No. 2 St. Joseph rallies to beat No. 6 Ledyard in Class L softball semis
West Haven — Among the first sequence of events Wednesday night: Ledyard High School's Samantha Money led off by reaching on an error and stole second, in scoring position less than five minutes into the Colonels' Class L state tournament semifinal game against St. Joseph.
Money, Ledyard's all-state junior shortstop — not just steady on defense but at times other-worldly — then turned a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the inning, from second baseman Layla Lasisomphone to Money to first baseman Madison Miller.
Second-seeded St. Joseph won the game, an 11-5 slugfest at a drizzly West Haven High School complex, but first it had to contend with No. 6 Ledyard, the last remaining representative of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
Ledyard (18-4) led by a 4-0 margin after two and a half innings despite facing a favored St. Joe's team which won its two state tournament games to this juncture by a combined 16-0, forcing the Cadets to mount a comeback ... and a substantial one.
"We knew we had to start quickly. I 100% think we did. We executed what we needed to do," said Money, who finished 2-for-5 with a run scored. "The biggest thing is we didn't come in scared. We did our best. Obviously, they've got good batters.
"Honestly, everybody (for Ledyard) played awesome today. There isn't anything you could do about hitters hitting it in gaps."
St. Joseph (22-1) will face top-seeded Masuk in the Class L championship game either Friday or Saturday at a site and time to be announced.
Making its first state semifinal appearance since 1996, Ledyard took a 4-0 lead in the top of the third. Iyanna Kirvan walked to load the bases with one out, followed by a ground ball to first by cleanup hitter Shailynn Williams which scored Money with the first run. The throw home then sailed wide, scoring Aaliyah Amidon to make it 2-0.
A ground ball by Lasisomphone for the second out scored Kirvan to make it 3-0 and Williams scored on a wild pitch for the four-run lead.
St. Joseph got two runs back in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by an RBI double from Maddy Fitzgerald. The hits continued in the fourth, with Ledyard scoring on an RBI single by Sara Rivers to make it 5-2 and St. Joseph unloading for three runs to tie it.
In the fourth, Riley McDermott reached on an error for St. Joseph, Janelli Pratts walked, Claire Gardella and Coco Bartone singled home runs and Niamh Dougherty tied things on a fielder's choice to short which brought home Gardella with the third run of the inning.
St. Joe's added three in the fifth to take an 8-5 lead, getting an RBI single by McDermott for the go-ahead run and a key RBI double by Bartone. Amidon, Ledyard's third baseman, pitched in relief in the fifth and for the first three batters of the sixth, spelling Rivers, but St. Joseph continued its offensive onslaught with three in the sixth for an 11-5 margin.
St. Joseph pitcher Lauren Wasikowski, meanwhile, allowed just two Ledyard baserunners after the fourth, retiring the side in order in the fifth and the sixth and allowing the Cadets enough breathing room to take the lead.
"I am proud. I told them they have to be proud," Ledyard coach Brittany Robinson said. "It hurts now, but they'll appreciate it one day."
The game was originally scheduled for Tuesday night at West Haven but was rained out. The teams returned Wednesday only to sit through a lightning delay before starting the game at 7:40 p.m.
Robinson said her team didn't worry about the delays. On Wednesday, the players sang on the bus and coerced Robinson into sending out her first live Instagram post prior to start time.
"This could be the best team I've ever played on," Money said. "The best. The funniest. Never a dull moment. Everybody talks and it's great.
"... It's the coolest thing ever knowing you're making (program) history while you're playing a game. We're going to be back here."
Ledyard's only three losses prior to Wednesday came to ECC rival Waterford. The Colonels reached the semis with an 8-2 win over No. 27 Joel Barlow in the first round, a 3-0 victory over No. 11 Bristol Central in the second round and a 6-2 win over Fitch in the quarterfinals.
Stories that may interest you
The CIAC football committee added a new wrinkle to its playoff point system whereby a team will receive five bonus points for each win earned by an opponent “regardless of the outcome of the game played against each opponent.”