WATERBURY — The Naugatuck softball team left itself stranded Monday at Holy Cross, dropping a tough 4-3 decision in 10 innings to the Crusaders. The Greyhounds plated two runs in the first inning to take the lead but left runners at third base in each of the next four innings.
“We certainly stranded quite a few runners,” Naugatuck coach Kevin Wesche admitted. “We just didn’t have any answers in getting runners home. When the top of the order came up they walked Gillian [Fortier], which was a smart idea on their part.”
Naugatuck (11-5) got on the board in its first at-bat when Fortier drew a leadoff walk and Kara Klimaszewski reached on a dropped infield pop-up. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch but failed to score on Sarah Chandler’s deep fly to right field. Naugy went on top 1-0 on a hard fielder’s choice from Shannon Searles as Fortier slide home and Klimaszewski advanced to third.
A return throw to third sailed into left field and Naugatuck owned a 2-0 lead. Illana Rivera went on to strike out the final two batters to get out of the inning for Holy Cross.
Jenna Miller (5-2) pitched one of her best games of the season, allowing just seven hits through 10 innings, but some uncharacteristic errors by Naugatuck aided the Crusaders’ cause.
“Jenna did a great job for us,” Wesche said. “She certainly deserved a better fate even though Holy Cross was putting the ball in play. But we didn’t help her by committing four costly errors.”
Miller singled in the second but pinch runner Sandra Dinis never made it past third base. Searles and Sydney Cotto singled in the third, but pinch runner Jackie Aronin couldn’t make it home, either.
“Effectively Holy Cross did what they had to do,” Wesche said. “I kept telling the girls after every inning we did a nice job getting on, a nice job getting them over, but now we need to get them in. It seemed like we just kept grounding out to second base.”
Holy Cross tied the game in the bottom of the third on three consecutive two-out hits. Casey DiZinno singled to left and advanced to third on a two-base throwing error.
Mikaela Rice brought home the run on a solid single to center. Liz Lombardo unloaded a run-scoring double to the gap before Miller slammed the door with a strikeout to retire the side.
The game went to extra innings still tied at 2-2 when Miller singled in the eighth and Dinis took her place on the base path. Gretchen Hale put Naugatuck ahead by ripping a triple but again the ‘Hounds stranded a runner at third for the fifth time in the game.
Holy Cross tied it up in the bottom half when DiZinno singled and scored following a three-base error. The Crusaders brought home the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th when DiZinno scored ahead of a sacrifice fly by Lombardo.
“I just told the girls we have to keep on playing and put this one behind us,” Wesche said. “We are going to be playing in the NVL tournament and the states and we just need to remain focused and stay confident.”
Naugatuck was set to host Sacred Heart on Wednesday and visit Kennedy on Thursday. The Greyhounds will then take off a few days before returning to Breen Field on Tuesday against Crosby.