Fitch hangs on for 3-2 win over East Lyme in ECC Div. I tourney
Groton — Conference tournaments mean familiar opponents and East Lyme High School softball coach Judy Deeb paid Fitch pitcher Charlotte Cabral perhaps the best possible compliment late Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m glad she’s graduating,” Deeb said with a smile of Cabral.
Grace Cosmopoulos smacked an inside-the-park home run to the left-center field gap in the fourth inning and Cabral struck out the game’s final hitter in the seventh with the bases full of Vikings as No. 3 Fitch hung on for a 3-2 victory over No. 6 East Lyme in the quarterfinals of the ECC Division I tournament.
Fitch meets No. 2 Norwich Free Academy at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the second game of a semifinal doubleheader at Griswold High School. No. 1 Waterford takes on No. 4 Woodstock Academy at 4 p.m.
Fitch led 1-0 before East Lyme tied things with a run in the sixth. Fitch (12-9) added two in the bottom of the sixth before the Vikings (9-11) pushed across a run and threatened more in the seventh.
“We thankfully got on the winning side today but they’re a tough team,” Fitch coach Jackie Lewis said of East Lyme. “I told the team that even though we’ve beaten them twice this year, they battled with us and anyone can beat anyone any day.
“That showed. We were up 1-0 the whole time and then the game starts to change and we have to be able to adapt to that and play our game and not let ourselves get in the way of ourselves.”
The matchup was a showcase between pitchers Cabral and East Lyme junior Abby Robinson, who both do some of their best work in the clutch.
Cabral struck out six, walked one and hit a batter, scattering eight hits. Above all, Cabral stranded nine East Lyme runners, including two in the first, two in the sixth and three in the seventh.
Robinson, who went 2-for-4 as the Vikings’ leadoff hitter, struck out eight, walked one, hit a batter and also left nine Fitch runners on base. Robinson stranded two runners in each the second and third, getting out of both innings with strikeouts. She allowed just one earned run.
“It’s missed opportunities all along,” Deeb said. “It breaks my heart because Abby pitched a hell of a game and she’s been pitching that way all season long, basically. I just can’t say enough about her. She didn’t get rattled at all.
“... Hey, but they fought back. They fought back and they finally started hitting the ball.”
East Lyme tied the game in the sixth when Arleen McKiernan led off with a single and Grace DuBrava unloaded a double over the right fielder’s head to give the Vikings runners on second and third. Ava Korinek hit a popup to third that was misplayed, allowing the run to score.
Fitch got a one-out single from Gabby Amaral in the sixth and a potential sacrifice bunt by Emma Robinson was misplayed by East Lyme, leaving two runners on. Both scored on a two-out ground ball to second base by Sydney Lyon that fell just out of reach for a two-run single.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Robinson and McKiernan singled and Ava Roach ripped an RBI single to left field to pull the Vikings within 3-2. Cabral walked DuBrava to load the bases, the game hanging in the balance before the Fitch senior got the final strikeout.
“They’re a very good team, so it was kind of difficult but we came through,” said Cabral, whose teammates call her “Chuck.”
Cabral, Fitch’s CIAC scholar-athlete, is headed to UConn to major in environmental engineering and minor in chemistry, but she has left her mark in the ECC.
“Charlotte does a great job. We rely on her. She’s a rock,” said Lewis, who added that she was going to try to give Cabral a break if possible Tuesday to keep her fresh for the semifinals but didn’t want to mess with her “mojo.”
“She continues to grind. She does what she needs to do. She’s calm, cool, collected and smart.”