By Rick Menning
MILFORD, CT -- Multi-colored streams of smoke billowed skyward at Brewster Field as the Wallingford 11-Under Division Little League Girls' Softball All-Stars and their families celebrated a state championship on Tuesday evening.
The scene in center field was one of continual hugs and lots of smiles as last year's 10-Under Division state title team showed heart and determination in the back-to-back mission on its field of dreams in Milford.
After defeating Berlin 17-4 in Monday's first game of the best-of three series, the District 5 and Section 2 banner recipients made it a clean sweep with a hard-fought 7-2 victory.
Caitlin Hale pitched a complete-game three-hitter, and center fielder Sam Allison put the icing on the cake with a booming two-out, two-run triple to right field in the top of the sixth inning. It was Allison's second smash in the contest as she also doubled home a run during a three-run first inning.
Storming out quickly
Manager Carl Tetreault's road warriors once again -- as they did in game one -- jumped out to an early advantage and never trailed despite a gutsy effort by the Berlin girls who fought valiantly and at one point cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fourth inning.
Wallingford's fast-start first inning was ignited by bunt base hits by shortstop Josie Chapin and third baseman Anna Cappas which set the stage for Allison's screaming two-bagger down the right field line. The visiting team on the scoreboard's clean-up batter finished with three RBI.
Hale helped her own cause in that initial frame with an RBI grounder to the right side of the infield scoring Allison with the third run. Chapin raced across home plate on Allison's double, while Cappas scored on Hale's clutch groundout.
Second baseman Violet Schaefer likewise connected for an extra-base hit as her leadoff double in the sixth inning sparked the final winning drive to the state finish line.
She and Madisyn Gordils, who had subsequently walked, both scored on Allison's triple that sailed all the way to the fence.
Extra-hitter Aubree Tetreault followed up walks to right-fielder Lorelai Schunmann and first baseman Briella Krystofolski with a two-run single in the fifth inning to add insurance after Berlin had made it 3-2.
Shiny gold glovework
The Wallingford state champions also flashed the leather in the decisive showdown for the 11-under age group crown.
Catcher Savanah Hastings made not one but two pinpoint rocket throws down to second base for a pair of putouts on Berlin baserunners trying to steal, and third baseman Anna Cappas was a vacuum with four infield putouts. Shortstop Josie Chapin also had three defensive gems including grabbing a line shot on the fly to keep the score at 3-2 in the fourth inning.
The right side of the infield was also a fortress as first baseman Briella Krystofolski and second baseman Violet Schaefer made smooth work of every softball that came their way.
The irony of the three-run first inning is that Wallingford also scored three runs in the first inning of Monday's series opener. Four more runs in the second broke it open in game one.
Hale, who struck out seven and walked only four in her Tuesday outing, was also the winning pitcher in that first game with four strikeouts and one walk.
Of her seven strikeouts on Tuesday, three came over the final two innings -- including two during a one-two-three sixth inning. Hale retired eight of the last nine batters she faced in the game.
Wallingford 11-Under Division Little League Girls Softball State Champions Team Roster: Sam Allison, Anna Cappas, Josie Chapin, Madisyn Gordils, Caitlin Hale, Savanah Hastings, Briella Krystofolski, Mia Leavitt, Kailey Montano, Violet Schaefer, Lorelai Schunmann and Aubree Tetreault.