Softball: Unbeaten Trumbull defeats Westhill, moves to 12-0
TRUMBULL — Between the wind and the cold, it seemed like enough bad weather elements on Saturday afternoon to deter just about any pitcher.
It wasn't, however, any hurdle at all for Trumbull hurler Emily Gell. Coach Jacqui Sheftz' right-handed junior threw a one-hit 5-0 shutout over Westhill in leading the No. 2 ranked team in the GameTime CT Top 10 poll to their 12th consecutive win of the season.
Gell needed only 86 pitches, on an assortment of breaking balls and off-speed deliveries. She struck out eight and gave up only one walk, that coming to the Vikings' first hitter, Maddy Bautista.
Gell took her no-hitter into the fifth before Westhill's Kristen Hallinan lined a clean single to center.
"I try to not let too much bother me when I'm out there," Gell said. "And, it's much easier when you have a team behind out that's going to make plays. Our defense is so solid."
Trumbull entered the contest averaging over 10 runs per game (having scored 115) and had already beaten Westhill, 14-1, early this year.
The Eagles rapped out 13 hits, but could never put together a big inning, in part due to the Vikings' defense. Overall, Trumbull left 10 runners on base.
"It's hard to score runs with the wind whipping around like that," Sheftz said. "We learned after a few innings that we needed to put the ball on the ground. We hit it hard in the first couple of innings. But we created too many fly balls."
Trumbull worked itself into a bases-loaded situation in the first after two outs on singles by Gell and McKenzie Bruggeman, her first of three hits, and a walk to Cassi Barbato.
Alexa Adinolfi followed with an infield pop-up, which was handled by Bautista at short to end the threat.
With one out in the second, Trumbull's Jenna Duffy, the designated hitter, singled into center and went to third on Julia Huzi's base hit to left-center. Duffy then scored on an Olivia Butler wild pitch. But the Eagles, after Maggie Coffin reached on an error, stranded both runners.
In the third, Bruggeman led off with a double down the line in left. She was moved to third on a sacrifice by Barbato before scoring when Adinolfi drove the ball to the gap in right center for a triple. Adinolfi then scored on a fielder's choice.
Trumbull picked up single runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
Bruggeman led the way with three hits. Huzi and Adinolfi, along with freshmen Duffy and Kiley Barbagallo, had two hits apiece.
Westhill was only able to get runners to second twice — and left only one runner on base.
The Vikings' Bautista, after walking and getting sacrificed to second in the first, was then picked off by Eagles' catcher Barbato, who fired to Huzi the shortstop who made the tag.
"We've been struggling some because of our lack of experience," said Westhill coach Tom Pia, whose team saw its record drop to 3-8. "But I thought we played much better today. Our kids smiled out there. They didn't seem as worried about making an error (the Vikings had two) and then watching the house collapse around them.
"This was a good test for us. They beat us badly the first time. I think we held our own a little this time."
Gell has pitched on the varsity since her freshman year and was a big factor in Trumbull reaching the Class LL final last year, before losing to Amity Regional, 13-7. Gell injured her right foot late in the year and had to wear a boot. She was limited to late-inning relief at the close of the 2018 season.
"Because she's been in some big games the past two years, it's made her a better pitcher," Sheftz said. "She's been able to slow her game down."
Sheftz starts five underclassmen, but says it is the senior leadership which has made the difference.
"We have some goals in mind for the season, but we take it one game at a time," said Sheftz, now in her fourth year at Trumbull and 20th overall. "We do have some unfinished business, of course. That state title game and loss is still lingering with us, as well as the loss in the FCIAC championship game. They are both on our minds. But, as I said, it's one game at a time."
Trumbull returns to play at Greenwich on Monday, before visiting fellow unbeaten St. Joseph on Tuesday at 4 p.m. The Eagles will finish out the week at home Friday with Fairfield Warde.
TRUMBULL 5, WESTHILL 0
Westhill 000 000 0 --0 1 3
Trumbull 012 011 x -- 5 13 0
Batteries: Olivia Butler (L, 3-7) and Kirsten Hallinan; Emily Gell (W, 11-0) and Cassi Barbato.
Team records: WH 3-8; T 12-0.