GREENWICH — Three outs to do something special, three outs to be great.
That’s what Ridgefield softball coach Lauren Greywacz’s message was to her team before they took the field to resume their Class LL Tournament opening round game against Greenwich on Thursday.
The Tigers faced a two-run deficit with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning when play was suspended on Wednesday due to a thunderstorm. When play resumed Thursday, 19th-seeded Ridgefield rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh inning and held on to edge 14th-seeded Greenwich, 13-12.
Ridgefield (13-8) advanced to Friday’s Round of 16, where it will visit third-seeded West Haven.
“I told the team, the rest of the game doesn’t matter,” Greywacz said. “We came in forgetting about yesterday (Wednesday) and felt if we could win one inning, we could win this game. We had three outs to do something special.”
The victors went into the resumed game hoping to put what transpired in the later innings behind them, after the Cardinals erased an 8-0 deficit and wound up taking a 12-10 lead. As exciting as the win was for Ridgefield, that’s how heartbreaking it was for Greenwich, which staged a fierce comeback.
“This is a tough one to lose, it’s a tough ending,” said GHS coach Mary Beth Fratello, whose squad finished the season 13-9. “Yesterday (Wednesday) we had a lot of momentum and I felt if we could have continued to play we could have won. But it was tough for both teams to come back and play for one inning.”
Trailing 12-10 and down to their last three outs, the Tigers’ rally began with junior infielder Alexandra Kindead’s solo home run over the center field fence off Cardinals senior right-hander Sophia Prieto.
“The last game I was struggling a bit, so I knew I had to put it in play and I did and got a home run out of it,” Kinkead said.
With one out in the seventh inning, junior catcher Claire Filaski doubled to left center field and went to third on freshman Julia Clavi’s infield single. Sophomore Skylar Arent followed by lining a double down the right field line, scoring Filaski and Clavi and giving the Tigers a 13-12 advantage.
“I knew I had to get a hit in that situation and put the ball in play,” said Arent, who also earned the win on the mound. “On a single, I knew two runs could score.”
Arent went 3 for 5 with a game-high six RBIs, sophomore Alyssa DeStefano was 3 for 4 with one RBI and senior Lauren Bayer had two hits and two RBIs in the winning effort.
Sophomore catcher Olivia McClammy went 3 for 4 with two home runs and five RBIs, senior infielder Kelly Brogan was 3 for 5 with three runs scored and senior outfielder Charli Faugno had three hits and collected four RBIs to pace Greenwich. Senior shortstop Emma Beinstein added two hits and an RBI for the home team.
“This was a rough way to end our season, but we qualified for FCIACs and states, so it was a good season,” McClammy said. “This season meant a lot to our team. The captains, Sophia (Prieto) and Julie (Gambino) did a great job of leading us.”
Ridgefield took what, seemed to be, a commanding lead through the first few innings on Wednesday. DeStefano knocked in a run with a double off Prieto and Arent delivered a two-run single in the first inning. Junior leadoff hitter Sabrina Grizzaffi and Clavi each hit RBI singles in the second inning, while Arent knocked in a pair of runs, putting GHS in a 7-0 hole.
“Ridgefield is a good hitting team,” Fratello said. “They can play small ball, they can play long ball, they can do a little bit of everything.”
Down 8-0 in the third inning, Greenwich struck for four runs off Tigers right-hander DeStefano. McClammy keyed the inning with a two-run homer.
After Ridgefield added an unearned run in the top of the fourth inning, McClammy launched a three-run home run, following singles by Violet Mikalopas and Brogan, bringing the Cards to within 9-7. Arent relieved DeStefano on the mound in the fourth inning, as Faugno and Gambino scored the Cardinals’ eighth and ninth runs. In the fifth inning, Greenwich went ahead, 12-9, on a bases-loaded walk by Katie Walko and a two-run single by Faugno.
“This team has been fighting all year,” Fratello said. “There was never a game that we were out of, because we fought, thanks to our senior group.”
Greywacz shares the same sentiment about her squad.
“This team is a ton of fun to watch,” she said. “We are never out of it. They believe in themselves and I believe in them.”
QUITE A TURNAROUND
The Tigers rebounded from a rocky 2-7 start and are now in the Round of 16 of the state tournament. They have won 11 of their last 12 games.
“We came together as a team, bonded and all became really good friends,” Kinkead said. “That helped us win.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Arent had three hits, six RBIs and picked up the win in relief for Ridgefield. She worked her way around a McClammy single in the seventh inning to seal the win.
“I knew I had to throw strikes, because the defense behind me had my back,” Arent said.
“We are losing a lot of seniors, leadership, experience and great players,” McClammy said. “Next year we are going to develop our team again and keep pushing to make states and FCIACs.”
Said Fratello: “We received a lot of senior leadership throughout the season, they were all great leaders.”