By Eliot Schickler

The Fairfield Ludlowe softball team took care of business Monday in its 6-4 home victory over Staples.

Ludlowe got timely hitting from senior Maggie Lapolla and clutch pitching from junior righty Aliza Guerrero in raising its record to 5-1, 4-1 in the FCIAC. After issuing a leadoff walk in the top of the second inning, Guerrero retired 13 straight Staples (2-4, 0-4) hitters and had seven strikeouts, four looking in this span. Her streak ended on Wrecker junior Shannon Connors' one-out single to left field with one out in the sixth inning.

"I really zeroed in on my catcher's glove and figured out what the umpire was calling," Guerrero said. "He was calling the low strike and I aimed it there. I blocked everything out, which helped."

Overall, Guerrero allowed four earned runs on five hits with four walks, a hit batsman and 11 strikeouts, six looking. The Falcons built themselves a 6-1 lead through six innings on the strength of their junior righty.

"When she's in her groove and is focused, there are very few pitchers who are better than her," Ludlowe coach Tony Samuelian said. "She knew right away the umpire didn't call the high strike and adjusted accordingly."

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Although Guerrero was strong, she wasn't perfect. She walked Connors with two outs in the top of the first, and Staples sophomore Emma Moscovitz followed by lacing a two-out double to left-center to give the Wreckers a 1-0 lead.

However, the first inning has been a bugaboo for Staples this year and the trend continued.

Wrecker junior righty Morgan DiDonato walked the first two batters. Following a double steal, Falcon junior captain Emily Nelson plated sophomore Gillian Kennedy with an infield hit.

DiDonato got the next two outs, but walked sophomore Nicky Tygesen to load the bases. Senior Maggie Lapolla, who was 2-for-3, followed with a two-run single to right-center field to give Ludlowe the lead for good, 3-1.

"We needed this win," Lapolla said. "Everyone wanted to win against Staples, and I did what I had to do to help the team win."

Staples senior left fielder Charlotte Axthelm then gift-wrapped a run for the Falcons when he she dropped senior captain Jen Hsieh's routine fly ball, which allowed a run to score, and made it 4-1.

"We're still not over the first inning hump when we don't play good defense and give up walks," Wreckers coach Sara Holland said.

DiDonato settled down after the first inning. Overall, she allowed six runs, five earned, on seven hits with seven walks and four strikeouts.

Tygsen and Lapolla hit back-to-back singles in the bottom of the fifth with one out and scored on sophomore Reagan Walker's two-out single up the middle. Although the play was technically a hit, DiDonato might have prevented the damage if she knocked the ball down.

Hsieh and Guerrero also hit singles for the Falcons.

Although Ludlowe won, Samuelian wasn't 100 percent pleased with his team's performance. He felt the squad did better Friday in its 7-0 win at St. Joseph, its first win over St. Joe's in the school's history.

"Our timing was off and we didn't have the rhythm we had against St. Joe's," he said. "It was closer than what I would have liked."

Staples almost pulled off the comeback in the seventh. Sophomore Crissy McCarthy led off the final frame with a single to left. Guerrero then walked junior Maggie Mills and freshman Olivia Weiner advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt in which Guerrero hustled to pick up and threw it to first with Hsieh, the second baseman, covering.

It looked like Guerrero was out of the woods when she struck out sophomore Katherine Friend looking, but junior Nikki Bukovsky kept the rally alive with a two-run single to centerfield.

Guerrero didn't help her cause when she hit senior captain Shelby Schulman. Connors then plated Bukovsky with a single to center.

"I thought a lot about it, and I said to myself, `Aliza, you got to pull it together' and I did it," Guerrero said. "I tried not to let them get to me, and I tried to be mentally tough. I also knew I had two outs."

Moskovitz then went to the plate as the go-ahead run, but Guerrero struck her out looking to end the game.

"She was hitting the inside low corner all game, and we didn't adjust," Holland said.

FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 6, STAPLES 4

STAPLES 100 000 3--4 5 1

LUDLOWE 400 020 X--6 7 0

Records: Staples 2-4, 0-4 FCIAC; Ludlowe 5-1, 4-1.

Batteries: S--Morgan DiDonato (L, 2-3) and Maggie Mills; H--Aliza Guerrero (W, 5-1) and Katie DeCarlo. Gillian Kennedy (4).

Doubles: S--Emma Moskovitz. S-Shannon Connors was 2-3 with two singles and a walk. L-Maggie Lapolla was 2-3 with 2 RBI. Reagan Walker was 1-1 with 2 RBI. Guerrero had a single and on the mound, walked four, hit a batter and struck out 11, six looking.