If the season opener is any indicator of what is ahead for the Ridgefield High softball team, don’t count the Tigers out of any game.
Trailing 9-1 and down to its final three outs, Ridgefield scored eight runs in the top of the seventh inning to tie Saturday's game against Staples in Westport. But the Wreckers got a walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth to beat Ridgefield, 10-9, in wild first game for both teams.
Despite the disappointment of losing, Ridgefield came away with reason for optimism.
“I am very proud of the girls. I told them going into the top of the seventh when we were down eight that this is where teams build character,” Ridgefield coach Lauren Greywacz said. “Teams without character fold over and just lose. Teams with character fight to gain respect. The girls really rallied and showed the fight they have inside.”
Ridgefield's comeback began with freshman Julia Clavi's lead-off single in the top of the seventh. Makena Skrobar added another single, and Skylar Arent reached on an error to load the bases.
Caroline Imbrogno and Claire Filaski both walked to force in a pair of runs and cut Staples' lead to 9-3.
The Wreckers then recorded two outs before Sabrina Grizzaffi drove a ball to the left-field fence for a bases-clearing double that made it 9-6. Ridgefield's next batter, Sarina Sheth, hit the ball hard and reached on an error, and Clavi followed with a three-run homer to tie the score.
Skrobar singled to right, and Alex Kinkead — not starting due to an elbow injury — pinch ran, giving the Tigers speed on the bases. But Arent’s long fly ball was tracked down in deep right field to end the inning.
The Wreckers went down in order in the bottom of the seventh, sending the game to extra innings.
Lauren Bayer and Natalie Sganga both reached on two-out singles for Ridgefield in the top of the eighth before the Wreckers got the third out. Staples then ended the game with its walk-off homer in the bottom of the inning.
Ridgefield jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Staples scored four runs in the bottom of the inning and added four more in the fourth and another in the sixth to build its 9-1 lead.
Grizzaffi was 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, and three runs batted in for the Tigers. Both Skrobar and Clavi also went 3-for-5 for Ridgefield.
“We definitely struggled a couple innings on defense,” Greywacz said. “We were not playing together and were lacking in communication. But that can be expected for the first game of the season.
“When [we were] shaking hands at the end of the game the Staples coach told me that ‘your girls have grit ... it takes a lot to come back like you did.’ I told the girls that is one of the greatest compliments teams can get because it shows that we are tough and do not back down. That is the type of character a team needs to have a winning season,” Greywacz added.