Beverly named Most Outstanding as Stonington takes ECC Div. II softball title
Griswold — Stonington's Cayla Beverly took a line drive off her shin during her first varsity outing as a freshman.
"It was the scariest moment of my life," Beverly said. "... I think there are very few freshmen who are ready for this and I think I was not."
Beverly, now a senior whom coach Ann-Marie Houle still describes as "unassuming," was unsure how to react Thursday afternoon when she was named Most Outstanding Player of the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II softball tournament championship game following the top-seeded Bears' 2-0 victory over No. 2 St. Bernard.
Beverly, one of nine seniors on the Stonington team which won the ECC Division III championship during the regular season, pitched a three-hit shutout against St. Bernard, striking out 10, walking two and hitting a batter, after also leading Stonington to the victory in Wednesday night's ECC tournament semifinals against Montville. Stonington (17-4) played at 7 p.m. Wednesday and again at 2 p.m. Thursday.
"You're just proud," Houle said of Beverly. "I said it to her today before the game, it was her game. Kudos to St. Bernard, they played their hearts out. For Cayla, I thought she settled down after the second (inning). You could see the difference. They put runners on and she got them out. She's smart. When she needs a strikeout, she gets it. When she feels like she can trust the defense, she gets them to ground out and pop up."
Stonington scored a run in the bottom of the first when Cami Brown led off with a walk and came around on a pair of throwing errors. The Bears added an insurance run in the fourth when Madi Allard singled over second base, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Brown. The Bears also only managed three hits against St. Bernard freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Scribner and left the bases loaded in the first inning on three straight popups.
St. Bernard (13-7), the ECC Division IV champion during the regular season, had runners in scoring position in the first three innings. In the second, Alyssa Lazarou was hit by a pitch and Jorlennys Rosario reached on an error before Beverly got out of the inning with a fielder's choice, a strikeout and a running catch by Allard in right field. Aubree Nygaard doubled with one out in the third for St. Bernard, but was stranded on a strikeout and a popup.
Beverly then had 1-2-3 innings in three of the final four frames, striking out the side in the fourth.
"There's everything to say about this group," Houle said. "They're amazing. It's been an unexpectedly fantastic year. I'm happy for the seniors. They've done so much. I love this senior group."
"I've played with all of them since I was 8," Beverly said of the seniors. "We all have each other's back. ... I think the biggest thing I've learned (since freshman year) is I've learned to tune everyone out."
St. Bernard reached the championship game with an 8-3 victory over Lyman Memorial in the semifinals. And the Saints were operating with a brand new lineup in the tournament, coach Ray O'Donnell said. Stonington blanked St. Bernard 17-0 during the regular season, but the Saints more than erased that memory Thursday with several nice defensive plays including a diving catch by freshman catcher Maddie Scribner on a foul ball.
"I am happy," O'Donnell said. "We had players playing different positions. We have fun. I told them before we took the field, there's no one here but us that thinks we should be here. ... It was a great game for us going into states."
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