Staples softball strives to capitalize on its chances
If the first game of the season is any indication of what's to come, the Staples softball team stands to have a much more successful season than it did in 2010.
The Lady Wreckers, whose Achilles heel was leaving runners on base throughout last season, got several clutch hits in a come-from-behind walk-off win over Ridgefield in the opener last Wednesday.
"We had a tough season last year," said Staples Coach Mark Giordano, adding that the team left about 150 runners on base in 19 games en route to falling short of the FCIAC playoffs and a first-round departure from the Class LL State Tournament. "We seemed to outhit everybody a good percentage of the time. We outhit teams but we couldn't get the runs around."
Coming off of a season in which the Lady Wreckers posted a 9-9 record and earned the tourney's No. 22 seed in losing to No. 11 Fairfield Ludlowe, the team is striving to cash in on its opportunities to push runs in and, thus, earn more wins and a better postseason seeding.
"We need to get runs around. We'll play a little bit of small ball, change our strategy a bit," Giordano said.
The Lady Wreckers got the season off to a great start, following off the dramatic win over Ridgefield with a 3-0 blanking of Trinity Catholic of Stamford in game two. In the Ridgefield game, senior quad-captain shortstop Alex Massielo had the decisive hit to complete a remarkable comeback. Down by a run with two outs, Staples rallied with a hit and two walks in the seventh inning. That was after scoring three times in the sixth to make a game of it. Nikki Bukovsky had three hits and Shannon Connors had two hits. "It puts you in a positive mood," the coach said of winning a game like that.
In addition to Massielo, the senior captains who will try to help keep that mood positive are catcher Sabrina Friend, first baseman Catherine Lomanto and center fielder Caitlin Kane. Other key returnees are sophomore third baseman Bukovsky, sophomore catcher Connors, senior outfielder Alexa Senia and senior righty pitcher Sam Saccomano. The hurler steps into the lead role following the graduation of pitcher Jenny Johnson. "Sam's got the ability. She throws pretty well," Giordano said.
The Lady Wreckers are striving to get back the state playoffs -- and qualify for the conference tourney. "One of the main things we want to do is get ourselves to the FCIAC Tournament," said Giordano, adding that the team made it two years in a row before falling short a season ago.
"I think we'll have some fun. The girls are working hard," the coach said.
Tough FCIAC foes the Lady Lady Wreckers will face include Westhill which won the Class LL title, along with FCIAC champion and LL quarterfinalist Trumbull, Class M champion St. Joseph of Trumbull and Stamford. Staples plays St. Joseph twice -- once in a game that counts toward the FCIAC standings and another time in a "non-conference" game Giordano scheduled to give his team a strong opponent. "You play better teams you get better," the coach points out.