FAIRFIELD -- The Fairfield Little League softball team will have two chances to win the state championship over Mystic, as it claimed Game 1 of a best-of-3 series by a score of 7-4 Saturday at Sacred Heart University.
Game 2 will be played today at 1 p.m. at Sacred Heart with a third and deciding game, if needed, set for Monday at 5:30. The winner advances to the East Regionals in Bristol starting Friday.
Fairfield had to overcome a sluggish start in order to earn the victory. Fairfield, the road team in Game 1, fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first after a couple of errant throws during a rundown allowed Mystic's Natalie Labasi to score. Later in the inning, the bases were loaded with one out, but Fairfield's Brittany Romero got out of the jam with a strikeout and popup to right field, keeping Fairfield down just a run
Fairfield Manager Jarry Rasmussen said Romero's ability to avoid a big inning took some pressure off the team.
"Our kids were pretty nervous, which showed when we threw the ball around like a hot potato for that first run," Rasmussen said. "It was an early key for us to get out of that inning and we settled down after it."
Fairfield broke through in the top of the fourth inning when Anna Rasmussen ripped a double into left field that scored Mary Rose Finnigan. Maddie Russell's RBI single gave Fairfield the lead one at-bat later. A two-RBI single from Kayla Bivens and an RBI single from Romero padded Fairfield's lead to 5-1 as Fairfield batted around in the inning.
"We made a few adjustments in the fourth and we've been doing that all year," Rasmussen said. "I guess it was our time to break through and it was nice to see."
Fairfield extended the lead to 7-1 in the top of the sixth on Amanda Schramm two-RBI single. Those runs would provide a nice cushion, especially since Mystic cut the lead to 7-4 in the bottom of the sixth. With the tying runner at the plate, Romero forced a popup, which she caught, to end the game.
Rasmussen said he was proud of the team's effort, but is worried about his team's health.
"We've got a couple of injuries that we're very concerned about, so we'll see how those turn out and take it from there," Rasmussen said.
FAIRFIELD 000 502--7 8 2
MYSTIC 100 003--4 9 2
Batteries: F--Brittany Romero (W) and Anna Rasmussen; M--Jayden Delaporta (L) and Natalie Labasi.