Softball clash to be decided tonight

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WOLCOTT — The softball game between Woodland and Naugatuck on Tuesday night was so thrilling, it needed another day to decide.

The game had all the hallmarks of a classic: Clutch hitting, multiple comebacks, big pitches and dramatic plays on the basepaths. And perhaps the most unique characteristic of all—the length of time it will take to decide a winner.

The Naugatuck Valley League tournament quarterfinal game that started at 6:20 p.m. on Tuesday needed to be finished Wednesday afternoon, after press time. With the score tied, 5-5, after seven innings, the game was set resume at 3:45 p.m. at Naugatuck High, and the winner would play Holy Cross immediately following the end of the game.

In a game between local rivals in a single-elimination conference tournament, a third team has taken control of the game—the weather. And it was a fitting end to the day.

Tuesday’s game was originally set for Saturday, then Monday. Mother Nature had other plans. As Rebecca Norton filed out to end the seventh inning, the skies opened up. The umpires came together and stopped the game.

The contest never restarted on Tuesday. Twenty minutes after heavy rain soaked the field at Wolcott High, the water damage had been done. Small ponds developed between second and third, and in the pitcher’s circle. With no grounds crew in sight, the game was suspended.

If the first seven innings are any indication to how this game will end, it may go down as a true two-day thriller.

The lower-seeded Greyhounds took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Woodland tied it with two in the third.

Naugy went ahead 3-2 in the fifth, only to surrender two runs in the bottom half of the inning.

The Greyhounds had countless chances to score. Through the first seven innings, Naugy left the bases loaded four times and stranded 15 total runners.

Woodland had the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth and failed to score. Naugy left fielder Tori Hendricks completed a double play after she threw out Brooke Leshin, who attempted to score from third after a fly ball out.

The excitement continued into Naugy’s final plate appearance. The ‘Hounds tied the game in dramatic fashion in the top of the seventh with two outs as Melissa LaBonte connected for her fourth hit in as many at-bats to score Erica Bohuski. Three batters later, Lianne Wallace singled home LaBonte to give the Greyhounds a 5-4 lead.

Both teams had a flair for the dramatic. Woodland didn’t disappoint in the bottom half of the inning.

Emily Wirsing led off the bottom of the seventh with an infield hit and advanced on a throwing error. The next batter, Angie Wirsing, crushed a ball into left-center field to score Emily Wirsing. The Greyhounds, however, limited the damage with a perfect relay throw to get Angie Wirsing, who attempted to stretch a double into a triple.

Two fly outs later, the game moved into the top of the eighth. That inning, however, would take place on another day, on another field, in another town and give players another chance to deliver more theatrics.

Weather permitting, of course.

UPDATE: Naugatuck won the game in the eighth inning by scoring three runs in the top of the inning and holding Woodland scoreless in the bottom half. The Greyhounds moved on to face Holy Cross later in the afternoon and fell to the Crusaders, 2-1.