The Wildcats finished a 19-5 record.
By MARK W. MILLER
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
KENT -- Two first-inning hits produced the only runs that Loudonville High needed as the Redbirds ended Southington's hopes of advancing to the state softball tournament.
The Redbirds (19-6) put the finishing touches on the 5-1 victory in the Division IV regional final when they hit three straight singles, adding three more runs in the fifth.
State champions from 1993-97, Loudonville coach Bill Herman said this year's squad is similar to the '93 team.
The Redbirds had two runners on base in the second inning and again in the third inning, but came up empty.
"A couple of timely hits and we could have had some more runs," Herman said.
Ace: Erin Christopher (14-5) handcuffed the Southington (19-5) batters with a no-hitter through four innings.
A leadoff walk to Southington's Melissa Smith in the third inning was erased as part of a 1-3-4 double play.
Kristy Sabo led off the fourth inning with Southington's first hit, a solid single. She moved to second on a sacrifice and to third on a passed ball. The next two batters struck out.
A single, fielder's choice and singles by Becca Derr and Jennifer Brunstetter scored Stephanie Hudak's with Southington's run in the sixth.
"In the inning, they got their runs off three bloop singles," Southington coach Kelly Nelson said.
"We've given up runs before and came back and scored. These kids never quit. They got two singles with two outs in the seventh inning.
Surprising finish: "When you graduate five starters [last year], you aren't supposed to make it back this far," Nelson said. "Three of those girls went to major colleges.
"Their pitcher [Christopher] moved the ball well. She had a nice rise. After the third inning, we begin to hit the ball."
The Wildcats, who won the state title in 1998, were paced by Cynda Miller, who hit singles in the sixth and seventh.
"We'll lose four seniors at graduation, but we are a young team and I have both of my pitchers coming back," Nelson said.
One of those pitchers, junior Linday Byer (12-3), who took the loss Saturday, has thrown five no-hitters, including one in the regional semifinal.