What you need to know about the 2022 CIAC softball quarterfinals

Fairfield Ludlowe has faced little resistance through the first two rounds, shutting out both Darien and Fairfield Warde while scoring 23 runs against its conference foes as the No. 3 seed in Class LL.

Fairfield Ludlowe has faced little resistance through the first two rounds, shutting out both Darien and Fairfield Warde while scoring 23 runs against its conference foes as the No. 3 seed in Class LL.

H John Voorhees III / Hearst Connecticut Media

The CIAC softball tournaments are heading to the quarterfinals with just 32 teams remaining in the four classes.

Before we get there, let’s take a look at some of the key storylines heading into Friday’s quarterfinals.

Surprises

As we enter the quarterfinal round there have been some teams that have outperformed expectations, or at the predicted expectations. Here are some of the bigger surprises:

BRISTOL EASTERN

Bristol Eastern has advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Class L tournament as the No. 21 seed. It followed its opening round upset over No. 12 seed and SWC tournament finalist Brookfield with a 5-4 win over No. 5 Jonathan Law (ranked 9th in the GameTimeCT poll) on Wednesday.

Ali Tellier has been a big reason for Bristol Eastern’s success. Tellier pitched a complete game in the 5-2 win over Brookfield, allowing seven hits and two unearned runs while striking out five. She also went 3-for-4 with an RBI and scored a run. Against Law, Tellier allowed four unearned runs on three hits and one walk, while striking out four in the complete game. She was 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. Alex Shorette hit a game-winning solo home run in the top of the seventh against Law. Bristol Eastern will face No. 4 seed and SCC tournament champion East Haven Friday.

FITCH

Fitch, seeded 14th in Class L, knocked off two SCC teams on the shoreline to advance to the quarters, defeating No. 19 Daniel Hand 2-0 in the opening round, then followed with a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Guilford. Charlotte Cabal has not allowed a run over the two games. Against Guilford, she allowed four hits, walked one, and struck out seven while going 2-for-3 with the lone RBI. In the first-round victory over Hand, Cabral allowed two hits and struck out four while going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. Fitch lost one-run games to Masuk (3-2), Waterford (8-7) and Glastonbury (4-3) during a three-game stretch that shows just how good this team can be. Its quarterfinal opponent, Avon, has one of the best pitchers in the state (Jackie Pengel) and also suffered a one-run loss to Glastonbury in the regular season (1-0).

HALE RAY

The No. 24 seed in Class S finished the regular season with a 9-11 record out of the Shoreline Conference, but finished on a five-game winning streak. Hale Ray defeated No. 9 Parish Hill 13-1 in the opening round and took down No. 8 Wheeler 9-7 in the second. In the win over Parish Hill, sophomore Julia Campbell allowed one unearned run on one hit and three walks while striking out 10. Senior Samantha LaRemina has gone 4-for-8 with a home run, a triple, six RBIs and four runs scored over two games, while earning the win against Wheeler. Hale Ray will face No. 1 seed and Shoreline foe Cromwell Friday. Hale Ray lost 10-0 to Cromwell in the regular season.

How the Top 10 Are Faring

Nine of the 10 teams ranked in this week’s GameTimeCT poll are still competing. Only No. 9 Jonathan Law has been eliminated. Law, the No. 5 seed in the Class L tournament, lost to No. 21 Bristol Eastern 5-4 in the second round Wednesday.

No. 1 Fairfield Ludlowe has faced little resistance through the first two rounds, shutting out both Darien and Fairfield Warde while scoring 23 runs against its conference foes as the No. 3 seed in Class LL.

No. 2 Masuk is the No. 1 seed in Class L and defeated North Haven 4-0 after a first round bye. It will now go up against No. 10 St. Joseph (Seeded No. 9) in the quarterfinals.

No. 3 Woodland is the top seed in Class M and defeated Plainville 15-1 after its first-round bye and is the clear tournament favorite.

No. 4 Southington has looked strong in its Class LL title defense as the No. 2 seed, defeating Wilbur Cross 22-0 and Norwalk 10-0. Southington will face a familiar opponent in No. 10 seed Maloney, which it defeated 8-1 in the regular season.

