Softball: Blue Crush capture Wilton's first-ever FCFSL title
Softball Olympian Sammy Lee once said, “Being the best that you can be is possible only if your desire to be a champion is greater than your fear of failure.”
The Wilton 12U Blue Crush fastpitch softball team had a desire to win the Farifield County Fastpitch Softball League Tournament on Sunday. With strong pitching performances, tight defense and clutch offense, Wilton team left its mark on town history by winning the FCFSL ‘B’ tournament championship with a 7-3 win over Pomperaug at Middlebrook School.
This was Wilton’s first FCFSL championship win ever in any age bracket. Wilton went undefeated for the entirety of the tournament, winning all three of their pool-play games and all three of their elimination games.
In pool play, Wilton first defeated the Bobby Valentine’s Sports Academy Warriors (Stamford) on Friday night by a score of 11-4. With strong offensive performances from Sophia Strazza (2-for-2 with a walk), Sophie Phelan (2-for-3 with two doubles) and Emily Kaufold (2-for-2 with a walk), Wilton was able to manufacture enough runs to give Blue Crush pitching ace Sommer Rogg a comfortable lead. Rogg pitched a complete-game victory, allowing four runs on five hits.
Kelley Osterberg, Emma Cropper, Cate McCabe, Juliana Musili, Phelan, Strazza and Rogg all scored runs for the Blue Crush offense.
On Saturday, the Blue Crush run-ruled both the Redding-Easton Rockets and the Ridgefield Rebels Rockers.
With a strong pitching performance by Strazza in the first game against the Rockets, Wilton beat Redding-Easton by a score of 13-3. Strazza allowed three runs on only five hits in the game.
Wilton scored their 13 runs on 11 hits and strong offensive performances across the board. Emily O’Brien and Brianna Catino each contributed two RBI while Maya Farrell, Rogg and Belanger all contributed one RBI.
In addition, Farrell, Wilton’s left fielder, contributed a key defensive double play in the second inning to help the Crush roll past the Rockets.
In the second game on Saturday, Wilton defeated the Rebels Rockers in only three innings. Strazza gave the Crush two strong innings, allowing only two runs, followed by Musili, who came in for Wilton to close out the game.
Offensively, Wilton was strong throughout their lineup. Rogg went 3-for-3 in the game with three hits. Hannah Belanger and Strazza had two hits apiece, while Kaufold and Phelan both contributed run-scoring doubles.
With three wins under their belts in pool play, the Blue Crush came into the elimination round on Sunday with momentum, as well as the second seed. The young and confident Blue Crush team faced the Redding-Easton Rockets, the seventh seed, one more time.
Once again, the aggressive Blue Crush batters manufactured 14 runs against the Rockets to lead to a 14-4 win. McCabe contributed five RBI while Ashley Wilson, Osterberg, Catino, Phelan and Rogg all contributed one RBI each.
In the semifinals, the Blue Crush faced the BVSA Warriors, the same team that the Crush had defeated on Friday in pool play.
Rogg pitched a complete seven-inning game and was backed up by strong defensive performances by Brianna Catino at third base, Strazza at shortstop, Musili at second base, Kaufold at first base and Belanger behind the plate.
Strazza led Wilton’s offense by going 3-for-3 with three runs scored. Belanger and Phelan scored Wilton’s other two runs in the Crush’s 5-1 victory.
That set the stage for a match-up between the top-seeded Pomperaug Panthers and the second-seeded Blue Crush.
Last year, the Blue Crush was eliminated in the first game on elimination Sunday by the Panthers, and had lost to the Panthers all three times in their 2012 season and lost to them once in the 2013 regular season.
However, the Wilton players didn’t allow their previous history against a strong Pomperaug team intimidate them, as a talented and confident Wilton was ready to take on Pomperaug in pursuit of a tournament championship, and nothing was going to get in their way.
Wilton started strong with singles by Rogg and Strazza. Sophie Phelan had a base hit to left field to score Rogg. Pomperaug battled back, scoring a run in the bottom of the second inning to make the score 1-1.
However, Wilton’s starting pitcher, Rogg, would not give in. With Belanger behind the plate, Rogg was able to keep the Panther hitters off-balance the entire game by giving up only three runs on four hits and two walks.
The game was tied 3-3 going into the top of the seventh (and final) inning, with Wilton batting first. Once again, the Wilton offense came through in the clutch with four runs.
Leading off with a single by Phelan, the stage was set for Wilton. Rogg later came up with runners on second and third and roped a beaming triple over the centerfielder’s head. Emma Cropper also contributed a key hit to score a run, giving Wilton a 7-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
Rogg and the Wilton defense took the field looking to close out the game and clinch the FCFSL championship. After Pomperaug’s lead-off batter reached first, Rogg fired back with a key strikeout. She was then able to get the next Pomperaug batter to pop up to the catcher.
Wilton now had two outs in the bottom of the seventh with a four-run lead when Pomperaug’s powerful cleanup hitter came to the plate. First-pitch swinging, she hit a hard grounder to shortstop that was gobbled up by Strazza, and she fired to first to wrap up the perfect day and clinch the championship.
The Blue Crush finished the season with a total FCFSL record of 16-8.
As a team Wilton had an outstanding team batting average of .486. Belanger, Rogg and Strazza all hit over .600 on the weekend, while McCabe, Kaufold, Phelan and Osterberg hit over .500.