WEST HAVEN — Senior Rachel Dube smacked an 0-2 fastball over the left-field fence to give the No. 1 Southington softball team its second consecutive Class LL state title with an epic 1-0, 15-inning win over No. 7 Amity on Saturday night at Frank Biondi Field.
Dube ended the longest state softball final since the 1998 Class S final between Coginchaug and Hale Ray (16 innings) and finished off the Blue Knights’ undefeated season.
“It’s a great feeling right now,” Dube said. “It was one hell of a game.
“To end my senior year like this is a great feeling. I didn’t know it was gone until everyone started lining up. That’s when I knew.”
Dube shared MVP honors with Southington junior hurler Kendra Friedt, who matched zeros with Amity lefty Katie Koshes before Dube’s blast ended the marathon.
Friedt fanned 16 and gave up eight hits and no walks. Kate Koshes struck out 21 and walked one and scattered six hits.
“I came out every inning knowing I had to be on my game,” Friedt said. “If they hit, I know my teammates would be on their game. Usually I don’t pitch more than five or six innings, so pitching 15 is a stretch.”
Southington (24-0) coach Davina Hernandez said Friedt was missing her spots early in the game. Amity (22-6) was getting runners on, but Friedt stranded every one.
Friedt pitched around lead-off singles in the first two innings. She was aided by solid defense.
Heather Ferranti led off the second with a single and was run for by Cassidy Kirby. Jill DeMaio grounded into fielder’s choice. Kirby was called safe after Southington shortstop Sydney Ferrante was not on the bag long enough to be given the neighborhood play by the umpire.
Kirby, however, didn’t see the umpire had called her safe. Kirby strayed from the bag and Ferrante tagged her and ended the threat.
Friedt got out of major jam in the top of the sixth inning. Amity got one-out hits from Krista Reynolds and Koshes. Reynolds went to third on a wild pitch, giving the Spartans first and third with no outs.
Julia Bedini pinch-ran for Koshes and took off for second. Kaitlin Paterson cut off the ball and threw a strike to Dube at the plate. The senior catcher slapped a tag on Reynolds for the second out. Then, on a 3-2 pitch, Friedt blew away Amity’s No. 3 hitter, Teresa Marchitto, with a high heater.
Koshes allowed a leadoff single to Dube in the fifth and a two-out bunt single to Hayley Arduini, but the lefty stranded both runners.
Emily Lippincott led off the bottom of the ninth with a bunt single past the pitcher and first baseman. It was the Knights’ third hit of the game and it sent the bench into delirium. Koshes, however, got the next three in order.
Jill DeMaio started the Amity 10th with a single down the right field line. After a pop out to first, Ferrante turned an amazing double play on a grounder by Haley Kober. After Ferrante threw to first to get Kober, Southington first baseman Wadolowski threw back to Paterson, who caught DeMaio straying too far off the bag and beat the runner in a foot race to the vacated third base.
Wadolowski dropped a one-out bunt in the 10th. After a strikeout, Arduini drew Koshes’ first walk of the night to put two runners on for Caroline Burke, who grounded the first pitch to third to end the threat.
Paterson started the Southington 11th with a bloop single in front of the Amity left fielder with one out. Lauren Zazzaro bunted her to second, giving Ferrante a runner in scoring position with two outs, but the senior struck out to end the frame.
Kober started the Amity 13th with a single to left. She was sacrificed to second by Heather Watt. On a grounder to Ferrante at short, she caught Kober running to third to get the lead runner. Friedt induced a grounder by Koshes to end the inning.
The strong Southington defense kept the Spartans off the board and allowed for Dube’s heroics, which delivered Southington’s 16th state title.
Dube also provided the game-winning hit in the 2-1 victory over Cheshire in the quarterfinals.
“She wanted to bunt because the infield was back, but I told her to take a cut and she did and was right on it,” Hernandez said. “I told her to crowd the plate and, just like the Cheshire game, she crowded the plate and got a hold of it.”
Before Dube’s blast, the umpire came to both dugouts and said that they were checking if there would be a curfew on the game. Luckily for the Knights, Dube made that point moot.
“I knew it was out,” Hernandez said of the game-winning blast. “You probably saw me running down the line. She is so strong. When she gets a hold of the ball, it goes.”