SWC SOFTBALL QUARTERFINALS: BARLOW 4, BROOKFIELD 1; NEWTOWN 3, NEW MIFLORD 0 Falcons, Nighthawks advance to semifinals
The postseason means time for aces to deal in softball, and a pair of them sent their teams to the SWC semifinals in less than ideal conditions.
Claire McCann of Barlow and Sara Kennedy of Newtown each tossed gems for their squads, meaning the Falcons and Nighthawks will clash for a third time this season as they each reached the semis. No. 6 Barlow topped No. 3 Brookfield 4-1 while No. 2 Newtown fended off New Milford 3-0.
A steady rain befell McCann and the Falcons, who struck for three runs in the third to provide more than enough run support. McCann allowed two hits and five walks to go along with seven strikeouts, including several on a buckling changeup.
“It was really good that my team had my back, putting runs on the board and backing me up defensively,” McCann said. “I love throwing changeups because it works well with the rest of my pitches.”
Falcons leadoff hitter Abby Ota provided the spark offensively, connecting for three infield singles and scoring two runs.
It was quite the turnaround for Barlow, which lost 16-5 less than two weeks ago on its own field against the Bobcats. Scotland Davis had the big hit Tuesday; a double to deep center plated two runs.
“The last time we played they beat the brakes off us,” Barlow coach Craig Sears said. “We let a good hitting team hit the ball extremely hard that day; this week we talked about hitting the black on the plate. I thought Claire did a really good job working inside and outside.”
Newtown also plated three runs in one inning to hold off the Green Wave in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal won by New Milford. Angela Carriero and Jackie Moccio each had RBI hits during the frame for Newtown.
“They adjusted,” Newtown coach Joanna Closs said. “They waited on it; they let the ball travel and that’s something we’ve been focusing on in practice. They started hitting line drives and making (New Milford) make plays.”
Kennedy did the rest, striking out 12 while yielding three hits. New Milford’s best chance came in the seventh inning when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Kennedy struck out the potential winning run to end the game.
Barlow and Newtown are scheduled to square off on Thursday at a place and time to be determined for a spot in the final. The Falcons won a pair of close games over the Nighthawks during the regular season.
“Barlow is a tough team; they bunt well and are super quick,” Kennedy said. “We have to put the bat on the ball; we faced their pitcher a couple of times and we haven’t produced runs so hopefully we can turn that around.”
The Green Wave got out of school at 11 a.m. to go play their final regular season game prior to arriving at Newtown. New Milford blanked New Fairfield 9-0 to finally set the field for the tournament; the Green Wave shuttled to Newtown’s Treadwell Park, which was deemed unplayable and the game was switched to Newtown High.
“We went down fighting,” New Milford coach Frank Bonacci said. “We played at 1 p.m. and came down on a bus in the rain. I’m proud of the way they came back; they had an adverse situation.”
The Ironwoman award goes to New Milford’s Victoria Pascento, who tossed a pair of complete games in a seven hour stretch, including the shutout over the Rebels. The Green Wave won five of their last six games to reach the postseason.
“She pitched two complete games today; when we got here I told her I want four strong innings and anything after that is a plus and she pitched well,” Bonacci said. “She matched Sara inning for inning.”
BARLOW 4, BROOKFIELD 1
BARLOW003 010 0 — 4 7 0
BROOKFIELD000 000 1 — 1 2 1
Batteries: JB—Claire McCann and Becca Mauro; B—Alyssa Lionetti and Laila Cofone. Highlights: JB—Abby Ota went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Scotland Davis drove in two runs. B—Ally Fitzgerald and Kailee Synder each had hits. Alyssa Lionetti tossed a complete game.
NEWTOWN 3, NEW MILFORD 0
NEW MILFORD000 000 0 — 0 3 2
NEWTOWN000 300 X — 3 6 0
Batteries: NM—Victoria Pascento and Olivia Wetmore; N—Sara Kennedy and Tess Mubarek. Highlights: N—Sara Kennedy pitched a complete game shutout with 12 strikeouts.