Even though Jacqui Sheftz wasn’t overly concerned, she still made a trip to the pitching circle in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Sheftz’s unbeaten Trumbull softball team led host Ridgefield by four runs but the Tigers had gotten a leadoff homer from Lauren Bayer to start the bottom of the seventh and now had two runners on base with no outs.
“I felt that we were trying to force the game at that point,” Sheftz said. “I told everyone to relax and take a deep breath.”
Sheftz’s message got through. Pitcher Emily Gell fielded a comebacker and threw to third for a force play before getting a strikeout and a groundout to finish the 7-3 victory.
“We’re starting two freshmen and two sophomores, but we have some key returners who are stepping up,” said Sheftz, whose team won the Class LL state title in 2017 and lost in the finals last season. “With us, it’s a matter of doing what we do best.”
One of Trumbull’s starting underclassmen, sophomore third baseman MacKenzie Bruggeman, provided the pop for the Eagles, who improved to 6-0. Bruggeman cranked a two-run homer in the third inning and added a solo shot in the seventh.
Ridgefield fell to 1-6 with the loss, although head coach Lauren Greywacz liked most of what she saw Friday.
“Both of our pitchers (Skylar Arent and Alyssa DeStefano) did a good job of hitting their spots, and we had some nice hits and got runners on base,” Greywacz said. “I really feel that we have a solid team; the problem for us has been that we haven’t been able to play a solid seven innings.”
Trumbull scored the game’s first four runs in the top of the third inning. The first two of those came without a hit. After Maggie Coffin led off with a walk, Julia Huzi laid down a sacrifice bunt. The throw to first was high and went down the left-field line, eluding a Ridgefield outfielder and allowing both Coffin and Huzi to score.
Gell followed with a one-out single, and Bruggeman then lofted a fastball from Arent over the fence in left field, putting the Eagles ahead 4-0.
Ridgefield had baserunners in each of the first four innings but couldn’t break through for a run. The Tigers’ best chance came in the bottom of the fourth. Singles from Makenna Skrobar and Bayer flanked a walk to Claire Filaski and loaded the bases with two outs.
But with Natalie Sganga at the plate, Gell fired a pitch and Trumbull catcher Cassi Barbato alertly threw to Bruggeman, who tagged out Skrobar to end the threat.
Barbato then contributed with her bat, lining a single to score Gell (leadoff double) and stretch Trumbull’s lead to 5-0.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the fifth. Alex Kinkead reached on a two-out walk and freshman Julia Clavi ripped a line drive over the left-field fence for a two-run homer, cutting Trumbull’s lead to 5-2.
But the Eagles got an RBI single from Coffin in the top of the sixth and the solo homer from Bruggeman in the top of the seventh to go ahead 7-2.
Bayer began the bottom of the seventh with her home run over the centerfield fence, and Melissa Harris and Sabrina Grizzaffi followed with singles, leaving Ridgefield down 7-3 with two runners on and no outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Sheftz then made her trip to the pitching circle, and Gell retired the next three batters to close out the victory.
“They have a real good team,” Greywacz said about Trumbull. “They don’t have an easy out in their lineup.”