No. 5 East Haven is the No. 4 seed in Class L and has defeated No. 29 Bethel 12-1 and No. 20 Torrington 9-2. Now East Haven will face off against Bristol Eastern, which just upset the SCC runner-up Law.

No. 6 Danbury as the No. 1 seed in Class L defeated No. 16 Shelton 3-1 on an eighth inning walk-off home run after a first round bye. The Hatters will go up against a capable No. 8 West Haven team in the quarterfinals.

No. 7 Waterford is also the No. 7 seed in Class L and has won its first two games against No. 23 East Lyme and No. 10 Ledyard with relative ease. Waterford will now face No. 2 Ellington coming out of the NCCC.

No. 8 Hall is the No. 6 seed in Class LL and no-hit No. 27 New Canaan in the first round, then edged No. 11 Naugatuck 3-2 in the second round. The task gets much harder as the Warriors will take on No. 1 Fairfield Ludlowe in the quarterfinal.

No. 10 St. Joseph earned a Class L rematch of last year’s state championship against Masuk after defeating No. 24 Pomperaug 3-0 and No. 25 E.O. Smith 9-0. Lauren Wasikowski vs Kat Gallant regularly makes for a good matchup.

Droughts and streaks

CLASS LL

No. 1 seed Danbury has been to one state championship game in program history, back in 1987 when it lost 9-1 to Southington.

No. 2 Southington is looking for a third straight Class LL title and its unprecedented 20th state title in program history.

No. 3 Fairfield Ludlowe has never won a state title and made its first title game appearance last year when it was walked-off in 4-3 loss to Southington.

No. 6 Hall has never been to a state championship, but made it to the semifinal round last year. After a tournament drought from 2014-2018, Hall reappeared in 2019 but was eliminated in the first round.

No. 8 West Haven is looking for its first Class LL state title appearance. West Haven lost in the second round of the tournament every season from 2016-2021 and is making its first quarterfinal appearance since 2013.

No. 10 Maloney is in search of its first state championship appearance. Maloney made it to the 2019 Class L quarterfinals before switching to Class LL in 2021.

No. 13 Trumbull has been in two state championship games, most recently when it lost to Amity 13-7 in 2018. The year before, Trumbull defeated Southington 4-3 to claim its only title.

CLASS L

No. 1 seed Masuk is looking for its fourth straight Class L title and its eighth in program history.

No. 2 Ellington is seeking it first state championship appearance since 1984 when as a Class S school it defeated Terryville 11-9 for its fourth title in five appearances.

No. 4 East Haven has appeared in seven state championships dating back to 1974, the most recent being its 2019 loss to Masuk 2-0. Masuk also eliminated East Haven last year. East Haven’s last championship came in 2015 with a 4-2 win over Fitch, and has two total titles in program history.

No. 6 Avon has never appeared in a state title game. This is just its second tournament appearance in the last decade and first trip to the quarterfinals in that time.

No. 7 Waterford won the Class M state championship in 2019 before switching to Class L last season. Waterford has been in 10 state title games and has won half of them.

No. 9 St. Joseph was the runner up in last year’s Class L tournament and last won in 2018. The Cadets have won six state titles.

No. 14 Fitch went to three straight Class L championships from 2014-2016 and won two. Fitch has won three titles in five chances.

No. 21 Bristol Eastern has been in five state title games and has won two. The most recent appearance was a 2010 Class L loss to Waterford 3-2 while the most recent title was in 2007 over Waterford 3-0.

CLASS M

No. 1 Woodland made its lone appearance in a state championship game in 2004 when it lost 4-0 to Hale Ray in Class S.

No. 3 Haddam-Killingworth last won a state title in 2003 when it claimed the Class S title over Hale Ray with an 8-6 victory. It was the program’s first title after having lost five times in previous title games.

No. 4 Northwestern made a run to the Class M semifinals in 2017 and has made the tournament every year since, but has never had a championship appearance.

No. 6 Oxford won the Class M tournament twice, in 2013 and 2015.

No. 8 Wolcott last appeared in a state title game in 2005 when it lost to Lauralton Hall 5-0 in Class M. Its first and only other appearance was when it won the Class L title in 1992 over Ledyard 2-0.

No. 12 Watertown’s lone state championship game came in 1997, when it lost the Class L crown to Bristol Eastern.

No. 18 Seymour is the defending Class M champion and looking for a third straight championship game appearance. Seymour is looking for its 13th state title.

