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BRISTOL, Conn. â€“ The Cumberland Major Division (ages 11 and 12) All-Star softball team arrived at the end of the line on Thursday afternoon, the teamâ€™s magical run culminating in a 4-2 defeat to Robbinsville, N.J. in semifinal-round action of the Eastern Regionals at Breen Field.
The defeat closes Cumberlandâ€™s stay at the 10-team tournament, which featured teams from New England and the Mid-Atlantic, at 4-2. In its six games, Cumberland outscored its opponents by a 42-19 margin and outhit them, 49-24.
The two-time Rhode Island champions, who counting the District IV and state tournaments, were 12-2 overall, advanced one game further in the regionals than it did a summer ago, as the team hailing from Hermon, Maine eliminated the 2011 version in the quarterfinals.
â€śIâ€™m very proud of the girls,â€ť added Cumberland manager Ken Jalbert. â€śThey did very well and they could have easily ended up going to Oregon for the World Series. Theyâ€™re definitely one of the top 15-20 teams in the country, and they proved that during this tournament.â€ť
Facing a Robbinsville team that was 5-0 and the top seed among Mid-Atlantic participants, Cumberland fell into a 4-0 hole after two innings Thursday. Robbinsville scored all of its runs in the last of the second by taking advantage of three Cumberland errors that proved costly. Two of the errors came on one play and allowed Robbinsville to unload the bases and cross the plate three times.
A double by Riane Walsh, the only batted ball by Robbinsville that reached the outfield, led off the inning, and four bunts, mixed in with Cumberlandâ€™s errors, keyed the rally.
Cumberland was held hitless through the first four frames before finally breaking through in the top of the fifth inning. Samantha Jalbert laced a run-scoring single with two down to drive in Emily Anderson from second.
After Robbinsville committed an error that sent Jalbert all the way to third, Julianne Ross singled in her teammate to cut the deficit to two runs.
Emily Dâ€™Abrosca and Brianna Frankina then collected base hits to help Cumber-land load the bases, but a infield groundout put the breaks on the comeback. The locals then went down in order in the top of the sixth.
â€śWe hit the ball hard and we had a lot of line drives, but they were right at people,â€ť said the Cumberland manager. â€ś(Robbinsville) was a very solid defensive team, and to their credit, they made all the plays.â€ť
Starting pitcher Sydney Provencal absorbed her first loss of the tournament, falling to 3-1 after tossing five innings of four-run ball, though none of them were earned. Provencal wound up starting four of Cumberlandâ€™s six games, striking out 18 batters in 20 innings, and walking just two. She finished with a 0.90 ERA.
The game was held at noon, instead of its scheduled 4 p.m. start, because of the severe thunderstorms that were expected to hit central Connecticut in the late afternoon and early evening.
Robbinsville will face New Hyde Park, N.Y. in the regional final, set for tonight at 7 p.m. New Hyde Park defeated defending New England champion Fairfield, Conn. in the other semifinal held Thursday, 6-0.
The winner of the New Hyde Park-Robbinsville matchup will advance to the 2012 Little League Softball World Series, slated for Aug. 9-15 in Portland, Ore.