She is one of the FCIAC's lesser publicized stars on a softball team that has been flourishing underneath the radar this season.
So it should come as no surprise that Staples High shortstop Nikki Bukovsky was the catalyst to the Wreckers' fifth win in six games.
It wasn't easy. In something of a throwback considering the proliferation of offense early this season, the Wreckers were able to come away with a 3-2 victory at Trinity Catholic in a well-played pitchers' duel Monday afternoon.
Bukovsky hit a leadoff double in the third inning and eventually scored on a fielder's choice to break a 1-1 tie, then drove in what proved to be the decisive run with a perfectly executed suicide squeeze in the fifth.
"She dominates, doesn't she?" Staples coach Sara Holland said. "She's fast, she's quick, she hits the ball hard and she can get it down."
Bukovsky said the Wreckers were focused only on rebounding from their most recent outing, a 5-4 defeat to Stamford last Thursday.
"We definitely wanted to come out strong with the bats," Bukovsky said. "We were coming off of a tough loss. It was important for us."
Staples pitcher Katie Burke came out on top of a taut battle with the Crusaders' Amy Hurd. Burke gave up eight hits, but was constantly able to work out of trouble. She stranded four runners in scoring position, and left the bases loaded in the fifth.
Her best escape came in the final inning as Trinity (3-3) staged a rally. Alexis Melfi drew a leadoff walk and eventually scored on Krissy Schule's two-out single, her third hit of the day. But Burke induced a groundout to end the game.
"Katie has been really good," Holland said. "She's quick to learn and able to adapt to an umpire's strike zone and go with it. She doesn't get flustered. She has a lot of poise out there. It's necessary to our success."
There was plenty for Trinity coach Tom Kriz to be pleased with. Hurd gave up 10 hits but repeatedly worked out of jams to keep the Crusaders in the game.
"She pitched fine," Kriz said. "She pitched well enough to win and that's all you can ask."
The defense at times was spectacular, with the best play coming by Trinity shortstop Leah Zarilli in the sixth inning.
The Wreckers loaded the bases after consecutive one-out singles by Shannon Connors, Maggie Mills and Emma Moskovitz. Maya Mandel hit a ball in the hole that Zarilli was able to backhand, steady herself and get the force at home. This all came after Emily Lustbader led off the inning with a shot into the gap in left-center, which Kellie Hurd tracked down on the run.
Melfi made a great pickup at third base on Lustbader's smash that drove in the second run.
The Crusaders (3-3), who start four freshmen -- three in the infield -- and just two seniors, were able to create scoring situations, but were unable to finish them.
"We've got to hit," Kriz said. "It's not that we don't work at it. Hitting has been somewhat of an issue to a degree. The girls have to pick it up, they have to find it. Yeah, it's frustrating but you have to move on. Experience is a great teacher. They're learning. They have to keep moving forward."
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STAPLES 3, TRINITY CATHOLIC 2
STAPLES 011 010 0 -- 3 10 1
TRINITY 010 000 1 -- 2 9 3
Records: Staples 5-1; Trinity Catholic 3-3
Batteries: S -- Katie Burke (W, 5-1) and Maggie Mills. TC -- Amy Hurd (L, 1-3) and Kelly Sheridan. Doubles: S -- Nikki Bukovsky, Mills. TC -- Leah Zarilli. Triples: TC -- Krissy Schule.