Wilton Little League 12U Softball has its championship banner. For the first time since 2004, before any of the players on the current 12U District All Star team were born, Wilton has won the Connecticut Little League District 1 championship by defeating Darien’s 12U District All Star team 9-2, on Tuesday, July 2. Wilton completed the District 1 tournament with a 3-and-0 record, outscoring its opponents 23-5 over the three-game span.

What made this tournament extremely special for the 12U team was the outstanding support from the Wilton community, especially for Games 2 and 3, which were held at Middlebrook School. Family members and friends, former coaches and players, coaches and players from Wilton’s 10U and 11U District All Star teams, coaches and players from Wilton’s 12U and 14U travel team–all took time out of their busy schedules to cheer on these young ladies, whose journey towards the District 1 championship began in March with pre-season practices for their respective Little League teams.

Wilton’s success was not dependent on a handful of players or a particular aspect of their game–their success was the direct result of countless hours of work as a team in the weeks leading up to Game 1. Back-up shortstop Kate Rusin and back-up second baseman Lucie Prior serving as baserunners in every practice to sharpen the timing of the infielders. Back-up first baseman Abby Schwartz and back-up third baseman Emma Kelly running cut-off drills to develop the speed and accuracy of the outfielders. Back-up catcher and unofficial team captain Eva Filipponi ensuring that the pitchers were prepared for each practice and each game.

In Game 3, Wilton’s defense stole the show. Right fielder Abby Seeberger, who contributed two hits and three runs on offense, made two back-to-back game-saving catches on line drives when the score was tight in the early innings, while left fielder Lauren Sanfilippo made the defensive play of the tournament with a circus catch in the fifth inning on a sinking fly ball. The defensive player of the tournament, second baseman Julia Nanos, recorded an assist and two put-outs, including, quite fittingly, the put-out that ended Game 3.

As was the case in Games 1 and 2, Wilton’s offense jumped on its opponent’s pitching early, scoring two runs in the first inning, and never let up, scoring one run in the second inning, five runs in the fourth inning and one run in the fifth inning. First baseman and offensive stand-out Lauren Davis, who held New Canaan to two runs in Game 2 as the pitcher, drove in two runs and scored another run with a 1-for-3 game. Shortstop Sadie Klyver continued to do what she does best:  put the bat on the ball in key situations and get on base. Klyver had one RBI and one run. Third baseman Allie Schwartz picked up where she left off at the end of Game 2, going two-for-two and driving in two runs in the fourth inning to put the game out of reach.  And all-star center fielder Marin Burke finished off an extraordinary tournament by collecting two hits, scoring two runs and driving in one run.

Picking one MVP for the tournament would have proven to be impossible, so two players deserve recognition not only for their overall performance during the tournament, but also for their efforts in the deciding game. Catcher Katie Kelly, who entered Game 3 as the leading hitter on the team in both batting average and RBI, continued her dominance of opponent pitching by going two-for-two with two RBI. Kelly also held the Darien running game in check, throwing out a would-be base stealer in the third inning. Kelly’s battery mate, pitcher Gracie DiBuono-Krafick, won her second start of the tournament, going six innings, giving up two hits and two runs (zero earned) and striking out four. DiBuono-Krafick held an excellent offensive team in Darien to four hits and three runs (zero earned) in two games, while striking out ten total batters, to guide Wilton to the championship.

Wilton is moving on to the Connecticut Sectionals tournament, which begins on Sunday, July 7, in Orange, CT, against the winner of the District 4 championship. We know that the Wilton girls will be tremendous representatives of both District 1 and the Town of Wilton.  Best of luck, ladies!