FAIRFIELD, Conn. The Fairfield Little League Girls Softball team picks up again Thursday for a quarterfinal game in the East Regional in Bristol. The next three games are elimination contests for Fairfield, which went 3-1 in pool play.
"Against the New England teams, I think we can be beat by any one and we can beat any one,'' manager Jarry Rasmussen said. "We have to keep playing the way we've been playing."
Fairfield is top seed among the five New England teams. It plays Vermont at 8 p.m. in Thursday's quarterfinal. Maine meets Rhode Island at 2 p.m. Thursday in the other game between New England teams. If Fairfield wins, it plays the Maine-Rhode Island winner Friday at 8. The New England winner meets the Mid-Atlantic winner for the East Regional title Saturday at 4. The East Regional winner advances to the World Series next month in Washington.
Fairfield beat Massachusetts, 11-7, in the second game of pool play. Massachusetts finished 1-3 in pool play. Fairfield, Rhode Island and Maine each went 3-1 in pool play, with Fairfield getting the No. 1 seed on tiebreakers. It lost its last game in pool play to Rhode Island, 4-3.
"We're doing well,'' Rasmussen said. "That was a tough loss, but it's a game that could've gone either way. We had the tying run on third base in the last inning, and had a chance to go extra innings."
Fairfield has scored 47 runs and stolen 25 bases in the tournament, the best totals in each category among the 10 teams. Gabriella Natoli leads the team with a .462 batting average, while Sarah Cotto (.455) and Julia Wilson (.429) are also swinging hot bats. Alice Nelson and Cotto have five stolen bases each, tied for second among regional players. "The bats are coming,'' Rasmussen said. "We're hitting it well, but right at people. We were hitting the ball well against Rhode Island but right at people. That's just how it goes."
Pitcher Brittany Romero has been unavailable for the past few games, and Rasmussen is uncertain if she will be available for the remainder of the tournament. Natoli (1-0, 0.86 ERA) and Nelson (1-1, 3.86 ERA) have stepped up to help Fairfield get within three wins of going to the World Series for the first time.
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