Softball: Class L semifinals are next stop for Falcons

Joel Barlow High’s Samantha Hilford hits a single in first-round state Class L softball game against Sheehan on Tuesday, May 30. The Falcons won their first three games and have reached the semifinals for the first time. — Scott Mullin photo

Continuing to make history, the Joel Barlow High softball team continued to make history with wins in the state Class L tournament over Sheehan, Windsor and Berlin. The tenth-seeded Falcons have a season record of 18-7, the most single season wins in program history.

Barlow set the season mark with a convincing 9-3 win over the 15th-ranked Berlin Redcoats last Friday, June 2. Its first ever quarter-final game in what started out as a back and forth event.

The Redcoats jumped out to a 1-0 first inning lead, but Barlow knotted the score as Briana Marcelino answered by belting a solo home run in the bottom half of the frame. Kristen Acocella drilled a two-out homer to center to put the Falcons up 2-1 in the bottom of the third.

Starter Caitlin Colangelo held Berlin in check until the Redcoats manufactured two runs in the fourth with a pair of singles, a sacrifice bunt and a walk to take a 3-2 lead. Barlow came right back in the bottom half as Marcelino led off with a single and was plated by Claire McCann’s grounder to second.

The Falcons broke the game open in the fifth. Acocella and Samantha Hilford singled, Marcelino and Taylor Macchia both reached on fielder’s choices for one run. McCann then ripped a bases loaded clearing double off the right field fence to put Barlow up 7-3.

Pinch runner Gaby Tuccinardi scored on Rebecca Mauro’s single and Scotland Davis delivered Mauro with a single to left to close out the scoring at 9-3. Colangelo retired the final seven Redcoats’ hitters to end the game to raise her record to 11-3 on the season, as she went the distance on a seven-hitter, striking out seven batters.

Acocella and Marcelino each homered, split four hits and each had an RBI. The former scored two runs and the latter three. McCann put the game out of reach with a double and four RBI.  Mauro had two hits, scored a run and had an RBI.

The Falcons are playing their best ball of the season and it comes at the most important time.  Head coach Craig Sears likes what he sees in the team.

“We just keep consistent in the things that got us to this point,” he said.  “There isn’t some magic formula, you just continue to take reps on both offense and defense and most importantly keep it loose and fun.”

Barlow visited the seventh-seeded Windsor Warriors two days earlier in what turned out to be a pitcher’s duel between Colangelo and Windsor’s Haley Nolan.

The Falcons managed just three hits through six innings, two by Acocella and another by Marcelino. Colangelo answered by throwing a four-hit gem in going the distance for the shutout, while fanning seven and yielding only one walk.

Barlow scored the game’s only run in the top of the seventh. Sabrina Lalor led off with a double to left and came around on Mauro’s hard-hit grounder to short, which was misplayed by Julie Fontaine for the game-winner.

Acocella had two hits with Marcelino, Lalor and Caitlin Boudiette contributing to Barlow’s five hits.

The Falcons opened the tournament by hosting the 23rd-ranked Sheehan Titans and came away with a 6-5 win.

Barlow made use of the long ball early and jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first on a solo homer by Marcelino with starter McCann blasting a two-run shot deep over the right field fence.  

The Falcons added three more in the third as Samantha Hilford singled, McCann and Lalor hit back to back doubles, and were plated by Scotland Davis’s eventual gamer with a single to left.

McCann’s third out strikeout was mishandled, which resulted in five unearned Sheehan runs in the second, highlighted by Sydney Hunt’s homer to center.  

McCann went six innings to raise her record to 7-4, yielding five unearned runs on only four hits, while striking out five. Colangelo relived in the seventh for her second save of the season.

McCann went two for three with two RBI, a homer and double. Lalor went two for three, scored a run and drove in two with a double. Marcelino added a home run.

Notes: The Falcons defeated defending champ Fitch 6-5 in the semifinals today and will play the winner of the Pomperaug/Torrington game for the championship on Saturday at West Haven High at 1 p.m.

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