Wave softball continues winning ways
FAIRFIELD -- A season after posting 17 wins and rolling all the way to the state championship game, the Darien softball team -- despite having just one active senior in the lineup -- has maintained its winning ways and has high hopes for a return to the pinnacle game.
The Wave had to come from behind to stay unbeaten but got the job done in an 8-4 win over Fairfield Ludlowe at Sturges Park on Monday.
Darien improved to 5-0 (4-0 in FCIAC play) despite falling behind 3-0 in the first inning and trailing 4-1 as late as the fifth. Ludlowe, meanwhile, dropped to 3-4 (3-3).
Down 4-1 in the fifth inning, the Wave struck for four runs to seize the lead. Meredith Ott led off with a single, Emily Blosio added a one-out single and Olivia Gozdz followed with an RBI single to make it 4-2. Courtney Bell then hit a two-run triple to left to tie the game.
"It was my first pretty big hit -- a really big turning point in my season," Bell said.
And, perhaps, the turning point in the game.
With two outs, Ludlowe pitcher Becky Foster tried to get out of the inning with the game tied but Michele Piccaro smacked a go-ahead single and the Wave never looked back.
Wave sophomore pitcher Jessica DeMaio worked in and out of trouble all afternoon. She allowed only four hits but issued eight walks and also had five strikeouts in the victory. DeMaio walked in a run and allowed a two-run single in the first inning then wiggled out several other jams as the game unfolded.
"She got through it. She put herself in a hole," Wave coach Nick DeMaio, Jessica's uncle, said. He was speaking both figuratively and literally. The Darien coach noted that there was a large cavity in the pitching circle where Jessica DeMaio's front foot was landing. The coaching staff repeatedly raked dirt into the hole in an effort to even out the surface. Nick DeMaio said the field condition and the fact his pitcher was getting squeezed by a tight strike zone led to her troubles.
"It definitely wasn't my best stuff in the beginning," Jessica DeMaio said. "I battled out there and I had confidence in my team that they could back me up, and they did."
It took the offense several innings to finally break through against Foster, whom Darien's coach said was the hardest-throwing pitcher his team has seen thus far.
"It was a slow start in the beginning. You just have to keep at it," Bell said.
DeMaio said she did get a little concerned about all of the base runners but had the confidence that she would prevail.
"I was nervous but I had to stay strong out there -- trust my motion, trust my stuff, trust my defense out there and relax -- and I did," the pitcher said.
Nick DeMaio pointed out that his team plays Ludlowe around the same time each spring and always seems to struggle against the Falcons. He said the Wave did not have its best performance in Monday's game but was impressed that his players pulled through.
"For some reason we always come into this game flat," he said.
The fact his team has struggled with Ludlowe in the past but come through was a reminder the win was well within reach even when the Falcons held its three-run advantage for several innings.
"That's what we kept telling them about," Nick DeMaio said.
Blosio was 2 for 3 with an RBI and Bell had two hits and drove in a pair. After taking a 5-4 lead, the Wave chipped away to build on it with a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh. Nicole Buch beat out an infield single and, after Blosio singled, scored on a wild throw for a 6-4 advantage. A trio of wild pitches helped Darien push two more runs across in the seventh.
"We're happy with where we are," Nick DeMaio said. "5-0. We'll take it."
Darien, following Wednesday's scheduled game with Stamford (after press time), will host Wilton on Friday. Wilton is one of the few teams to beat the Wave a year ago and Nick DeMaio acknowledges that this is an important point in the schedule. The Wave players and coaches don't expect the ride to always be easy but are confident they can maintain these winning ways and again be a threat in the playoffs.
"We've got to keep it up," Jessica DeMaio said. "We've just got to keep at it. It's not over `til it's over."