BRISTOL, Conn.— After being blasted 17-3, by Fairfield, Conn., in Monday night’s round robin game in the New England regional tournament, Hermon, Maine, coach Aaron Oakes believed his team would learn something from the game.
Sure enough, he was right.
Unfortunately for the Maine champs, it wasn’t enough to beat its toughest adversary in the regional tournament.
Hermon rallied from a 5-1 deficit to take the lead, but allowed two in the top of the fifth, falling in the New England divisional final 7-6 on Friday night in the New England Regional Tournament Championship at Breen Field.
Maine pitcher Karli Theberge pitched a complete game, allowing just six hits, and seven runs — three of which were unearned— while striking out four.
“I thought Karli did a great job,” Hermon coach Aaron Oakes said. “She was a real trooper.”
The New England champions from Connecticut will take on New City, N.Y. on Saturday at 4 p.m. for the Eastern Regional championship and a trip to the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore.
From the beginning it appeared as though Connecticut would advance in another rout, scoring four runs with the help of two of Hermon’s five errors in the game.
“We made a couple of errors in the first inning,” Oakes said. “We allowed them to get four runs on the board.”
Connecticut built a 5-1 advantage entering the bottom of the second, but Hermon rebounded behind four hits, including RBI singles by Alessa Oakes and Sydney Addessi to cut Fairfield’s lead to 5-3.
Hermon scored three in the bottom of the fourth inning, without the benefit of a hit. Maine worked five walks in the frame, one of which led to a run. Alexis MacManus’ RBI groundout tied the game at five, scoring Addessi and Theberge scored on a wild pitch to give Hermon the lead.
“The girls showed what they typically do,” Oakes said. “They fight to the end, and they absolutely did that tonight.”
But Connecticut rebounded, scoring a pair of runs on an RBI double by Anna Rasmussen.
“We had a couple of little miscues there,” Oakes said.
Fairfield starter Brittany Romero re-entered to close the game out, earning her first save of the tournament. Romero returned from a family vacation on Friday by herself, leaving her family at Disney World.
For Oakes and the team, the experience of playing— and although falling one win short of being New England regional champions— is one that won’t soon be forgotten.
“Every time we got to go out there and play on that field was a privilege,” Oakes said. “The girls have had tons of memories to talk about to their kids when they get older… we’d love to come back again.”
Connecticut 410 020— 7 5 0
Hermon 120 300— 6 8 5
Records: Connecticut: 5-1, Hermon 4-2; Batteries— C: Brittany Romero, Alice Nelson (W, 2-1) Romero (Sv 1) and Nelson and Julia Wilson; H: Karli Theberge (L, 2-1) and Sydney Addessi.