Wilton 10s overcome adversity to claim FCFSL ‘B’ championship
It was a lesson of battling through adversity for the Wilton 10-U travel softball team this past weekend, at the Fairfield County Fastpitch Softball League tournament held at Middlebrook School.
The Wilton girls were down to only 10 players due to several players being out of town, and two of the players that were in town were too sick to play in the team’s pool-play games. At one point, Wilton could put only eight players on the field.
And before you could say ‘what else could go wrong?’, on Sunday the team’s top pitcher, Gracie DiBuono-Krafick, went down with an injury during the team’s second elimination-round game.
“I lost a little bit of confidence in our ability to win the tournament,” said manager Chris Kelly. “What made it difficult was having key players leave for vacation or camp, which put a lot of pressure on girls playing positions they weren’t used to playing.”
But Wilton persevered, knocking off top-seeded Fairfield in the semifinals, and rallying from a 7-1 deficit in the finals to beat Norwalk 14-11 and win the FCFSL ‘B” championship.
Before this season, the only all-Wilton team to win an FCFSL title was in 2013, when the Wilton 12-U team also won the ‘B’ tournament.
This year, Wilton won ‘B’ titles at both the 12-U and 10-U level, making Sunday perhaps the biggest day ever for Wilton youth softball.
Many of the girls on this year’s 10-U team played on the team a year ago, when they had reached the FCFSL semifinals. That was Wilton’s only travel team last summer, and was the first time Wilton had an all-Wilton team in the FCFSL in three seasons.
The team was coached by Kelly, Joe Guglielmo, George Krafick, John Morello, Scott Schwartz and Nicole Sidor.
The roster featured the following players: Katie Kelly (catcher), Marin Burke (third base and pitcher), Abby Schwartz (first base and outfield), Allie Schwartz (shortstop), Lucie Prior (second base), Kate Rusin (second base), Grace Guglielmo (pitcher), Grace Costa (outfield), Gracie DiBuono-Krafick (first base and pitcher), Anna Morello (outfield), Abby Seeberger (outfield), Lauren Sanfilippo (outfield), Eva Filipponi (catcher), Sadie Klyver (third base) and Teagan Stengrim (outfield).
Wilton finished the regular season at 13-7, and Kelly was confident the team could make a run to the ‘B’ title.
However, five players were away during the weekend tourney, while two others missed the early part of the tournament due to illness.
The team was able plug the hole by bringing up two players who hadn’t played travel — Guglielmo and Costa.
The team won its first pool-play game last Thursday, 18-8, over Darien White. Allie Schwartz was named player of the game, going 2-for-4 with a double, walk, two RBI and two runs scored. Kelly went 2-for-2 with three RBI, and DiBuono-Krafick and Seeberger each had three RBI.
Guglielmo pitched three innings and struck out seven batters, and Burke pitched one inning, fanning three batters.
On Saturday, Wilton had to play with only eight players, losing to the Wilton 9-U team but defeating Fairfield. The team had to play with just two outfielders, and the number-nine hitting spot in the batting order was recorded as an automatic out.
Despite that, the team’s 2-1 record earned it the fourth seed (out of seven teams) for Sunday’s elimination round.
In the quarterfinals, Wilton routed fifth-seeded New Canaan, 19-5. Allie Schwartz was 3-for-3 with a double, RBI and four runs scored, and Guglielmo went 3-for-3 with five RBI. Abby Schwartz had three RBI and DiBuono-Krafick four RBI.
Burke pitched two innings for the win and gave up zero earned runs on two hits and five strikeouts.
In the semifinals against Fairfield, Wilton scored a 10-7 win. Burke was 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while Abby and Allie Schwartz each had two RBI and Costa made a game-saving catch in right field.
In the championship game against third-seeded Norwalk, the Wilton girls fell behind 7-1 in the second inning but chipped away and eventually took the lead, 11-10, in the fifth inning.
After Norwalk tied the game, 11-11, Wilton scored three times in the top of the seventh to lead 14-11. The table was set by a single by Abby Schwartz and walk by Ally Schwartz. Both runners advanced on Kelly’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a two-run single by Guglielmo.
Kelly and Sanfilippo each had two hits, while Sanfilippo, Prior and Guglielmo drove in three runs each. Costa and Seeberger both scored a run and drove in a run.
The defensive play of the game was a double play turned by shortstop Allie Schwartz in the seventh inning, as she caught a low line drive and threw the ball to Burke at first base to double off the runner and end the game.
Burke, who was the winning pitcher in all three games on Sunday, and Guglielmo shared pitching duties and were the co-MVPs for the title game.
Kelly said a lot of the girls got valuable experience playing on last year’s 10-U team, and that there was a much-more concerted effort by the Wilton Baseball and Softball Association to form teams early and begin preparations in the winter, “with the goal of getting to and winning the tournament.”