Ludlowe edges Hall in Class LL softball quarterfinals

FAIRFIELD — As the quarterfinals of the Class LL softball state tournament took place Friday, the top-ranked team in the state met its latest obstacle: Hall and Duke-bound pitcher Sophie Garner-MacKinnon.

Ludlowe, the No. 3 seed in the tournament but top-ranked in the GameTimeCT poll, was up for the challenge, as Anna Gedacht pitched the Falcons to a 2-1 victory.

“We knew what we were up against, and I’m happy that I was able to step in,” Gedacht said. “It was stressful, but I knew my defense was behind me and that we would fight and win.”

Ludlowe (25-1) advances to the Class LL semifinals, where it will face second-seeded Southington, which it has not played since last year’s Class LL championship game.

Southington won that game 4-3 on a walk-off hit, sending Ludlowe home in heartbreaking fashion.

“It means a lot,” Ludlowe coach Lou Bunosso said. “(Southington is) one of the most historic programs in the state. They’re a softball town, and we’re trying to be like them. Obviously, we would have liked to see them in the finals, but we would have to beat them anyway.”

Gedacht pitched five innings of relief, entering the game with no outs in the third inning of a 1-1 game. She allowed just three hits while striking out seven batters to earn the win.

“I knew at some point she was going to have to come in for more than two or three innings, and today was the day,” Bunosso said. “I think she thrives in these situations. She’s extremely energetic out there and she did a phenomenal job.”

Senior center fielder Chelsea Villar drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom half of the third, singling to right field to bring Della Jackson home. Jackson had tripled the at-bat before.

“We’ve been practicing our approach, especially against this type of pitching,” Villar said. “We had to attack the first pitch we liked, because we knew we wouldn’t get a lot of those.”

The approach against the hard throwing right-hander worked, though Ludlowe only had four hits and struck out five times.

“The mindset was not to strike out a lot, and I think we only stuck out five times,” Bunosso said. “We put the ball in play, and they made an error that kick-started us a little bit. We built off that with our pitching and our defense, and as I’ve said all year, our pitching has been our strength.”

Despite a well-fought game, Hall (20-5) sees its season come to a close. The No. 6 seed will graduate five seniors, including Garner-MacKinnon, who allowed just one earned run on four hits in her final high school start.

“We’re going to miss her and the rest of the senior group that goes with her,” Hall coach Rebecca Lewis said. “Hall was a program that no one even talked about, even within our own school. This group of seniors has put Hall on the map in terms of softball, and all the growth from here is due to those kids and the work that they’ve put in over the last four years. I am so proud of this group.”; @AldamWill


HALL 010 000 0 — 1 5 1

LUDLOWE 101 000 x— 2 4 0

Records: Ludlowe 25-1; Hall 20-5

Batteries: H-Sophie Garner-MacKinnon (L) and Stephanie Markie; F-Alex Lewey, Anna Gedacht (3, W) and Allie Tournas.