STONINGTON — Watching Groton/Mystic left-handed pitcher Jillian Fugere combine her windmill-generated fastball with her developing changeup, you'd swear you were watching a softball hurler much more advanced than the 8-10-year-old division in which she pitches.
While she looks ready for the 11-12 age group talent-wise, the Northeast Academy fifth-grader-to-be from Mystic may not be leaving the under-10 division anytime soon. That's bad news for area opponents.
Thursday at the Pawcatuck Little League complex, Fugere led the Groton/Mystic All-Stars to a repeat of their District 10 tournament championship by scattering three hits and striking out 15 to lead the 8-10s to an 11-0 win over Waterford, completing a 7-0 run to the double-elimination tourney title.
"Jillian turned 10 in April, which means she's Little League softball age 9," said Groton/Mystic coach Jim Southers. "She can come back next year to pitch at this level. She's been unbelievable for us. She's so advanced with her windup and command."
Fugere was one of three players to come back from G/M's 2018 District 10 title team. Waterford, traditionally the team to beat in area softball tournaments, finished runner-up both years.
Groton/Mystic was dominant this season, scoring 83 runs while allowing just seven. Fugere pitched every inning — softball rules allow for pitching eligibility as long as pitchers don't surpass seven innings.
"We figured we'd be strong with Jillian pitching and Mallory Bogle coming back at catcher," Southers said. "At this level, it's all about pitching, and it helps to have a catcher who can handle the hard stuff."
Assistant coach Kelly Jackson, who is Fugere's mother, pitched for Fitch High in the late 1980s. Fugere struck out 14 in the semifinals and had a low strikeout total of nine in the tournament, and that came in a no-hitter.
"I was a right-handed sling-shot pitcher, not a windmill pitcher like Jillian," Jackson said. "I'm not sure I threw any harder in high school than Jillian does now."
Groton/Mystic, which advanced to the Section 3 tournament starting July 16 in Coginchaug, gave Fugere all the runs she needed with two in the top of the first. Waterford needed to beat G/M twice to win the district, but an if-necessary game was unnecessary.
Jaedyn Steffans reached on an infield single off Waterford starter Audra Fiano, and Helena Coury walked. Leilani McCoy (2 for 4) grounded out to score a run, and Coury scored on a wild pitch.
Groton/Mystic added three runs in the third for a 5-0 lead on Bogle's RBI single and Isabelle Southers' two-run single.
Meanwhile, Fugere struck out the side in each of the first four innings. Waterford loaded the bases in the fourth, but Fugere struck out the next two to get out of it.
Fugere then contributed offensively with a two-run double in the fourth and an RBI single in the fifth. Bogle (2 for 4) tripled home a run in the sixth. Steffans, the leadoff batter, scored three runs in the win.