Southington’s Dietz sheds nickname in victory

LORDSTOWN – At the moment of Southington pitcher Amber Dietz’s birth, her aunt Cindi Bates dubbed the senior pitcher with the nickname “Pee Wee,” and the nickname stuck, with her teammates and coaches all now calling her by it.

In Southington’s Division IV, sectional semifinal against Lordstown on Monday, Dietz didn’t play anything like the moniker, as the four-year pitcher allowed just two hits and retired the last 14 batters she faced in a 4-1 win over the Red Devils.

“It was real important (to play well today) because I know this team’s a great hitting team,” Dietz said. “We just came mentally prepared that we had to be good on defense to beat this team.”

As Dietz said, the Wildcats needed to play strong defense, behind her. Although the Red Devils (10-7) only had four runners reach base, all but three of the outs came off of balls hit into play.

The Southington defense didn’t make a single mistake, recording zero errors and making some more difficult grabs on fly balls to limit Lordstown’s bats. Because of the defensive play, Sydney Calhoun’s two-out, two-run single in the top of the second proved to be the game winner.

For Bates, an assistant coach at Southington, the lack of mistakes in the field played a huge role in the win.

“(Dietz) wants the girls to help back her up, and they do,” Bates said. “They came through with their bats today, and they came through excellent on defense – probably the best defensive game we’ve had all year. We actually played like a team today.”

Monday’s game turned out differently than the makeup game the two played on Saturday, which went 14-7 in Lordstown’s favor. Sophomore Alexis Pernice was on the mound for the Wildcats instead of Dietz then.

For Southington, though, that game was about gaining knowledge on its sectional-semifinal opponent, considering the Wildcats and Red Devils hadn’t seen each other for quite some time.

“We hadn’t played them since the beginning of the season,” Bates said. “So, we didn’t know what they had, and we weren’t quite sure what the pitcher was like. Saturday played a huge part in (our win).”

As for Lordstown Dave Harrison, the Red Devils played a bit too much into Dietz’s gameplan instead of replicating the results from the teams’ first meeting this season.

“We played her earlier in the season, and we came out ahead,” Lordstown coach Dave Harrison said. “We should have done it today, but we didn’t. She threw a lot of good high pitches, we popped a lot of balls up and they made a lot of great catches.”

The Wildcats move on to face another Northeastern Athletic Conference foe Maplewood today in the sectional final.

Dietz said the team is hoping to replicate the results from last season when the two schools met in the sectional semifinal. Southington won that one 3-2, en route to a postseason run that ended in the district final.

This time around might be a little more difficult, as the Rockets beat Southington both times in the regular season.

“Last year, we were kind of the underdogs going into tournaments,” Dietz said. “We just want to prove to everybody that we could do it again. We have to come prepared and work 110 percent and just give it our all. Hopefully, we’ll come out with the win.”