Pictured: Amalia DeMartino, right, Coginchaug’s starting and winning pitcher against Valley Regional on Monday, walks off the field with Mia Poturnicki, who pitched an inning of scoreless relief. (Marc Silvestrini photo)
By Marc Silvestrini
DURHAM — Coginchaug softball coach Steve DeMartino is a hard man to impress.
Like all good and successful coaches, DeMartino is a perfectionist. He expects his players to play hard, play smart and play well. Always.
Monday’s 11-3 win over a short-handed Valley Regional team that was missing three starters due to illness or injuries appeared to be a top-shelf performance by the Blue Devils, who improved their record to 12-2 in the process.
But then again DeMartino is a perfectionist who isn’t easy to impress.
“I told them after the game that I was a little disappointed in our level of intensity,” he said. “We really didn’t seem to be into the game, we didn’t seem to have a lot of energy.”
“We played well in spots,” he added. “We got some big hits and scored some runs in clumps, but we didn’t really string our hits together with any consistency.
“I didn’t think this was one of our best games.”
Coginchaug got an excellent start from senior Amalia DeMartino, the coach’s daughter, who allowed five hits and three runs over six innings of work, while fanning seven and walking only one. The win improved the senior right-hander’s record to 6-0 on the season.
Coginchaug also got an impressive inning of work out of sophomore Mia Poturnicki, who closed out the game in the seventh, allowing a hit and striking out one.
And the offense backed DeMartino and Poturnicki by amassing 12 hits, including five for extra bases, and five walks against two Valley pitchers.
After DeMartino put the Warriors down in order in the top of the first, she got the Blue Devils’ offense going by hitting an 0-2 pitch sharply to center for the first hit of the game. Catcher Dana Boothroyd then topped a roller to the left of the mound for an infield single and her sister, Kelly, drew a walk to load the bases.
Sophomore Jackie Kelly then delivered the first two runs of the game with a ringing double to the gap in right-center field, followed by Amanda Case’s solid base hit to left that delivered two more runs to give Coginchaug a 4-0 lead.
An opposite-field double by freshman catcher Riley Soares, an RBI bouncer to the mound by starting pitcher Anna Benson and a run-scoring single by shortstop Vivian Paradis helped Valley rally back for a pair of runs in the top of the third to make it 4-2, but Coginchaug scored three in its half of the inning to stake DeMartino to a 7-2 lead.
Kelly began the Coginchaug third by drawing a walk against Mckenzie Mule, who had replaced Benson on the mound for the Warriors. One out later, Allison Strang drilled a double to the gap in left-center, scoring Kelly.
Natalie Ness then singled Strang to third from where she scored on a passed ball. Ness, who had stolen second and moved to third on the passed ball, then scored on freshman Alayna Mariani’s bouncer to first.
Coginchaug extended its lead with single runs in the fourth and fifth frames before Paradis singled home a run in the Valley sixth to make it 9-3.
The Devils concluded the scoring by tacking on two more in the sixth on a single by Kelly Boothroyd, Case’s RBI triple to deep left and Strang’s second run-scoring double of the game.
Strang may well have had a third double but was robbed of what looked like a sure extra-base hit by Valley center fielder Lexi Ross’ outstanding catch.
“I was hitting the ball on the ground a lot so I’ve been trying to be more patient at the plate lately,” Strang said. “I’m trying to wait for pitches that I can put better swings on, swings with full extension.”
Strang’s two doubles and two ribbies and Case’s two hits and three RBIs paced the Blue Devils’ attack while DeMartino and Ness each had two hits and Kelly had two RBIs.
Paradis led Valley’s six-hit attack with two hits and two RBIs while Soares also had a pair of hits for the Warriors.
“With three of our starters not playing today we had to play some people who haven’t played much this year and we had to play others in positions they’re not real familiar with,” Valley coach Allyson Pitney said. “I’m very proud of the way our kids stepped up. They didn’t give up, they showed a lot of heart and they made some excellent plays today.”
Valley, now 5-11 on the season, closes out its regular season with home games against Old Saybrook on Wednesday and Old Lyme on Friday. Both games are scheduled to start at 4 p.m.
Coginchaug, which has now won nine in a row, has three road games left on its schedule: Tuesday at North Branford (4 p.m. start), Wednesday at East Hampton/Portland (3:45 p.m.) and Thursday at Old Lyme (4).
VR 002 001 0–3 6 3
Cog 403 112 x–11 12 0
Batteries: VR–Benson, Mule (3), Benson (6) and Soares; Cog–DeMartino, Poturnicki (7) and D. Boothroyd. WP: DeMartino; LP: Benson. 2B: VR–Soars; Cog–Strang (2), Kelly. 3B: Cog–DeMartino, Case. Records: Valley Regional 5-11; Coginchaug 12-2.