WESTPORT >> The Fairfield Warde High’s softball team, on Tuesday afternoon, earned its third consecutive nail-biting win with a 5-4 edging of host Staples. The Mustangs improved to 8-2 overall, and the Wreckers fell to 4-4.
Gabriella Natoli smacked a run scoring single down the left field line, driving in courtesy runner Deja Seawright, to break a four-all tie with two outs in the final frame.
“These kids know how to play the game. When it comes down to it they know how to buckle down and play with confidence,” said Warde Coach Gary Quiricone, whose team scored four runs in the seventh inning to overcome Westhill of Stamford 9-7 the day before, and pulled out a 5-4 win over New Canaan in the previous contest.
Kathleen Goodchild was hit by a pitch leading off the seventh inning of Tuesday’s visit to Staples. Julia Warman bunted Seawright into scoring position, and reached on an error when the first baseman and pitcher mis-communicated and the ball wasn’t fielded in time.
“We’re just playing so well together,” Quiricone said.
The Wreckers, meanwhile, are starting to come together but were hurt by some miscues against the Mustangs. Staples is a young team with only one senior – Robyn Adelkopf – in the lineup. In addition to the seventh-inning error, a dropped foul pop gave helped the Mustangs score earlier in the game.
“Our softball IQ is increasing game to game and practice to practice. We’re getting there,” said Staples Coach Charlie Judge, adding that if his inexperienced squad had faced the Mustangs a couple of weeks ago his squad wouldn’t have had a chance. “We’re playing more aggressively. We played seven innings. We’re not backing off,” Judge said.
The Mustangs scored one run in the top of the first inning. Emma Houghton and Richelle Barone singled, and Kayla Bivens drove in a run with a single of her own. Staples came right back with three runs in the bottom of the frame. Gabriella Perry singled, Gillian Burke drove in a run with a single, and Lily Tofel and Ashley Constantino both drove in runs for a 3-1 Staples lead.
Warde got the advantage back with three runs in the third. Brianna Wright hit a home run to start the inning. Barone and Goodchild both doubled and scored runs, and Shannon McCartney dove in another for a 4-3 Warde advantage.
Staples’ Emily Lustbader worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the sixth to keep it a one-run game.
The Wreckers got the score even in the sixth on Nicola Schenck’s RBI double after Tofel reached on an error and was advanced to second on Costantino’s sac bunt.
Judge recognized that with a little sharper play in the field his team would have won this game, but the message to his players was that the Wreckers are proving they are capable of winning on any given day.
“We should fear nobody. We come out and play hard,” he said.