Sixth-inning rally propels Wilton softball past New Canaan, 4-3

New Canaan softball head coach Danielle Simoneau wasn’t taking anything for granted.

Even with her team holding a 3-0 lead on the Wilton Warriors and her pitcher cruising along with a one-hitter, Simoneau was cautious.

“You can’t sit back on a team like Wilton,” she said. “They fight all seven innings.”

Lo and behold, those words rang true as the Warriors rallied for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and went on to defeat the Rams, 4-3, Thursday afternoon at Wilton High School.

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for Wilton, which evened its mark at 3-3, while New Canaan had a two-game win streak snapped and is now 3-2.

“No matter what, when you come out on top in a close game against a good team like that, it’s a great feeling,” Wilton head coach Brian Jacobs said. “This conference is very competitive when it comes to softball, so you’re always going to have a battle. Seeing the team come out and execute on both sides of the ball definitely is a great way to end the week.”

The game featured a terrific pitchers’ duel between New Canaan junior Gillian Kane and Wilton senior Sage Zunda.

Kane, who had pitched shutouts in her last two games, retired the first 11 batters she faced and was one over the minimum through five innings, having allowed just one single. She finished with six innings pitched, three hits allowed, two walks and five strikeouts.

Kane has not allowed an earned run for 19 innings, as all four Warriors runs were unearned.

Zunda was also on point, as she retired the first nine batters she faced before Kane singled leading off the fourth. Zunda allowed five hits and three runs in seven innings, walking one and striking out five.

“I think this was a really excellent performance by Sage,” Jacobs said. “She went out there and gave a really gutsy performance and kept us right in there. The two innings that they scored, we didn’t let it get to us, and that starts at the top. My battery - the pitcher and catcher are our two captains and they were able to keep everything locked in.

“We played some solid defense behind them, but it was an outstanding performance in general, especially considering this is our fourth game in four days.”

New Canaan senior Molly Keshin had the game’s big bat. The catcher went 2-for-3 with seven total bases and drove in all three Ram runs. She ripped a two-run triple in the fourth, and blasted a solo home run in the fifth.

“It was windy and the ball was going to hang up, so we had to keep the ball down,” Simoneau said. “Some people adjusted and some didn’t and the ones who adjusted — that’s how we got our three runs. I wasn’t happy with the hitting, but I was happy with the way Molly hit and drove them in.”

New Canaan broke out on top in the fourth inning after Kane led off with a single. Rachel Keshin lined a two-out double to left, and Molly Keshin followed with a three-bagger to center for a 2-0 lead.

Zunda stranded the runner at third, getting the next two hitters on a strikeout and a flyout to end the frame.

In the top of the sixth, Molly Keshin was at it again, smacking a line drive down far down the line in left and circling the bases for a home run and a 3-0 advantage.

The wheels came off for the Rams in the bottom of the sixth.

Isabel Casiraghi walked leading off and Philippa Gosden reached on an error on a sacrifice bunt attempt. Hannah Belanger followed with a single through the middle to load the bases.

After a liner to center was gloved for one out, Sophia Strazza reached on an error by Rachel Keshin at short with one run scoring.

Zunda then hit a bouncer back to Kane in the circle, but Kane’s throw to first got away and two runs came home, tying the score at 3-3.

Two batters later, Maya Farrell singled on a hard grounder through the right side, driving in Strazza with the go-ahead run.

“Sometimes you put the ball in play and things fall exactly the way you want them to, and sometimes you hit it right at people,” Jacobs said. “We had a couple of innings like that where we were making solid contact and driving it right at people.”

Kane shut it down there, retiring the next two batters on a pop up and a strikeout, but Zunda got the side in order in the seventh to end the game.

Both teams have three days off until their next games on Monday, when New Canaan hosts Bridgeport Central, and Wilton plays at Staples.

The Rams will attempt to put Thursday’s loss behind them as they play four games in four days next week.

“This game is over,” Simoneau said. “So you don’t worry about this one anymore and you just focus on the next one on Monday. It’s a clean slate, so you start over.”