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  • Greg Lederer

McCue, Cheshire Softball Walk Off With Big Win Over Law

On April 10, Jordan McCue had the walk-off hit to propel Cheshire softball to a 5-4 win over Jonathan Law in eight innings.

by Greg Lederer

Cheshire Sports Media

In a match-up of unbeaten teams on April 10, the Cheshire High School softball team felt momentum on their side throughout the afternoon against Jonathan Law. The Rams took a 4-0 lead into the top of the seventh inning, but in being down to their last three outs, their rival made a furious comeback.

Law utilized a walk, a hit by pitch, and two hits to score four runs and tie the game. Sophomore Emily Roos (double) and freshman Julia Scibek (single) picked up RBIs and the other two runs scored when the a ground ball took a tough hop off the leg of sophomore second baseman Jordan McCue.

While her team was facing adversity, Head Coach Kristine Drust felt their preparation was well-suited for the situation.

“Teams that win big games are the one that fail better,” said Drust. “Sometimes, it is a pitching or hitting battle. You are going to make mistakes. The teams that adjust quicker are the ones that win.”

The Rams rewarded Drust’s faith. After facing tricky defensive play in the seventh, McCue returned in the eighth to post the walk-off RBI single in a 5-4 victory.

“It was pretty tough,” stated McCue, of giving up the lead. “That is why I wanted to come back and contribute to the win and help out my teammates, but they were picking me up, so I had confidence when I was going up there.”

Cheshire improved to 4-0 and Law fell to 4-1. The contest meant a lot to the Rams, who lost both meetings to their rival last year.

“The revenge felt really good,” said sophomore pitcher Jenica Matos. “We came into this game and we worked at it the whole week to win this game.”

“It feels amazing to win a big game like that,” said Drust. “As stressful as it was at that time, I think that coaches would rather win it easily, but you need games like to make you better in that environment.”

Sophomore Lyla Blair started the bottom of the eighth by reaching second base on a throwing error. Junior Kaitlyn Matzkin replaced Blair as a pinch runner.

After a sacrifice bunt by junior Julia Miller, McCue won the game by driving a pitch into left field. McCue finished with two hits and three RBIs.

“That player is so very special. She is gritty and fun. She doesn’t take herself very seriously,” explained Drust. “She is a breath of fresh air.”

The Rams seized momentum quickly in the game, putting up two runs in the bottom of the first inning. To lead off, McCue and junior Ava Pearson reached on errors.

McCue scored first on an infield fielding miscue. Pearson came around to score on an RBI single by senior Karla Carangelo.

“It (an early lead) sets such an energy tone. You have to grab it before the other team does,” stated Drust. “Sometimes, you have to wait for that big hit or defensive play. Grabbing that (momentum) in the first inning helps our team and it makes the other team doubt things.”

CHS pushed the lead to 4-0 in the fourth. Down 0-2 in the count, sophomore Lyla Blair battled to earn a leadoff single.

McCue brought in her teammate with a two-run homer to right center.

“It felt good to be able to contribute to the win and also be able to pick up the score and pick up the energy of the game,” recalled McCue.

With the run support, Matos had a no-hitter going until junior pitcher/outfielder Madyson Bull led off the sixth with a bunt single. Matos recorded 11 strikeouts through five innings.

“I feel like I had my team behind me, so I was really motivated,” stated Matos. “Even though we were down in that seventh inning, we picked ourselves up to go back out on the field and get it done and to come back and win the game.”

“Honestly, I don’t think my words would do it justice,” added Drust, of her pitcher’s performance. “She is a horse out there. She goes 100 percent for her team. She trusts the girls behind her.”

After Law staged their four-run rally in the top of the seventh, Cheshire had a chance to win the game in regulation. Hersh doubled to left center, but Law used a ground out to end the inning.

Matos returned to strike out the side in the eighth and then McCue provided the winning hit in the bottom half.

Matos recorded a career-high 18 strikeouts, yielding four hits, four walks, and a hit by pitch against Law.

“Anytime you see a pitcher for the third time through the order, their plan gets easier to execute,” explained Drust. “They put the ball in play and made things happen in that (seventh) inning. I think it (the adversity) ignited something special in her (Matos).”

Carangelo joined McCue with two hits. Pearson and Byrd added singles in the victory.

Three days later, the Rams dropped their first game, 10-6, to the state’s top-ranked team Masuk (6-0). The five-time reigning Class L Champions jumped ahead for good in the first inning.

After reaching on a hit by pitch and a walk, Masuk advanced their runners with a sacrifice bunt and then scored twice on a wild pitch.

Cheshire cut the deficit in the bottom of the first. Pearson put down a bunt single and Byrd worked a walk to set the table for Carangelo, who smacked an RBI double to center.

“It felt great to get us started,” recalled Carangelo. “Coming into this game, we did scouting on their pitching, so we knew what to look for when we got up there (the plate).”

Masuk put up four runs in the third. Following two walks, junior pitcher Julia Bacoulis hit a three-run home run.

The Panthers extended the inning with a single and a walk. A fielding error allowed them to take a 6-1 advantage.

CHS rallied in the bottom of the third. Miller worked a leadoff walk and McCue contributed a single. Byrd brought in Miller with an RBI ground out.

Masuk responded during the fourth, as senior Natalie Leto connected for a two-run home run to left. Facing an 8-2 deficit, the Rams dug deep to stage a comeback in the bottom half.

Sophomore Molly Fleming and Hersh led off with singles. Fleming came around to score on an RBI single by junior Bailey Vitanza.

With two outs, McCue hit a fly ball to right and an error enabled Hersh and Vitanza to score on the play. Pearson followed with an RBI single to pull the Rams to within 8-6.

Byrd drew a walk, but Bacoulis induced a ground out to end the inning.

“I feel that (inning) put us back in it,” said Vitanza.

The Panthers scored the last two runs on RBI hits from junior Ava Moretti in the fifth (single) and seventh (double) innings.Masuk drew eight walks and a hit by pitch, but Matos gave up just five hits and recorded 13 strikeouts. In the seventh inning, junior Marina Gronbach entered in relief and got a ground out to end the top half.

While coming up short, Cheshire’s six runs were the most scored on Masuk this season.

“It shows that we can play with anyone in the state,” stated Vitanza.

On Monday, Cheshire bounced back with a 4-1 victory at West Haven (2-6). The Rams scored in each of the first four innings and surrendered just one run in the third.

Matos recorded a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts and Byrd tallied a double, a single, and an RBI. Hersh (RBI) and Carangelo both singled twice.

Vitanza added a single and McCue chipped in an RBI.

On Wednesday, CHS visits Guilford (6-2) to play at 4:15 p.m.

From left, Jordan McCue and Jenica Matos posed after CHS softball won 5-4 over Jonathan Law. Photo by Greg Lederer.

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