Despite loss to Glastonbury in States, Greenwich softball posts breakout year

Greenwich High School starting pitcher Alison Kach delivers the ball to the plate during last week's game against Glastonbury in the CIAC class LL second round. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School starting pitcher Alison Kach delivers the ball to the plate during last week’s game against Glastonbury in the CIAC class LL second round. — John Ferris Robben photo

It was one inning that did the Greenwich High School softball team in against Glastonbury during the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL tournament second round.

Big Red was able to get its runners on base throughout the day, but were unable to drive them home, as Glastonbury pitcher Lindsay Masco kept the Cardinals off-balance throughout most of the game and matched her Greenwich counterpart Alison Kach.

Greenwich, seeded ninth in the class LL tournament, gave up two runs in the fourth inning and was unable to answer, falling to the No. 8 seeded Tomahawks 2-0.

Even before the first pitch, Greenwich was at a slight disadvantage, as it played a game 24 hours prior to the Glastonbury game, while the Tomahawks were able to rest a day before their second round game against the Lady Cardinals.

“We had the runners in position, but couldn’t score those runs and get them in when we needed it,” GHS head coach May Beth Fratello said. “I think Alison was on today, but we made a couple of mistakes. I think with the heat, battling tough a day earlier, coming up here today was tough. Alison did the best she could under the circumstances. I think the weather and playing back-to-back days affected us a little but that’s not an excuse. You have to be mentally tough. You have to be able to play two days in a row. We didn’t get the key hits and our defense made a couple of mistakes.”

After Big Red went quietly in the first inning, Erin White got a single to left in the second, Dakota Sarcone laid down a bunt single in the third and Kach laced a single to center. However, all three times Greenwich was unable to advance the runners.

“They are a tough team and had to play yesterday,” Glastonbury head coach Georgeanne Dicenso said. “We had the day off because we played two days ago. To come off back-to-back is really tough, especially when they played a tough game in the opening round. But they are clearly tough and really know how to battle.”

Glastonbury got its two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a walk and an error put Glastonbury’s first two runners on base, the Tomahawks had runners on second and third with one out. Samantha Mello stepped up next on that at-bat, but Kach uncorked a wild pitch and Glastonbury plated its first one. They got their second run when Mary Howard laid down the suicide squeeze bunt that plated Macdowell.

“We got a walk, someone made an error and then we kind of go after their tiredness by bunting and making it more difficult by runners doing some crazy things,” Dicenso said. “Our kids watched the signs, did what they were supposed to do and they executed. You can’t ask for anything else.”

Greenwich’s best chance to tie the game came in the sixth inning. Jenn Ambrogio led off the inning with a single down the first base line. Rebecca Decarlo came up next and hit a slow roller to short for the infield single. Colleen Bennett stepped to the plate and was able to advance both runners a base by hitting a fielder’s choice.

Although a single could have knotted the game at 2-2, Glastonbury pitcher Lindsay Musco got the next two batters to fly out to the infield and ended the scoring threat.

“Lindsay was excellent on the mound and really kept them off balance,” Dicenso said. “They only had two or three solid hits and the rest were easily fielded by us. Then she also struck out a few batters and only walked one that I can remember. Those strikeouts and not giving up that many walks are critical because we don’t put extra baserunners on.”

Greenwich had another chance in its final at bats. Ebba Mark led off the inning with an infield single to short and White picked up a walk. Up next was Madison Burhans, who drilled a hard grounder to short. Glastonbury shortstop Alyssa Foster made a tremendous play.

Upon scooping up the hot shot, Foster tagged Mark, who was trying to run third base and then threw a missile to first and completed the double play.

The Tomahawks then got the final out to close the game and complete the shutout.

“Being down two runs late isn’t an issue for us,” Fratello said. “We’ve scored 14 runs in an inning, so scoring runs is never a problem for us. Why we couldn’t score today I’m not sure. We had the hits, but nothing was dropping. They were right to Glastonbury players.”

With the loss, Greenwich High finished the season with a 16-7 record. Despite the loss, the Greenwich softball team has nothing to be ashamed about.

“A lot of people were upset after the game today, but I told them that they shouldn’t be upset,” Fratello said. “We haven’t qualified for the FCIAC tournament since 2004 and we made the state tournament for the second year in a row and made it to the second round. They could be proud of themselves. The record we have is the best we’ve had in years.  What they’ve done is something this program hasn’t done in a while.”

Throughout the season, Fratello said that the team’s mental toughness has been Greenwich’s biggest improvement.

“Those mistakes were few and far between this season,” Fratello said. “We didn’t make too many errors and were getting tougher as the games moved along. In those tight games, you can’t make those key mistakes that we used to do and this year’s team stopped making those mistakes. We are getting mentally tougher and that’s 99% of the game.”

Helping Big Red get to where they are today were the seniors. In addition to Kach and Mark, Gabbie Fratello and Rachel Gabriel will also graduate in June.

“They were all great leaders all year,” Fratello said. “Our captains, Alison Kach and Ebba Mark, were tremendous leaders, both on and off the field. They were outstanding. They never let down and always were motivating. They never stopped cheering the team on. Our entire team fed off the captains, as well as the seniors. They all were upbeat and all showed the desire to win.”

While this year was a stellar season for the GHS softball program, Fratello knows that there is no turning back. Those days of the .500 seasons being a success are officially out the window.

“The bar is set high for next year’s group,” Fratello said. “There’s no more just qualifying for FCIACs and States, it’s all about going further. We want to make it past the second round now and move on. In the years past, if we got close to .500, things were OK. Now there’s an expectation that we have to qualify for FCIACs and have to qualify for States. That’s a great feeling, knowing where this program came from. I think everybody in the program is buying into that this is a winning program and it’s something they want to be a part of.”

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