NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck softball team is off to a fast, 2-0 to the season, led by senior co-captains Julia Longo and Andrea Granahan.
On Saturday, Naugatuck held off a very tough Norwich Free Academy team by a slim, 2-1 margin to remain undefeated. Sophomore pitcher Alexa Marucci was almost flawless, scattering just three hits and allowing an unearned run in the fifth.
Longo slammed the game-winner in the bottom of the fifth, scoring Lianne Wallace, and Andrea Granahan stopped a lined shot to third for the final out, with the tying run at second base.
“Defense is the name of the game, and we made the plays we had to at the end,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said. “They tied the game after we made a couple of errors, but the kids kept their heads up and didn’t let it affect them. I tell them even professional ballplayers make errors, but you need to keep your head up and be ready to make the next play.
“We showed a lot of maturity, as a team, to come right back, and Julia delivered a big hit for us to give us back the lead.”
NFA was hitting the ball, but the NHS defense was making all the plays early. Marucci used a deceptive changeup to take the bats out of her opponents’ hands and got a strikeout to end the top of the second.
Melissa Labonte hit an infield single in the bottom of the frame to get the Hounds started. Andrea Granahan added a bunt single then raced to third on a two-base throwing error that sent Labonte home with the first run of the game.
Wallace and LaBonte made two tough plays in the outfield to set down NFA in the fourth.
As well as the defense was playing, a pair of infield miscues handed NFA an unearned run in the fifth that tied the game at 1-1. After back-to-back errors set up NFA at second and third with no outs, the Wildcats’ Lauren Lachance laid down a bunt and was thrown out at first. But the return throw to the plate got by freshman catcher Sydney Cotto, and the tying run scored. Cotto recovered quickly and threw to Marucci, covering home, nailing the second runner at the plate for a rally-killing double play.
Naugatuck went right back to work, and Wallace reached on a two-out error. Longo stepped in and drilled a pitch over the center fielder’s head to plate the go-ahead run.
Armed with a 2-1 lead, the Naugatuck defense rose to the occasion when Daniella Stoehrer managed to wrap the leather around a screaming line drive up the first base side. Stella hauled in a deep fly at the fence in center, and the Hounds held NFA off the board.
Naugatuck will be back in action this week taking on Watertown Monday at 3:30 p.m.