No. 26 Sheehan is 3-for-3 when it comes to winning state titles, but has not appeared since 1979 when it defeated St. Joseph 8-0 for its third Class M title in five years.

CLASS S

No. 1 Cromwell is looking for its first state championship game appearance after a quarterfinal loss last season when it was in Class M.

No. 3 Coventry made its only state championship appearance in 1985, losing in Class S to Derby 4-2.

No. 4 Lyman Memorial played in back-to-back Class S state championship games in 2007 and 2008, winning the first over Coginchaug 3-2 in 10 innings and losing the second to Coginchaug 1-0.

No. 5 Old Lyme has never been to a state championship. It has earned a bid to the Class S tournament every season since 2018, but has not made it to the quarterfinals until this year.

No. 6 Somers lost in the Class S championship last season to Coginchaug and last won its only title in 2019 with a 3-2 win over Coginchaug.

No. 7 Shepaug Valley has been to three state championships, the most recent its 1992 Class S victory over Putnam 4-0.

No. 15 North Branford, which has never won a title, lost in the Class M championship last season, 6-0 to Seymour. It was the third time North Branford appeared in a title game (Class M in 2017 and 1975).

No. 24 Hale Ray last appeared and won a state championship in 2011 when it defeated Terryville 6-0 for the Class S crown. In 10 championship games, Hale Ray has won five.

CCC vs FCIAC in Class LL

The Class LL tournament is quickly becoming a showdown between two of the best conferences in the state. Last year the tournament featured an FCIAC vs CCC championship where Southington won on a walk-off over Fairfield Ludlowe. An FCIAC or CCC team has been in every Class LL championship since 2016. This year’s tournament is bringing the conference debate early, as four CCC and three FCIAC teams fill out the seven teams remaining (with No. 8 West Haven as the lone SCC representative). No. 1 Danbury, No. 3 Fairfield Ludlowe and No. 13 Trumbull represent the FCIAC while No. 2 Southington, No. 6 Hall and No. 10 Maloney represent the CCC.

In the quarterfinals, Fairfield Ludlowe plays Hall while the winner of Bristol Central/Cheshire will go up against Trumbull. Southington and Maloney will square off in CCC matchup while Danbury will play West Haven.

Class M or NVL Part 2?

Of the eight teams left in Class M, five hail from the NVL. No. 1 Woodland, No. 6 Seymour, No. 8 Wolcott, No. 12 Watertown and No. 18 Seymour are essentially replaying an NVL tournament with Haddam-Killingworth, Northwestern, and Sheehan thrown into the mix. Woodland won the NVL with a 9-6 win over Oxford, and both teams are on opposite sides of the Class M bracket. Oxford defeated Seymour in the semifinals of the NVL tournament, and could meet in the semifinals.

Class L Rivals and Revenge

In recent years many of the teams remaining in the Class L quarterfinals have become regulars in the late rounds of state tournaments, forming some enjoyable rivalries.

Masuk, St. Joseph, East Haven, Waterford and Fitch have all become familiar foes. Even Bristol Eastern can be thrown into the mix. Here’s a look at their recent state tournament matchups:

2021

Masuk defeats St. Joseph 2-0 in Class L championship

Masuk defeats East Haven 4-0 in Class L semifinals

East Haven defeats Waterford 1-0 (9) in Class L quarterfinals

St. Joseph defeats Bristol Eastern 7-0 in Class L 2nd round

2019

Masuk defeats East Haven 2-0 in Class L championship

Masuk defeats Bristol Eastern 5-3 in Class L quarterfinals

East Haven defeats St. Joseph 2-0 in Class M 2nd round

2017

Fitch defeats Masuk 6-4 in Class L quarterfinals

2016

Fitch defeats Masuk 2-0 in Class L championship

St. Joseph defeats Waterford 2-0 in Class M 2nd round

2015

East Haven defeats Fitch 4-2 in Class L Championship

East Haven defeats Bristol Eastern 2-0 in Class L 1st Round

2014

East Haven defeats St. Joseph 1-0 in Class M Semifinals.

Championships since 2014: Masuk 3 in Class L, Fitch 2 in Class L, East Haven 1 in Class L, St. Joseph 1 in Class M, Waterford 1 in Class M.