Wild Things shine in post-season before falling in FCFSL semifinals

Playing their best ball of the season when it mattered the most, the Wilton Wild Things 10U girls softball team turned in a strong run at last weekend’s Fairfield County Fastpitch Softball League tournament, coming up just short of the championship game.

The Wild Things, the only Wilton Baseball & Softball Association softball team this summer, opened the FCFSL ‘B’ tourney with four straight wins, outscoring their opposition by a combined score of 64-15.

Their hopes of making the finals were ended with an 11-8 loss to the Norwalk Zoomers in the semifinals on Sunday afternoon at Middlebrook School.

For a young team (the majority of the player are nine-year-olds) that had only one regular-season win, it was a positive way to end its first season of travel ball.

“We didn’t really have any preconceived expectations,” coach Pam Nessel said of the team’s post-season mindset. “We knew they had a lot of potential and if things all happened to go the right way and players got hot, we could be formidable.”

The 10U tournament featured the hometown Wild Things, along with teams from other nearby towns such as Bethel, Danbury, Darien, Fairfield, Monroe, New Fairfield, New Milford, Norwalk, Southbury, Ridgefield and Stamford.

Wilton — which was coached by Nessell and her sister Christa — had opened the tournament last Thursday with a 17-0 win over the New Fairfield Rebels at Comstock Community Center. The game lasted only three-and-a-half innings due to time limitations.

The Wild Things got a great performance on the mound from Avery Samai, who struck out eight batters in a complete-game shutout. She pitched out of a jam in the second when, with runners on second and third and no outs, she struck out consecutive batters and then ended the threat by getting a groundball out.

Eva Filipponi did a great job for Wilton as catcher, said coach Pam Nessel.

The big blow of the game was by Anisa Burrows, who legged out a three-run, inside-the-park home run in the first inning.

“The entire team played with a lot of confidence at bat and in the field. They applied our recent discussions about staying positive and believing in yourself,” said coach Nessel.

For the game, leadoff hitter Katherine Costanzo was two-for-three and scored two runs, while number-two hitter Katie Kelly was one-for-three with a run scored and number-three hitter Lauren Davis was one-for-two with a walk and three runs scored.

Burrows, the cleanup hitter, had a home run and scored three times, while Kate Rusin walked twice and scored two runs. Avery Fleming also had two runs scored and Samai had three walks and one run scored. Eva Filipponi and Grace Guglielmo each had a walk and scored a run.

Pool play continued on Saturday morning. In their second game, the Wild Things defeated the Bethel Blast, 15-7, and followed that with a 13-8 win over the Stamford Stars on Saturday afternoon to finish pool play unbeaten.

In the win over Bethel, Burrows had a hit and scored three runs, while Costanzo, Katie Kelly and Davis each had two walks and two runs scored. Samai walked twice and scored, and Filipponi walked and scored.

In the Stamford game, Davis had a double, walk and two runs scored, while Costanzo walked three times and score three runs. Samai had two walks and three runs scored, and Katie Kelly walked once and scored two runs. Burrows and Amelia Fleming both had a walk and run scored, and Emma Kelly also scored a run. Abby Schwartz had a walk.

After pool play was completed, the teams were reseeded for Sunday’s elimination round.

The Wild Things earned the second seed and opened Sunday’s play with a 16-0 win over New Fairfield. Wilton put the game away early, scoring 12 runs in the first inning.

Davis got the win on the mound, with Guglielmo closing out the final inning to complete the shutout.

Samai led the way at the plate, going three-for-three and scoring two runs. Guglielmo slugged a triple and scored a run, and Katie Kelly had a double and walk, with two runs scored.

Also getting hits were Emma Kelly (single, walk, one run scored), Davis (single, two runs scored), Filipponi (single, walk, run scored) and Abby Schwartz (single, walk).

Abby Seeberger and Allie Schwartz both had two walks and two runs scored, while Costanzo also walked twice, with one run scored. Burrows walked once and scored twice.

In the semifinals on Sunday afternoon, Norwalk jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but Wilton answered with a run in the bottom half when Katie Kelly walked and scored when Burrows lined a two-out single to centerfield.

Norwalk scored a run in the second and three more in the third to lead 6-1. In the bottom of the third, the Wild Things got a run back when Davis doubled to right-center and scored on an RBI groundout by Samai.

However, Norwalk played excellent defense the next two innings and was able to stymie Wilton, finally blowing things open with five runs in the top of the sixth.

The Wild Things, however, refused to quit, scoring six runs in their final at-bat before falling short, 11-8.

The rally began with walks by Davis, Burrows and Samai, with Davis scoring after Fleming reached base. Filipponi singled, with three runs scoring (Burrows, Samai and Fleming) after some throwing errors. After Guglielmo walked. Filipponi scored on an RBI groundout by Allie Schwartz. Guglielmo then scored on an RBI single by Costanzo to cut the lead to 11-8.

“They played loose again and started having fun,” coach Nessel said of the rally. “It was a great way to end the season.”

Samai had a strong showing on the mound despite the loss, striking out 10 batters.