Greenwich High softball bounces back with key win over Norwalk, 5-2

Greenwich High School's Dakota Sarcone makes contact with the ball during Monday's game against Norwalk High. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School’s Dakota Sarcone makes contact with the ball during Monday’s game against Norwalk High. — John Ferris Robben photo

If Monday’s game was a test to see how the Greenwich High School softball team would respond after its first taste of adversity, then head coach Mary Beth Fratello’s squad passed with flying colors against Norwalk High School.

After ending up on the losing end of the scoreboard for the first time this season, a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat at the hands of Westhill High School, Big Red was able to rebound in a big way against the Bears, using timely hitting by Colleen Bennett and Dominique Gambino and clutch pitching by Jessie Schelz to grab a 5-2 victory.

“It feels really good right now,” Fratello said. “This was a test today to see if they could bounce back from that loss. It was a tough loss, that’s for sure. We only had three hits in the game. But to come back today and get the victory was great. Jessie pitched well for us again and we scored five runs. Everybody is starting to contribute again.”

Even before the contest started, Monday’s game against NHS was nerve-racking for Fratello.

Her softball team has been riding a high since the season started. They crushed teams like New Canaan (9-5), Staples (14-5), Wilton (12-7), Wayne Valley (23-8) and blanked Danbury 5-0.

The Lady Cardinals also won the close games this season, beating Ridgefield 1-0 and scoring 10 runs in an inning to edge Fairfield Warde 17-16 in 11 innings.

However Friday, the Cardinals were in unfamiliar territory. Against the Vikings, the pitching from Schelz was still light’s out, however the bats weren’t working and that led to the team’s first loss of the season.

“I am really happy that we came back and were able to hit again,” Schelz said. “That was our problem the last game. It was great to come back here and get the win again right after our loss on Friday.”

Greenwich High's Jessie Schelz looks to get the ball past the Norwalk third baseman during Monday's game. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High’s Jessie Schelz looks to get the ball past the Norwalk third baseman during Monday’s game. — John Ferris Robben photo

Against Norwalk, the Cardinals were able to get those hits when it mattered. Leading the way was Bennett, who finished with two doubles, a single, two runs batted in, one run scored and a stolen base.

“It feels really good right now to put that loss behind us and get a win,” Bennett said. “That was our first loss and I think it was constructive learning for us because we came back to practice and cracked down on the things we messed up on.”

Not to be outdone was Gambino, who finished 1-for-2 with a two-RBI double and a walk. Erin White finished 1-for-2 with a double, a walk and a run scored. Erin Ferguson also went 1-for-2, had two runs scored, one RBI and a walk

Greenwich opened the scoring in the second inning, as Erin Ferguson and Erin White started the inning off with walks. With one out, Schelz helped her cause by hitting a roller to third that advanced both runners a base. With two outs, Gambino stepped to the dish and drilled a double down the right field line that drove home Ferguson and White for the 2-0 lead.

“Dominique was huge for us scoring those two runs,” Fratello said. “That hit got us going and showed that we have what it takes to rebound from what happened to us against Westhill. We needed those runs.”

The Lady Cardinals extended the lead to 3-0 in the next frame. Bennett started things off with a single that landed in left field. With two outs and Bennett at second after she stole the base earlier, Ferguson unloaded a double over the right fielder’s head down the foul line that plated Bennett.

Although Norwalk cut into the lead in the top of the fourth inning, Greenwich iced the game in the sixth inning.
White started the sixth with a double that landed over the center fielder’s head. A single by Madison Burhans advanced White to third and with one out Gambino drew a walk to load the bases.

With two outs and the bases loaded, Bennett came through in the clutch and hit a liner that breezed past the shortstop and into center field for a double that scored White and Burhans for the 5-1 advantage.

“Jessie does a huge job for us pitching and keeps the other team from scoring a lot of runs,” Bennett said. “When I go up to bat, I just want to help her out and put some points on the board so we can come out with the win. It’s great when you can help out the team.”

Greenwich had a chance to add to its lead during the fifth inning. With one out Bennett reached base on a single to the right field / center field gap. While attempting to steal second during Rebecca DeCarlo’s at bat, the throw from the catcher sailed over the shortstop’s head and into the outfield. Bennett was able to cruise into third on the error, but that’s as far as she would get, as Norwalk was able to induce a grounder to short to end the threat.

“It’s getting better for us with the bats,” Fratello said. “They woke up a little bit more today. We had a Sunday practice, because of the weather, and did a lot of hitting drills. We did some tee work, soft toss and worked on a lot of hitting. I think it paid off.”

For Schelz, it was another amazing outing. After going the distance against Westhill and only giving up five hits, striking out four and walking two, the GHS senior came back against Norwalk and threw a complete game.

Schelz finished the game against the Bears with five hits, four strikeouts and walked five batters.

“I can’t say enough about Jessie right now,” Fratello said. “She’s just pitching her brain’s out right now. To come back after the Westhill game, where she didn’t get a lot of support, and do the same thing was great. She showed a lot of poise out there and she was able to get the run support today.”

While Schelz was successful on the mound, the pitcher said that it was her defense that deserves the credit.

“We were able to pull it together and I think my defense was great,” Schelz said. “I could trust all of the girls behind me and it gives me so much confidence when I’m on the mound. I know whatever I put in there, even if they hit something, that my team is going to have my back.”

With the victory, Greenwich improved to 8-1 on the season.

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