Law softball splits state games

Jonathan Law scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, erasing a 5-2 deficit en route to a 7-5 win over Naugatuck High in the first round of the Class L state tournament.

Freshman Kacy O’Connor provided the game-winning hit, a pinch-hit, two-out single that drove in the go-ahead runs.

“We knew she could hit coming into the season, we’re trying to get her to use her power,” Paolini said. “To come in in that situation, it’s not easy at all. It’s exciting... I love seeing these kids succeed, it’s just so much fun to watch them do well.”

Fellow freshman Skyler Bender had the other big hit in the inning, lining a run-scoring single off of the glove of Naugy pitcher Jenna Miller to tie the game at 5.

Prior to the decisive sixth inning, coach Melanie Paolini’s No. 16 seed Eagles had just four hits off of Miller.

Amanda Leone (three hits) singled in Erin Saley in the bottom of the first, before Leone’s solo home run made it 5-2 Naugatuck in the bottom of the fourth.

“We knew coming into the game, it was going to a be battle of who hit better,” Paolini said. “They were hitting the ball hard and scoring runs. We put all of our hits together... The kids didn’t hang their heads, they came out and hit the ball the way we are capable of hitting... It all came together for us.”

In the sixth, Gege Romero led off with a single, before Saley bunted her over for Leone, who lashed an RBI single to left field.
Madison Murphy, Justine Bannon and Bender followed with singles, before Anna Lynch’s flyout moved Bannon and Bender into scoring position.

O’Connor then hammered a pitch off the fence in center field to give Law the 7-5 cushion.

Law’s Aubrey Bepko made the lead stand up in the circle in the top of the seventh, allowing just a one-out single to Shannon Searles.

Before that, Bepko retired 11 in a row after 17th-seeded Naugatuck (11-10) pushed across four runs in the third — three coming on Searles’ towering three-run home run to right-center field.

Erica Andreoli singled and scored on an error in the second inning, before driving in a run with an RBI single in the third to provide the other runs for Naugy. After that, Bepko got into a groove.

“Aubrey kept them off-balance enough where we started getting more groundballs and the lazy flyballs to the fielders,” Paolini said.

With the tying run at the plate, Bepko got a fielder’s choice grounder and flyball to left field to secure the victory for Law, which advanced to face top-seeded Fitch High of Groton on June 4.

The Falcons, the defending state champions, ended Law’s season with a 3-0 victory.

Fitch will face No. 10 seed East Haven High (18-6) in the championship game this weekend. The Falcons beat three Southern Connecticut Conference teams — Law, Sheehan High of Wallingford and North Haven — en route to the final.

Law wrapped up its season 12-10 overall.