West Haven - The outcome was anticlimactic, really, with Granby Memorial batting around in a five-run second inning that the Waterford High School softball team could never overcome.
That left Waterford coach Liz Sutman to console a senior class, including pitcher Kelli Connors and shortstop Alyssa Hancock, who were four-year stars and two-time state champions in their careers.
That left Sutman trying to explain the uncharacteristic unraveling of a team for which making every defensive play and hitting with runners on base have become a few of life's certainties. Waterford's two losses a year ago were both 1-0. The Lancers lost a 2-1 game this year to Rockville. That's it.
Yet there was Granby on Tuesday afternoon. Unfazed by Waterford's tradition of excellence.
Granby, coached by one-time Waterford star Vicki (Bartolucci) Malone, beat the Lancers 6-2 in the semifinals of the Class M state tournament at West Haven High School. Third-seeded Granby (23-1) will play No. 4 Rocky Hill for the title on Friday at 7 p.m. at West Haven. Rocky Hill eliminated No. 1 Seymour 1-0 in 11 innings.
"If I could put on paper the worst-case scenario, this was it," said Sutman, whose team (24-2) won Class L titles in 2009 and 2010. "Everything we never do, we did. You'd have to go way back to see something like that, where we gave it away.
"They definitely outplayed us. They definitely hit better than us. Their pitcher got out of jams. They made every play. We've had games where that's happened for us."
Granby, which had 13 hits off Connors, batted around in the second inning, sending 10 hitters to the plate. Two of the runs were unearned and the big inning might have been avoided entirely except that No. 9 hitter Sara Boardman reached on a dropped third strike with no attempt ever made to throw her out at first, giving the Bears an extra out.
Granby tacked on another unearned run in the fourth inning when an outfield error allowed Morgan Malone an extra base on a single to left and Haley Makuch singled home Malone, making it 6-0.
Meanwhile, Granby pitcher Neve Stearns, a senior right-hander who beat Griswold in the quarterfinals Monday, didn't allow a hit until the third inning, striking out nine and walking one.
Sutman tried a forceful pep talk mid-game, but the deficit was already too great.
"I said, 'Listen. This game is getting away. That's stuff we don't do. We're not a sloppy defensive team and right now we're a sloppy defensive team,'" Sutman said. "I tried to have them pretend it was 0-0 and just go out and play. But that's a lot of runs not to get overwhelmed."
Connors (20-2), who finished her career at 69-5, credited Granby.
"They definitely came to play today. Unfortunately, we didn't," Connors said. "I think it would have been a close game had we played our A game, but we didn't. I'm pretty sure they played their A game today. … I didn't think I was pitching bad. They just hit a lot of them."
Among the things that went Granby's way: Left fielder Emily Martel made an over the shoulder catch of a towering fly ball hit by Waterford's Elaina Sullivan in the third inning, just before Hancock chipped a double down the right field line.
Also, with the bases full of Waterford runners in the fifth inning, one out and one run in, Stearns got out of the jam by striking out Lancers' No. 3 hitter Kate Haff and inducing a popup by Connors.
Jaime Dahl doubled and scored on an RBI single by Megan Spellman in the fifth for Waterford and the other run came on a solo home run by Sullivan to lead off the seventh.
"Losing a game's bad, but know it's your last one is worse," a tearful Connors said. "It's tough to know it's over.
"We were kind of greedy because after we won the first two years, we knew it was possible to have four titles or even three. It was definitely a goal of ours. We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we were willing to work for it. Today it wasn't easy."