CIAC SOFTBALL: Furniss, Blanchard drive Knights down K Street

SOUTHINGTON — The top-seeded Lady Knights of Southington defeated the No. 17 Wilton Warriors 7-0 in the second round of the state Class LL softball tournament on Wednesday afternoon.

Madison Furniss and Stella Blanchard combined for 18 strikeouts in a win that sends the unbeaten defending champs into Friday’s quarterfinals at 24-0 to face No. 25 Danbury (10-12) in Southington.

Wilton, overpowered by Southington’s 1-2 pitching punch, closed shop at 12-10.

Southington coach Davina Hernandez, speaking of her team’s dominant pitching performance, said Furniss and Blanchard hit their spots and that’s what made them so effective — and when they did miss, it wasn’t over the plate, it was out of the zone.

Furniss, a junior, went five innings and fanned 13. She allowed two hits and two walks.

Blanchard, a senior, finished the final two frames, striking out five of the six batters she faced.

In the first inning, Furniss struck out the side, all on fastballs with such velocity you could hear the pop of the mitt from the other end of the school.

On offense, the Lady Knights played small ball in their half of the inning, when leadoff hitter Elyse Picard drew a walk and proceeded to steal second and third. Then, No. 3 hitter Sam Rogers dropped down a sacrifice bunt to drive in the run.

“Our lineup will bunt one through nine,” Hernandez noted. “We know that every run is going to count in the tournament, so we practiced bunting for an hour straight yesterday.”

The top of the second was more of the same for Furniss. She retired the side in order with strikeouts, two swinging and one looking.

Southington, meanwhile, scratched across another in its half of the second on a line-drive single to center by Emma Quint.

Furniss once again struck out the side in the third, all swinging on fastballs.

The Lady Knights scored two more in the third after a two-out error by Wilton. It came on a ball put into play by Nicole Szuba after a 10-pitch at-bat.

Wilton finally made its first contact off Furniss with a one-out hit in the fourth inning from Grace DiBuono-Krafick. Avery Samai then walked, but Furniss retired the next two batters to escape trouble.

Picard tripled on a deep fly ball to left in the bottom of the fourth for the Lady Knights, but she was stranded at third.

Furniss struck out two more in the top of the fifth, which ended up being her last inning.

Rodgers scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth, then Southington showed its willingness to bunt again with a sacrifice RBI from Szuba.

That gave the Blue Knights a lead of 6-0 heading into the sixth, where they brought in Stella Blanchard. She struck out the side in the sixth, picked up an insurance run in the home half, then struck out the first two batters of the seventh and she got the final out on a pop to first.


More From This Section