Greenwich High School softball coach Mary Beth Fratello has seen her team, which includes a number of players that lack varsity experience, show improvement during the course of the season, as Monday’s matchup against Ridgefield illustrated.
Holding a three-run lead after five innings, the Cardinals were in perfect position to defeat a solid Ridgefield squad, featuring a powerful lineup. Yet a six-run sixth inning enabled the Tigers to travel home victorious.
Stringing several hits together in the pivotal sixth inning, Ridgefield rallied to register a 9-6 win over host Greenwich in an FCIAC game. The Tigers improved their record to 4-6 with the victory, which saw them trail 3-1 and 6-3.
Greenwich (1-10) was paced by senior Chloe Smith, who went 2 for 3 with four RBI. Senior catcher Olivia McClammy hit a double and freshman infielder Kate Friedman singled for the Cardinals.
“Right now, it’s not about winning a championship, it’s about developing them for the future,” Fratello said. “They have to learn what it is to play at the varsity level. This was a much better performance than Saturday when we played Westhill. We didn’t make many mistakes, they just got the key hits at the right time.”
Ridgefield was powered by senior outfielder Skylar Arent, who homered and hit a sacrifice fly and Elizabeth Coury, Caroline Imbrogno and Madalen Brown, all of whom had two hits.
“I always tell the girls that a game isn’t won in one inning, you can lose it at any part of the game as long as we stay up and start stringing hits together we can come back,” Ridgefield coach Lauren Greywacz said. “It’s not about one big hit, it’s about a lot of little hits together. That’s what it is going to take to score runs.”
Greenwich took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. McClammy doubled to deep right field and scored later in the inning on a passed ball. The Tigers tied the score in the top of the second inning on Arent’s home run over the center field fence off Cardinals senior right-hander Kayla Darling.
In the third inning, the Cardinals went ahead on a single by Smith. Friedman and Darling reached base on singles and advanced to third on a ground ball by McClammy. Smith followed by hitting a single up the middle off Ridgefield senior right-hander Alyssa DeStefano, which scored Friedman and Darling, giving GHS a 3-1 edge.
“I like working under pressure, because it makes me want it more,” said Smith, who plays first base. “It’s been a huge improvement for our team since the first day. We are going to keep working together and keep trying hard to improve.”
The Tigers scored a pair of runs off Darling in the fourth inning to knot the score at 3-3. Natalie Sganga’s two-run single made it 3-3, before the Cards went ahead again with three fifth-inning runs.
Friedman and Darling drew walks off DeStefano and Smith smashed a double to right center field, scoring both base runners to give Greenwich a 5-3 advantage. A wild pitch later in the inning scored Smith, making it 6-3.
“We weren’t hitting last game and we came into today’s game with the mentality of getting on base and scoring runs and we did,” McClammy said. “They had a great pitcher and great two pitchers, but we came through.”
Though the Cardinals have just one win so far this season, they have been significantly more competitive in most of their recent games. They were edged by Wilton, 2-1, last week.
“We have to be able to finish the game,” McClammy said. “We kept the energy up and played a good game. I think we played much better today, there were a lot less errors.”
Darling retired the side in order in the fifth inning, then the Tigers struck for six runs in the sixth inning. Infielder Elizabeth Coury’s infield single cut Greenwich’s lead to 6-4 and Sganga’s double to center field brought the visitors to within 6-5. Brown’s RBI single tied the score at 6-6 and a wild pitch scored the Tigers’ go-ahead run.
Everett also added a run-scoring single in the sixth inning for the victors.
“We’re young we’re still pulling it together,” Greywacz said of her squad. “It’s about keeping the defense clean and stringing the hits together.”
Said Smith: “They are a great team, they had some pretty good hits and they were a good opponent.”
DeStefano pitched five innings and Arent worked two scoreless innings of relief for the save for the Tigers. Darling went all seven innings for Greenwich, which visits Staples on Wednesday.
“Kayla is improving and the defense behind her is getting better,” Fratello said. “This team is not giving up, they are coming to practice and working hard each day.”
Fratello is highly impressed with the leadership McClammy, who along with Smith is a captain, shows each day.
“She’s phenomenal back there, talking to the pitchers, talking to the fielders, letting them know where the play is,” Fratello said of McClammy. “She is the quarterback out there.”
Smith has also exhibited leadership and clutch play.
“She had two big hits today and she has been coming through in the clutch,” Fratello said. “Chloe has been getting up with runners on base and she has been driving them in.”
After visiting Staples on Wednesday, Greenwich hosts New Canaan on Friday.
“We played a lot of the tough FCIAC teams at the beginning of the season, so the second half of the season we are looking forward to winning these games and hopefully, we can win these close games,” McClammy said.