Softball: Law defeats Lauralton in SCC playoffs, 5-1
MILFORD — The Jonathan Law softball team cleared the first hurdle in its bid to win a Southern Connecticut Conference championship on Monday afternoon, as the Lady Lawmen scored four runs in the first two innings and added another in the fourth for a 5-1 first-round win over neighboring Lauralton Hall.
It moves Law, seeded fourth, into a semifinal round match-up on Tuesday afternoon against No. 1 seed North Haven. They will meet at West Haven's Frank Biondi Field beginning at 3:30 p.m.
It was the third time this season that Law has beaten the Crusaders, who will take a 16-5 record into the Class M state tournament beginning next week.
The last time Law, now 15-6, advanced to the SCC semis, it lost to Amity Regional, 1-0, in 2014.
"We were very patient at the plate today and we got to their starter early," said Law coach Melanie Blude. "Early runs in a playoff game make a huge difference. We put some pressure on them. It's good we scored early, because their second pitcher stymied our hitters."
It was Law's first playoff appearance in five years and the initial one for the seniors.
One of them, catcher Gina Boccamazzo drove in three runs in addition to making a sterling play in foul territory in the fifth when she tracked down Maggie Britt's foul pop right in front of her teams' dug-out and made a diving catch.
Boccamazzo drove in Cali Jolley with a sac fly to right in the first before drilling an 0-2 offering from the Crusaders' Nicole Kerstetter up the middle in the second. The hit plated Grace Kantor and Erica Boehm.
"We're really excited about getting into the playoffs and now advancing to the second round," said Boccamazzo, who was moved from third to behind the plate for this season. "We struggled early in the year, so this is great.”
Law knocked North Haven out of the Class L state tournament in last year's quarterfinal round.
"We decided to start Nicole in place of (freshman) Lauren (Wasikoswki) because we didn't do well in either of those regular-season games," said Lauralton Hall coach Amanda Acampora. "I thought they both pitched well today. Our problem was hitting. We didn't hit early and that killed us. It was surprising to me because our bats had carried us all season long. We won quite a few games by wide margins."
Jolley opened the game with a bunt single, her 130th career hit at Law, breaking the previous record of 129 held by Melissa Nelson (2009-12). She went to second on a wild pitch and moved over to third on Courtney Hanson's single to left, the first of three hits she had on the day. Boccamazzo then lofted a fly ball to medium right and Jolley raced home.
The Crusaders got the first out in the second before Liz Hayden walked and Kantor reached on an error. Boehm followed with an infield single, loading the bases for Jolley. She was hit by Kerstetter's third delivery, allowing Hayden to score.
After Hanson smacked a sharp line-drive which was caught by Crusader shortstop Lillian Acampora, Boccamazzo hit a third-pitch change-up hard into center field.
"I just did what I've tried to do all year long," Boccamazzo said. "And that was to line a pitch up the middle."
Law's fifth run was scored by Jolley, who, for the second consecutive at-bat, was hit by a pitch. She stole second and came around when Hanson drove the ball the opposite way for a base hit into left.
Brianna Buccitti, a sophomore, got the win for Law, bringing her record to 13-6.
Lauralton Hall got its only run in the sixth, using an error and Mel Allen's RBI double to left-center.
Buccitti threw 91 pitches in getting four strikeouts, yielding only one walk, and giving up four hits.
"She (Buccitti) kept us guessing today," Acampora said. "She kept the ball low and off the plate and our kids kept swinging under pitches. We had way too many fly balls. We didn't adjust and square up on her pitches."
JONATHAN LAW 5, LAURALTON 1
Lauralton Hall 000 001 0 -- 1 4 2
Law 130 010 x -- 5 6 2
Batteries: Nicole Kerstetter (LP 5-2), Lauren Wasikowski (2) and Gianna Coppola; Brianna Buccitti (WP 13-6) and Gina Boccamazzo.
Records: Lauralton Hall 16-5; Law 15-6.