STAMFORD — It’s never a dull moment when the Stamford city softball championship is on the line between Stamford High and Westhill High.
“This is the third year in a row the game has gone to extra innings,” said Stamford High junior centerfielder Diana Magarian. “When Westhill and Stamford get together, it doesn’t matter what the team records are. It’s always a good game. It felt great for us to get the win.”
Stamford High scored twice with two outs in the bottom of the sixth for a 5-5 tie. Brycelin Stalteri’s three-run triple with one out in the eighth lifted the Black Knights to an 8-5 victory over Westhill Wednesday at SHS’ field.
GREAT TIME TO BE A BLACK KNIGHT
The victory was the fifth in a row for Stamford, now 11-6 overall. The Black Knights are 9-4 and fighting for second place in the FCIAC West Division. SHS is also among the top six seeds for the FCIAC playoffs with three contests (vs. Central, Wilton, unbeaten Trumbull (13-0 league) remaining in the regular season.
Since April 13, Stamford has won 10 of its last 12 games.
“Time after time the girls have shown we are fighters,” said Stamford’s first-year head coach and longtime assistant Melissa Giordano. “What is best about what we’ve done lately is it’s everybody. They pick each other up. Everybody gets their job done.”
With recent graduates from both teams back from college and in attendance Wednesday, this Stamford City Softball Championship featured freshmen righthanded pitchers on the mound.
Both Westhill’s Fran DeLeo and Stamford’s Kim Saunders acquited themselves well on the big stage before a large excited crowd at SHS.
Hero No. 1 for Stamford was junior Brycelin Stalteri, who saw action in both the infield and outfield defensively. She concluded the tense drama in the bottom of the eighth.
Her three-run triple to left-center field came after Westhill coach Tom Pia gave out two intentional walks to load the bases with one out.
“I knew I had to do my job. I was determined to put the ball in play,” Stalteri said. “Winning every game is important this time of year. But Westhill is such a rival that today means a bit more.”
Magarian stroked a two-out RBI double to left-center and junior Dana Serricchio followed with an RBI single to right to lift Stamford into a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the sixth.
“I’ve been struggling at the plate. But in this big game I felt confident and relaxed,” Magarian said. “I just tracked the pitch and it worked out well.”
“Give credit to Magarian and Serricchio in the sixth inning,” Westhill’s veteran coach Tom Pia said. “I probably should have gone with the intentional walk to Serricchio to pitch around her. But she just went to the opposite field with the pitch.”
Freshman Jordan Rossi started the winning rally in the eighth with a leadoff double to Rossi’s alley in right-center.
SILVER LININGS FOR WESTHILL
It has been a trying season for Westhill. The Vikings only have one player — sophomore centerfielder Tessa Mannella — as a returning starter in the same position as in 2017.
Although Westhill is 2-14, 2-10 FCIAC, the squad has improved significantly with the late arrival of true softball weather.
“We played well (10 hits and just one error defensively). And Fran DeLeo pitched her best game of the season,” Pia said. “We’ve improved dramatically and we’re better every game. It’s time for us to win a few.”
Maddie Cortell crushed a solo homer while Betsy Sachs added a single, a double and two RBI.
“You can’t give Stamford an inch to breathe. They don’t die,” Pia said. “They just kept coming back.”
STAMFORD 8, WESTHILL 5 (8)
WESTHILL 000 410 00—5 10 1
STAMFORD 003 002 03—8 11 2
Records: Westhill 2-14, 2-10 FCIAC; Stamford 11-6, 9-4 FCIAC. Batteries: W—Fran DeLeo (L) and Maddy Cortell. S—Kim Saunders (W) and Amy Covino. Highlights: W—Cortell had a solo homer. Betsy Sachs had an RBI double and RBI single. Hannah Burston had two hits and one RBI. S—Brycelin Stalteri had a three-run triple with one out in the eighth. Amy Covino crushed a three-run homer. Diana Magarian had two hits, an intentional walk and three runs scored.