Softball: Trumbull believed in process
Ally Szabo’s seventh-inning single delivered the winning run for Trumbull High when coach Jacqui Sheftz’ Lady Eagles defeated Southington High, 4-3, to capture the program’s first state championship in West Haven on June 10.
The process toward reaching a common goal began much earlier.
"My coaching staff came to Trumbull for a reason," said Sheftz, who won three state titles at Masuk High. "We saw the girls coming through that feeder system. We've seen them play softball. We knew they had the heart and desire. They just needed to be led in the right direction. They believed. This isn’t about anybody but those girls. Those seventeen girls believed in putting Trumbull softball on the map, and they did tonight.”
Sheftz and assistant coaches Erica Christopher, Marylu Matott and Kelley Larsen found a group of players ready and willing.
“Since freshman year it has been the dream of all of ours (to win a state title), especially from the beginning of this season. We had the dream and the goal and we told ourselves every game to believe and here we are,” said Szabo, who was named MVP after the senior won the pitching matchup-from sixth-seeded Southington ace Kara Zazzaro and coming up with two hits.
“This is so crazy. We just wanted to get through the game and we did all we can to stay together. We believed and had confidence.”
Sheftz never stopped extolling her charges.
How do we want to be remembered? How are you going to put Trumbull softball on the map? Those were the questions she posed to her team.
“It (the win) is about us playing within ourselves, doing what we do best, playing as a team,” Sheftz said. “We wrote our own legacy today. You are only as good as your seniors. Erica Fluskey had a big hit, Taylor Brown had a big hit, Ally Szabo had a big hit, kudos to them and to the entire team.”
Fluskey gave Trumbull a 2-1 lead with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the fourth inning.
“This year we really bought into our coaches mindset that we have to trust the process,” she said. “We put our trust in her and this is where it got us. We had to trust that we have to be a team on and off the field. We knew what we could do and stayed composed. To get a ring for all the players, our coaches, for Ally, its unbelievable.
“I don’t think a lot of other people believed in us, but we knew we could it, we knew our potential, how much talent we had on this team.”
Brown sent the large contingent of Trumbull fans into a tizzy when she homered for a 3-1 lead with two outs in the sixth.
“Credit coach Sheftz and all of our coaches for bringing us here,” she said. “We really played as a team. Ally did an incredible job pitching us to the state championship.”
The win didn’t come easy.
Southington took the lead when Ellen Scafariello blasted a long home run to left field leading off the bottom of the second inning. Trumbull took the lead in the fourth.
Szabo opened with a single and courtesy runner Maggie Coffin went to third when Courtney Fairfield’s sacrifice bunt led to a throwing error on a fielder’s choice attempt at second base.
Zazzaro then notched a strikeout and got an out at the plate on Julia Huzi’s bunt.
That left the rally up to Fluskey, who ripped a two-run single to right-center for a 2-1 lead.
Brown made it 3-1 with a home run over the fence in left.
Szabo, who had stranded five runners on three hits through five innings, couldn’t keep the Blue Knights off the board in the home sixth.
Southington’s Abigail Lamson singled and Scafariello drew a walk.
Szabo got the first out with her fifth strikeout and enticed a pop up to Briana Giacobbe at first.
Zazzaro lined a hot single off Delilah DeStefano’s glove at third base to load the bases for Kaitlin Semmel, who hit a liner to center that Alexa Adinolfi just missed snagging on a full out dive.
The game was tied 3-3.
Trumbull built the winning run in the seventh.
Alexa Adinolfi opened the inning with a walk.
Lea Thompson’s sacrifice bunt put her in scoring position.
Szabo promptly singled past first and down the first base line as Adinolfi came home.
“Somebody was on base, I knew I had to get a hit,” Szabo said. “I didn’t care where it went. I knew I had to get it down, I took a deep breath and relaxed. I just had a feeling that we would comeback.”
Southington threatened with two out in its last at bat.
Lamson singled to center for the Blue Knights’ seventh hit.
Scafariello walked to put the go-ahead on board, before Szabo struck out Francesca Ferrante to give Trumbull’s its first championship.