— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) May 14, 2021
WOODBRIDGE — Jillian Ciccarelli had plenty going through her mind when she stepped to the plate in the fourth inning against Cheshire Friday afternoon. With a pair of runners in scoring position and Amity trailing by two runs, Ciccarelli, who had returned to the lineup after missing a game with a wrist injury, knew a base hit would more than likely tie the game.
Ciccarelli did better.
With one swing of the bat, Ciccarelli lined a home run over the centerfield fence to give Amity a lead it never relinquished as the Spartans topped fourth-ranked Cheshire 4-3 in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional contest at a packed Amity High School.
Amity, ranked 10th in the GameTimeCT top 10 poll, avenged an earlier season loss to the Rams and improved to 12-3.
“Everything starts with my team,” Ciccarelli said. “I would not be able to come up in that situation if it was not for them. It is nice when you know your teammates have your back.”
The homer by Ciccarelli helped erase a 3-0 Cheshire lead as Amity scored once in the third inning when Jenna Zamkov reached on a one-out error, moved to second on a sacrifice, and scored on Juliette Zito’s single to right.
The Rams had a chance to extend the lead in the top of the fourth inning, but a nice play by Amity shortstop Olivia Greco nipped Gracie Hemstock at first to end the inning and strand a Cheshire runner on third.
“We have been working on our defense a lot,” Amity coach Sara Hale said. “We came up short against East Haven and we knew they were going to give us a lot of small ball today. We worked hard in practice on that.”
Trailing 3-1, Amity took the lead for good in the fourth inning. Kelly Pritchard led off with a single, Greco hit a one-out single, and both advanced to scoring position on a grounder by Kylee Mclain. Battling Cheshire’s ace pitcher Brianna Pearson, Ciccarelli lined a shot to deep center, giving Amity the lead for good.
“Jill is a clutch hitter,” Hale said of Ciccarelli. “She comes through a lot for us. I thought she had a great at bat. It was a big hit for us.”
The rest was up to Pritchard as she stranded a runner in scoring position in the fifth, before Cheshire attempted to rally in the seventh. Pritchard hit Hemstock with a pitch to start the inning and pinch-runner Kayla Kampf moved to second on a sacrifice and third on a ground out.
With the tying run on third, Pritchard had to face Kailey Sweigard. Pritchard won the battle by striking out the Cheshire junior to end the game, sending Cheshire to its first loss of the season.
“I was just focused on the batters,” Pritchard said. “Jill (Ciccarelli) called a great game. This game will give us a lot of confidence going forward. We have a lot of team chemistry. We have a lot of energy and I felt we never gave up.”
For the Rams, it was their first loss of the season.
“These are two really good teams going at it,” Cheshire coach Kristine Drust said. “Both teams put the bat on the ball, and it is a case of one play or one hit can change the game. I am proud of the girls. I hope we respond and learn, process, and understand the game is seven innings. I think they do, and I think the team will be better for it.”
— Mike Madera (@MikeMadera2) May 14, 2021
Cheshire took a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a two-out rally as Ella Watson walked, stole second, moved to third on an error on the play, and scored on a bunt single by Grace Lurz.
The Rams increased the lead to 3-0 in the third inning as a passed ball scored Trinadey Santiago, and another run scored when Karissa Spring bunted to score Kampf.
Pearson pitched a complete game for Cheshire, allowing six hits, while striking out eight and walking two. Pritchard allowed seven hits and struck out eight in the win for Amity.
Player of the Game
Jillian Ciccarelli, Amity: senior delivered a clutch 3-run homer in the fourth inning to give the Spartans a lead they never relinquished.
“I have been doing this a long time. The (undefeated) pressure is lifted. Unfortunately, but fortunately, this may be better for the team. You do not lose. You learn. I am pretty certain the girls have learned from this.”
— Cheshire coach Kristine Drust
Amity 4, Cheshire 3
Cheshire012 000 0 — 3 7 2
Amity001 300 X — 4 6 1
C: Brianna Pearson (L) and Trinadey Santiago; A: Kelly Pritchard (W) and Jillian Ciccarelli; HR: Jillian Ciccarelli (A)
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