Clean slate leads Falcons past Mustangs

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Gillian Kennedy (15) ran hard out of the box and slides into second base with a third-inning double, ahead of Fairfield Warde’s Kenzie Burns’ tag. (Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

Fairfield Ludlowe’s Gillian Kennedy (15) ran hard out of the box and slides into second base with a third-inning double, ahead of Fairfield Warde’s Kenzie Burns’ tag.
(Photo by Bill Bloxsom)

Fairfield Ludlowe softball coach Tony Samuelian was perched near the Falcons’ dugout when Fairfield Warde’s Liz O’Reilly stepped in to face Aliza Guerrero with runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning on May 1.
Samuelian’s team was in front 7-0, but the Falcons marching orders had to been to show a clean slate defensively after they dropped a 13-10 decision to Stamford High a day earlier, when the Black Knights took advantage of extra at bats.
Warde (5-8) had put the ball in play all game, only to be denied.
Richele Barone had opened the seventh with a solid single to center, the fifth hit of the day, but Guerrero had speared Kenzie Burns’ rocket up the middle and doubled Barone off first.
Emma Houghton restarted the rally with Warde’s first walk, and a pitch hit Emily Seraphin. A wild pitch moved both into scoring position.

Warde third baseman Emma Houghton comes in to make the catch on Nicky Tygeson's foul pop in the first inning.

Warde third baseman Emma Houghton comes in to make the catch on Nicky Tygeson’s foul pop in the first inning.

O’Reilly, who had flashed some fancy leather in left field, lined a hard grounder down the third-base line.
Samuelian had nothing to worry about here, as Brenna Martini fielded the ball smoothly and fired across the diamond to Nicky Tygeson to complete the shutout.
“We knew we needed an errorless game to get the win,” said Martini, who had five assists as Ludlowe moved to 10-3. “They came at us and hit the ball hard. The key to the game is we kept our focus.”
Samuelian said, “We’ve been labeled as a team that likes to come from behind, but we’d rather not have to. We know we can hit, it’s when we don’t make the plays on defense that we get hurt.”
The game was scoreless through three innings, as Warde’s defense stepped up and helped freshman pitcher Gabby Natoli strand three runners and turn a double play.
Burns was particularly a thorn in Ludlowe’s side, as Warde’s second sacker made a lunging snow-cone grab of Colleen Lambert’s bid for a base hit with a runner on third in the second inning.
The junior did even more damage to Ludlowe’s hopes in the third. With Gillian Kennedy on second with a double, Burns dove to her right to catch the ball and a pile of dirt, before righting herself and throwing out Emily Nelson for an inning-ending double play.
In turn, Ludlowe stranded Natoli, who had singled, at second when left fielder Erin Rosengren made a fine running catch in foul territory.
O’Reilly lined a first-pitch single in the third, but Guerrero had two strikeouts with an assist on a ground ball by Nelson to shortstop.
“We were right with them inning by inning before we made a couple of mistakes,” Warde coach Gary Quiricone said. “And, that wouldn’t have hurt us if we could have pushed some runs across the plate.”
Ludlowe broke through in the fourth inning and Martini was right in the mix with a one-out single. Tegeson’s fly ball resulted in a double error on the catch and throw to put runners at second and third.
Natoli robbed Alice Nelson of a base hit up the middle for the second out, before Katie DeCarlo delivered a two-run double to left-center.
Barone singled again, this time on a two-strike count, in the home fourth, but Martini had assists to open and end the frame.
Martini’s bases-loaded triple helped Ludlowe break the game open with a five-run rally in the fifth.
Lambert reached on an infield single and Rosengren sacrificed her up a base.
Kennedy and Nelson followed with singles to make it 3-0, and Guerrero walked to load the bases for Martini, who waited on an outside pitch and hit it the opposite way to the fence in right.
“With runners on you always want to put the ball in play,” she said. “It was the third time around in the lineup and I waited for a pitch I liked.”
Natoli struck out two batters, but not before Alice Nelson singled home Martini.
“Gabby is doing a heck of a job for us,” Quiricone said. “She moved the ball around well and is coming off a two-hitter against Stratford. Our future looks bright.”

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