Anytime I cover a baseball or softball game from this point forward, I'm going to carry a sign saying, "Hit this target and you will get a mention in the paper."
The reason comes from Mathews' 8-2 win over Badger in a Division IV sectional semifinal on Tuesday. The Mustangs' Cheyenne Eggens was ahead of almost every pitch she saw, fouling off countless balls along the first-base line and sometimes toward the home fans.
During her third and final at-bat in the fourth inning, Eggens lined a pitch straight to the bleachers in my general vicinity and missed me by just a few inches. Luckily, nobody was sitting on the row below below me, and it hit on the corner of the wood and bounced straight to the ground. That one would have left a nasty mark had it hit anybody.
Eggens may have ended the plate appearance by popping up to the catcher, but she certainly had my rapt attention for the rest of her at-bat. Not that she needed to do so in such a manner - her success in the circle these past two seasons for a state-caliber team is more than enough for the Tribune Chronicle to take notice. Just in that game, she retired all but one batter she faced over five innings. It's that kind of performance that Mathews' needs to get back to the state tournament.
Tough route for Mathews: Speaking of the Mustangs, the tournament draw wasn't very kind for last year's state runner-up. In the district semifinals, the Mustangs have Windham, which could prove to be a vary dangerous opponent.
The Bombers are 17-6 so far and have flown under the radar coming into districts. Windham only lost one game in the Portage Trail Conference, County Division play, which is no easy feat.
Pitcher Brittany Knight has been a major piece of the puzzle, and perhaps due to the pitching talent in the area, the freshman hasn't received the praise she deserves, especially after posting an 11-1 record so far.
Although the prospect of a district final against Northeastern Athletic Conference-rival Bristol looms (assuming Bristol beats Maplewood in the semifinals), the Mustangs can overlook the Bombers at their own peril.
The end of the Dietz era: For the past eight seasons, the last name Dietz has become synonymous with pitching for Southington softball.
On Tuesday, that era ended with a 3-1 loss at Maplewood in a Division IV sectional final, with Amber Dietz throwing her final pitch as a member of the Wildcat team.
Amber stepped in as a freshman to man the circle for Southington, taking over for her sister, Ashley. Ashley was a staple of Southington teams over four years, and Amber also went four years as the Wildcats' ace. Amber didn't manage to match Ashley's mark of three district championship appearances, but Southington's march to last season's district final was magical.
Amber may have been overshadowed by the many talented pitchers in the area, but she left her mark on Southington softball.