Ludlowe's late rally can't catch Stamford softball
Even in this season of gaudy offensive statistics, Monday afternoon's 13-10 Stamford victory over Fairfield Ludlowe in a showdown between two of the FCIAC's top hitting teams bordered on the absurd.
When the Black Knights scored seven times in the top of the third inning, assuming a seemingly comfortable 12-4 lead, there were no looks of comfort on their bench.
Sure enough, the Falcons got hits from their first six batters in the bottom of the inning and soon were within 12-9.
From there, the game settled into what constitutes a pitchers' duel these days, and Stamford reliever Jordan Schepps, after coming on in the third and initially getting nicked for two runs, allowed just one more the rest of the way, earning the Black Knights' seventh victory in a row and ninth in the last 10 games.
Jokes about the Black Knights (10-2, 9-1 FCIAC), who are averaging nearly a staggering 12 runs a game during their streak, winning by a field goal almost seemed appropriate.
Stamford finished with 13 hits, one fewer than the Falcons.
"We just all hit the ball," said Krista Robustelli, who homered on the game's second pitch and addied a three-run homer in the third. "With that big lead we knew it was nothing because Ludlowe can hit the ball, that they could come back. We had one bad inning, but we picked ourselves up and tightened the defense and made key plays."
Gretta Buckley had a bases-clearing double in the third and Kelly DiPietro, the No. 7 hitter, went 4-for-4 and drove in two runs. The next batter, Haley LaMotta, was 2-for-2, drove in a run and was flawless at third base. Karly Lyons drove in two runs and eight players had at least one hit.
"I'm very happy with the way Jordan came in and helped us out, and Haley played a heck of a game over there," Stamford coach Tony Esposito said. "Krista did her thing and the bottom of the order got some key hits and put down some key bunts. It was a total team effort."
The Falcons (9-3, 8-2), who lost at home to a Stamford school for the second straight Monday, did enough offensively to deserve a better fate.
Emily Nelson had three hits and drove in two runs, while her younger sister Alice had two hits and two RBIs.
Brenna Martini and Nickey Tygesen also added two hits apiece.
"We know we can hit," said Ludlowe's Tony Samuelian, using the exact five words the coaches of each contender have been echoing this month.
"We can put the ball in play."
The turning point of the game ended the Falcons' third inning, a calculated gamble by Samuelian that failed to yield dividends. With Colleen Lambert on second and one out, Gillian Nelson grounded out to Lamotta.
Samuelian sent Nelson, but Buckley threw a strike to third to complete the double play.
"I took a chance," Samuelian explained. "(It) was not even halfway through the game so why not? There's a lot of game left, but for me it's a no-brainer. Make them make plays, and they did."
Schepps and starter Christina Joannou have spent the season trading places and helping each other out of jams.
Schepps offered a good account of both her team's and the pitching staff's strategy in what is shaping up as a record spring for runs.
"Even if we hit we still know they are going to hit," Schepps said. "You just have to try your best and shut them down."
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STAMFORD 237 001 0--13 13 1
LUDLOWE 135 001 0--10 14 3
Records: Stamford 10-2, 9-1; Fairfield Ludlowe 9-3, 8-2. Batteries: S--Christina Joannou, Jordan Schepps (3, W) and Colleen Adams. FL--Aliza Guerrero (8-3) and Katie DeCarlo. Doubles: S--Gretta Buckley; FL--Brenna Martini. Triples: FL--Alice Nelson. Home runs: S--Krista Robustelli 2.