Anything can happen in rivalry games, especially when you’re playing an outdoor game in windy conditions.
Newington softball was looking to extend a three game winning streak against conference rival New Britain. On paper it would indicate that the red-hot Newington girls would again roll against a struggling New Britain team-- a team they had shutout 9-0 just a few weeks ago. But, paper only tells part of the story. The windy conditions and unique home field advantage at Martha Park in New Britain gave the hometown Golden Hurricanes an early advantage that nearly derailed Newington’s victory train.
New Britain used timely hitting and great fielding to go toe-to-toe with the heavily favored Indians for the first four innings, trailing by only one run entering the fifth inning. That’s when the wind began to die down, allowing Newington to open up the floodgates and explode for a seven-run inning. They added three more insurance runs in the seventh, enroot to a lopsided 18-7 victory.
Newington’s Haley Blais got the action started with a leadoff single to start the game. After stealing second and third base, she eventually scored, giving the Indians a 1-0 lead. It looked like it would be the same story as the first meeting between the two schools, but New Britain registered three quick outs and scored in the bottom half of the first inning to tie the game after one frame.
New Britain’s lineup and the gusty conditions gave junior pitcher Olivia Burgos troubles throughout the first half of the contest. The Golden Hurricanes used bunts, singles, and smart base running to frustrate the Indians’ ace. Burgos faced 37 batters, which tied her season-high, and New Britain had the bases loaded a handful of times over the first four innings.
Heading into the fifth inning and clinging to a one-run lead, the Indians knew they would have to stay aggressive offensively in order to beat New Britain and counteract the unpredictable gusts of wind. Blais again got the Newington bats rolling, with an RBI triple to extend Newington’s lead. The sophomore had her best performance of the season, finishing with four runs scored. Briana Woods helped her score one of those runs on the next at-bat when she belted a triple of her own, driving in Blais. Several hits, a few stolen bases, and two wild pitches later the Indians’ lead ballooned to 15-7. After the seven run explosion, the winds calmed down as the sun began to set, allowing Newington to cruise the rest of the night.
Burgos regained her dominance from the mound in the bottom of the fifth, shutting out New Britain over the final three innings. She finished with eight strikeouts and helped her own cause from the plate, driving in five runs and scoring two others.
Newington will now turn their attention to preparing for the Class LL tournament, which starts on June 13th at West Haven High School.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin