Wilton Little League’s 10U Softball All-Star team earned its championship banner on Sunday, July 11 after defeating Darien in a hard-fought, three-game series. The victory represents the first time Wilton has won the 10U title in at least 20 years, allowing the team to advance to the Sectionals tournament later this week.
Wilton outscored Darien 27-12 over the course of the three-game series. The Warriors came to the games prepared, focused and ready to take on a very worthy opponent. It was truly a team effort, down the line.
Wilton’s ace pitchers Ruby Prior and Lily Wang combined to throw an impressive 22 strikeouts over 16 innings, giving up only eight earned runs over the three games.
Wilton came out swinging the bats in game 1. Nearly every player in the lineup was credited with either a run or an RBI. Molly Mercer, Prior, and Katerina Cross each got two hits and combined for five RBIs, one of them a towering solo home run by Mercer in the first inning. Catcher Kat Cross caught a great game, and a flip to Prior at the plate for an out in the second inning characterized her fantastic defensive work behind the plate in the series, which was vital in shutting down Darien’s dangerous running game. Prior threw 10 strikeouts and gave up only four earned runs in the 14-8 victory.
In game 2, Darien’s bats were kept in check with great pitching and great defense. Prior gave up only three hits and two walks over six innings. Wilton’s solid defense was anchored by Mercer at first base and Ava Rosado at second, who together recorded seven outs. The Wilton bats were on fire as usual — in Wilton’s 22 at-bats, they put the ball in play an incredible 16 times — but Darien played near-flawless defense as well, and only one of those shots — a hard grounder by star third baseman Katie McKay — went through for a hit. McKay’s hit started a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sarah Viggiano reached base on Darien’s only error, and Mercer was intentionally walked to load the bases. With the outcome of the game hanging in the balance, clean-up batter Cross hit a bomb to right field and was robbed of a walk-off, three-run base hit because of a great catch by Darien’s right fielder. Final score: Darien 2, Wilton 0.
The loss in game 2 forced the third game, back in Wilton on July 11. Wilton showed tremendous patience at the plate, taking the Darien pitchers deep into the count and drawing a lot of walks. Darien scored two runs in the second inning and was in danger of scoring in the third but saw their hopes dashed when Viggiano, playing second base, made a great, over-the-shoulder catch for the third out, her second unassisted fly out in the series. Wilton mercied Darien with a double-digit lead going into the fourth inning, forcing an early end to the game. Wang was stellar on the mound, throwing six strikeouts and giving up only two earned runs in the 13-2 victory.
Every player contributed to the victory. With her strong bat and good eye, Sophie Zhang had one of the highest on-base percentages in the series, and logged two RBIs off her two hits in the series. Center fielder Leianna Cross, always a dangerous batter, earned two RBIs in the series as well. Tess Gibbons and Maeve Morash both earned RBIs in the series on hard-hit grounders and earned spots in the starting defensive lineup after making fantastic outfield catches in the two scrimmages leading up to the Darien series. Juliette Ring, a Warrior in the truest sense of the word, remained in the series and played all three games despite the fact that she suffered a painful shoulder injury before the first game, which should have kept her sidelined. Mary Kate Cretella was part of two key rallies in game 1, earning walks with her patience and a good eye, and scoring two runs.
The Warriors now advance to the Sectional 1 playoffs — three games that stand in the way of the State Championships. The first Sectionals game, in which they will face either Trumbull or Fairfield, will be played on Middlebrook Field at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday, July 15. Please come out to root for the girls!