Darien softball holds off New Canaan in rivalry game
The 2019 season has been a challenge for the New Canaan and Darien softball teams as both have struggled to find their footing this spring.
The Rams came into Friday’s tilt at Darien High School at 4-11 overall while Darien stood at 3-10 with each school holding identical 3-8 conference records.
All that being said, when it comes to New Canaan versus Darien, you can throw records and standings out the window.
After a seven-run fifth inning, the Wave opened up an 8-1 lead and held off a furious New Canaan rally in the seventh to escape with an 8-5 win.
“We needed a good win,” Darien head coach Nick DeMaio said. “We needed a win that challenged us like this did where the score was tight. I’m very pleased with the way they came through here.”
Darien (5-10, 4-8 FCIAC) had key contributions from several different players including senior co-captains Caroline Krueger and Sydney Fagerstrom who each had two hits.
Senior co-captain Rosali PIrone hit a home run and drove in two runs and freshman pitcher Kalle Halvorsen went 1-for-3 with a pair of runs and two RBIs.
Halvorsen also picked up the win, pitching into the seventh inning and giving up six hits and five runs with two strikeouts before tiring and giving way to freshman reliever Noelle Cooke, who earned the save by recording the final two outs.
“I thought Kallie did a great job,” DeMaio said. “She just had nothing left in the tank that last inning and Noelle came in and kept them off balance and got two softly hit balls.”
New Canaan, as it has all season, showed its resilience in the final frame by plating four runs and loading the bases to put the tying run on first and bring potential go-ahead run to the plate.
“There is no quit in this team,” New Canaan head coach Joel Geriak said. “The character of the team is they want to get better, they fight. I’m hoping for our last four games that they learn to take that character and win with it. I want to get to that last inning with the lead and put the game away, not to dig ourselves into a hole and have to make a big rally. We’re getting close to it.”
Junior Kaitlyn Fico had two hits for New Canaan (4-12, 3-9 FCIAC) and drove in a run. Senior Kara Fahey went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs scored and freshman pitcher Ava Biasotti helped herself with two hits and an RBI.
The Rams jumped out to an early lead after Fahey led off the game with a walk and moved to second two batters later after freshman Faith Hibbert was hit by a pitch. Biasotti then drove a two-out single to center, knocking in Fahey for a 1-0 lead.
Darien countered in the bottom half of the first. Halvorsen drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a passed ball. With two outs, Krueger grounded a single through the left side of the infield to score Halvorsen and tie the game.
Both Halvorsen and Biasotti cruised through the next three innings until Darien broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Jasmine Shtufaj led off the inning with a single to center. After moving to second on a wild pitch, Shtufaj took third on Melanie Vernal’s infield single.
Halvorsen then lined an 0-2 pitch to center for a double, scoring Shtufaj and Vernal and giving Darien a 3-1 lead.
Maddie Conte followed with an RBI double and came home on Pirone’s homer that cleared the centerfield fence with room to spare to extend to a 6-1 advantage. After a pitching change, the Wave tacked on two more runs to make it 8-1, which held up heading into the final inning.
New Canaan’s Hannah Moore led off the top of the seventh with a walk and took second on a wild pitch. With one out, Fahey drove a double off the left-centerfield fence, scoring Moore with the Rams’ second run.
Freshman Lauren Mellas walked ahead of Fico, who lined a double to left that scored Fahey to trim Darien’s lead to 8-3. Hibbert followed with a single to left that plated Mellas and Fico to pull the Rams within three, 8-5.
Biasotti and freshman Carolina Welch hit back-to-back singles to load the bases and end Halvorsen’s afternoon in the circle. Cooke came on and calmly ended the New Canaan rally by inducing two infield pop-ups to put the Rams away.
“We told the kids we wanted seven in the seventh and we almost got it,” Geriak said. “We just can’t give them seven runs in that fifth inning. We made some mistakes and had a couple of missed signs. They’re making plays but not consistently enough where we need them to be.”
The win was a big one for Darien as the Wave are looking to make the CIAC postseason for the 11th straight year.
“They should take from this game that this is the way they should play all the time,” DeMaio said. “If they had played this way throughout season we would have a couple of more wins. We’re trying to get three more wins for states, so we just have to keep moving forward.”
DARIEN 8, NEW CANAAN 5
New Canaan 100 000 4 — 5 6 2
Darien 100 070 x — 8 12 2
Batteries: New Canaan: Ava Biasotti (L), Carolina Welch (5) and Emma Shullman; Darien: Kallie Halvorsen (W), Noelle Cooke (7) and Maddie Conte
Records: New Canaan 4-12 overall, 3-9 FCIAC; Darien: 5-10, 4-8