Fifty Coins hangs on to win first women's softball title

Despite annually being one of the better teams, Fifty Coins had never come away with the ultimate prize in the Ridgefield Women’s Softball League.

“We had come in second and third a lot,” said player/manager Dawn Grabover, part of a core group that has been together for 10 years. “We were always a good team that fell short.”

Until last Tuesday.

In a game that saw four lead changes, Fifty Coins rallied and then hung on for a 9-8 victory over top-seed Westford Capital to win its first championship in the double-elimination tournament.

“We were unbeaten (in the playoffs), so they (Westford Capital) needed to beat us twice,” said Grabover. “We weren’t nervous. We knew this was our year.”

Trailing 7-5, second-seed Fifty Coins got four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead for good. Grabover and Ruth Masso walked, and Kat Begetis followed with a double to score both runners and tie the game. Angela Spanakos then singled to score Begetis, and Mandy Yusko added a single to score Begetis and put Fifty Coins ahead, 9-7.

Needing three outs to win the championship, Fifty Coins had to endure a nerve-racking top of the seventh. Denise Brough led off with a single for Westford, and Julie Perrelli followed with another single to put runners on first and second.

That set up a crucial defensive play. Nancy Liskiewicz singled to left center, and Fifty Coins outfielder Louise Decker got to the ball and sent a relay throw to Joanne Boniello. Boniello then threw home to Liz Stabile, catching Brough in a run-down between third base and home plate. Stabile fired to third baseman Shannon Fales, who tagged Brough for the second out of the inning.

Kristy Swanson (3-for-4) kept Westford alive by singling to score Perrelli and make it a one-run game, but Fifty Coins pitcher Barbara Fischetti got Caroline Meade on a pop-up to shortstop to end the threat and the game.

“Getting the runner out at third was huge,” said Grabover. “That was a key play.”

Fifty Coins took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI triple by Paula Santos and an RBI double by Michelle Cordoza.

The lead held up until the top of the third, when Westford Capital scored four runs to go ahead, 4-2. Perrelli and Liskiewicz had back-to-back RBI doubles for Westford in the rally.

Fifty Coins answered in the bottom of the third on consecutive doubles by Yusko, Santos and Cordoza to tie the game. Another Santos double in the bottom of the fifth was followed by a double from Boniello, giving Fifty Coins a 5-4 lead.

But Westford responded with its second four-run inning in the top of the sixth on big hits from Swanson, Meade and Regan Martin to go ahead, 7-5.

The advantage was short-lived, however, as Fifty Coins put together its own four-run rally in the bottom of the inning.

Notes: Boniello was named the Most Valuable Player of the playoffs.

Fischetti, who recently returned from helping her team win a gold medal at the Senior National Olympic Games in Cleveland, was the winning pitcher for Fifty Coins.

Rosie Conrad, Cindy Smith and Rose Arias were also season-long contributors to Fifty Coins.

Westford Capital was the regular-season champion with an 11-1 record. Fifty Coins finished second with an 8-4 record.

Fifty Coins defeated Georgetown Auto, 23-18, in the first round of the playoffs and then beat Westford Capital, 3-0, to send Westford to the losers' bracket. Westford defeated Planet Pizza twice to win the losers’ bracket and advance to the finals.

For more information on the league, contact Dawn Grabover at