Class L Softball Semifinals: Brookfield 6, Hand 5 Bobcats rally past Tigers into final
WEST HAVEN — The strong bats of the Brookfield softball team carried them to a 19-4 record and a spot in Tuesday’s Class L semifinal against Daniel Hand.
So when the Bobcats trailed by one run with just two outs to spare and the season in the balance, panic wasn’t about to settle in one bit.
Stringing four hits together in the top of the seventh, the No. 3 Bobcats booked their place in the Class L final with a 6-5 win over the No. 3 Tigers at West Haven High. Ally Fitzgerald delivered the clutch blow for Brookfield, singling to score Cara Lennon and scoring on the play after an errant throw.
“I’m very confident in my girls because they never give up,” Brookfield coach Nick Castellano said. “They knew they could hit; they had 13 hits. We had confidence and they knew they could do it.”
Lennon — who finished the night 4-for-4 — hit a double down the line trailing 5-4 that brought Fitzgerald to the plate. A single to the outfield plated Lennon and the throw from the catcher to second base sailed high and got past the outfielder, which allowed Fitzgerald to come all the way around to score.
“I was running to first, went to second and they threw it over,” Fitzgerald said. “I just went to third, coach told me to go home and I did. It was amazing. It was nice to contribute to the whole team win right there.”
Brookfield wasn’t out of the woods yet, though. The Tigers responded with a leadoff single from Christina Coric before a ball hit to the warning track was caught. With one out Abby Geshwind hit a clean single to the outfield but led to a forceout at second. Caroline O’Connor — who drove in three of the Tigers’ five runs — hit a laser to the outfield but right at a Bobcats defender, which began the celebration for Brookfield.
“That’s the way softball is,” Hand coach Mike Niekrash said. “You hit ropes and sometimes they catch them. They had their outfield right to the fence and they caught it. We didn’t give up, a ball two feet this or that way and we’re still playing.”
The Bobcats overcame a 5-2 deficit to stun the Tigers. Avery Katz hit a clutch two-run single with two outs in the top of the sixth to pull to within 5-4 to set the stage for the final comeback.
“We’re just all really happy and it’s good to see our hard work paying off,” Lennon said. “In my four years we’ve never made it this far so it’s rewarding to see us come out with a win.”
Hand jumped out to early leads of 2-1 and 4-2 as the bats started off hot. O’Connor hit a two-run single in the first and crushed an RBI double to the wall to make it 3-2.
“It was about blinked at the end basically and give Brookfield a lot of credit, they came up in the seventh inning,” Niekrash said. “They persevered in this game, but we didn’t give up.”
Brookfield will square off against No. 1 Masuk Friday or Saturday at a site and time to be determined. The Bobcats — one of the few teams to put up runs — fell to the Panthers 6-4 during the regular season. It will be Brookfield’s second state final appearance; the Bobcats won Class M in 2000.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Cara Lennon, Brookfield: One of just three seniors for the Bobcats, Lennon delivered RBI singles in the first and third innings.
“I tried to just treat it like any other game,” Lennon said. “I wasn’t thinking too much about it, I just swung at good pitches.”
“There’s one thing everything forgot here, and that’s Brookfield had a tornado,” Castellano said. “We couldn’t practice for a week because school was closed. We’re doing this for Brookfield.”
BROOKFIELD 6, DANIEL HAND 5
BROOKFIELD101 002 2 — 6 13 0
DANIEL HAND202 010 0 — 5 8 1
Batteries: B—Alyssa Lionetti (W) and Laila Cofone; DH—Abby Geshwind and Lily Arida. Highlights: B—Cara Lennon went 4-for-4. Avery Katz hit a two-run single. DH—Caroline O’Connor drove in three runs. Records: Brookfield 20-3, Daniel Hand 20-3.