Ludlowe softball hoping to build with youth

The 2010 season was a tale of two halves for the Fairfield Ludlowe softball team.

The Falcons started the year 3-5, but won 12 of their final 15 games, finishing 15-8.

The 2011 year offers similar promise for the proud Ludlowe program. Coach Tony Samuelian returns for his second year, and the Falcons graduated three from the team who reached the Class LL second round a year ago. Ludlowe lost at sixth-seeded Glastonbury in 13 innings in 2010.

"I didn't know what to expect last year," Samuelian said. "It took a while for me to get used to it, but I love it."

Ludlowe returns three-sport star, four-year starter and captain Elise Perazzini. Perazzini will change positions from shortstop to catcher this year, with the departure of Rachel Ehrlich, who is playing at Roger Williams University.

Samulian is excited because of Perazzini's selflessness. The senior started three years at shortstop, but when the second-year coach asked if she would change, she was open to it.

"She said `I'll do whatever it takes to help the team win'," Samuelian said of Perazzini. "She's such a talented athlete."

Perazzini will be co-captained besides senior Lizzy Knuff. Knuff is also a four-year starter, in the outfield and will play centerfield this year.

Samuelian will put his faith in sophomore Aliza Guerrero in the circle. Ludlowe will have a new pitcher for the first time since 2007, with the graduation of Becky Foster. The second-year coach has faith in his sophomore starter, though, and also has depth in his pitching if he needs to go beyond Guerrero.

"We have three or four kids who are willing," he said.

Ludlowe's coach is also excited that he can get a youthful and excited team with which he can work and teach. Competition is also expected on the team with freshmen and sophomores pushing for roles.

"They're young and eager," Samuelian said. "The older kids know that the younger ones are talented and are pushing the older ones for spots."

Samuelian is, of course, aware of the minefield through which his team must navigate in the FCIAC. The league had two of the four state champions in softball a year ago.

Even with all of that, Ludlowe has reason to believe that it can compete in Class LL and the FCIAC this year.

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"I know what they're capable of," Samuelian said. "My expectations are higher this year."