Fairfield completes banner season with state title

Izzy Mulhall gets to third base at the same time as the tag by Milford’s Emily Krauss. She was ruled safe. — David G. Whitham photos

There are 12 stars on the Fairfield Little League 11U softball team and each one played a role when the locals added to their legacy with an 8-2 victory over Milford in the state championship game at Unity Park in Trumbull.

“There isn’t anyone on this team that can’t get the job done,” manager Jeff Russo said of his charges. “This is hard working team that learned to win last summer after getting to Regionals as 10s and losing only two games in Pennsylvania, both to the eventual champion.

“This year we didn’t loss a game in districts or states against a bunch of great opponents. This group will just keep coming at you.”

Milford found this out when despite putting multiple base runners on base in all but one inning, couldn’t add to a 2-0 lead it took in the top of the first inning.

Kelley Monahan looks to twist away from an inning-ending tag at the plate by Milford’s Mya Dawid.

Fairfield played errorless defense, with shortstop Lauren Foley having a hand in five outs while Paige O’Neill at third and Griffin Palladino at second assisted on three each.

Alyssa Russo went the distance in the pitching circle, allowing only four hits and stranding 12. She struck out four batters, each one to end an inning with at least two runners on base.

Kelley Monahan had three of Fairfield’s hits from the top of the batting order.

Ari Kedersha and Foley had two hits a piece.

Russo and Izzy Mulhall had the other safeties, with Mulhall’s hit the most defining of the game  — and the team’s makeup.

With the game tied at 2-all and Morgan McGowan on first with one out after being hit by a pitch, Fairfield had Carol Reis sacrifice the runner to second. Most sac bunts come with no outs, because with two, you’re putting a lot of pressure and belief in one batter.

Mulhall lined the first pitch she saw into right-center field for a single and a 3-2 lead.

Monahan’s base hit restarted the rally and Foley followed with a 12-pitch at bat. She fouled off pitch after pitch, before squaring up an offering and lining it into right field to make it 4-2.

Kedersha was intentionally walked, the first free pass issued by Milford’s Judy Tarczali, to load the bases. Russo patiently worked out a run-scoring walk.

Monahan (single), Foley (sacrifice fly) and Russo (single) collected RBIs in the fifth.

Fairfield halved the Milford advantage in the bottom of the first. Monahan and Kedersha had singles to put runners on the corners. Monahan raced home on the back end of a double steal.

Foley singled to open the third, went to second on a wild pitch and stole third. When Russo walked and didn’t stop at first, the relay to second was on time, but not before Foley crossed the plate with the tying run.

Milford took the lead on walks by Angelina Robinson and Mya Dawid and Tegen Garfield’s RBI single. O’Neill fielded Tarczali hard shot to third and threw across the diamond to Alex Lewey, as Dawid scored.

Grace Hess was hit by a pitch, but Russo put the third out in the book on strikes.

Milford loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, only to come away empty.

Erin Donegan and Ashley Borecki were both hit by pitches. Emily Krauss then singled to center to put three runners aboard.

Paladino fielded Robinson’s grounder and got the force out to Kedersha at the plate. When the runner at third tried to score on a wild pitch with Dawid batting, Russo was quick to cover and Kedersha’s throw was good for out number two. Dawid walked to reload the bases, but Russo enticed a comebacker to end the inning.

Milford was back at it in the fifth.

O’Neill denied Hess a base hit when she crossed in front of shortstop and snagged her ball headed toward the hole and threw to first for the out.

Tarczali walked and Teagen Mulvihall singled. Donegan walked to put three runners on base.

Russo again fielded her position and threw home for the force out. The right-handed Russo then notched a strikeout.

Dawid was hit by a pitch and Hess walked in the sixth. Russo’s strikeout ended the game.

Team members are Maggie Swanson, Lauren Foley, Alyssa Russo, Ari Kedersha, Paige O’Neill, Kelley Monahan, Griffin Paladino, Alex Lewey, Carol Reis, Morgan McGowan, Grace Farrell and Izzy Mulhall.

Fairfield coaches are Dave Foley and Bill Farrell.

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