BETHEL — It was just a matter of waiting for the right hit at the right time.
Though the Telstar softball team squandered numerous chances early Wednesday to drive in runs, the Rebels didn’t panic. The chances were there and they hoped the hit would come eventually.
“We knew that if we got runners there, that we could do it, and we could drive them in,” said outfielder TJ Cowin. “We knew we could hit against her.”
It was Cowin that ultimately delivered the decisive blow. Her double to left-center in the bottom of the fifth inning plated the lone run in a 1-0 win over Jay.
“It feels really good,” said Cowin. “It was definitely one of our biggest competitors yet. It was a big relief off our shoulders to know we could do it.”
Cowin finished with two hits while Kayla Merill had three hits and scored the winning run for unbeaten Telstar (4-0). Merrill was also superb on the mound. She allowed just two hits and struck out six and walked none. Merrill, a junior who hasn’t lost a game in her high school career, hasn’t allowed a run in four wins this season.
“That’s four shutouts for Kayla and that sends a message,” said Telstar coach Jim Lunney. “She’s just going to get stronger. She’s doing well. She’s working on corners. She’s working on her curveball. She’s working on her change-ups. She wants to play in college, and she doesn’t mind working.”
Jay (3-2) provided the Rebels their toughest test yet. Sophomore pitcher Paula Despres did a nice job, scattering eight hits. The Tigers played errorless ball and got some fine defensive plays from Alexi Deering at second and Alexii Smith in left.
“We played good defense, and we hit the ball,” said Jay coach Robin Roberts. “Paula pitched well. She doesn’t have the velocity of a lot of other pitchers, but she’s changing it up, and she keeps it low.”
The Tigers were also able to threaten the Rebels. Telstar made three errors in the field while Ashley Quirrion and Ashley Dorey had the only hits for the Tigers.
“We hit the ball well,” said Roberts. “I told the girls, ‘Don’t put your heads down. We were right on her.’ A couple here or there, who knows.”
Dorey reached on an error in the second and advanced to second on a Quirrion single, but Merrill struck out a pair to finish the inning. Another error led to Brittany DiPompo reaching in the third, but she was stranded. In the fourth, Dorey doubled and got to third on a sacrifice. Merrill got the final out on a liner to shortstop Lyndsay Merrill. Nobody’s been that close to scoring on Merrill all season.
“Nobody’s gotten to third yet this year,” said Merrill. “So it was kind of stressful, but I knew I had to comeback and throw what I could.”
Jay only had one other base runner the rest of the game. Telstar had some fine catches in the outfield from Tasha Farnum while Lindsay James made a nice play at second to back up Nicena Walker at first on a ball that took a dramatic hop toward the hole in the seventh.
“I had pretty good control,” said Merrill, who did a nice job moving the ball inside and outside. “(Catcher) Sam (Largess) and Coach call most of what I throw. So, they know what to throw and that helps a lot.”
Telstar knocked on the door for most of the game. After Kayla Merrill was stranded in the first, Hannah Morin doubled and Walker singled to lead off the second, but Despres pitched her way out with three straight outs. Telstar stranded two more runners in each of the next two innings.
“We had some opportunities early, but the girls hung in there,” said Lunney. “We just needed one hit. I think Kayla even said to TJ, ‘If I get on, you drive me in.’ She said at the end of the game, ‘I told you you could drive me in.’ It was a good hit and Kayla runs the bases well.”
Merrill singled with one out in the fifth. Cowin followed with her double to the gap. Jay missed the cut-off on the relay, and Merrill scored easily from first.
“It was really stressful, but I knew we needed to get the run in,” said Cowin. “It was just about making contact. I didn’t mean to hit it way out into the outfield. A base hit was all we needed.”