No. 2 Southington softball routs No. 8 Cheshire

CHESHIRE — Maybe Southington deserves to be the No. 1 team in the state.

The second-ranked Blue Knights put their case on full display by blowing out eighth-ranked Cheshire, 14-1, in six innings Wednesday afternoon in a non-conference girls softball game. It was their third mercy rule win of the season.

Southington has now outscored its opponents, 85-17, this season.

“We always try not to focus on the rankings so much since we’re not always in that position,” Southington coach Davina Hernandez said. “It motivates us to be better. But I think it sends a message that we’re here, ready to play and get better every week.”

Right off that bat, the Blue Knights (8-0) showed why they can lay claim to the top spot in the poll. Southington took a 3-0 lead before the host Rams could get off the field and come to bat.

A single and a stolen base by Ashlyn DeSaulniers were followed by a run-scoring single by winning pitcher Sam Sullivan. Then shortstop Sam Rogers collected the first of her four hits on the day with a long homer to leftcenter to make it 3-0.

“We were being aggressive early in the game and Ashlyn gets us going,” Rogers said “Every time she gets a hit, we get a rally started.”

For a moment in the bottom of the first inning, it seemed as if Cheshire might get a rally going of its own when Grace Lurz led things off with a bunt single, but Sullivan retired the next 12 batters. Seven of them came via strikeouts. She didn’t allow another baserunner until Emily Grayson singled leading off the fifth.

“Sam (Sullivan) set the tone on the mound and got on base every time and Rogers has been unstoppable at the plate and defensively,” Hernandez said. “She’s just been on fire. I hope she continues that momentum.”

Rogers tacked on a two-run single and Elyse Pickard knocked in a run in the top of the third inning to make it 6-0. With Sullivan clearly in control on the mound, it was over at that point even though Cheshire (8-3) still seemed to have a lot of energy.

“I still had the utmost confidence down, 6-0, that we could come back,” Cheshire coach Kristine Drust said. “But you have to give props where props is due. We really showed up with a lot of energy, but it snowballed and got out of reach.”

Sullivan drove in a pair of runs and Rogers another as the Blue Knights added three more runs in the fourth to grab a 9-0 edge.

Southington scored a run on a double steal in the fifth and took a 14-0 lead in the top of the sixth on a two-run single by Madelyn Napierski and a two-run single by DeSaulniers. That put the game within the mercy rule of a 12-run lead.

“I never expected to have a mercy rule game, but our discipline at the plate has really opened up games for us against really good teams,” Hernandez said. “It’s difficult to get ahead of the count when our discipline is on point and we have really good teams coming up on our schedule, so we have to be on point.

Cheshire avoided the shutout when Jordan Chymbor belted a homer off Southington reliever Stella Blanchard in the top of the sixth.

It was the worst loss for Drust in her eight years at the helm of the Rams and the first mercy rule loss during her tenure.

“In any big loss at the end of the day, it’s only one loss,” Drust said. “The best thing the girls can do is learn from this kind of a game.”