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    Thursday, September 29, 2022

    No. 4 Southington softball team edges No. 7 Waterford 4-1

    Waterford — Waterford was already trailing 2-0 on a pair of Southington home runs in the first inning Friday and the Blue Knights had another runner on third base with one out.

    That's when Southington's Kaitlynn Griffin sent a bunt down the third base line to Waterford's Emilia Podeszwa, who scooped the ball with her glove, never transferring it to her hand, to catcher Melanie Martin in time to get the runner at home plate.

    Southington, ranked fourth in the state in the GameTimeCT Top 10, went on to beat No. 7 Waterford 4-1.

    But, with the Eastern Connecticut Conference and Class L state tournaments forthcoming, this is the competitive Waterford team softball onlookers have come to know.

    Waterford senior Maddie Burrows pitched a five-hitter against the Blue Knights, who have scored in double figures in three of their last four games, and the dangerous Burrows came to the plate with the bases loaded in the sixth inning before smacking a line drive right at second baseman Ashlyn Kenefick for the last out of the inning.

    Waterford had five hits against three Southington pitchers.

    "I definitely did not want that run to score. Who knows what would have happened if that run did score. It could have gotten them the momentum and they could have scored even more," Podeszwa said. "We worked really hard. We kept through it and we played a good game."

    Burrows said she celebrated Podeszwa's gem of a defensive play inside, while keeping her cool on the outside.

    "I don't want to be out there (doing this) but in my head I'm like, 'Let's goooooo!'" Burrows said.

    Burrows and Podeszwa are both the daughters of coaches, with Podeszwa's dad Chris an assistant baseball coach for Big East Conference regular-season champion and 16th-ranked UConn.

    "We're definitely a little competitive," Podeszwa said with a laugh.

    Burrows got the first two outs of the game against Southington before Samantha Sullivan and Samantha Rogers mashed back-to-back pitches over the fence to make it 2-0 in favor of the Blue Knights. Southington (18-1) made it 3-0 in the third on an error and an RBI single by Rogers that was rifled to right field.

    Waterford got a run back in the bottom of the third when Burrows led off with a triple and scored on an RBI single by Emma Marelli, who finished the day 2-for-4 and reached base three times, but Southington made it 4-1 with a run in the sixth.

    Waterford had baserunners in every inning, loading the bases for Burrows in the sixth with a single by Lily Marelli, a fielder's choice by Lexi Collins with all of the runners safe on the play and a walk to Martin.

    Sullivan pitched three innings for Southington before being relieved by Stella Blanchard in the fourth and Madison Furniss in the sixth.

    Burrows struck out eight and walked two for Waterford (15-4), which has faced off against three of the other top 10 teams in the state, falling to No. 1 Fairfield Ludlowe and beating No. 6 East Haven.

    "We keep the energy up in the dugout, that's what keeps me going the whole time," Burrows said. "I know those first two home runs I was like, I made a weird face, but then they came together on the mound and we, like, laughed about it. 'Well, they're good.' Stuff like that keeps the spirits up.

    "Mil's play today, we don't practice that at regular practice, so now she can take that into the ECC tournament and now we have that experience that 'I know I can do it again.' (The losses) bug us a little bit but we know what we need to work on ... we know we're a good team."

    Waterford, the ECC Division I champion, meets Division III champ Stonington on Sunday in their annual Play4TheCure game to benefit cancer awareness before the league tournament begins Tuesday.

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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