FAIRFIELD, Conn. Fairfields softball team won the New England championship in 2011 and came within a game of playing for a berth in the Little League World Series. Holdovers from last years squad know its going to be hard to duplicate that success.
Maybe within the town and the league people have expectations for us, said Mary Rose Finnigan, one of three players on the team who played for the 2011 squad. But first we want to win the district and take it from there.
Fairfield is off to a good start in its quest to win another state championship. It finished pool play in District 2 with a 4-0 record, and will meet Black Rock for the title Tuesday. The winner advances to the Section 1 tournament, with the first game scheduled for Thursday in Shelton.
Its unfair to expect them to get that far again, manager Jarry Rasmussen said. They dont think so. This is a different team. I dont want them to think about last year.
Finnigan, Anna Rasmussen and Brittany Romero played on last years Fairfield team. They also were part of the team that won the New England title as 10-year-olds in 2010. Rasmussen returns as manager, and is joined on his coaching staff by Dave McCartney, Doug Romero and Ed Finnigan. The coaching staff has remained largely intact during Fairfields brilliant run.
The coaches dont put any pressure on us to win, Anna Rasmussen said. They prepare us to win.
Fairfields pitching staff is led by Romero, who had strong performances in last years title run. Maddie Russell and Zoe Holderied pitched in a win against Westport Friday night. With Little League rules on inning limits, one of Fairfields question marks is its pitching behind Romero.
Were finding out about our pitching, Jarry Rasmussen said. We have five or six girls we think can do it. Well see how it goes.
Fairfield has dominated the District 2 tournament, outscoring opponents 51-6. Since 2009, Fairfield has won three state championships and two New England titles with its 10-and-under and 12-and-under teams. Shannon McCartney and Maddie Russell were on the 2009 and 2010 10-and-under state champions and are on this summers 12-and-under squad.
Finnigan said the players turned the page quickly after finally seeing their season end last summer.
To be honest, once its over, its on to the next sport for most of us, said Finnigan, who also plays basketball and soccer. We weren't dwelling on it.
We had a lot of fun memories, Anna Rasmussen said. Staying in the dorms in Bristol and having fun with our teammates was the best. Wed love to get the chance to do that again, but we know its not going to be easy.