CIAC SOFTBALL: Cheshire blunts Tomahawks, storms into Class LL quarterfinals

CIAC SOFTBALL: Cheshire blunts Tomahawks, storms into Class LL quarterfinals

CHESHIRE — The Cheshire softball team cruised to a second-round victory in the Class LL state tournament Thursday, defeating No. 20 Glastonbury 13-0 at Cheshire High School.

The No. 3 Rams were led by senior shortstop Mia Juodaitis, who had a home run and five runs batted in, and sophomore Brianna Pearson, who pitched a shutout and added a three-run homer in the first inning.

“I just went up there attacking,” Juodaitis said. “We were seeing the ball well, we were getting really good hits. Our energy just kept me going.”

Combined with Wednesday’s 25-0 romp over No. 29 Kennedy, the Rams have outscored their first two state tournament opponents 38-0. Now 22-3, Cheshire hosts No. 5 E.O. Smith (19-3) in the quarterfinals on Friday at 4 p.m.

On Thursday, the Rams jumped on Glastonbury starter Madison Garrity in the first inning. Two hits and the Pearson homer chased Garrity, who got just one out.

Juodaitis continued the scoring in the second inning with an opposite-field home run with one out. It was one of three hits Juodaitis had on the day.

“She’s our leadoff batter and she’s our senior and she’s one of the best players in the state,” Cheshire head coach Kristine Drust said. “No shock here. She’s a presence when she’s up to bat. You can pitch the ball anywhere and she’s going to do something with it. She continues to be that leader that we need.”

Pearson, meanwhile, continued to dominate on the mound, allowing just three hits over the first four frames while striking out three.

“Pearson is amazing; she’s such a hard worker,” Juodaitis said. “Our defense is making great plays. It’s really great that were doing that and attacking on offense and scoring runs.”

The Rams really opened the game up with a five-run fourth, which began with back-to-back doubles by freshman Grace Lurz and Juodaitis. Glastonbury changed pitchers again, but freshman Brooke Tracy walked six batters in the inning, helping plate four more Cheshire runs.

“It was part of the game plan coming in,” Drust said of her team’s discipline at the plate. “We knew that they had a bunch of pitchers and that they used their pitchers. It’s just getting that flow with different pitchers, whether they are warm or not, and just taking every opportunity that they’re ready to throw strikes.

“Our game plan was that if we saw that opportunity, to see that first strike come over the plate, and I think that made us and helped us get up in the count a little bit and that helped us see better pitches later on.”

The Rams picked up four more runs in the bottom of the sixth, three coming on a bases-clearing double down the left field line by Juodaitis.

Pearson continued to be dominant, retiring the final nine Tomahawk batters in order.

“Just consistency,” Drust said of Pearson’s performance on the mound. “That’s what you’re looking for. You don’t want to get too high, you don’t want to get too low, just consistency, whether they get hits or whether she strikes people out. That’s what she’s doing right now and she’s hitting spots. That’s all we can ask.”

Pearson and the Rams will look to main that consistency Friday in the quarterfinals against E.O. Smith, which followed up a 6-1 first-round win over No. 28 Simsbury with a 6-2 second-round victory Thursday over No. 21 Shelton.

“I think we’re just appreciating every at bat and every opportunity,” Drust said. “On defense, it’s just keeping things simple, making the plays were supposed to make, keeping the ball in front, communicating, talking and keeping the energy there.

“Basically, just controlling what we can control and I think the girls really did that today.”