Three of the four lower seeds in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference softball tournament had already won their quarterfinal games. Fairfield Warde had erased a 3-0 deficit and had runners on first and second with one out in the top of the eighth and was looking to be the fourth by taking down second-seeded Darien.
The bottom of Warde's lineup could not come through, however, going a combined 2-for-13 on the afternoon and stranded the two runners. Warde left seven runners on base for the game and had two more picked off.
Darien's Olivia Gozdz went from first to third on a sacrifice bunt when she saw that the base was open. Gozdz scored on a wild pitch by Heather VanDerheyden and just like that Warde had lost, 5-4.
"We did quite a few things that are uncharacteristic of us," Warde head coach Gary Quiricone said. "It was a matter of one play, one at-bat, one throw to make the game go either way."
Darien jumped out to a 3-0 advantage in the third inning, but Warde stormed back in the top of the sixth. The Mustangs' top five batters collected five straight hits, with Kitty Caissy providing the go-ahead single. Warde could not keep the lead, though, in the bottom of the sixth.
Gozdz was the tying run as well, stealing second and moving up to third when Warde shortstop Stacy DiLeo did not cover the base in time. Two pitches later, Darien center fielder Kelly Fahey blooped a single that just barely got over the glove of DiLeo to drive in Gozdz, tying the game, 4-4.
Warde's next best opportunity had been in the third inning with runners on first and third. With Kenzie Burns trying to steal second, DiLeo lined sharply to Darien shortstop Nicole Buch, who turned the double play on Burns.
"When you have this kind of talent going at each other there's going to be upsets and games you don't expect," Quiricone said. "I've always said the FCIAC is the toughest league in the state."
Warde will wait to find out who its opponent will be in the Class LL state tournament, which begins next week.
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