WEST HAVEN — Two Southern Connecticut Conference heavyweights, well-versed in each other’s tendencies after three games this season, circled and jabbed carefully to find an edge.
The day started with rain pelting a major portion of the state and the skies over the West Haven shoreline were overcast. Would either Amity or Cheshire tire in the hot sun that beat down when the clouds parted just after game time? Could Cheshire beat Amity for the fourth time in three months?
The Rams answered those questions definitively as they entered a place somewhere beyond great.
Hannah Salvietti jolted a fourth-inning RBI double that opened the gates for three more runs as the top-ranked Rams rode the slinging right arm of Abby Abramson to a 5-0 victory over No. 6 Amity at Frank Biondi Field to cap off an undefeated season with the school’s first CIAC Class LL title.
Cheshire (27-0) had been to the finals five previous times without a win, including last year’s heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Southington in which the Rams led 4-0. Amity (21-6) was bidding for its sixth crown in 15 appearances.
“This was not a seasoned team,” coach Kristine Drust said.
Indeed, these conquering Rams had to replace four starters from the 2015 runner-up.
“It’s a testament to our leaders and our alumni for getting us here last year that made us so much more mentally tough to be able to come back this year,” she said.
Abramson (27-0) agreed.
“I wholeheartedly believe that where we were last year allowed us to get here — the mindset,” she said. “It gave us the mindset of how to move forward to be successful in today’s game.”
Abramson, named the game MVP, fired a four-hitter in hurling her fourth tournament shutout in four games. She struck out seven and walked two. No Amity baserunner got as far as third base.
“Typical Abby. She gets stronger as the game goes on,” said her catcher Megan Hodgdon.
The game was scoreless heading into the Cheshire fourth when Amity pitcher Katie Koshes glanced in at Abramson leading off. The Amity southpaw had pitched Abramson (0-for-0, 3 walks) carefully in the first with the memory of Abramson’s tape-measure homer in the SCC Tournament at Biondi undoubtedly on her mind. The Rams’ SCC Player of the Year also had four hits in the May 11 game in Woodbridge.
Koshes pitched around her again and it proved to be fatal.
“Ever since that home run, every team has pitched around her,” Drust said. “If you take how many walks she has in the last five games, it’s double digits. She’s just capable of changing the game around so instead of seeing a ball go deep and grabbing momentum from that, they’ve chosen to put her on base and that’s been helping us out because we have great hitters after her.”
With Kinsey Ratchelous on to run, Sam Simione dropped down a sacrifice bunt.
Salvietti delivered the big blow — a double up the alley in left-center that scored Ratchelous easily.
“She was throwing a lot outside, so I adjusted in the batter’s box,” Salvietti said. “I was focusing on just getting a base hit. She’s a great pitcher. She’s always pitched hard against us and come out strong. It was just that we came out stronger.”
Hodgdon followed with a single to center scoring Salvietti with the second run. Hodgdon raced to second on the throw home and took third on a wild pitch. Koshes was wilting.
Sara Mulligan walked and stole second when the Amity defense opted to check Hodgdon at third. Alex Czarkosky lofted a sacrifice fly to center and Mia Juodaitis slashed an RBI single to hand Abramson a 4-0 lead heading into the fifth.
With the shutdown inning at hand, Abramson issued a leadoff walk to Jenna Thomas, but set down the next three hitters in order, leaving the Spartans in a precarious spot.
Cheshire added another run in the sixth.
Mulligan (1-for-2, 2 runs, stolen base) blooped a single to right. Juodaitis (2-for-3) singled. Mulligan raced to third, then scored on an errant throw from the outfield.
Koshes left the game after 5 2/3 innings with four walks and seven strikeouts. Of the five runs she surrendered, four were earned.
Both teams put runners on first and second with one out in the first inning and didn’t score.
Nicole Koshes (2-for-3) and Teresa Marchitto singled sharply to left, but they never advanced. Bri Floyd dropped a bloop single in right field and Abramson worked an eight-pitch walk, but they were left there.
Amity put the lead hitter on in each of the last four frames, but Abramson stifled any thoughts of a rally.
“She makes us chase,” Amity coach Sara Hale said. “She makes us think about what we are doing. She makes us change our game plan.”
Cheshire defeated the Spartans twice during the SCC Housatonic Division campaign — a 2-0 win at home April 25 and a 5-4 cliffhanger in Woodbridge on May 11. The Rams also avenged a semifinal loss in the 2015 SCC Tournament by beating the Spartans, 4-1, in the semifinals before locking up the title against Lauralton Hall.
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