Softball: Warriors upset fourth seed in Class LL opener

The 29th-seeded Wilton High softball team scored five runs in its first at-bat and rode the pitching of Kate Shouvlin and great team defense to a shocking 5-1 win at fourth-seeded Bristol Eastern on Tuesday, in the first round of the Class LL playoffs.

Wilton (9-12) advances to the second round on Wednesday (4 p.m.) at 13th-seeded Amity, which beat Fairfield Ludlowe 11-4.

Shouvlin, a freshman who was only brought up from the JV team mid-season when starter Sage Zunda suffered a season-ending injury, allowed four hits and two walks in a complete-game win. Only two of Bristol Eastern outs were put-outs in the outfield. The Warriors did not make an error in the game.

“We just played solid defense and had solid pitching,” said head coach Brian Jacobs. “Kate kept the ball down and we make all the routine plays.”

Bristol Eastern (18-3) committed three errors in the first inning that opened the door for Wilton, which scored five runs to go up 5-0.

Hannah Belanger and Eliza Ward led off the game with singles and a throwing error on grounder by Sophia Strazza allowed Belanger to score the game’s first run.

Maya Farrell walked to load the bases with no outs and Juliana Musilli followed with a two-run single to make it 3-0. Two more runs came in after an error on Claire Wilson’s hit to right field.

“We put the ball in play and put pressure on the other team. They opened the door for us and we capitalized,” said Jacobs. “We had a lot of good at-bats. We had a lot of kids who fell down in the count and worked their way back to get a walk or big base hit.”

Wilton managed only four base runners the rest of the game. Belanger singled in the second, Farrell singled in the third, Strazza walked in the fifth, and Wilson reach on an error in the sixth.

Bristol threatened in the second when a triple by Jillian Maghini and walk by Nicole D’Amato put runners at the corners with one out. A runner’s interference call resulted in the second out, and a groundball out to first baseman Iso Casiraghi ended the threat.

In the third, the Lancers got on the scoreboard with an RBI double by Makenzie Jankowski and, after an infield single by Mikayla Martin, had runners on first and third with two outs. But Musilli made a diving play at second to stop a hit and then threw out the runner at first for the final out.

In the fifth, Bristol threatened with a two-out double by Jankowski. This time, Shouvlin got out of the inning with a strikeout of the Lancers’ number-three hitter.

In the bottom of the seventh, the first two Bristol hitters were retired after great plays at shortstop by Strazza, who finished the game with seven assists. A line-drive out to Musilli ended the game.

Shouvlin, who retired the final seven batters she faced, and 13 of the last 14, did a solid job staying ahead on the count for most of the game, said Jacobs.

“She did not look like a freshman being thrown out in her first post-season start against the number-four team,” he said. “She has worked hard throughout the whole season. She just goes out and does her job. She has a quiet intensity and gives it all she’s got.”

Belanger went 2-for-4 to lead the hitting. Other hits were by Ward (her 100th career hit) and Musilli (two RBI).

Erin Girard took the tough loss for Bristol Eastern, allowing five runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks, while striking out three.