Ledyard beats Montville 3-1 in battle of ECC D-III softball unbeatens
Ledyard — It was the top of the first inning Wednesday, second batter, and Ledyard High School freshman Aaliyah Amidon fielded a sharp ground ball to third and easily made a throw on target to second base to force out the lead runner.
Then in the bottom of the first, Amidon laced an RBI single to left and fellow freshman Sam Money scored on a passed ball to give Ledyard — which started the game in stride — a two-run lead over Montville in a game between a pair of Eastern Connecticut Conference unbeatens.
"We knew this was a big game," Amidon said. "We know against a good team, they're not going to make mistakes. We know (Montville pitcher Alexis Michon) is good. You've got to think you're better. You've got to do what you do."
Ledyard hung on to beat Montville 3-1, tacking on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth on a textbook suicide squeeze bunt by Amanda Cox which scored Amidon, to put the Colonels at 6-0 overall, 3-0 in ECC Division III. Montville is 6-1, 2-1.
Both teams received votes in the latest GameTimeCT Top 10 state poll.
"We have to push and try our hardest. We've done that," said Amidon, one of three freshmen in the starting lineup for the Colonels along with Money at shortstop and Paige Perkins at catcher. "We have a big role. We have a lot to prove."
"Obviously, I was a little nervous," said sophomore pitcher Sara Rivers, who led the Colonels to a win in what was their narrowest margin of victory this season. "You just have to have faith in yourself."
Rivers, who played second base last season, scattered six hits against Montville, striking out seven and walking one in a pitchers' duel which lasted a little over an hour.
She gave up a solo home run to Michon over the center field fence with one out in the fourth that pulled Montville within 2-1.
In the fifth, however, after a leadoff single by Montville's Kaitlin Price, the next batter attempted a sacrifice bunt that reached Rivers on a line. Rivers sank to one knee to make the catch, then doubled the runner off of first to end that threat.
Montville left two runners on in the sixth and seventh, but each time Rivers — who coach Brittany Robinson said hits more locations than any pitcher she's had — was able to retire the final hitter, getting a ground ball to second base to end the game.
"I don't remember the details. I just know we won," Robinson said with a smile. "This was a big game. ... We have more summer ball players this year, girls who love the sport."
In the first inning, Rivers, Ledyard's No. 2 hitter, reached on a dropped third strike. Money followed with a base hit and took second as the throw went to third base to try to catch the athletic Rivers. Amidon singled in Rivers and Money quickly followed on a passed ball.
Leading 2-1, Ledyard's insurance run came in the sixth. After a flyout by Money to lead off, Amidon drove a triple over the left fielder and took off running for home just as Cox, the No. 5 hitter, dropped down a first-pitch bunt. The squeeze was assistant coach Marc Forster's idea, Robinson said.
"I had confidence in her," Amidon said of Cox. "I knew she was going to do what she had to do. I saw it was down and said, 'OK, here we go.'"
Michon, a Class M all-state pick last year who has a five-inning no-hitter to her credit already this season, allowed four hits against Ledyard, striking out 10 and walking one. Abby Diamantini and Price each had a pair of singles for Montville.
"We had a couple breakdowns in the first inning," Montville coach Derek Wainwright said. "Games like this, you can't give anybody extra outs. They took some extra bases. (Ledyard has) a couple girls that can hit the ball. (Amidon) saw four pitches and she hit three of them.
"We need to hit the ball a little bit better. We'll be back to see them again. I just think Ledyard came out seeing this as a real big game. It took our team three outs to realize they were in a ballgame."