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WALLINGFORD — Make it five straight District 5 titles for Girls Little League Softball of Wallingford.
Wallingford earned its latest district crown by sweeping Bristol in a best-of-three series in the finals. Wallingford took the opener 8-0 in Bristol and then won the title with a 7-2 win at home at Pragemann Park.
Payton Collins fanned 15 in the victory, scattering five hits and two earned runs. Carlin caught the gem behind the plate.
The battery was aided by strong defensive efforts from Cassesse at shortstop and Tetrault at third base. Each had five put-outs.
Thomas led Wallingford’s offensive attack with four hits and four RBI in the series. Perkins and Dandorph each blasted triples, while Carling, Findley and Collins connected for two hits apiece. Haley LaValley and Andrews each scored in the series.
Girls Little League Softball of Wallingford president Kristine Carling said the league has enjoyed a resurgence in terms of participation over the past few years.
“Our goal is to be one of the best Little League programs in the state and we are really excited about our progress and what lies ahead for all of our players,” Carling said. “These girls have had tremendous success on the softball field and they have also been outstanding role models for all of the younger girls in the league.
“This has been a tough year, but thanks to all of our parents and players, we were able to have successful season, culminating in another championship.”
This year’s 12U Wallingford team featured returning players Mattingly Andrews, Melanie Carling, Julia Cassesse, Emerson Collins, Payton Collins, Lily Dandorph, Kaylin Findley, Haley LaValley, Mariana Perkins, Ava Saez, Sofie Tetrault and Madison Thomas.
Delayna Leonard was a newcomer to the team, earning an All-Star spot in her first year in the league.
The team was managed by Jamesohn LaValley and coached by Todd Carling, Steve Cassesse and Mike Collins.
After winning District 5, Wallingford advanced to Section2 play against Milford, Fairfield, Seymour and Wilton.
Wallingford topped Wilton 5-0 in the opener with Cassesse and Andrews leading another strong, error-free defensive effort. Carling singled and scored twice.Collins had a hit and scored a run and tallied an RBI. Collins went 2-for-3 with three RBI. Cassesse and Lily Dandorph also scored in the victory.
Following a second-round bye, Wallingford moved on to play defending state champion Milford in the third round. Milford won a tight game 3-2with a run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Collins had a pair of hits, including a triple and two runs scored. Collins chipped in with a double and a RBI. Saez drew a bases-loaded walk. Thomas, Dandorph, Cassesse and Tetrault all played strong defense.
“It was an awesome game between two good teams,” manager Jamesohn LaValley said. “We had a feeling it would come down to whoever had the last at bat was going to win that game.”
After that tough loss, Wallingford moved on to play Fairfield in an elimination game. After two scoreless innings, Fairfield jumped ahead in the top of the third by taking advantage of some defensive miscues and timely hitting to score four runs. Fairfield would go on to score two more runs to win 6-0.
Carling was behind the plate catching for Payton Collins in all three sectional games, with Collins pitching well and giving up just nine hits and three earned runs, with 22 strikeouts over the 18 innings.
“This has been a very challenging year and I am so proud of each one of you,” LaValley said in the postgame talk to his team. “Keep your heads up; this one game doesn’t define you. The past six weeks of daily practices along with the blood, sweat and tears is what defines you, not only as a player, but as young ladies as well.
“You all have grown so much through this process and that is the victory we take home with us and the victory you will carry with you for the rest of your lives.”