STAMFORD -- Tony Esposito preached throughout the preseason that while the outlook for his Stamford High School softball team was upbeat, there was little margin for error if the offense, defense and pitching were not in sync.
The Black Knights were not crisp in any area against another FCIAC contender, and came away with a 7-2 home loss to Fairfield Ludlowe.
It was a stark contrast to 24 hours earlier, when Stamford opened the season with an 11-6 win against Fitch.
"We didn't hit," Esposito said. "We have to do well in all three phases and we just didn't do it today."
Aliza Guerrero, the Falcons' senior pitcher, limited Stamford to just 6 hits. Four of them were provided by Krista Robustelli and Claire Kaptinski, the first two batters in the order, who had two apiece.
"I threw a lot inside and outside," Guerrero said. "I was more down in the zone today, which I think threw them off a little."
In Guerrero, shortstop Emily Nelson and third baseman Brenna Martini, the Falcons have one of the best trios in the league. They were limited to just one hit combined by Stamford pitchers Jordan Schepps and Christina Joannou, but in a testament to their depth other players stepped up.
One pitch after Martini sent Stamford rightfielder Nikki Pease back to the fence on a deep fly, Nickey Tygesen drilled a shot over it in the second inning to give Ludlowe a 1-0 lead.
The Falcons (1-1) extended it in the third inning on another home run, this one by leadoff hitter Gillian Kennedy to leftfield, with a runner on, that made the score 3-0.
"We had 11 hits in our loss yesterday but the girls know how to hit and make adjustments," Ludlowe coach Tony Samuelian said. "The Stamford pitchers were smart, kept us off stride and made us work."
The Black Knights answered with two runs in the bottom of the third to get back in the game. Haley LaMotta drew a leadoff walk and Robustelli hit into a fielder's choice. Kaptinski, whose speed is a dangerous weapon, beat out a bunt and Gretta Buckley lined a single to right to make the score 3-1. Colleen Adams followed with a bunt back to the mound. Guerrero tried to get the out at the plate, but Kaptinski knocked the ball out of catcher Katie DeCarlo's glove, then reached out to touch the plate.
Guerrero pitched out of the jam, then retired 10 of the next 11 batters she faced before Brigette Anderson came on to get the final two outs.
"I give her a lot of credit," Samuelian said of Guerrero. "She went 7 yesterday and she will go 7 tomorrow against Trumbull. She bats third in the lineup so the pressure's on her. The weather is awful, trying to grip the ball and do what you want."
Esposito was disappointed his team was unable to mount an offensive threat over the final innings.
"We got within a run and then we died," he said. "I thought we had a comeback in us. It was 6-2 and a play here or a play there and it could have been 6-4. When we had the chances we didn't get hits."
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FAIRFIELD LUDLOWE 7, STAMFORD 2
LUDLOWE 012 310 0--7 8 0
STAMFORD 002 000 0--2 6 2
Records: Ludlowe 1-1; Stamford 1-1.
Batteries: FL--Aliza Guerrero (W, 2-0), Brigette Anderson (7) and Katie DeCarlo. S--Jordan Schepps (L, 1-1), Christina Joannou (4) and Colleen Adams.
Doubles: FL--Alice Nelson. Home runs: FL--Gillian Kennedy, Nickey Tygesen.