CHESHIRE — Pitching, defense and timely hitting are usually a winning combination in softball.
Sheehan excelled in all three facets of the game in a 2-1 SCC Housatonic victory at Cheshire on Monday afternoon.
“This win was huge,” Sheehan coach Jocelyn Chang said. “It shows that our hard work is paying off. It came down to us executing on defense. They played great as a team.”
Titan starter Melissa Pereira pitched out of first-and-second, no-out jam in the sixth. In the seventh, she stranded the game-tying run on second base by retiring the final two batters.
The Sheehan infield pulled the defensive play of the game during Cheshire’s threat in the bottom of the sixth with the Titans nursing the one-run advantage.
Cheshire’s Alexa DiLeo started the frame with a base-knock up the middle and was lifted for a pinch runner. Cleanup hitter Megan Hodgdon originally tried to get a bunt down, but with two strikes, she was forced to swing away and blooped a single down the right field line.
With two on and no outs, Olivia Odermatt grounded to short. Sheehan shortstop Sara Pisanelli threw to second baseman Meghan Gavin for the first out of the inning and then Gavin tossed to Rebecca Souza who put a tag on the lead Cheshire runner for a 6-4-5 double play.
“We stayed calm in a moment where there was a lot of pressure,” Pereira said. “We went back to what we have been practicing. We were both really competitive teams and it was a really good ball game.”
Cheshire starter MacKenzie Juodaitis pinch hit in the seventh and led off with a single up the middle. She was bunted over to second by Maggie O’Reilly. But Pereira was able to strikeout Courtney Goggin and induce a fly out by Bry McIntosh to seal the win.
Sheehan put the pressure on the Rams in the first inning with a leadoff double by Souza. She went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Mikaeyla Daddio and scored with the first run on a Cheshire throwing error.
The Rams tied the game with two-out RBI single by O’Reilly in the bottom of the second inning.
Gavin started the Sheehan third inning with an infield single and two outs later she scored on a two-out double by Hunter Selvaggi that one-hopped the right-field fence. The opposite field hit chased Gavin home from first base and it turned out to be the winning run.
“I was nervous at first and as usual Coach motivated me,” Selvaggi said. “It was an outside fastball and I just went with it.”
Both pitchers settled down after the early offense. Juodaitis (3-1) took her first loss of the year. She allowed three hits and none past the third inning. She walked none and fanned eight for Cheshire (3-1, 1-1).
“Sheehan was mentally stronger than us,” Cheshire coach Kristine Drust said. “Our defense picked it up toward the end of the game, but our timely hits and our ability to generate runs in the final few innings did not work out for us.”
McIntosh was busy in the field. The senior shortstop was perfect on all six of her putouts including a diving stop of a grounder in the sixth.
Pereira (2-0) yielded five hits, one walk and struck out eight to keep the Titans undefeated at 3-0, 1-0 in the Housy. The righty was especially effective with her change-up and drop curve.
“There are still things we can improve on,” Pereira said. “We can always get better.”