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Fairfield Softball Team Slips Past Darien

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Darien’s softball team did not give Fairfield many scoring opportunities in Thursday’s Section 1 opening game. When Fairfield got one in the sixth, however, the defending New England champions were quick to take advantage.

The result was a 2-0 victory over the District 1 champions. Fairfield will play North Branford in its second game of pool play Friday at 6 p.m. at Kudej Complex in Shelton. The top two teams from pool play will meet for the Section 1 title July 11.

In the sixth, Brittany Romero led off with a double to left on a ball that looked catchable. She raced to third on a throwing error and scored on Mary Rose Finnigan’s suicide squeeze bunt. Finnigan raced to second on the play, stole third and scored on a throwing error.

“There was no doubt I was going to score on that play,’’ Romero said of Finnigan’s perfectly placed bunt. “We’ve been hoping to do that and practicing it. I had a lot of confidence she’d get it down.”

Romero pitched two innings before giving way to Maddie Russell, who pitched the final four innings to get the win. Darien threatened in the bottom of the inning with a one-out single by Kristen Picard and a double by Cassidy Schiff. But Russell got the last two outs, with Finnigan at third spearing a line drive by Emily Gianunzio.

“I’m not surprised Darien played us tough,’’ Romero said. “I heard they were really good.”

Fairfield had just five hits, and one rally was halted on a double play by Darien center fielder Zazi Fee, who gunned down a runner at home who attempted to tag on a fly ball. Otherwise, the game was dominated by pitching by Darien’s Sophia Barbour as well as by Fairfield’s Romero and Russell, who combined for a four-hitter.

Romero will play a big role for Fairfield as it tries to recapture the Section 1 flag. “I’ve gone through this for three years,’’ Romero said. “Me and the other two girls (Finnigan and Anna Rasmussen) are picking everyone up and making sure everyone is ready.”