So close, but yet so far
Published 11:19 am, Wednesday, July 6, 2016
WESTPORT - Three outs away from the championship and just three outs away from getting a much-needed measure of revenge against Monroe, it all came apart at the seams for the Fairfield 12U softball team.
Monroe scored five times in its last at-bat to erase a one-run deficit and capture the District 2 championship with a 6-2 win Tuesday night at Meyer Field. Monroe advances into Sectional play starting on Friday at Unity Field in Trumbull.
“We knew it was going to come down to who was going to field tighter and who was going to hit and when I needed them to make plays, they did,” Monroe coach Lisa Braiewa said. “If we let a runner on they didn’t that get them down. The girls all talked to my pitcher, they all did it, I didn’t have to do it and I even had subs on the bench telling the starters, we’ve got this, we’re not going to quit.”
Trailing 2-1 heading into the top of the sixth, Monroe batted around, scoring five runs on five hits, to steal the momentum that Fairfield had held in its hands for almost the entire game. Clutch RBI hits came from Kathryn Gallant, Britney Berg, Emma West Testo and Julia Boyle in the five-run uprising in the top of the sixth.
“We weren’t feeling snakebit, we were just waiting for our time and hoping that we wouldn’t run out of time,” Braiewa said. “Sometimes you run out of innings before you can punch the runners through and that was it, in the sixth there, it was now or never.”
Early on, it was Fairfield that took the initial lead - and the momentum - scoring twice in the bottom of the first to grab a 2-0 lead. Allie Clark led off with a single and stole second. Claire Gardella singled to advance Clark to third and third scored on an outfield error to make it 1-0. And when Avery Gabrenas doubled to left, Gardella scored to make it 2-0 Fairfield. Gabrenas, however, was stranded at second when Monroe pitcher Kyra McCarthy got the last three outs.
“Can’t ask for a better first inning,” Fairfield coach Justin Gabrenas said. “My girls … this is the best team I’ve coached. They just didn’t execute today. Monroe, for some reason, seems to have my number (Fairfield lost to Monroe 6-2 earlier in the tournament). I can’t seem to get over that hump against them.”
Despite a shaky defense that committed seven errors, Fairfield maintained that 2-0 lead into the fourth when Monroe finally got on the board when Meghan Braiewa singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single from Ava Wieser to make it 2-1 Fairfield.
In the bottom of the fourth, Fairfield loaded the bases with no one out but McCarthy got out of the jam by striking out the next three batters.
“She has a lot of poise,” Braiewa said of McCarthy. “To absolutely battle back like she did.”
Still, heading into the sixth, Fairfield was three outs away from the District title. But then, the Monroe bats came alive.
“We tied it and the floodgates just opened,” Braiewa said. “That middle to bottom of the lineup, I just said, really rallied and got the runners on and then the top of the order just pounded once we got the tying run in. They’ve got fight in them for sure.”
Five runs later, Monroe was in control.
“Just too many mistakes,” Gabrenas said. “We must have given them six extra outs in all. I told the girls it was like giving them two extra innings of hitting, you know? We just didn’t execute on defense, we gave away too many extra chances. They’re a good team, they hit the ball well.”
MONROE 000 105 -- 6 9 1
FAIRFIELD 200 000 -- 2 5 7
Records: Monroe (4-1); Fairfield (3-2)
Batteries: Monroe - Kyra McCarthy (W) and Kathryn Gallant, Kara Tragganese (3); Fairfield - Claire Gardella (L) and Julia Minichini