MANSFIELD — Overcome with emotion, Girls Little League Softball of Wallingford coach Carl Tetrault talked about how his 10U All-Star team came back so often this postseason and how the girls always played as a team.
Indeed, they played like a team again Thursday night. They did not, however, have to worry about any comebacks. Not this time.
Sparked by Julia Cassesse’s two-run homer in the first inning and the dominant pitching of Sophie Tetrault, Wallingford defeated Groton/Mystic 9-3 to win the Connecticut championship in their age division.
“We have kids who sacrificed and it’s all about the team and not one player,” said Coach Tetrault. “We couldn’t be prouder of each and every one of these kids.”
Wallingford got those widespread contributions against Groton/Mystic on Thursday night. While Sophie Tetrault was striking out 16 batters, she was backed offensively by the likes of Lily Dandorph, Ava Saez, Hayley LaValley, Mattingly Andrews and Natalie Schaefer.
Production from those girls enabled to Wallingford to build a 4-0 lead through three innings and, after Groton/Mystic closed to within 4-2 in the fourth, put the game away with five runs in the fifth.
“Last year, we lost in the sectional final and we lost four or five quality players that graduated out of our program,” Tetrault noted. “We had our doubts about the younger kids coming up, but they all played phenomenal.”
Thursday’s victory capped a remarkable postseason that saw two Wallingford softball teams — 12U and 10U — reach the state final four after winning District 5 and Section 2. The younger girls pushed through in Mansfield by beating Monroe 4-2 and then Groton/Mystic twice in a row, 1-0 and 9-3.
”We’re a small program with, like, 80 kids in it,” Tetrault said. “Our 12U team just went to the state tournament and now our 10U just won and we couldn’t have done it without our coaches, our volunteers, our board members, our parents. It’s just a total village.”
The 10U All-Star village featured Ava Sutera (LF), Ava Saez (CF), Chloe Carling (2B), Haley LaValley (P/3B), Jamie Fitzgibbons (RF), Julia Cassesse (C), Lily Dandorph (1B), Logan Slabaugh (RF), MaryJane Prentice (LF), Mattingly Andrews (SS), Natalie Schaefer (LF), Nina Gross (LF) and Sophie Tetreault (3B/P).
Carl Tetreault coached with the assistance of Steve Cassesse and Keith Dandorph.
The team got rolling right away Thursday. In the bottom of the first, with Lily Dandorph on base, Julia Cassesse launched a shot over the left fielder’s head and legged it out for her two-run homer.
Wallingford pushed the lead to 4-0 in the third. Ava Saez doubled to right and scored on a single to the left side by Hayley LaValley, who later scooted home on a passed ball.
Meanwhile, Sophie Tetreault was cruising. She allowed two hits and four walks in the first three innings, but got all nine outs by way of the K.
That trend continued in the fourth, as Tetrault pushed her strikeout total to 12. Groton/Mystic, however, got to her for two runs on a walk and three hits to cut the deficit in half, 4-2.
That was as close as Groton/Mystic would get. In the bottom of the fifth, Wallingford erupted for five runs.
Dandroph singled to right and scored on a Saez base hit to left. Another run came in on an infield single by LaValley, another on a groundout to first by Mattingly Andrews.
Natalie Schaefer kept it going by knocking a RBI single into right field and later scoring on a error by the catcher as she threw the ball back to the pitcher.
Groton/Mystic managed to plate one more run in the sixth, but it was well over. Connecticut’s 10U All-Star softball championship banner was in the hands of Wallingford.