Small ball turned into an outburst and then finally a blowout on Wednesday afternoon. The Fairfield Ludlowe softball team used singles, bunts, aggressive base running -- and an occasional extra base hit -- along with some walks and Bridgeport Central errors to cruise to a 13-0 triumph in an FCIAC game.
The game, played in often windy conditions at Sturges Park, ended after visiting Central's fifth inning at bat because of the CIAC's mercy rule. The Falcons won their seventh straight game and improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the conference, and Central fell to 2-7 overall.
Ludlowe jumped to a 2-0 first inning lead, aided by a pair of Hilltoppers' errors. Brittany Romero and Brenna Martini had hits, Martini's being a run-scoring double, and Alexa Binkowitz drove in a run on a groundout. The Falcons never looked back.
The Falcons broke the game open in the second with four runs without getting the ball out of the infield. A pair of walks, a swinging single, a couple of bunts, a steal of home and two errors turned a 2-0 lead into a 6-0 advantage.
Colleen Lambert started the second inning with a walk, Reagan Walker reached on an infield hit, and a drop on a pop up off the bat of Olivia Anderson produced a run for a 3-0 lead. Gillian Kennedy had a bunt single to drive in a run, then Anderson broke for home on a squeeze play. The ball wasn't put in play, but Anderson got into a rundown and eventually swiped home to make it 5-0. Anna Rasmussen put down a bunt to drive in Ludlowe's sixth run of the day.
In the third, an infield single by Walker and a bunt single by Anderson, followed by a passed ball that allowed both runners to advance, set up a Rasmussen RBI groundout, and Romero hit a clean single through the left side of the infield to stake the Falcons to an 8-0 lead.
Ludlowe tacked on five more runs in the fourth, keyed by lefty-hitting Walker's slicing RBI single through the left side, and a hard-hit run-scoring double off the bat of Rasmussen.
Ludlowe coach Shari Paci said the circumstances allowed for the Falcons to try some new things. Part of the approach was to have players work on reading signs from their head coach, while serving as third base coach, watching for bunt and steal signs.
"I know they can hit," Paci said. "I wanted to make sure we were all communicating as a team."
The Falcons succeeded.
"I feel like we did really well hitting -- getting the bunt down," Romero said.
Another objective was to move players around and get reserves into the field. "We definitely want to encourage that this is an entire team and everyone is valued," said Paci, noting she attempts to get all players involved regardless of how each game unfolds.
Brigette Anderson, who started the game for the Falcons, allowed one hit in three innings of work. She struck out four batters, including the side in the second. Romero, a freshman who started the game at shortstop, came in for her second pitching effort of her high school career and tossed two hitless innings with five strikeouts.
"It was good to get out there, get some reps and have a great defense behind me," Romero said. "It was fun. I like my team behind me when I'm pitching."
Andy Hutchison is a freelance reporter