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Thursday, April 27 Sports

Softball: Ward, Strazza lift Wilton past Staples

WESTPORT — Wilton’s softball team has never qualified for the FCIAC playoffs in its history.

If the Warriors play like they did Monday against Staples, they won’t be able to say that anymore in May.

With its playoff hopes resting on its deep, potentially dangerous lineup, Wilton knew the game could be a decider come the end of the season. Getting runners on base in every inning, the Warriors (4-3) slugged their way to 10-4 win, its second straight after dropping three in a row.

“That’s our big goal coming into the season,” said Wilton coach Brian Jacobs. “To get in you have to win 10, 11 league games; that’s a tall order given how strong this conference is. … The margin is so thin.”

Wilton socked 16 hits in the triumph, including a monster day from Eliza Ward. The senior catcher went 4-for-4 with a walk and two runs driven in. Sophia Strazza went 3-for-4 with a sac fly and two runs batted in.

“We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve had the potential for big innings, but we hit the ball right at people,” Jacobs said. “With the lineup that we can put out there, we can we can really have big innings. Everyone can pitch in one way or another.”

Wilton starting pitcher Sage Zunda did her part, hurling six innings of one run before the Wreckers staged a rally in the seventh that plated three.

Though the warriors stranded four runners in the first two innings, the timely hits began to fall rapidly. It first began with a runner scoring on a wild pitch and another on an RBI groundout in the third after Strazza doubled with Ward on base.

The floodgates opened in the fourth to help the Warriors pull away. A two-run single by Ward made it 4-0 before Strazza knocked her in. Three more runs came in the sixth to give Wilton an 8-1 advantage before it loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh and scoring two more.

Wilton’s defense also shined behind Zunda, making all the plays at balls that were hit hard towards them. Second baseman Juliana Musilli rolled over the sand to deliver a quick throw to first on a hard ground ball late in the game.

“We did a good job with the fundamentals,” Jacobs said. “And when you do that you see players going head over heels to make the spectacular play. We’re going to play good-hitting teams and defense is going to be important.”

The Wreckers, who fielded five freshmen at times Monday, are experiencing the growing pains associated with youth playing a deep, experienced league.

“I don’t think they realize the shock as much as it’s hit them, or maybe not,” said Wreckers coach Luigi Cammarota. “I knew that coming in, it’s different than little league. Some of these freshman are 14 years old and are playing kids who are 18.

Ashley Constantino and Taylor Rochlin each had three hits for Staples, which is in the middle of a tough stretch that includes Trumbull Wednesday and New Fairfield Saturday. The Wreckers had 11 hits — including two from Ali Green — but stranded many early in the game.

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“We just couldn’t hit the ball today,” Cammarota said. “Until the last inning, but too little, too late. Our pitching was a little rough today; everybody has a bad day. We have to get back to work tomorrow.”

rlacey@bcnnew.com, twitter.com/ryanlacey11

WILTON 10, STAPLES 4

WILTON 002 303 2 - 10 16 0

STAPLES 000 010 3 - 4 11 3

Records: Wilton 4-3, Staples 2-4.

Batteries: W—Sage Zunda (W) and Eliza Ward; S—Sophia Alfero (L) and Maisie Dembski.

rlacey@bcnnew.com, twitter.com/ryanlacey11

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