Staples upsets Ridgefield to inch towards playoff berth
Updated 4:54 pm, Tuesday, May 15, 2012
After being on the brink of missing the Class LL playoffs, the Staples softball team is now on the verge of making it.
With seven games remaining -- five against superior teams -- Staples was 5-8 and knew it needed to pull off at least one upset.
The Lady Wreckers did better, shocking two favorites in their last three games to go 2-3 in this span.
After losing 4-3 at Greenwich Friday, Staples raised its record to 7-11 Monday with an 8-7 win at Ridgefield (10-8).
Coupled with their 2-1 win at Trumbull (9-8) Thursday, the Lady Wreckers need to win only one more game in order to qualify for states -- and they are favored in both.
First up for Staples is a home game against Brien McMahon Wednesday at 7 p.m. Although the Lady Wreckers are favored, McMahon could upset them if they play poorly. Even if it loses to the Lady Senators, the odds of Staples getting its eighth win and Class LL playoff berth are pretty good because it hosts 0-18 Bassick Friday at 4 p.m. Bassick has lost by 12 or more runs 15 times.
In the game against Ridgefield, right-hander Nikki Bukovsky pitched a complete game for the Lady Wreckers. Although the Lady Tigers scored seven, only two runs were earned as Staples committed four errors. Bukovsky allowed five hits, walked eight and struck out eight.
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"It was a close and tough game, but we worked as a team and pulled through," Bukovsky said.
Bukovsky also helped the Lady Wreckers at the plate and scored four runs. She hit a three-run homer in the second inning to give them a 4-3 lead to go with a double and two walks.
"I've been working on my hitting and I tried to push through," Bukovsky said. "We're all been working on our hitting."
Ridgefield came back with four runs in the bottom of the second to take a 7-4 lead, but Bukovsky and her defense closed the door after that.
Staples inched its way back, scoring one run each in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The Lady Wreckers tied it in the fifth frame and took the lead in the sixth.
Katherine Friend played a big role with three consecutive 2-strike singles to extend Staples rallies.
"It was rough after the first two innings, but we started to pick each other up," Staples third baseman Shannon Connors said.
"A lot of practice," said Connors on the key to her hitting. "I go out and practice with either my father or teammates. I looked around the field to find the gaps in the outfield."
Although the Lady Wreckers had 12 hits and surged into the lead, they weren't out of the woods. The Lady Tigers loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh and had a chance to pull out the win. Staples second baseman Crissy McCarthy thwarted them with a game-saving and game-ending tumbling catch.
"It was very stressful, but I jammed the hitter inside and thankfully, Crissy caught it," Bukovsky said.
With the two wins in three games, the Lady Wreckers are feeling optimistic.
"We got into a groove, and we're getting better with each other," Connors said. "Our defense is getting better, and we're getting more hits as a team."
Bukovsky said, "We are really pushing it and trying to get into states. I think we'll get there."