Darien was not about to wait for the drama to start with the playoffs.
The Wave brought down the curtain on a roaring regular season, and Cassidy Schiff brought down the house at DHS, with a walk-off three-run homer in a 9-6 victory over Norwalk on Wednesday.
It’s the perfect send-off.
— Cassidy Schiff
“It’s the perfect send-off,” said senior captain Schiff of the rocket-fuel trajectory to the FCIAC tournament. “But we just found out we’re going to be playing Ridgefield on Friday, and we could not be more excited.”
The Wave edged the Tigers 7-6 at Ridgefield during the regular season.
“If we play like we can and have, then we just have to keep rolling,” Schiff said.
Winning pitcher Sophia Barbour struck out seven, walked three.
Darien had 10 hits to Norwalk’s nine, while the Bears had two errors, and Darien one.
Darien (14-2 FCIAC, 16-4 overall) is second seed, Ridgefield (10-6, 12-8) No. 7. The Wave hosts the Tigers 2pm Friday in the FCIAC quarterfinals.
“Another late-game rally,” said Schiff. “Our team doesn’t quit. We’ve been in tight situations time and time again throughout the year, but we never doubt ourselves and we’ve been successful playing like that.”
Hailey King had four hits, scored four runs, Kristen Picard had two hits, Jess Carlo, Schiff, Barbour, Stefanie Gentile had one hit each, with Picard and Gentile doubling.
Each team scored in the first inning and Norwalk went up 3-1 in the top of the third.
Darien cut the Bears’ lead to one with a run in the bottom of the third.
And the Wave tied it with a run in the fifth.
Norwalk came alive looking to end it with three runs for a 6-3 lead in the top of the sixth inning.
But Darien would not let go and had two runs in its next at-bat, trailing by one run going into the seventh.
Barbour kept the Bears at bay, Darien came up and tied it, and Schiff gave the Wave the big lift with the walk-off homer for the dramatic win.
“The pitch I hit was a good one,” Schiff said. “I was just thinking I had to get it in the outfield in the air, somewhere, so Hailey (King) could tag up; by that point she was on third base.”
Schiff blasted the ball to left-center.
“Stefani Gentile leads off with a double, then Hailey comes up and smacks one to left field which scores Stefani,” Schiff said of the Wave’s seventh inning rally that tied it, to set up her rallying finish. “Then Keilani Caruso gets up and hits an infield blooper but the catcher overthrew it, so then we had two runners in scoring position with no outs. Then I came up!”
And down went the Bears.
“I thought Hailey King was a huge reason why we were successful,” added Schiff.
The junior centerfielder and lead-off hitter King led Darien going 4-for-4, belting two doubles and a home run.
“Today was a good, united, team win, which is just what we wanted going into the playoffs since those games are always mentally and emotionally straining as much as they are physically,” Schiff said. “I can’t say enough about what a great team this is.”
Senior Day Hooray
“And as for us seniors, well, I couldn’t ask for any better group of girls,” said Schiff. “We’ve all been playing together for so long and everything is just clicking into place this year with us leading the charge.”
Wave seniors in the lineup include Schiff, Carlo, Brittany Pierce, Picard, Barbour.
“We pick each other up if we make a mistake and we keep moving forward,” said Schiff. “We’ve all grown so much as players and it’s mostly because we have each other.
“Sappy, but true.”