Groton/Mystic softball stays composed, wins Little League state tournament opener
Windsor — There were any half a dozen reasons for Groton/Mystic pitcher Charlotte Cabral — whom coach Will Jenkins would later on refer to by her nickname, “Chuck” — to come unraveled.
Cabral allowed eight baserunners through the first three innings Thursday night in Game 1 of the Connecticut Little League softball tournament (ages 11-12), hitting four Windsor batters and loading the bases twice. It was hot and humid. And the opposing fans, cheering for what was essentially the home team, were quite loud (one was later ejected for directing a series of obscenities toward the umpires).
Yet, through all that, Cabral, now 13 and an incoming eighth-grader at West Side Middle School, maintained the composure of a pitcher who was much more mature than her years, pitching a three-hitter in Groton/Mystic's 4-0 victory.
“I kind of just remembered my mechanics and what I needed to do,” Cabral said. “I was turning in the beginning of the pitch.”
Then, in the fourth through sixth innings, Cabral got stingy, allowing just three baserunners on two hits and one more hit batter.
She struck out five in all, two in the fifth, and induced a tapper to end the fourth on a timely changeup. The Groton/Mystic defense also rose to the occasion, with first baseman Katie Tuohy saving a potentially errant throw with a scoop out of the dirt and catcher Angelica Tompkins diving to catch a bunt attempt in foul territory.
Cabral, one of Groton/Mystic's two usual starters along with Tuohy, got the nod in the opener with Tuohy nursing a sore ankle.
Groton/Mystic, the state Section 3 champion, plays its second game of the tournament at 8 p.m. Friday.
“I just tell 'em, 'to be a true team, you've got to pick up players when they're down,'” Jenkins said. “ 'Charlotte has won so many games for us, let's win it it for her. … You just pick your teammate up.'
“… They've had composure. They've been (playing) together for years. They lost the district final two years in a row before they won it this year. 'Have fun,' that's what I tell them. 'Just have fun.'”
Groton/Mystic led 2-0 after three innings on a pair of unearned runs. Tompkins singled in the second, went to second on a ground ball, stole third and scored on an error. In the third, Sydney Lyon doubled to left and scored on a pair of overthrows.
Groton/Mystic then added a pair of runs in the top of the sixth.
Grace Jenkins singled to lead off, hitting a line drive off first baseman Annika Lachniet. Lachniet recovered quickly, but Jenkins was said to have avoided the tag. Jenkins then stole second. Abriel Carey singled to left, with Jenkins going to third, and a heads-up Jenkins scored when the next batter, Tompkins, popped to first in foul ground, with no one covering home.
Sophia Cabral added an RBI single to right to score Carey for the final margin.
“Every team, you get tired toward the end,” Jenkins said. “You have to be aggressive (on the basepaths) and maybe they make a mistake. … I told them I'd buy them ice cream if they won. That's the third time they've done that. I think they like playing for ice cream better than they like playing for banners.”
Lyon, Jenkins and Carey each had two of Groton/Mystic's nine hits.
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