TRUMBULL — Emily Gell provided the pitching, Alexa Adinolfi supplied the power and everyone in the field chipped in defensively for Trumbull, which began the FCIAC tournament Saturday like a team on a mission.
Gell scattered seven hits, Adinolfi paced a 13-hit attack with a three-run homer and the Eagles made all the plays in the field on their way to registering a 7-0 win over visiting Greenwich in the quarterfinals.
Second-seeded Trumbull, which raised its record to an impressive 20-1, earned a return trip to Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, where it will play sixth-seeded Fairfield Warde in Monday’s 5 p.m. semifinals.
In 2018, Trumbull advanced to championship game of the FCIAC and Class LL tournaments, where it lost to St. Joseph and Amity, respectively.
“Our goal every year as a team is to win the conference and state title,” said Gell, a junior. “We have a lot of chemistry on our team and we hope to keep our season going.”
The victors scored one run in the first inning and added three more in the second inning to seize a 4-0 advantage against the Cardinals (13-8).
“We’re in our second season now and we’re excited to be back at Sacred Heart and in the semifinals,” Trumbull coach Jacqui Sheftz said. “We have some unfinished business there.”
The loss snapped a seven-game winning streak for Greenwich, which made its first appearance in the FCIAC tournament since 2014. The Cardinals were edged by the Eagles, 1-0, on April 29.
“I don’t think we were as solid on defense as the last time we played them,” GHS coach Mary Beth Fratello said. “We needed to get some hits, we had people on base, but we needed to put them together to score some runs. Trumbull is a good team. They are 19-1 and going to the semifinals for a reason.”
After Cardinals senior right-hander Sophia Prieto pitched a scoreless first inning, the Golden Eagles scored the only run they needed in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded, senior Ava Dunn’s fly ball to right field sent home Adinolfi, giving Trumbull a 1-0 lead. The home team was aided by two Cardinals errors in the inning.
Trumbull extended its advantage in the third inning. Sophomore Mackenzie Bruggeman, who plays third base, doubled to the left field fence with one out and sophomore catcher Cassi Barbato walked. Adinolfi then stepped to the plate and hit a Prieto fastball over the left field fence, putting the Eagles on top, 4-0.
“I was just trying to help my teammates,” said Adinolfi, a senior outfielder, who collected four RBIs. “We had people in scoring position and honestly, it wouldn’t have meant as much if they weren’t on base. I just wanted to score them, there was no other goal in mind.”
Gell retired the side in order in the top of the fourth and Trumbull added a run in the bottom half of the inning. Junior shortstop Julia Huzi singled to center, advanced to second on a wild pitch and went to third on Bruggeman’s infield single. Barbato’s base hit up the middle, followed by Adinolfi reaching base when she was hit by a pitch, made it 5-0.
“Everyone in our lineup tries to feed off each other,” Barbato said. “If we get a runner on, we bunt them over. That energy continues throughout the whole lineup.”
Senior outfielders Katie Walko and Julia Gambino each singled in the second inning, but like the team’s first meeting, Gell held the Cards off the scoreboard. Gambino had two hits, including a double, while Prieto, senior infielder Michelle Morganti and senior outfielder Charli Faugno each had one hit for the Cardinals.
“This is the first FCIAC playoff game I’ve ever played in during my four years on the team,” said Prieto, who pitched a complete game. “It was definitely very exciting and we were a little nervous before the game. We knew the intensity would be a little different and just the overall level of play would be much different.”
In the fifth inning, senior outfielder Maggie Coffin’s single up the middle scored senior outfielder Ava Dunn, who had a base hit earlier in the inning. Bruggeman laid down a bunt, scoring junior Julia Huzi, giving the home squad a 7-0 lead.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Gell mixed her pitches well throughout and went 2 for 4 at the plate. She gave a lot of credit to the fielders behind her.
“When you have a defense that’s so stable and strong behind me, I feel like I can mix around pitches and induce some weak contact, so the defense can make the plays,” Gell said. “I can always rely on them, our team is very strong defensively.”
Said Sheftz: “Emily had good command of her pitches today. Emily is Emily, it’s hard to score runs off her and she did a good job today.”
Adinolfi’s home run gave the Eagles some breathing room.
“That’s a senior stepping up in a big moment to give us a four-run lead,” Sheftz said of Adinolfi.”
“We were excited to be out there,” GHS senior shortstop Emma Beinstein said. “We haven’t made the FCIAC tournament in a while, so it feels good to be here and we worked hard to get to this point. It meant a lot for our seniors to get here. But we needed to come out with more energy and play like it was one of our last games. States is going to be a big test for us.”
Said Bruggeman: “We are definitely hyped up for this playoff season, because it’s our favorite time of year. We like to play competitive teams like this, so it works really well.”