Pictured: Coginchaug and coach Steve DeMartino, with winning pitcher Kelly Boothroyd at left, won the school’s first Class S softball championship since 2012, 14-2 over No. 2 seed Somers on Saturday. (Photo by Paul Augeri)
By Marc Silvestrini
WEST HAVEN — Mission, accomplished.
The Coginchaug softball team exploded for seven runs in the fourth inning Saturday and then coasted to a 14-2 win over Somers in the CIAC Class S tournament championship game at Biondi Field.
The win came on the same field against the same team and the same starting pitcher that defeated the Blue Devils 3-2 in the 2019 Class S title game.
“It would have been amazing to come here and win against any team, but to do it against them — the team that beat us in the final game two years ago — was even better,” said Coginchaug catcher Dana Boothroyd. “It was just perfect.”
Blue Devils senior shortstop Amalia DeMartino, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led Coginchaug’s lethal 17-hit attack with a 5-for-5 performance that included a third-inning home run, a double, four runs scored and three RBIs. DeMartino had an incredible 16 hits in 18 at bats over the course of Coginchaug’s four tournament games.
“She’s just a great hitter,” Somers coach Melanie Zamorski said. “We tried pitching to several different spots against her but she hit it and hit it hard no matter where we threw it. She was just red hot.”
Also swinging hot bats Saturday were freshman Alayna Mariani, who had two hits, including a three-run double in the big fourth inning — the key hit of the game — and four ribbies; leadoff hitter Ava Marenna, who had three hits, three runs scored and an RBI; and Dana Boothroyd, who had a pair of hits and three RBIs.
“We knew she (Somers pitcher Emily Reynolds, the winning pitcher in the 2019 title game) likes to pitch low and outside, so that’s the kind of pitch we’ve practiced hitting this week,” Mariani said in describing her game-altering, bases-loaded double. “When I got that fastball on the outside of the plate, I just tried to hit it as hard as I could to right field.”
Kelly Boothroyd pitched a steady, fully composed complete game for the Devils, scattering 11 hits and fanning nine while issuing no bases on balls.
“I didn’t have my A-plus stuff today — let’s call it an A-minus,” she admitted. “But I never get too nervous even when I don’t have my best stuff because I have a great defense behind me. I trust those guys 100 percent.”
The softball team’s title, combined with the Blue Devils baseball team’s 8-0 win over St. Paul on Friday night in the Class S championship game, gives Coginchaug a rare double-double in both sports. The last school to pull off a baseball-softball double was Holy Cross of Waterbury in 2017 (the last public school to do it was Oxford in 2013).
DeMartino crushed a Reynolds fastball over the fence in dead center in the top of the third inning to break a scoreless tie, the ball landing near the bleachers occupied by many on Coginchaug’s baseball team.
The Spartans came right back in their half of the inning to knot things up on Grace Majowicz’s run-scoring double.
Amanda Case began what would turn into the game-winning rally in the top of the fourth with a one-out single to center. Case moved to third when Allison Strang spun a bunt in front of the plate that resulted in an errant throw to first, putting Blue Devils at second and third.
Natalie Ness then hit a wicked one-hopper back to the mound that Reynolds fielded cleanly. Strang broke for the plate on contact, but alertly pulled up and ran back to third base as Reynolds fielded the ball, sliding
under the tag of third baseman Megan Lafayette. That loaded the bases and brought Mariani to the plate, who quickly unloaded them by slashing a line-drive double down the right-field line to give the Devils a 4-1 lead.
After Marenna’s single put runners at first and third, DeMartino brought home a run with a solid single up the middle, Dana Boothroyd knocked in another run with an infield single, Kelly Boothroyd plated the sixth run of the inning with a sacrifice fly and Jackie Kelly brought home the seventh run of the frame with a single to right.
When the dust cleared, Kelly Boothroyd and the Devils were sitting atop an 8-1 lead.
“I’m a coach that usually emphasizes defense, but all this week we’ve been concentrating on hitting in our practices,” Coginchaug coach Steve DeMartino said. “We know Reynolds likes to throws it low and hard so our emphasis was to go with the pitch and try to hit line drives to right field.
“And that’s exactly what the girls did today. Everybody in the lineup, from one to nine, went up there and had real good at bats.”
A glance at the box score would prove the coach right; all nine hitters in the Devil lineup had at least one hit.
Not that Boothroyd needed an extra cushion, but the Devils added four additional runs in the top of the fifth on run-scoring hits by Mariani, Marenna, DeMartino and Kelly Boothroyd to balloon their lead to 12-2.
Coginchaug concluded its onslaught in the top of the seventh by adding a pair of runs on Dana Boothroyd’s two-run single.
“We knew they were going to be tough, we knew they could hit,” Zamorski said. “But this outcome doesn’t dim what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. I think we still had an incredible year.”
No one would argue that point, coach. Just as no one would argue that DeMartino’s play during the tournament was about a light year beyond incredible.
“I just go up there and try to hit singles,” she said when asked to reveal the secret behind her magnificent post-season run.
The next question prompted a moment of reflection followed by an ever-widening smile.
Asked what it felt like to return to the site of that heart-breaking loss two years ago and face the same opponent and the same pitcher, she replied, “It’s almost like we never left.”
Coginchaug……..001 740 2–14 17 1
Somers……………001 100 0–2 11 3
Batteries: Coginchaug–Kelly Boothroyd and Dana Boothroyd; Somers–Emily Reynolds and Mac Mike. WP: Kelly Boothroyd; LP: Reynolds. 2B: Coginchaug–Mariani, DeMartino; Somers–Mike, Majowicz, Reynolds. 3B: Somers– Kalman, Majowicz. HR: Coginchaug–DeMartino. Records: Coginchaug 20-3; Somers 21-3.