Little League: Shelton march ends in state semis

It was a whirlwind kind of summer for the Shelton girls 12U All-Star softball team as, it reached the semifinals of the state championship tournament.

Along the way Shelton thrilled parents and fans alike, capturing the District III title and the Section II title before advancing to the state championship tournament.

“Our team’s success was due to our pitching, catching and consistent hitting,” said team manager Mike Krijgsman, who along with assistant coaches Pete Kiman and George Jenco guided the girls to within one game of playing for the state championship.

“This transformation really began about five years ago,” said Kiman. “We had only about 40 girls in the softball program and now there are over 100 and it all started with this group of girls.”

After losing in the Districts to Seymour last season, Shelton came back this year with something to prove and did it in grand fashion.

District III play began with a 7-4 win over Union City Little League of Naugatuck on June 25 at Mingrone Field.

The next hurdle was Seymour and Shelton went out and took care of business by winning the District title with back-to-back shutouts — knocking off Seymour 9-0 and then 10-0 in the championship game on July 1.

Julia Krijgsman fired a two-hitter and struck out eight to keep Seymour in check and went 3-for-4 at the plate driving in three runs. Anna Leone set the tone going 3-for-4, belting two doubles and a triple good for two runs and two RBI.

Once Shelton started to swing the bats it didn’t stop.

Alexis Resto went 3-for-3 with two doubles a run and an RBI. Amanda Kiman went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Rachel Kiman added a hit and an RBI.

Sarah Broad had a double and scored a run with Krystal Black and Taylor Silva adding a hit and a run scored. Jackie Jenco in right field, Maddie Cyr at second base and Emma Gabriel at third base made stellar defensive plays to preserve the shutout.

“Our defense made a few key plays,” said Mike Krijgsman. “But again it was our pitching that kept opponents off the bases, allowing only two hits to Seymour and four hits to Torrington.”

Shelton had to play three games in a four-day span to win the Sectionals in Simsbury and got the party started by knocking off District V champion Bristol 10-0 on July 6.

Next up was Torrington, and Shelton pulled away to a 7-1 victory. The two teams would go at it one more time with the title on the line and Shelton escaped to advance to the state championship round with a 3-2 win over Torrington on July 9.

Julia Krijgsman scattered four hits, but was tough with runners on base as she struck out nine and went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double.

Resto also went 2-for-3 but it was Leone that delivered the game-winning double in the bottom of the sixth, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Natalya Correia had a hit and a run scored, Victoria Casey came through with a hit and Shelton got timely hits from Rachel Kiman, Black and Broad to keep the pressure on Torrington.

In the state championship tournament, Shelton got off to a good start with a 5-1 win over Westport on July 15 at Elmridge Park in Rocky Hill.

Julia Krijgsman allowed five hits, striking out three and adding a pair of doubles — good for two runs scored and an RBI.

Resto carried the offense going 3-for-3 at the plate with two doubles, two runs scored and two RBI.

The Shelton magic began to fade the next day when it fell short to Waterford in a tough 7-6 battle after leading the game most of the way. The whirlwind ride to the state championship came to an end the next day in a rematch defeat to Westport 4-1 on July 17.

“We fell behind early and was never able to catch up,” said Krijgsman. “The girls had a great run and gave it everything they had.”

The Shelton 12U softball team advanced to the state championship tournament, before falling to Westport.