Waterford falls to Milford in state softball championship
Waterford — There was a resilience about this team which started with its very first game of the all-star season, when the Waterford Little League softball team lost its District 10 opener to Groton.
It was a buoyancy which lasted into Sunday afternoon, the final day of the season, when, just a day after losing big to Milford in the opening game of a best-of-three state championship series, Waterford threw everything it had at Milford one last time before falling 5-3.
Waterford would have needed to beat Milford in Game 2 Sunday to force a deciding third game.
"I think we really battled hard," Waterford catcher Sophia Avin said. "Even when we lost, we kept going, heads up high.
"... We came back today with a fresh start. We knew we didn't face the pitcher (from Milford) the best we could. Our heads weren't in it (Saturday). I definitely do think everyone here made much more contact than they did yesterday."
Milford, behind hard-throwing pitcher Madyson Bull, beat Waterford 11-1 in four innings Saturday.
Bull was on the mound again Sunday and set Waterford — which reached the state championship series by winning the District 10 and Section 3 tournaments — down in order in the top of the first inning. Waterford, however, turned in a couple of solid defensive plays in the bottom of the first, including a sliding catch of a foul ball by Avin behind the plate, to gain some momentum going into the top of the second.
Ava Waddington singled with one out in the second and the next batter, Amelia Stoddard, lined a shot to the center field fence for an RBI triple, giving Waterford the lead. Milford tied the game in the second on a double by Kelsea Flanagan and an RBI single by Alyssa Joye.
The game was deadlocked until Waterford scored two in the fifth for a 3-1 lead. Jada Collins blooped a single up the middle to lead off and moved up on a ground ball by Audra Fianao. Katie Dziecinny struck out on a changeup from Bull, but reached base when the ball got by the catcher. Ava Majeski then reached on an error, allowing a run to score, and the second run came home on a wild pitch.
The fifth wound up being Milford's inning, however. With two outs, Milford got back-to-back seeing-eye singles from Julie O'Connell and Bull, neither hit well but placed perfectly. Avery Falco tied the game with one swing, ripping a two-run triple to right-center field.
Falco went on to score and Flanagan walked and scored for the 5-3 lead.
Waterford wasn't done, as Lucy Walker reached on an error to start the sixth and Bull hit back-to-back batters to load the bases with one out. But Bull put the finishing touches on the game by getting a ground ball back to the pitcher and throwing home for the second out and catching a popup for the third out.
Waterford manager Brian Majeski said it wasn't just this weekend that his team showed mettle.
"From the start of all-stars," Majeski said, "we tell them every inning pretend it's 0-0. They took it to us yesterday, but yesterday's done. What's the score at the beginning of the game today? It's 0-0. We're one of the last two teams in the state. We got here for a reason."
Majeski saw his team come to the field Sunday relaxed and confident.
"We started Aug. 15, I think," Majeski said. "Talking to the coaches, the coaches were excited to go to practice. That's a testament to the type of kids we have. You name it, if it's badminton, they're playing it together. I'm going to miss it.
"Even yesterday, we're down 8-1 and we're still telling them, 'Try this. Try that.' Talk about the resilience of the team, we had the bases loaded in the sixth inning today. There's no quit ever."
• The Montville-New London Little League baseball team finished its season in the championship round of the state tournament Sunday in Stamford, falling to Hamden 12-1 in four innings.
Eddie Torres homered in the fourth inning for Montville-New London, which won the District 10 and Section 3 tournaments to reach the four-team state championship tournament.
Montville beat Wallingford 4-2 Saturday in the losers' bracket final, getting a 10-strikeout performance by Desmond Powers to advance to the final against Hamden. Montville was managed by Orlando Gonzalez.
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