2 count, Waterford leading by a run, it was Waterford catcher Lili Stoddard who made a trip to the mound and clasped Susi's facemask for a pep talk.
Susi responded with a strikeout for the final out of Waterford's 4-3 victory over Groton/Mystic in the second game of a best-of-three series being played for the District 10 Little League (ages 11-12) softball championship. The teams will play a deciding game at 5:30 p.m. today at the Pawcatuck Little League complex.
Susi did everything she had to for the victory, in fact, keeping Groton/Mystic off-balance with changes in velocity and location, finishing with a six-hitter with five strikeouts and no walks.
"She did a great job, she really did," said Groton/Mystic manager Pete Georgetti, whose team won the opening game of the series 5-3 Friday night. "She got our hitters to chase a lot of pitches, high pitches. She's a battler. She did well under pressure."
"I have to pitch it to the target," Susi said. "Certain batters like certain things, so I have to do the opposite. They were bigger than us, stronger than us."
Gina McKittrick scored what proved to be the winning run for Waterford in the fifth inning, at the time making it 4-2. Leading off the inning, McKittrick singled, stole second and went to third on an error.
She scored on a one-out grand ball to shortstop by Rachel Miller.
Trailing 2-0, Waterford got one run back in the third inning on an RBI single by McKittrick to score Ciana Chiappone, who reached on an infield single. Waterford made it 3-2 with two runs in the third, getting one run on a two-out line drive up the middle by Lexi Mangual to score Stoddard and an error to score Mangual.
Groton/Mystic pulled within 4-3 with a run in the fifth on an RBI single by Olivia Carney, but Susi got out of a jam by inducing a ground ball to Mangual at third and the pitcher retired the side in order in the sixth, getting the first two outs on two pitches.
Carney had two hits for Groton/Mystic, including a two-run double in the first inning, and Meagan Giwoyna added a double and two runs scored.
Cassidy Susi is the youngest of five siblings.
She has four older brothers. Traci Susi, the Waterford High School field hockey coach, is coaching the all-star team which includes her daughter.
"Absolutely, you have to do it differently (than coaching high school)," Traci Susi said. "But this is my passion. I love coaching field hockey, but I never played field hockey. And these girls are passionate about what they do. The last two or three weeks (Cassidy) has been hitting her spots better.
"... We were more conservative (Friday). Today I pushed them a little more."