All the ingredients were in place for a major letdown by the Westhill High School softball team in Tuesday's CIAC Class LL opener against Fairfield Warde.

The Vikings were just three days removed from a disheartening loss to Darien in the FCIAC final, and were meeting a team they defeated during the regular season, 10-0, on a brutally hot day.

"We had a really, really, really hard practice yesterday and we came here ready to play," said rightfielder Emily Spoto after No. 2 Westhill struck for four runs in the opening inning, added eight more in the fourth and rolled to a convincing 12-2 victory over No. 31 Warde. "We needed to get our minds back in the game."

Wearing sweatbands embroidered with the word "Finish" on them that coach Tom Pia purchased, the No. 2-seeded Vikings (21-3) started the road that they hope will lead to their third straight appearance in the championship game.

Westhill has advanced to Friday's LL quarters, where it will host Mercy.

Allison Macari, who no-hit the Mustangs in the previous meeting, took a perfect game into the sixth. She finished with a two-hitter, and just one of the runs was earned.

Offensively, she was 3-for-4 and drove in three runs.

Asked if she was worried the team might be flat, Macari said, "That was not our mindset at all. We are over being sad about the FCIACs. We are just mad. We wanted to redeem ourselves and play hard."

The Mustangs started the season at 3-8 while pitcher Heather VanDerheyden recovered from a muscle injury in her back. They went 5-4 once she returned to earn a postseason spot, but Macari's two-run single in the first was essentially an early knockout punch, and four errors doomed any hopes the Mustangs had of rallying.

"We were totally flat," Warde coach Gary Quiricone said. "I don't know why. Our infield play struggled. Multiple errors by us opened the door for some key hits on their part. Macari pitched really well and Westhill took advantage of our mistakes. I'm happy though with the way the team improved over the second half of the season."

Ironically, while warming up before the game, Macari asked two bystanders if they were having a bet over how many batters she might walk, a rare comment from someone who does not look ahead, and never in a negative manner.

"Actually, I didn't feel that great," Macari said. "I wasn't feeling it. But I knew everyone would pick each other up today."

Macari had gone 12 innings without yielding a hit to the Mustangs (8-13) before Richelle Barone led off the 6th with a solid single to right.

"I wanted to get ahead on the batters today," said Macari, who did not go to three balls on a hitter

until Kelly Whalen drew a walk two batters after Barone.

Cassandra Kish and Tammy Wise each had two hits as the Vikings finished with 12 for the game. Kish, Spoto and Morgan Kurtz each drove in two runs.

"We have been behind in a few games and it has taken us a while to score," Spoto said. "Today we were ready to go."

druden@scni.com;

westhill 12, fairfield warde 2

WARDE 000 002 0--2 2 4

WESTHILL 400 800 X--12 12 2

Records: Fairfield Warde 8-13; Westhill 21-3.

Batteries: FW--Heather Vanderheyden (L) and Shannon Squier. W--Allison Macari (W) and Tammy Wise.

Doubles: W--Wise.