Defense shines for Naugy

Naugatuck’s Gillian Fortier is out at the plate Tuesday versus Holy Cross in Naugatuck. The Greyhounds won a defensive battle, 1-0, over the Crusaders. –KEN MORSE

Naugatuck’s Gillian Fortier is out at the plate Tuesday versus Holy Cross in Naugatuck. The Greyhounds won a defensive battle, 1-0, over the Crusaders. –KEN MORSE

NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck softball team clung to a 1-0 advantage over Holy Cross in the last inning Tuesday when the defense came up with two plays that put this cliffhanger into the win column.

The Crusaders didn’t have too many opportunities, but when they did the Naugatuck defense came through with a few plays that should end up on an ESPN highlight reel.

Jenna Miller outdueled Cross pitcher Sarah Lawton at Breen Field as the Greyhounds hung on in a 1-0 white-knuckle affair. Naugatuck improved to 10-4 on the season and Holy Cross slipped to 11-4.

Holy Cross came to bat in the seventh trailing by a run. Casey DiZinno singled to left and moved to second with an error on the relay throw. Miller, who allowed just three hits, got Liz Lombardo on a fly ball to left.

Paige Hine bounced a single to left and DiZinno charged to the plate with the tying run. Kait Barry put the throw on line to catcher Alexandra Langhans and DiZinno hit the brakes. Kara Klimaszewski took the throw and chased down DiZinno for the out, but in the process Hine reached third base.

With two outs and the tying run at third, Lindsay Barton sent a sinking line drive down the line in right field. Erika Andreoli left her feet and made a head-first diving catch for the final out of the game.

“Our outfield made some great plays at the end and we were solid defensively,” Naugatuck coach Kevin Wesche said. “We got some hits and gave ourselves an opportunity to be successful.”

Naugy scored all the runs it needed when Klimaszewski belted a first-inning double and came around to score on a single by Gillian Fortier. The Greyhounds went to work preserving that 1-0 advantage and Miller was on the mark with Langhans, the backup catcher.

“Jenna did a great job keeping them off balance and not making solid contact,” Wesche said. “Having Alexandra step in as our catcher with Shannon Searles out with an injury is a pretty seamless transition, only because Shannon has taken the time to help coach Alexandra in the catching position. Alexandra is a very good athlete to begin with, but Shannon and her experience has really helped the situation along. But that’s the kind of player Shannon is, a real team player.”

The Greyhounds wasted an opportunity for an insurance run in the fifth. Fortier doubled to right field to lead it off and moved to third on a flyout by Jackie Aronin. Sandra Dinis’ bunt didn’t allow Fortier to score, but Barry next hit one in the hole at shortstop and Fortier took off for the plate, getting thrown out by a step. Naugatuck may have been a little anxious to get the run home as Miller flied to left retiring the side.

“The girls had my back in this one,” Wesche said. “I sent a runner home that I shouldn’t have and she got thrown out. So our defense made the plays to make sure Holy Cross didn’t score. We have four losses by a total of six runs, with three being one-run games, so it’s nice to come away with a one-run game ourselves.”

Naugatuck will host Wilby on Wednesday and East Hartford on Thursday, before visiting Sacred Heart on Friday. The ‘Hounds will get rematches with unbeaten Torrington at home on Monday and Holy Cross on the road Tuesday.