Fairfield Warde softball ace Heather VanDerheyden said there was a buzz around school Friday in anticipation of the showdown with Ludlowe. And it was not just the prospect of Fairfield bragging rights that had them talking.
Both Warde and Ludlowe had identical records in their conference and in the state standings. Just one game back in the race for the final FCIAC playoff spot, the winner would hold an important tiebreaker advantage.
"There was a lot of hype in both dugouts before the game," VanDerheyden said. "Everyone was a little nervous, but once we got into the game we mellowed out and found our groove."
The teams did not disappoint the more than 200 fans who crammed the very narrow foul areas at Warde. The teams traded runs early, but Alyssa Borowy could not be stopped at the plate.
The Warde catcher went a perfect 4-for-4, driving in four runs, including what turned out to be the game-winning single. Warde hung on behind an eight-strikeout performance by VanDerheyden, playing with a hurt ankle, to take the battle of Fairfield softball teams, 5-4.
Stacey DiLeo started the home half of the first off with a walk and was driven in two batters later by Borowy. Ludlowe took its only lead in the top of the third when Elise Perazzini scored on a fielder's choice and Emily Nelson singled in Lizzie Knuff.
Warde answered right back in the bottom of the inning when Borowy smashed a triple to score VanDerheyden. The pivotal moment came in the top of the fourth when Ludlowe scored to tie the game at three, but left the bases loaded. Borowy's two-run single in the bottom of the fourth was the difference in the game.
"A lot of us have played with each other for 10 years," Borowy said of the town rivalry. "We grew up playing against each other, so we know each other and that adds a lot to the game."
Warde (11-6, 9-6 FCIAC) jumps into the eighth seed in the FCIAC playoff race with three games remaining and a huge advantage over Ludlowe. The Falcons (10-7, 8-7 FCIAC) are on the outside looking in, with a much harder final three games.
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