WEST HAVEN — What Fairfield Ludlowe softball coach Lou Bunosso called “a once in a lifetime lineup” has catapulted the Falcons into uncharted territory.
No. 2-seeded Ludlowe, fresh off its 11-1 victory over Trumbull in Wednesday’s Class LL semifinal at Frank Biondi Field in West Haven, will play No. 1 Southington for its first state title this weekend.
“This is our first state championship final in school history,” Bunosso said. “We’ve been working very hard at this. The girls had an excellent season. We score a lot of runs. We played a clean game here in the semifinals.”
Southington (22-1), No. 3 in the GameTimeCT poll, topped No. 5 Hall High 8-2 in its semifinal.
Ludlowe, No. 2 in the poll, played error-free defense for winning pitcher Alex Lewey, who earned the game ball from her teammates.
“That’s been Alex all year,” Bunosso said of his righthanded freshman. “She is a bulldog in the circle for us. She spins the ball a lot. Teams don’t center the ball when they hit it. They don’t get good contact. Alex gave up that home run in the first inning. She settled in scattered four hits the next five innings.”
Cassi Barbato’s first-pitch home run to dead center in the first put Trumbull on top. The Eagles put a base runner on in each of the next five frames. They got to second only once as Lewey struck out four and walked two on the afternoon.
Bunosso said: “Everyone puts their bat on the ball. Everyone does their job. The players do a good job of situational hitting, moving the runners. It’s a total team effort.”
That situational hitting brought across the first four Falcons runs (one in the first and third innings; two in the third). Maddy Reyes had a run-producing sacrifice fly and fielder’s choice. Kate Tournas flied out to plate a run and Ellie Gallagi’s grounder scored another.
Chelsea Villar and Della Jackson each had three of the winner’s 14 hits. Reyes (four RBIs) and Caitlyn Romero (RBI) had two base hits apiece.
Five hits in the fourth balloned the lead to 7-1. Romero, Tournas and Reyes had RBIs. Reyes doubled home two more in a four-run sixth. Villar singled in another. Gallagi’s fielder’s choice RBI capped the scoring.
Anna Gedacht pitched a perfect seventh for Ludlowe.
Maura Carbone had two singles for Trumbull (16-7). Lianna Weaver and CC Cummings also singled.
“We gave Ludlowe too many (extra) outs,” Trumbull coach Jacqui Sheftz said. “You can’t do that against a solid hitting team like that. They are one of the best hitting teams in the state one through nine hands down. Ludlowe hit the ball extremely hard. They are fast and well coached.
“We’re young (except for seniors Kenzie Bruggeman and Cassi Barbato) on the big stage. We beat some great teams along the way. We overachieved this year. I’m proud of my kids (seven new starters) and what we accomplished. We will continue to set the bar high.”
Southington is making its 24th appearance in the Class LL finals — a state record — and will be looking for its 19th championship after last winning the championship in 2019. Overall, the Blue Knights hold an 18-5 record in the finals.
“Southington is the most storied program in the history of Connecticut softball. We are rolling the dice right now. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose.” — Ludlowe coach Lou Bunosso
Fairfield Ludlowe won its first FCIAC softball title this spring when it defeated St. Joseph 6-3 … Ludlowe’s road to the finals was filled by FCIAC barriers. After a bye in the first round, the Falcons defeated Darien 5-4 and Staples 6-1 and Trumbull … The Falcons defeated Trumbull 15-5 in the sixth game of the season … Southington will be the first non-FCIAC team faced by the Falcons … The FCIAC has had a finalist three of the last four years that Class LL held a tournament … Trumbull was the last FCIAC team to win Class LL. The ninth-seeded Eagles defeated No. 6 Southington 4-3 in 2017.