Class LL softball: Southington defeats Trumbull in semifinals
STRATFORD — Gabby Verderame-Malachowski looked out the bus window when Southington pulled into the Frank DeLuca Hall of Fame Field parking lot for Monday’s Class LL state semifinal game with Trumbull. Two years ago as a sophomore at DeLuca, she had taken advantage of a rare at bat and was looking to do more.
And she did.
Now a senior, Verderame-Malachowski hit a three run home run Monday, propelling No. 7 Southington past No. 2 Trumbull, 5-1.
“Two years ago, Gabby had only two at bats as a sophomore,” coach Davina Hernandez said. “I put her in against Cheshire (in the state semifinals at DeLuca that year) with the bases loaded and she hit one to the fence for a double. Gabby isn’t flashy, she just comes through.
“I used that point this season. Take advantage of your opportunities. We are all pushing each other. Today, it was Kasey Mason and Kayla Pelletier (with hits).”
Southington will face the No. 8 NFA, a 4-2 winner over No. 4 Cheshire, in the state final on Friday or Saturday.
Verderame-Malachowski’s blast carried over the fence in left-center field in the top of the third inning, upping the Blue Knights advantage to 4-0. A throwing error on a pickoff attempt brought the game’s first run home before the home run.
Trumbull catcher Cassie Barbato threw out Pelletier at third base in an attempt to slow the Blue Knights (21-3). Pelletier had singled and Chrissy Marotto beat out a bunt to put two runners aboard before the caught stealing. The home run came after a strikeout, an intentional walk to Abby Lamson and a free pass worked out by Alex Rogers.
“They had that one big inning, with two outs, and we didn’t,” Trumbull coach Jacqui Sheftz said. “We picked a bad game to have our offense stall.”
The Blue Knights’ Julia Panarella used her changeup to reel batters in and finished with 10 strikeouts. The sophomore allowed only three hits.
“This is my first time here,” Panarella said. “That fence looked so close. Gabby had that big hit. The changeup is my favorite pitch. I don’t look for strikeouts because we play such great defense.”
In the fourth, Barbato singled up the middle with a one out and an infield error on Emily Gell’s grounder placed runners on first and second. After courtesy runners Charlotte Erenberg and Jadyn Coffin had good reads on a pitch in the dirt to advance , Alexa Adinolfi got a run home with a sacrifice fly to center. A comebacker ended the inning.
Julia Huzi singled with two out in the fifth but advanced no further.
Adinolfi reached on an error leading off the seventh. After force out and a strikeout, another misplay put runners on first and second. Panarella then faced Huzi, who had two hits. This time she got her out on a hard liner to left field.
Southington wasted singles by Rogers in the fifth and Katie Gunderson in the sixth.
The Blue Knights threatened right off the bat in its first at bat with a single by Marotto and a walk to Kelsey Fernandez, but Gell retired the next three batters.
Trumbull answered in kind. Huzi singled to start the home first and Kenzie Bruggeman walked with one out. After a force out, Panarella got a foul pop to right.
The right-handed Panarella cruised the next two frames, striking out five including three in the third.
Trumbull defeated Southington, 4-3, to win its first title in 2017.
Southington has won titles in 2013-14-15. It lost in the finals to Amity in 2012.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Southington’s Julia Panarella and Gabby Verderame-Malachowski. Panarella allowed only three hits and struck out 10. Verderame-Malachowski had the decisive hit, a three-run home run in the third inning.
william.bloxsom @hearstmediact.com; @blox354
SOUTHINGTON 5, TRUMBULL 1
SOUTHINGTON 004 000 1—5 8 3
TRUMBULL 000 100 x—1 3 2
Batteries: T— Emily Gell (LP) and Cassie Barbato; S—Julia Panarella (WP) and Kayla Pelletier
Records: Trumbull (23-3); Southington (21-3)