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May 27—GRISWOLD — The Griswold softball team had just 11 players this season. In the entire program.

Eleven has been all the Wolverines have needed this season.

Junior pitcher Kaelin Waldron scattered four hits and struck out 13 as top-seeded Griswold beat No. 2 Woodstock Academy 2-0 on Wednesday night to win the Eastern Connecticut Conference North Division tournament championship.

“I think having such a small team gives everyone a better opportunity to have more one-on-one with coach (Rick) Arremony,” Waldron said. “Woodstock, they have such a large team. A bunch of their kids probably don’t get as much one-on-one work with their coaches, and you learn so much from that.

“Having a small team, you just learn and grow as a player, and you get to know one another, and you get to build friendships. That’s how you really have a strong team.”

The Wolverines (16-3) started their first practice with just 10 players, difficult to fathom given the success of the small-school program that regularly hangs with the ECC’s biggest-and-best. An 11th player later joined.

“I would say 61 days ago, when we had our first practice, I did not foresee this happening tonight,” Arremony said. “It took about two weeks before we started looking at it going, ‘I think we can put something together here,’ but that first week, we really weren’t where we’re used to being. So I’m really proud of with how far these kids have come in 61 days.”

The Wolverines last won an ECC tournament title in 2018.

The Centaurs are 17-4, having split two games with Griswold during the regular season.

Waldron kept Woodstock off balance most of the night, and the few times she was put in a jam, she came through.

The Centaurs loaded the bases in the top of the fourth. Senior Mackenzie Leveille (two hits) singled with one out.

Sophomore Lexi Thompson followed with an infield pop-up that was dropped. Leveille, who had held at first base, took off for second and reached safely on a throwing error.

The runners advanced a base on freshman Delaney Anderson’s groundout and Griswold elected to intentionally walk sophomore Madison Martinez.

Waldron got freshman Mia Pannone to ground out to end the threat.

“I think I do better under pressure,” Waldon said. “I just know what my goal is, what my main focus is. And that’s the strikeout and to get the next out.”

Senior Mandy Brehler singled to lead off the Griswold fourth and went to second on a sacrifice by sophomore Makayla Neilson.

Sophomore Adrianna Morabito grounded out as Brehler took off for third base. She scored when the throw to third base was high.

Junior Lucia Ceccarelli doubled to lead off the Wolverines’ sixth inning. She scored on a beautiful suicide squeeze by Neilson who also reached safely.

Woodstock senior Marissa Mayhew tripled with one out in the top of the seventh.

Waldron struck out the next two batters and Brehler chased a fly ball in foul territory past third base for the final out.

“It’s very exciting,” Waldron said about winning a title after the entire 2020 CIAC spring season was canceled due to the pandemic. “I’m super-happy for our team.”