For young girls, Fairfield's 11-12-year-old softball All-Star team has a lot of postseason experience. The team needed to draw on every ounce of it to survive in Sunday's Section 2 championship game against Black Rock at Trumbull's Unity Park.
Fairfield defeated Black Rock, 3-2, on a throwing error that allowed Katie Gantella to score the winning run. Fairfield rallied from a 2-0 deficit with two runs in the fifth inning to force extra innings. The win sends Fairfield to the Section 1 tournament beginning Wednesday in Stamford.
"I knew we had a good defense and good pitching,'' manager Rob Caione said. "The question was whether we'd score enough runs."
Fairfield pitcher Samantha Platz pitched a no-hitter, but Black Rock scored two runs in the first inning and held the lead until the fifth. Platz reached on an error with one out and Gantella followed with a flare to right field. Both runners moved up one base on an error. After a strikeout, Patricia Auray reached safely on a bunt and both runners came around to score.
"They have a very good catcher and neither team hit the ball very well,'' Caione said. "I was back and forth on whether to bunt or steal all game." In the seventh, Gantella reached on an error. Gabby Natoli followed with a single to center. Gantella scooted to third and scored when a throw attempting to beat her eluded the third baseman.
Fairfield won the 11-year-old state tournament last year and three players on this year's team moved up from the 9-10-year-old state champions. "We have a lot of All-star talent,'' Caione said. "These girls have been through it."
Fairfield's team includes Gabby Natoli, Patricia Auray, Alice Nelson, Kelly Caione, Nikki Dellapoali, Jordan Feeney, Katie DeCarlo, Samantha Platz, Katie Gantella, Sarah Cotto and Richelle Barone.
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