The Hall High School Warriors are into the round of 8 in the Class LL State Tournament following a win in West Hartford Wednesday.
By Paul Palmer
Coach Rebecca Lewis has watched all season as her team has come together as teammates and friends.
Her hope was that the team would gel in time to make a run that would get them into the state tournament. Well, she’s gotten her wish. The Warriors outlasted Fairfield-Warde 3-2 in 11 innings to move into the second round of the Class LL State Tournament.
“Our mental toughness and ability to respond has been key for us all year,” said Lewis after Wednesday’s win.
That toughness may just start on the mound for Hall in the person of junior pitcher Sophie Garner-MacKinnon. Her amazing season continued versus the Mustangs as she pitched all 11 innings, throwing 154 pitches and striking out 29 batters.
“The whole year we have had the talent, but now we’ve come together to really do something with that talent,” said Garner-MacKinnon who was just selected to the Class LL All-State team for the first time. “Sometimes the situation can feel massive,” said the pitcher, who has already committed to Duke. “I have to just stay within myself.”
The game was scoreless until the fourth, when Warde pushed across two runs in the top half. Hall answered in the bottom of the frame when Jane Grove singled and came around to score on Garner-MacKinnon’s triple. Courtesy runner Mollie Reynolds went in for Garner-MacKinnon and tied the game on Tessa Hache’s sacrifice fly.
It would stay that way until the 1tth inning, when the skies were starting to grow a little darker, and the tension on both benches a little thicker.
Captain and second baseman Becca Markie – the only senior on the roster – started the bottom of the inning with a drive down the left field line that turned into a double. Reynolds came in as a pinch runner at second. After a line out, Grove came to the plate and lifted a fly ball to center which was caught by Anna DeWitt. Reynolds tagged up and headed for third, and she and the throw arrived at nearly the same time.
With Reynolds sliding in, the ball skipped past the Warde third baseman and into foul territory, allowing Reynolds to come home with the game winner.
Grove, just a sophomore, described the at-bat after the game. “I just wanted to hit the ball and really wanted to add to the team,” said the right fielder. “It’s my first time ever in states and I am really proud of how we’ve come together.”
Up next for Hall (17-3), is a rematch with fellow CCC team Enfield. The Eagles beat Hall 1-0 on May 27 in the CCC tourney. Lewis knows that the remaining games will all be just as tough as Wednesday’s.
“It’s about grinding out games and doing enough to win. The pitching we face only gets better in the tournament,” Lewis said.
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