Seymour cruises to state championship

STRATFORD — The memory of falling a run short in the 2019 Class M state championship was ingrained in the minds of the Seymour softball team’s five seniors.

Having waited two years for a chance at redemption, Seymour can once again call itself a state champion after defeating North Branford 6-0 for the Class M title on Friday at DeLuca Field in Startford.

The Wildcats claimed their first state title since 2017 (also against North Branford), and 12th in program history thanks to big performances from a strong senior core.

“This is my 30th year here and we have been to 19 of these state championship games, which is quite an accomplishment,” Seymour coach Ken Pereiras said. “I am not really nervous about these things, I am relaxed and I think the kids feel that and are also relaxed. It is easier to play when you are comfortable and they do well in the spotlight.”

Senior pitcher Erin Lifrieri limited North Branford to three hits and two walks while striking out 10 in a complete game shutout. She also contributed offensively with a solo home run and was named the game’s most valuable player.

“She didn’t pitch as a junior, she missed that season and to come on and play as well as she did is impressive,” Pereiras said. “She pitched every game for us and she was great all season.”

Senior Jacey Cosciello went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored the first run of the game.

“Cosciello had a bid day today with some big hits,” Pereiras said. “We missed her the first nine games of the season and it was a big loss. Her coming back and playing the way she has was great for us.”

Morgan Teodosio, also a senior, was 1-for-3 with two RBIs, a run scored. She also made a leaping catch in center field, crashing into the fence to keep the shutout intact.

“We missed out junior year and only got three years of high school softball and that stunk,” Teodosio said. “But coming back out here today, winning a state championship I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Entering the tournament as the 10th seed, Seymour used its unfamiliar underdog designation as motivation throughout.

“There was pressure but we were the underdogs and we just wanted to prove to everyone how good we are,” Lifrieri said. “We did lose a few games but we knew we could come back and win this.”

In four tournament games, Lifrieri allowed just four runs as Seymour outscored opponents 33-4.

“We were the No. 10 seed and our bracket was kind of in favor of us,” Senior shortstop Alyssa Johnson said. “Obviously we had to work hard to get here but we knew once we had a couple of wins under our belt and kept pushing that we could do this.”

The Wildacats seemed to get stronger as the season progressed, ending the season in dominant fashion.

“After everything that’s gone on, just to be able to come back and play a full season is great for these kids,” Pereiras said. “Today we played by far our best game of the season. Defensively we made plays, Erin (Lifrieri) was fantastic, and we got some big hits in key situations.”

Teodosio got Seymour out in front in the first inning with a RBI single scoring Cosciello, and later scored on an error.

Cosciello singled in a run in the second inning and was driven in on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Teodosio to extend the lead to 4-0.

“We wanted to come back this year and stronger than we ever had,” Cosciello said. “We did a tremendous job this year and I am so proud of my team.”

Four runs were more than enough for Lifrieri, who added to her cushion with a solo shot leading off the third.

“It feels so nice,” Lifrieri said. “I knew this was my last high school game and I wanted to give it my all.”

Cosciello drove in the final run of the game on anther RBI single in the sixth inning, all but sealing the deal for Seymour.

“I was crying before,” Cosciello said. “I have been playing with these girls since I was 8-years old and to be a senior and go out with a state championship win, I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

Despite having abbreviated three year careers, the senior class that appeared in two state championships finished its Seymour tenure euphorically with a 21-5 record.

“We have all been playing together wince we were around 10, so this was the last time we were going to be able to play together,” Johnson said. “We all played on the same travel team and we have been close since we were young and it is bitter sweet that it’s all over.”

North Branford (21-3) can hold its head high as the Shoreline Conference champion and with a bright future.

Will.Aldam@hearstmediact.com; @AldamWill

SEYMOUR 6, NORTH BRANFORD 0

SEYMOUR 221 001 0 — 6 8 0

NORTH BRANFORD 000 000 0 — 0 3 1

Batteries: S—Erin Lifrieri (W, 21-5) and Lily Desautels. NB—Kiley Mullins (L) and Lindsey Onofrio. HRs: S—Erin Lifrieri.