By Eliot Schickler

Leaving nine runners on base tends to be a recipe for defeat.

That was the Staples softball team's Cardinal sin Friday in a 3-1 home loss to Fairfield Warde.

"Warde didn't give up," Staples Coach Mark Giordano said. "We had runners in scoring position but their pitcher kept them in the game. We tried to hit it too hard and too deep."

The Lady Mustangs raised their record to 3-3 and saddled the Lady Wreckers (4-1) with their first loss. Warde senior tri-captain Stacey DiLeo set the tone for the game with a leadoff single and followed by stealing second. With one out, junior Heather VanDerheyden singled home DiLeo to give the Lady Mustangs a 1-0 lead.

Staples tried to come back in the bottom of the first and with two outs, senior quad-captain Alex Masiello (2-4) singled up the middle and sophomore Shannon Connors followed with a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third. However, the righty VanDerheyden bore down and induced senior Sam Saccomano to line out to left.

The ace right-hander Saccomano, who left Thursday's game after pitching one inning against Brien McMahon because of a sore muscle, was back on the hill for the Lady Wreckers. She threw a complete game and surrendered three earned runs on eight hits with four walks, three strikeouts and she hit a batter.

"At first, I was nervous because I had arm problems and I was hesitant to throw full speed," Saccomano said.

In the end, she settled down and didn't allow any runs from the second through the fourth innings. Lady Mustang freshman Kenzie Burns lined a two-out double in the second inning but came back and struck out Andrea DeBernardis swinging.

Senior quad-captain Caitlin Kane had a bunt single in the third but VanDerhayden came back to induce the dangerous-hitting Masiello into hitting a routine popup to shortstop.

VanDerhayden scattered seven hits on one earned run with two walks and five strikeouts while consistently changing her speeds and varying her pitches.

"We saw her before in summer ball and knew how she pitches," Masiello said. "We've faced slower pitchers and had to adjust to her style. She hit her spots well. We hit well the entire game but we couldn't execute."

Staples mounted a two-out threat in the fourth with Saccomano singling to left and senior quad-captain Catherine Lomanto reaching on junior Kelly Whalen's error with one out. Junior Shelby Schulman bunted the runners over and classmate Heather Rosoff hit an apparent two-run single up the middle but Lomanto interfered with the shortstop DiLeo and no runs scored.

Warde scored a run in the fifth without getting a hit. Saccomano opened the inning by hitting DiLeo (2-2) with a pitch and after senior Kaitlyn McCartney's sacrifice bunt, she intentionally walked VanDerhayden and followed by walking senior tri-captain Summer Anderson to load the bases. Senior tri-captain Alyssa Borowy then plated DiLeo with a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.

The Lady Wreckers scored their run in the bottom of the fifth. Senior Alex Senia led off the inning with a bunt single and took second on a passed ball with one out. Masiello laced a single to right to plate Senia.

"I knew I had to step up to the plate and get a base hit," Masiello said.

Connors (2-4) followed with a single to left to put runners on first and second but Staples couldn't piece together three straight hits as VanDerhayden forced Saccomano to pop up to second base.

Warde used small ball to get the run back in the sixth. Freshman Michelle Treglia led off the inning with a bunt single and after moving to second on Burns' sacrifice, took third on DeBernardis' single. DiLeo then laced a double to left to plate Treglia and move DeBernardis to third.

However, the Lady Mustangs couldn't push home any more runs because they ran themselves into an unusual double play. McCartney hit a grounder to Masiello at shortstop, who threw to Connors at home to nail DeBernardis for the out. Connors then overthrew it past sophomore third baseman Nikki Bukovsky. That proved to be a blessing-in-disguise for the Lady Wreckers as the left fielder Senia picked it up and threw it to Connors, who tagged DiLeo for the double play.

Staples had one last chance in the bottom of the sixth with Lomanto leading off the inning with a walk. She advanced to second on a passed ball and third on Schulman's bunt. The Lady Wrecker captain was stranded at third because VanDerhayden struck out Rosoff and Senia swinging.

"We didn't play awful but it wasn't our best game offensively," Saccomano said.