By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When you have two of the best softball squads in all the Mum City collide, then you have yourself a City Series championship showdown.
And on Friday, Aug. 25, the Nitro and the Blast went at it one more time from Rockwell Park and while an early injury scare might have jolted Blast pitcher Alex Sciarretto, she simply refused to yield.
Sciarretto chucked a one run, five hitter – picking up 13 strikeouts in the process – as the Blast won the Bristol Little League Softball City Series championship behind a 4-1 win.
“[She was] fantastic,” said Blast manager Tom Policki of Sciarretto. “I’m not sure how many strikeouts she had but boy I’ll tell you, she came and she bared down.”
Over her two City Series games, Sciarretto collected 27 total strikeouts to help lead her squad to the coveted championship trophy – last won by the Pride over the past two seasons.
“I’m just amazed because I’ve never won this before and I feel so grateful that I got to experience this for the first time,” said Sciarretto.
The Nitro was forced to play four straight games in the City Series tournament and certainly left it all out on the field in the final game of the summer.
Nitro chucker Ashley Serafin (six hits, six K’s) did all she could on the mound and threw extremely well.
“I can’t be more proud,” said Nitro coach Barrett Cretella of his team. “They battled the whole season. They’ve stayed strong and they’ve stayed positive. They played like champions. Hats off to the Blast. They’re an awesome team. They have a lot of talent on their team.”
Sciarretto had that injury scare in the top of the first with two outs as Alex Shorette lined a ball off the pitcher’s knee and the game was immediately stopped.
“She took [a ball] right off the top of the kneecap,” said Policki of Sciarretto. “I went out there. Obviously, we checked it out. We didn’t hear any clicking. She’s a tough kid.”
“She stuck it out…she grinned and bared it.”
Sciarretto took just a couple minutes to compose herself, but once she got back on the mound, it was right back to work.
“I felt like I just shook it off and I just felt like I could do anything because after you get hurt, you just have to shake it off and keep going,” said Sciarretto.
And when Sciarretto struck out clean-up hitter Hannah Webber, she did not allow the Nitro to score and the Blast came up to bat.
In the bottom of the first, the Blast batted two runs in as Taylor Lorenzetti dropped a two-RBI screamer into center and even though she was tagged out at third base to end the inning, the Nitro trailed 2-0 through an eventful first frame of play.
“Put the ball in play,” said Policki to his team. “If you don’t put the ball in play, we’re not going to score any runs. But I’m proud of them. They all did one heck of a job.”
Then Sciarretto struck out the side in the top of the second as the Blast looked to pad its lead.
Sam Policki earned a one-out walk to start something for the Blast and later swiped second with two gone to get into scoring position.
With runners on second and third and the top of the Blast order up, an RBI tally over Serafin’s head on the mound scored Policki to make it a 3-0 game through two stanzas of play.
Sciarretto continued to throw lights out into the third inning as she collected six straight strikeouts and the top of the order came up for the Nitro.
Sophia Bouchard earned a two-out walk and then JJ Cretella legged out an infield hit to second to put two runners on.
Sciarretto then fanned Alex Shorette as the Blast’s 3-0 edge stayed intact.
Lorelei Stancavage dropped a slow roller just passed Serafin to third base in the bottom of the third and after stealing second, she quickly took third on an overthrow to the bag.
But when Romano flipped a fly ball to centerfield, Shorette made a great grab to end the inning as the Blast maintained their 3-0 cushion.
Webber opened the fourth with a single to shortstop but Sciarretto and her K-machine got things working again.
After two strikeouts, Serafin unleashed an RBI double to the fence in centerfield as Webber crossed the plate to cut the deficit to 3-1.
With Serafin in scoring position and the tying run at home plate, a little tomfoolery ensued.
In a rare occurrence, the Nitro batted out of order, immediately ending the inning and the Blast still led by two.
Serafin zipped through the Blast’s line-up in the bottom of the fourth, throwing the ball very well.
“I can’t say anything other than another great game,” said Policki of Serafin. “It was another great game by Ashley Serafin.”
In the fifth, Wolfradt slapped a one-out single up the middle to get the offense going as the Nitro had the tying runner in the batter’s box one more time.
But Sophia Bouchard struck out and Cretella grounded out as the Blast still led it by two runs.
The Blast gave it a whirl in the bottom of the fifth when Sciarretto singled and as Stancavage dropped a triple to right, scoring one final run and the Blast – leading 4-1 – were three outs away from the City Series championship.
But it wouldn’t be that easy as Shorette walked to get a runner onboard.
However, three quick putouts later, the Blast began the celebration – winning the City Series by three runs, 4-1, over an extremely well pitched affair and an excellent showcase of Bristol’s softball talent.
“Both girls are very good pitchers, superior pitchers,” said Cretella. “Those girls are going against each other and it’s also the defense and offense just battling it out.”
“They battled as hard as they could.”
In an agreement with his squad, coach Policki’s hair was immediately dyed a leprechaun green after the game with the Blast having the trophy in their possession.
“They played a solid game,” said a green-headed Policki of his squad. “I’m proud of them.”