East Lyme - An explanation of the motivation behind the impeccably turned double play from Mystic's Cassie Woods to end Thursday's Section II state championship game:
"My whole team wanted the win. We were all pumped up," Woods said. "We wanted to get through the inning. We wanted to get the banner."
So Woods, apparently in a hurry, made the play of the game as Mystic's Little League softball all-star team (ages 11-12) defeated Middletown 3-1 for the section title.
A left-handed third baseman, Woods went to her glove side to take away a potential hit down the line from Middletown's Jenny Barbour with one out and two runners on. Woods stepped on the bag then threw to first baseman Susanna Mewha to get Barbour by half a step.
Mystic, which won its second straight section title, advanced to play Section I champ Fairfield for the state championship. Game one of the best-of-three series will be played Saturday at 4 p.m. at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.
Jayden Delaporta was the Most Outstanding Player for Mystic, which is 11-1 in all-star competition. Delaporta pitched a five-hit complete game and added a double and a run scored in the third inning.
Middletown manager Rick Pizzonia protested the game after it was over, based on the fact he said Delaporta was using chalk from the pitcher's circle - considered a "foreign substance" - to dry her hands between outs. The protest was denied by officials at Eastern Region Headquarters in Bristol.
"That was a big part of our win tonight, those guys making all the plays," said Delaporta, who will be an eighth-grader next year at Cutler Middle School in Groton. "It wasn't my normal strikeouts (four). I knew I couldn't just throw it right down the middle against them."
Mystic went 5-0 during the pool play portion of the sectional, but had to hold off Middletown earlier in the week, winning 9-5.
Mystic had only four hits Thursday, but used three walks and three stolen bases to take a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Mystic got an RBI single to right field by Rylee McMillan to score Kelly Giffault for the first run.
Jenna Bendfeldt then scored the second run on the back end of a double-steal, with McMillan being thrown out at second base while Bendfeldt raced home uncontested.
Delaporta doubled to the fence in the third inning and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Middletown scored in the fourth on an RBI single by Samantha Pizzonia, but Mystic avoided further trouble with yet another double play when Delaporta stabbed a line drive by Rachel Thompson and doubled the runner off first to end the inning.
"Our whole team could play any position. We lucked out this year," Woods said.
"Everyone's so good. It's not just a one-person effort, it's the whole team."
Fairfield swept Mystic in last year's state championship series. Seven players return from that Mystic team.
"I think we're a lot more prepared batting and defense-wise this year," Delaporta said.
Manager Dave Mewha, whose son Jon won a state championship with the Fitch High School baseball team this spring, is looking to add another, this time for his daughter. Mewha has never coached the softball all-stars before this year.
"This group can do stuff the boys can do. Anybody could coach this team," Mewha said. "They patrol themselves. They're a great group of girls."