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Cheshire softball tops Southington to advance to the Class LL championship

WEST HAVEN – After Cheshire High beat Southington to win the Class LL semifinal softball game Tuesday afternoon, the players hoisted coach Kristine Drust up on their shoulders and celebrated.

The last time the two teams played in April, Drust wasn’t able to be at the game because her husband had been hospitalized. Cheshire won that game and did it again Tuesday, 4-0, to advance to the Class LL championship game Saturday at UConn at a time to be determined.

“I don’t know if you saw them hoist me up at the end of the game – that was a surprise, I didn’t know they were going to do that,” Drust said. “These girls are playing together. That was our goal from Day One. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re winning and that’s why we’re going to the championship.”

Top-seeded Cheshire (25-1) will face the winner of the Fairfield Ludlowe-Ridgefield semifinal game, which took place at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Fairfield Ludlowe is the defending champion, beating Southington last year, 5-2, in the final.

Cheshire sophomore pitcher Jenica Matos struck out 13 and gave up one hit and senior Karla Carangelo doubled twice, once in the third inning and once in the fifth, driving in all four runs.

“Karla was clutch in our first game against Southington among other games, and consistently clutch today for our team,” Drust said. “To be able to do that against such a great team on such a big stage and do it consistently; she’s a great hitter and a hard out.”

Cheshire’s only loss of the season came to Masuk, 10-6, on April 13.

The two teams faced each other on April 25, with Matos pitching a no-hitter in a 4-1 Cheshire victory.

Matos pitched a no-hitter Tuesday until the top of the sixth, when Olivia Gombotz singled to center with two outs but Maddie Furniss hit a line drive to Cheshire second baseman Jordan McCue to end the inning.

“The energy was amazing today,” Matos said. “We just locked it in, we knew we had a job to do and we got it done.”

The last time Southington didn’t advance to the championship game was 2018.

Furniss, Southington’s pitcher, gave up six hits in the loss.

“I think Maddie pitched a great game but we just didn’t hit much,” Southington coach Davina Hernandez said. “Jenica pitched a great game. They executed more than we did and that’s really what it came down to.”

Cheshire last went to the championship game in 2016 and won the Class LL title that year.