Foran softball puts scare into top-ranked Cheshire

MILFORD >> Just when you think you have the Cheshire softball team down and out, the Rams find another gear. Foran found that out firsthand Wednesday afternoon.

Trailing by two runs, and having done very little through five innings of play, the Rams took advantage of two Foran errors in the sixth to score twice, then scored the go-ahead run in the seventh to defeat the Lions 3-2 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Hammonasset Division contest at Foran High.

With its sixth straight win, Cheshire, the top-ranked team in the Register/GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, improved to 18-1 and clinched the Hammonasset Division title. Foran, which entered the contest winners of its last four games and six of its last seven, fell to 10-9.

“This is a resilient group,” Cheshire coach Kristine Drust said. “What made it even harder is our cleanup hitter (Samantha Simione) was sick today and not playing. It is not easy to come in and play, having to replace your cleanup hitter and centerfielder. We knew it would take that leadoff hitter to get us going. Sara Mulligan came through with a big hit and that was all we needed.”

Trailing 2-0 after Foran scored single runs in the fourth and fifth innings, the Rams evened the contest in the sixth.

Abigail Abramson was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and pinch-runner Rachel Kaplan scored on Brianna Floyd’s single to left and error on the play. Sara Mulligan followed with her second hit of the game to score Floyd to even the contest at two.

“We really just needed to raise our energy level,” Mulligan said. “We all worked hard to get going. We never gave up. We always do the best we can for Abi (Abramson) because we know she is giving us so much out there.”

After the Lions stranded Kalie Mendola on second in the sixth, Cheshire scored the go-ahead run in the seventh. Two Foran errors and an intentional walk were followed by a wild pitch from Foran pitcher Makenna Prete to score Lindsey Abramson for a 3-2 Cheshire lead.

“When you are put in an emotional game with a lot riding on it for us and them, it is very difficult to make plays under that pressure,” Drust said. “You have to give Foran a lot of credit. They did a great job out there and showed up to play. Every game is like this. We get everyone’s best and that is awesome.”

After the Lions stranded a pair in the third, they finally got on the board in the fourth. Hannah DeSousa led off with a double and scored when Alexis James grounded a ball up the middle off the glove of Cheshire pitch Abigail Abramson into center field for a 1-0 lead.

“She (James) gave us awesome at bats,” Foran coach Stephanie Dawid said. “She has been doing very well battling and making them throw.”

Foran increased the lead to a pair of runs in the fifth when Mendola led off with a single to left, advanced to second on Amanda Mendillo’s two-out single, and scored when James walked with the bases loaded.

“As I said to the girls, the difference is if we don’t make the errors or get the bunts down, that can make a difference in the game,” Dawid said.

The Lions had one final scoring opportunity in the seventh when Hailey LaForte opened with a single to center and James hit a two-out single to put a pair of runners on. Abigail Abramson escaped without any further trouble when she struck Courtney Olenski to end the game.

Mulligan led Cheshire with two hits and a run batted in, while LaForte and James each had a pair of hits for the Lions.

Abigail Abramson picked up the win for Cheshire, allowing seven hits, while walking two and striking out six in a complete game effort. Prete took the loss for Foran, allowing just three hits, walking three and striking out three.