Alfiere outduels Cheske; Hawks in NVL final

WOLCOTT — Kaiti Lembo singled home Tayler Boncal with two outs in the bottom of the seventh for the winning run to propel Woodland over Holy Cross, 2-1, in Tuesday’s Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinal and move the Hawks to Thursday’s league championship against Seymour.

Lembo roped an 0-1 fastball by Crusaders ace Tori Cheske back up the chute to score Boncal, who had reached on a leadoff walk.

“Basically I was looking for something I felt comfortable hitting,” Lembo said. “I hadn’t seen her changeup yet, and I wanted to stay away from her riseball, so I just looked for something else I could hit.”

Katie Alfiere allowed just one run on three hits, winning Tuesday's pitchers' duel with Holy Cross' Tori Cheske.

Cheske was excellent all night for the Crusaders, allowing six hits while striking out 14 and walking four. But in the first matchup of the season between Cheske and Katie Alfiere, Alfiere came out on top—like she’s done 17 times this season. Alfiere allowed just three hits, fanned eight and walked only two, while still at less than full physical capability.

“I felt that I wasn’t tired in the seventh inning like I was Monday,” Alfiere said. “But I was still only at like 80 percent.”

Alfiere’s only hiccup came in the sixth inning, when she plunked Cheske in the head with her first pitch. Cheske moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on a wild pitch before being bunted home to tie the score at 1-1.

Alfiere faced trouble several other times throughout the night, including a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the third, but she maneuvered herself out of the mess with a strikeout and a groundout.

She pitched with a lead most of the game, after Woodland scored its first run in the second. Lembo led off with a single, followed by a pair of walks by Rebecca Norton and Emily Wirsing. After a pair of strikeouts, Lindsay Boland was hit by the pitch to force in the first run of the night.

The Hawks had other chances as well. They left the bases loaded in the second and again in the fifth, when they packed the bags with one out, only to strike out twice to end the inning.

“We did do a better job of laying off Cheske’s riseball tonight,” Luddy said, “but looking at the low and outside fastball that was continuously called a strike with the bases loaded hurt.”