Griswold rallies from five back to edge NFA 6-5 in ECC softball final

Griswold — Through four and a half innings, there wasn't much of an opening for Griswold, which was getting two-hit by Norwich Free Academy's Bailey Comeau and trailed by five runs.

Then NFA gave the Wolverines, ranked eighth in the most recent GameTimeCT/New Haven Register Top 10 poll, an inch. And Griswold turned it into an unlikely game-winning rally Friday night in the Eastern Connecticut Conference tournament softball championship game.

Top-seeded Griswold scored five in the fifth to tie the game and scratched across an unearned run in the sixth, rattling No. 2 NFA and edging the Wildcats 6-5. It was Griswold's first title since winning three straight from 2002-04, while NFA was looking for its first championship since 2014.

"This was kind of a game where if you made an error, it changed the whole outcome," NFA shortstop Sara Cote said. "They're very good."

"We just, for some reason, lost focus," NFA coach Bryan Burdick said. "You can't make mistakes against that team. We had far too many mental and physical lapses. ... They came back and did the same thing (we did to them the inning before). They showed resilience."

NFA had what seemed to be a comfortable 5-0 lead after a four-run top of the fifth.

Alicia Abde singled over the shortstop to start the inning and Sophia DiCocco singled to right, pushing Abde to third. Shea Gendron came up and blistered a one-hopper to shortstop, driving in Abde. Gendron was safe on an error.

With one out, Julie Vincent laid down a textbook squeeze bunt as DiCocco was coming down the line. DiCocco scored ahead of the throw and it seemed as if the Wildcats (18-5) could do no wrong. Cote followed with a two-run single that was smashed to left field for the 5-0 advantage.

"When we were 5-0, I thought we had it," Burdick said. "Not that Griswold wasn't capable."

Griswold got its opening, however slim, with back-to-back walks to No. 9 hitter Hailey Hill and leadoff Kaitlyn Davis. With two outs, Maya Waldron drove a two-run double and Madison LaBossiere followed with an RBI single, advancing to second on an error. Hailey Bouchard reached on an error.

Both LaBossiere and Bouchard scored on wild pitches to make it 5-5 before Comeau retired the side on a strikeout.

"We took advantage of everything that happened," said Griswold coach Rick Arremony, whose team is 22-1 overall. "We get a squibber for a hit and then the kids get excited about batting ... just like NFA was in their inning. I think there was a fight at the bat rack (among NFA hitters eager to hit)."

Griswold's winning run came in the sixth. Sarah Aviles led off with a single. Cheyenne Zvingilas launched a long fly that was tracked down by NFA's DiCocco in center field, but Hill followed by sacrificing Aviles to second. The Wildcats chose to intentionally walk Davis (2-for-2, two walks), putting runners on first and second.

With Kamryn Gurnee batting, Aviles, the lead runner, took off for third. Gendron's throw struck the umpire, sending Aviles scurrying for home and the throw back to Gendron sailed past the catcher as she became tangled up with the runner.

Waldron, who pitched Griswold to a pair of wins Thursday, as well as winning the title game, was named Most Valuable Player.

"We worked hard to get there," NFA's Cote said of the title game. "I think we just put it all on the line tonight. We'll get back and get ready for states."

"We played (three-time defending champion) Fitch and Waterford (earlier in the tournament)," Arremony said. "All those games build character. ... To me, it's a big deal, the ECC tournament."

v.fulkerson@theday.com

2018 ECC AWARD WINNERS / SOFTBALL

Following are 2018 Eastern Connecticut Conference softball all-stars, sportsmanship and scholar-athlete award winners:

Division I

First team — Pitchers: Bailey Comeau (NFA), Isabel Siciliano (East Lyme); Catcher: Shea Gendron (NFA); Infielders: Hailee Schrader (NFA), Brooke Gottshall (NFA), Allison Georgetti (Fitch), Alexandra Chambers (East Lyme); Outfielders: Alex Burdick (NFA), Karly Morales (Fitch), Whitney Brandt (Ledyard); Designated player: Olivia Carney (Fitch).

Honorable mention — Olivia Quagan (East Lyme), Jenna Topalis (Ledyard), Sara Rivers (Ledyard), Jovanna Potter (New London), Samantha Fancher (Ledyard), Madison Sanborn (Ledyard).

Sportsmanship — Grace Wargo (East Lyme), Casey Flax (Fitch), Bella Langlois (Ledyard), Erin Heap (New London), Ashley Lawton (NFA).

Scholar-athlete — Caitlyn Sievers (East Lyme), Olivia Carney (Fitch), Madison Sanborn (Ledyard), Erin Heap (New London), Bailey Comeau (NFA).

Division II

First team — Pitchers: Trinity Lennon (Stonington), Alexis Michon (Montville); Catcher: Julianna Nuttall (Woodstock); Infielders: Abby Flakus (Stonington), Hannah Burgess (Woodstock), Ciana Chiappone (Waterford), Madison Nott (Waterford); Outfielders: Miranda Arruda (Stonington), Brianna Caffrey (Killingly), Riley Mazzella (Waterford); Designated player: Rachel Miller (Waterford).

Honorable mention — Casidhe Hoyt (Woodstock), Colette Dreher (Stonington), Avianna Ibrahim (Bacon Academy), Maggie Constantine (Stonington), Jillian Murallo (Montville), Ashley Veillette (Killingly), Erin Craig (Stonington), Veronica Krystofik (Bacon), Mackenzie Jackson (Killingly), Maggie Wainwright (Montville).

Sportsmanship — Abbey LePage (Bacon), Ashley Veillette (Killingly), Abby Diamantini (Montville), Erin Craig (Stonington), Molly Reagan (Waterford), Naomi Rivard (Woodstock).

Scholar-athlete — Addey LePage (Bacon), Julia Trafaconda (Killingly), Katelin Price (Montville), Trinity Lennon (Stonington), Ashley Goldstein (Waterford), Ciri Miller (Woodstock).

Division III

First team — Pitchers: Katee Meese (Lyman Memorial), Maya Waldron (Griswold); Catcher: Madison Kelley (Plainfield); Infielders: Natalie Curtis (Lyman Memorial), Hailey Bouchard (Griswold), Sarah Aviles (Griswold), Neishaly Rodriguez (Windham); Outfielders: Nicole Bibeau (Lyman Memorial), Kaitlyn Davis (Griswold), Madison LaBossiere (Griswold); Designated player: Briana Beverly (St. Bernard).

Honorable mention — Taina Quinones (St. Bernard), Mackenzie Clubine (Plainfield), Nikki Collins (Wheeler), Sydney Grimshaw (Plainfield), Julia Janca (Griswold), Amanda Bogoslofski (Tourtellotte), Emily Nelson (St. Bernard), Kacee Hirst (Plainfield), Isabelle Perez (Windham), Kamryn Gurnee (Griswold).

Sportsmanship — Kamryn Gurnee (Griswold), Meredith Moran (Lyman Memorial), Mallory Greene (Plainfield), Trinity Rashan (St. Bernard), Katherine Heffernan (Tourtellotte), Kendra Perez (Wheeler), Geulianie Echevarria (Windham).

Scholar-athlete — Maya Waldron (Griswold), Katee Meese (Lyman Memorial), Sydney Grimshaw (Plainfield), Emily Nelson (St. Bernard), Amanda Bogoslofski (Tourtellotte), Kendra Perez (Wheeler), Natalia Perez (Windham).

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