Fairfield Little League softball is New England champs; one win from World Series
Fairfield Little League softball is again one win away from the Eastern Regional championship.
But the team sure did not make it easy on itself.
Fairfield staked itself to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning before blowing the lead, but rallied to beat Hermon, Maine 7-6 in the New England Regional Final on Friday night at Breen Field.
Fairfield held off Maine-- despite beating Hermon 17-3 on Monday in the teams' first meeting.
"It was the trap game," Fairfield coach Jarry Rasmussen said. "We thought it would be a one- or two-run game and we planned it to be as well."
The Connecticut state champions will play New City, N.Y. on Saturday at 4 p.m. for the East Regional championship and a trip to Portland, Ore. and the Little League Softball World Series.
Fairfield was just six outs from elimination, but rallied for two in the top of the fifth, keyed by Anna Rasmussen's two-RBI double that put Fairfield ahead for good.
Brittany Romero, who returned on Friday from a family vacation in Disney World, pitched four innings, including two innings out of relief to earn a save. Romero flew home from Florida on Friday, by herself, leaving her family in Orlando. She was not even in the starting lineup.
"When I went to Florida, I didn't know how the team was going to do," Romero said. "I came back and I pitched my heart out and my team really backed me up."
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Alice Nelson pitched two innings, allowing three runs on two hits to earn the win.
Many of the girls on Fairfield's team-- including Romero-- finished just one win short of the Eastern Regional championship in the 9/10 division in 2010, falling to New Hyde Park, N.Y. in Fleetville, Pa.
"Yes," Jarry said when asked if he had confidence in Romero. "We've been together for three years now."
Fairfield scored in three of the six innings, jumping out to a 4-0 lead from the get-go. Romero walked, Gabby Natoli singled and Sarah Cotto bunted for a hit and Romero scored on an error to give Fairfield a 1-0 lead.
Fairfield added a run in the second, but Maine rallied to score twice in the second, and three times in the bottom of the fourth, without the benefit of a hit, to stun Fairfield and take a 6-5 advantage.
"There was no panic," Jarry said. "We really score most of our runs in the fourth or fifth inning, that's just how it is."
Fairfield proved that by rallying for two runs, keyed by Rasmussen's line drive off Hermon pitcher Karli Theberge's leg, that scored Nelson and Cotto and put Fairfield back ahead.
"I was kind of nervous...but the hit just changed everything," Anna said. "I just jumped up and down on the base when I reached second."