No. 7 East Haven softball outlasts Shelton to stay tied atop SCC standings

EAST HAVEN — All week East Haven has been playing a little bit with fire.

Thursday afternoon was no exception.

The Yellowjackets, ranked seventh in the latest state softball poll, overcame an early deficit and survived a seventh-inning comeback to knock off Shelton 9-7 in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional contest.

It was the third consecutive home game this week in which the East Haven fell behind in the first two innings, but the Yellowjackets managed to squeak past Hamden (9-6), Foran (8-7) and now Shelton.

“I’m happy with the way we played,” East Haven coach Ed Crisafi said. “We’ve had our hitting shoes on.”

The win allowed the Yellowjackets (12-2, 10-1 SCC) to remain at the top of the conference standings with West Haven and Law. All three teams have one loss in the league.

East Haven ace righthander Emilee Bishop struggled at times Thursday afternoon, but was able to worm her way out of jams in the first two innings, allowing just two runs as Shelton took a 2-1 lead.

“She was missing her spots, but the speed was there,” Crisafi said. “She just came back from an injury in practice (April 27) this week and it was her first three games back.”

But the Yellowjackets gave her what seemed to be plenty of run support with a six-run rally in the bottom of the third inning off losing pitcher Julia Krijgsman.

According to Shelton coach Lindsay Wheeler, Krijgsman has been battling a back injury, In addition, the Gaels hadn’t played since last Friday due to weather.

“The ball wasn’t moving, and it was flat,” Wheeler said. “They took advantage of it and the home run killed us.”

Krijgsman walked in a pair of runs, but the big hit was when East Haven catcher Lena Barthel roped a three-run blast over the fence in center to make it 7-2.

“It was an inside fastball,” Barthel said. “We started timing her (Krijgsman) and were communicating with how she was pitching, so everyone started getting on her.”

Bishop settled down in the middle innings and East Haven’s outfield defense helped her with a couple of big plays.

Shelton closed it to 7-3 in the top of the sixth when Amanda Kiman walked to force in a run.

However, East Haven scored a pair of what would turn out to be big runs in the bottom of the inning. Lexi Heaphy, who had four hits and a pair of runs batted in, singled in a run and Barthel scored on an error.

They were necessary as Sarah Broad belted her first career grand slam with two outs in the top of the seventh. But Bishop, who fanned 12 batters, struck out Victoria Silva to end the game.

“They were good hitters and were loud on the bench which kind of rattled us a bit,” Barthel said.

Shelton dropped to 6-4 with the loss.

“We see them again next week,” said Wheeler, referring to next Wednesday afternoon’s scheduled tilt in Shelton. “We’ve been focusing on mental toughness and resilience,” Wheeler said. “We were just trying to come back right to the end.”