STRATFORD — It was fitting there was no scoreboard at Birdseye Field Saturday.
Because the final score — Stratford 18, Trinity Catholic 6 — wasn’t the most important factor in the season-opening, non-league softball contest.
It was a historic morning as the green and gold uniforms of Trinity Catholic High School were playing softball after a one-year hiatus.
“I was so excited to be playing softball again. I’ve played softball since age 4,” Trinity Catholic senior catcher Sarah Jablonsky said. “I was so happy to be out on the field in competition again. Last year was just sad.”
Indeed. Trinity Catholic’s home softball diamond, Mary Kay Smith Memorial Field, was finished following a two-year remodeling job. Unfortunately, the Crusaders could not put together a team to compete in the FCIAC due to its low female enrollment numbers.
“It was so disappointing to not play softball last year,” Trinity Catholic softball coach Wally Hurd said. “But it was the right decision. The team couldn’t have gotten through a whole season with just nine players and no experienced pitcher.”
The 2019 season will be different for the Lady Crusaders.
“We had 16 girls starting out. We have 14 players now,” Hurd said. “Eight girls haven’t played softball before but are game about working at it. Reviving the softball program is important in revitalizing Trinity Catholic High School.”
So with Francesca DeLeo on the mound, Trinity Catholic went to work Saturday morning against Stratford. The Crusaders’ first home game of 2019 is Wednesday against Weston. Their first FCIAC home clash is April 8 against Ridgefield.
Righthander DeLeo (11 strikeouts) and Stratford lefty hurler Angela Grindrod (14 strikeouts) dominated much of the proceedings Saturday.
Stratford led 3-1 after four innings. However, Trinity Catholic batters drew eight of their 11 walks in a five-run fifth inning as TC went ahead 6-3.
The Red Devils — who collected 10 walks — sent 11 batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth for five runs and an 8-6 cushion. Skyler Bobeaux’ two-out, two-run single capped the uprising.
DeLeo ran out of gas after that fifth inning and was relieved on the mound. Stratford sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth and scored 10 runs on nine hits to produce the 18-6 run-rule triumph.
But Trinity Catholic High was playing softball once again.
“I spent last season as a manager for the Trinity Catholic baseball team,” said Jablonsky, who was the top reserve player on Trinity Catholic’s recent Class S champion girls basketball squad. “When I went around and saw Westhill High and Stamford High softball teams it made me upset.
“This is my final athletic season at Trinity Catholic. It was time to enjoy and have fun before going to college,” Jablonsky continued. “I want to be out here. I love softball, period.”
“I’m coaching this season for the kids,” said Hurd, who has had a number of daughters play Crusaders softball over the years. “This year’s group I just want them to be committed to what they’re doing. If they do that, they will have fun. Softball teaches leadership and skills the girls can carry forward the rest of their lives.”
Stratford High is looking to take another step forward in head coach Jackie Sherrick and assistant coach Gary Sherrick’s fourth season.
The Red Devils went from two wins two seasons ago to eight victories and state tournament qualification last year.
Stratford’s offensive stars Saturday were leadoff hitter Taylor Lubas (single, double, triple, three runs scored) and No. 3 hitter and catcher Riley Matto (three doubles, five runs scored, two RBI).
“We had some great quality at-bats. We swung with a purpose,” Jackie Sherrick said. “It’s Riley’s first year at Stratford. She will be such a key for us. We know what the potential of this group is. Let’s see what this season brings.”
STRATFORD 18, TRINITY CATHOLIC 6 (6 inn.)
TRINITY CATHOLIC 000 150—6 1 2
STRATFORD 102 05(10)—18 16 0
Records: Trinity Catholic 0-1, Stratford 1-0. Batteries: TC—Fran DeLeo (L, 11K’s), Kyra Lynn (6) and Sarah Jablonsky. S—Angela Grindrod (W, 14K’s) and Riley Matto.