Softball: Trumbull High seniors walk tall off field

Trumbull pitcher Ally Szabo is one of six seniors credited by coach Jacqui Sheftz for team's success. — Bill Bloxsom photo
Trumbull pitcher Ally Szabo is one of six seniors credited by coach Jacqui Sheftz for team's success. — Bill Bloxsom photo

Trumbull High softball coach Jacqui Sheftz left the post-game huddle and watched her team walk toward the Eagles’ third base dugout.

It is a scenario played out across the state come tournament time. After months of striving together to achieve a common goal, the challenge comes to an end as only four champions leave the field satisfied.

Trumbull’s season came to an end with a 4-1 loss to Darien High in the Class LL state tournament on May 31.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my players,” Scheftz said of her squad that advanced to the FCIAC semifinals.

“Hats off to our seniors, being the third coach in their four year career that isn’t always easy to adjust to. And I think those six seniors have done a wonderful job laying down the foundation for years to come.”

Trumbull earned the 10th seed behind pitchers Ally Szabo and Marisa Valenti, catcher Jill O’Connell, outfielders Lauren Zielinski, Kristen Dutertre and Kelly Dutertre, and second baseman Sarah Angelo.

Szabo is one of the best pitchers in the FCIAC.

And when Darien High swung the bat as well as could be expected by coach Nick DeMaio, the Blue Wave found out that Szabo was as good as advertised.

“She’s a quality pitcher,” DeMaio said. “She’s one of the best pitchers in the league. She doesn’t give in and you’re not going to get a lot off of her.

"In the early parts of the game, she didn’t let us have any of those runs. Finally, we were able to punch a couple across there. That’s a credit to her.”

Szabo, who stranded eight runners through five frames before giving way to Valenti with two out in the sixth inning, struck out four batters in a timely fashion.

The right-hander had plenty of help.

In the second inning with a runner on second, Zielinski in left field was in perfect position to charge Lexi LoPiano’s base hit and force DeMaio to hold the runner at third. Angelo then fielded the third out grounder.

Darien mounted a two-out rally in the third, when it loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Szabo did what quality pitchers do, she left the bags full with a strikeout.

After giving up a leadoff double to Hailey King to start the fourth, Szabo got a fly ball out to Lea Thompson in center, a grounder to Angelo and put the third out in the book on strikes.

In the fifth, the Eagles showed off their defensive acumen.

Angelo ranged to her left to steal away a base hit to open the inning.

Erica Fluskey made a diving try to take a double away from Kalani Caruso, then recovered quickly to hold her to two bases.

When winning pitcher Sophie Barbour helped herself with a hard single to center, Thompson came up throwing and again Darien had to hold a runner at third.

Szabo enticed a soft liner to Angelo then got a fly ball out to Fluskey in right to end the inning.

Trumbull scored an unearned run off Barbour to take the lead in the third inning.

Fluskey reached second on a two-base throwing error to open the frame.

She went to third on a wild pitch, but seemed destined to stay there when Barbour enticed a pair of comebackers to the circle.

Szabo then drove a single into right field to give Trumbull the lead.

Darien, after being denied by Szabo and her stout defense for five innings, went on top with a pair of unearned runs in the sixth inning. They added two more in the seventh.

Barbour, who retired the side in four innings, had set down eight consecutive batters before Zielinski doubled with one out in the sixth. Zielinski lined out to first and Taylor Brown ground out sharply to shortstop.

Barbour, who used her drop pitch to get 12 groundball outs, put the first two batters away in the seventh before Fluskey was hit by a pitch. Barbour ended the game with a strikeout.

“Darien, their defense didn’t give us anything today,” Sheftz said.

“They made the plays, two hits isn’t going to win you many ballgames.”