SOUTHINGTON — The Southington softball team set a program record hitting six home runs last week in the Central Connecticut Conference quarterfinals against Maloney.
The Lady Knights did it again Friday, this time in the CIAC Class LL quarterfinals, in a 13-3 victory over the No. 25 Danbury Hatters.
Mallory Rohon and Nicole Szuba homered twice, with Szuba both leaving the yard and circling the bases for an inside-the-parker. Emily Moskal also legged out a homer, while Sam Rogers blasted a no-doubter over the fence.
Combined with the pitching of Stella Blanchard, the power game propelled the top-seeded Blue Knights to 25-0. They advance to the semifinals to take on No. 4 Ridgefield on Monday at a site and time to be announced.
Ridgefield (19-3) advanced with a 2-0 win over No. 5 Norwich Free Academy on Thursday.
On Friday, Southington piled up 19 hits against Danbury. This was a big improvement after the Knights did not hit as well as they would have liked in Wednesday’s 7-0 win over Wilton in the second round.
“We had to manufacture runs, and we didn’t make great contact with the ball throughout the game,” noted Southington coach Davina Hernandez.
As a result, Thursday’s practice was solely devoted to hitting. Southington players hit off the tee, took soft toss and also hit live off their own pitchers.
The biggest difference in this game, from Wednesday, was being more aggressive at the plate. At one point, over the span of the second and third innings, four out of five Southington hitters all swung at the first pitch.
“If we don’t hit, then we don’t score runs and we won’t win,” said Szuba. “Hitting is the key.”
Szuba hit plenty on Friday. THe senior was 4-for-4 with two home runs, three RBI and a stolen base
In all, six players for Southington had multi-hit games. Emma Quint, Rogers and Moskal all had three hits. Madison Furniss and Rohon had two apiece, with Rohon twice leaving the yard.
Blanchard started on the mound for Southington and worked into the sixth before giving way to Furniss. Blanchard re-entered when Furniss ran into some trouble in the seventh.
On the day, Blanchard allowed just two hits and and struck out 10. She struck out the side in the top of the first, then two more in both the second and third innings.
The Lady Knights, meanwhile, made a statement in their half of the first, putting up a 5-spot. Moskal and Szuba both hit inside-the-park home runs in the inning. Sandwiched in between was a single from Rogers and a double by Furniss.
Both balls seemed they would just be triples, but Hernandez waved Moskal and Szuba around, and Southington’s aggressive baserunning paid off.
“We’re always aggressive on the basepaths,” Hernandez said. “We feel for every time we get thrown out, we will be safe nine more.”
Up 5-0, Southington went quietly in the second and third before getting a run across in the fourth on an RBI grounded out by Elyse Picard.
The Lady Knights had another big inning in the fifth, which started with hits from Rogers and Furniss again. Rohon then laced a ball to left field for a three-run homer, which gave Southington a 9-0 lead.
The next batter, Szuba, matched Rohon with a homer of her own to left center for her second home run of the game.
“I wanted to just keep my eye on the ball and make solid contact,” Szuba said.
Danbury, stifled through five innings, got on the board in the sixth. After two walks, the Hatters got singles from Sophia Fenaroli, Reagan Lalor, and Mya Cefaloni, which led to two runs. Lalor had another RBI single in the seventh.
In between, in the bottom of the sixth, Rogers launched her no-doubt home run to left field and, two batters later, Rohon hit her second homer of the game on a ball that just got over the wall in center.