STAMFORD — The King School baseball and softball teams are focused on capturing Fairchester Athletic Association (FAA), NEPSAC (New England baseball) and WNEPSAA (New England softball) championships.
Mother Nature is doing everything possible to deter the Vikings from their missions.
The relentless rain of the past 48 hours postponed No. 1 seeded King baseball’s FAA semifinal home matchup with Hopkins School to Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
King softball’s FAA semifinal matchup at Hopkins School was postponed to Thursday at 5 p.m.
NOT ENOUGH DAYS FOR SOFTBALL
The rain and postponements affect King softball more directly.
The Vikings are now in a position where they would have playoff games four days in a row.
FAA Tournament semifinals Thursday. FAA Tournament final Friday. The NEPSAC/WNEPSAA Tournament semifinals Saturday. The NEPSAC/WNEPSAA Tournament final Sunday.
If the Hopkins grass softball field is unplayable Thursday, the options are as follows. If Hopkins is willing to give up a home playoff game, then both the St. Luke’s (13-0) hosting Holy Child as well as the King-Hopkins semifinal could be played on St. Luke’s artificial turf softball field.
If Thursday’s weather remains bad, then both semifinals could be played Friday at St. Luke’s. At that point, FAA co-champions could be declared. Or the FAA championship final could be pushed to Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.
The NEPSAC/WNEPSAA Tournament is a four-team bracket with games set for Saturday and Sunday. Officials do not want the softball tournament to go past Sunday.
At this moment, King is clinging to the No. 4 slot by a scant margin. Playing this FAA semifinal game is important to King’s chances to qualify. If the No. 5 ranked school finds an artificial turf diamond to play and win on Wednesday or Thursday it might knock King out of the No. 4 position.
If the NEPSAC/WNEPSAA semifinals can’t go on Saturday. Then Sunday’s winners would probably be declared co-champions.
King is currently 11-3 overall, has had 10 games (9-1) in which the Vikings have scored at least 10 runs. King beat Rye Country Day, 9-3 in last Monday’s FAA quarterfinals.
King’s two FAA losses have been to Hopkins and No. 1 seed St. Luke’s.
“Our defense has been consistent. We’ve averaged 10 hits per game but we’ve left runners on base in our losses,” said King’s veteran coach Karen Cella. “We’ve had two pitchers (senior and fifth-year player Kelly Conheeney; junior pitcher Mallory Ehlers) sharing the innings load on the mound. Mallory worked especially hard in the off-season to be a force on the mound and in the batting order.”
King has won FAA titles in 2016, 2014, 2010, 2009 and 2008. The Vikings were WNEPSAA champions in 2010, 2008, 2007 and 2004.
“The girls have learned to work together this season. When everyone chips in, then opponents can’t pitch around hot hitters,” Cella said. “They’ve understood the expectations. They’ve risen to the occasion. The question now is can they change the story against Hopkins and St. Luke’s?”
KING BASEBALL WANTS TO FINISH THE JOB
King enters at 12-2 overall and it earned a first round FAA bye as the No. 1 seed. The bad news is the Vikings haven’t played since May 9.
“We’re ready to go. We’ve been ready to go,” said King’s veteran coach Ken Lewis. “The kids want to get on the field and prove it this postseason.”
King is looking for its first FAA Tournament title since 2014.
King might not play the FAA semifinal and final until Friday and Saturday.
The eight-team NEPSAC Tournament (four teams North Division; four teams South Division) is set for next Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If rain postpones the FAA final, it might not get played until next Tuesday.
King is blessed with a deep pitching staff featuring senior righthanders Bobby Cribbin and Renn Lints as well as sophomore Dylan McMorrow.
“We’re lucky to have the arms we do,” Lewis said. “But if the schedule gets too compressed, we can’t slot pitchers the way we might want to.”
The offense has been superb led by senior Lucas Stalman, who will play baseball at Boston College in the fall. Lints (Bucknell) and Cribbin (Indiana) have also finalized their college choices.
“The leadership of the captains (Cribbin, Lints, Stalman) has been great. Offensively, we’ve had a different hero every game. Everybody has participated in our success,” Lewis said. “Everybody on our squad has made a case to be team MVP. That is a good feeling.”
King was Small New England Tournament runnerup in 2017, losing to Dexter (Mass.). The Vikings lost in NEPSAC’s opening round in 2016 as well as in the semifinals at Hamden Hall in 2015, 2014 and 2013.
“The seniors (Reid Gesualdi is King’s fourth senior) wants to finish their King athletic and academic careers as champions. It shows you the type of people they are,” Lewis said. “And the younger guys want this just as bad for the seniors.”