Darien softball team edged by Stamford
STAMFORD -- Perhaps on the surface it doesn't seem like the best analogy, seeing Christina Joannou is entering the final week of her second season as one of the starting pitchers for Stamford High School's softball team, but the junior was thrown into the deep end of the pool Monday afternoon.
Going up against Darien's Erika Osherow, the FCIAC's hottest pitcher, with seven shutouts and just two runs allowed in her last eight outings, Joannou knew there would be little margin for error.
"I think this is one of my specialties," Joannou said. "I don't get nervous."
Resolute when tested most, and with a little help from her defense and a fortuitous bounce, Joannou pitched a 7-hitter and stranded six runners -- three in scoring position -- to lead the Black Knights to a 2-1 win.
"There was a little anxiety here and there, but we pulled through," Joannou said.
Stamford ended the Blue Wave's 12-game winning streak. The Black Knights finished a stretch of six of seven games against teams that would have qualified for the conference playoffs if the season had ended on Monday and went 4-2.
The best indication of the lift the Black Knights received came from Tony Esposito, who usually holds long postgame meetings with his players and is seldom at a loss for constructive criticism. Esposito kept his players in rightfield after the game for less than a minute and has seldom displayed such joy after a win.
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Osherow, who allowed just four hits and struck out 10, was certainly deserving of a better fate. But the Blue Wave committed four errors and had several mistakes on the basepaths.
"It was not like we have been blowing people away, but we'd have a 5-0 win or 6-0 win without a whole lot of pressure on the defense," Darien coach Nick DeMaio said. "Stamford is a good hitting team, they put the ball in play and our defense tightened up. Erika pitched well. They challenged her more than any team has since St. Joseph."
That was a 5-1 loss that left the team 2-3 and reeling. And if not for the biggest and strangest play of the game, the Blue Wave might have had a different outcome.
With Stamford ahead, 2-1, Rebecca DeMaio, who was 3-for-3, led off the 6th with her second double. With the count 0-1, Joannou threw a wild pitch. The ball hit the backstop and bounced up right to catcher Colleen Adams, who earlier picked a runner off third base. Adams threw out DeMaio as she tried to advance, and Joannou overcame two walks in the 7th.
"When that happened there, I said we're not supposed to win this game," Nick DeMaio said. "The catcher had the ball there just as fast as if she had caught it. Unbelievable."
Darien scored in the 5th on Julia Domiziano's base hit.
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STAMFORD 2, DARIEN 1
DARIEN 000 010 0--1 7 4
STAMFORD 002 000 X--2 4 1
Records: Darien 14-4, 13-3 FCIAC; Stamford 14-4, 13-3 FCIAC. Batteries: D--Erika Osherow (L) and Rebecca DeMaio. S--Christina Joannou (W) and Colleen Adams. Doubles: D-- DeMaio 2.