FCIAC softball preview: Darien seeking FCIAC championship three-peat
Putting last year's FCIAC softball season into business terms, you had the rich and the very well off. Westhill went through the regular season with just one loss, while eventual champion Darien and St. Joseph had two apiece.
Behind them were five other playoff teams separated by just two games.
A year later, the landscape appears much the same. St. Joseph and Darien are overwhelmingly viewed by league coaches as the co-favorites, but there is a pack of five teams all capable of finishing in the top half of the standings and, if all breaks right, perhaps contending for the championship.
For another season, there should be more important games, more uncertain outcomes and greater interest once the playoffs roll around
Teams to Watch
1. St. Joseph: The Cadets are back with an embarrassment of riches, led by Jenn Vazquez, the league's premier catcher. Tori Ceballos returns on the mound, while highly touted freshman Nicole Williams will compete for time on the mound. Kristen Chacho is back for her fourth year as the starter at first base, Ansonia transfer Lauren Pitney will make an impact. Amy Chacho (.328) returns to second base, Mickaela Mallozi is back in the outfield and Sam Platz is another highly promising freshman.
2. Darien: Rumors of the Blue Wave's demise following a number of graduation losses have been greatly exaggerated. For one, coach Nick DeMaio may have the conference's best pitcher, flame-thrower Erika Osherow, a sophomore who moves over from shortstop. Emma Hamilton moves from rightfield to center, while Brittany Osborn and Ally Aparicio are back at first base and leftfield, respectively. Julia Domiziano returns at second base.
3. Fairfield Ludlowe: A strong case can be made the Falcons have the strongest trio of players in pitcher Aliza Guererro, shortstop Emily Nelson and third baseman Brenna Martini. All are four-year starters and a big reason Ludlowe, if the supporting cast comes through, could make a championship run.
4. Stamford: Led by All-Everything shortstop Krista Robustelli, the Black Knights should have one of the most potent batting orders in the league, even with three sophomores in the starting lineup. Defense will be one key to success. The other is pitching. Senior Jordan Schepps seems destined to take that next step.
5. Westhill: Everyone is writing off the Vikings after the loss of a strong senior class, headlined by star pitcher Allison Macari, Cassandra Kish and Allie Souza. But Westhill has a number of strong bats back. Coach Tom Pia is counting heavily on Tammy Wise, Megan D'Alessandro and Morgan Kurtz for their play on the field and leadership off of it.
7. New Canaan: The FCIAC's wildcard team. Everyone is back, Ali Reilly should be among the top pitchers, Jordan Ventura is a strong catcher and the players have been through facing high expectations. Is this the Rams' breakthrough year?
Players to Watch
1. Krista Robustelli, Stamford: After much deliberation for the past year, Robustelli decided in February to throw her chips in and walk on next year at UConn. Robustelli has all the tools, able to dominate with her bat or make dazzling plays at shortstop with her glove.
2. Jenn Vazquez, St. Joseph: An All-State player for two years, the Manhattan College-bound catcher is coming off a season where she hit .468, with 8 home runs and 30 RBIs. Vazquez is a flawless player whose leadership may even outweigh her considerable skills.
3. Erika Osherow, Darien: Perhaps no player has received more buzz this preseason than Osherow, who was All-FCIAC as a freshman at shortstop and now is moving to the mound. At a time where offenses are taking over, many believe Osherow has the attributes to offset the rush.
4. Brenna Martini, Fairfield Ludlowe: Martini, who batted .400 and made just two errors at third base, is one of the state's most complete players.
5. Ali Reilly, New Canaan: The Rams' pitcher has made steady growth, one reason the team is considered a hot stock this preseason.
More InformationFCIAC softball players to watch by team
Bridgeport Central: C Molly Lahey, 2B Lori Pham, SS Tatiyanna Whitley, CF Shanna-Kaye McLarty Jenkins, P Kendall Washington.
Danbury: P Kara Orr, C Michelle Jones, 2B Kristy Trotta, SS Marisa Ferguson, CF Whitney Dyer, 3B Katie Fellmeth, RF Megan Sigillo, 1B Noelle Daly, LF Hunter Eriquez.
Darien: P Erika Osherow, CF Emma Hamilton, 1B Brittany Osborn, LF Ally Aparicio, 2B Julia Domiziano, Kelly Vodola, Rebecca DeMaio, Avery Maley, Emily Moscatello.
Fairfield Warde: SS Michele Treglia, 2B Kenzie Burns, C/OF Brianna West.
Fairfield Ludlowe: P Aliza Guerrero, SS Emily Nelson, 3B Brenna Martini, 2B Alice Nelson, C Katie DeCarlo, C Nicky Tygesen, C Gillian Kennedy.
Greenwich: C Erin Fergusen, P Allison Kach, 1B Ebba Mark, SS Rebecca DeCarlo, OF Madison Burhans, OF Jennifer Ambrogio.
New Canaan: P Ali Reilly, C Jordan Ventura, OF/P Cydney Ventura, IF Courtney Rogers, OF Amanda Frattaroli, 1B Marlee Ready, OF Colette Pellgerini, OF Abby Jenkins, IF Brittany Overacker.
Norwalk: SS Tori Dugan, 3B Leslie Garcia, C Mallory Rochefort, OF Allie Hall, 2B Nicole Bonanni, P Ali Brown, P Mariah Ventrella, 1B Shannon O'Malley, OF Nicolette Kassimis.
Ridgefield: C- Amanda Scammon, P Dana Cohen, 1B Gwen Ellis, 2B Meghan Hyatt, SS Tara Westington, 3B Kathryn Eckhoff, CF Shannon Taddonio, LF Olivia Eltz, RF Rachel Black.
St. Joseph: C Jenn Vazquez, P Tori Ceballos, P Nicole Williams, P Samantha Platz, 1B Kristen Chacho, LF Mikaela Mallozzi, SS Lauren Pitney, 2B Amy Chacho, 3B Kristen Markarian, CF Jenna Carrano, RF Katie Gardella.
Staples: C Maggie Mills, 3B Shannon Connors, SS Nikki Bukovsky, CF/2B Chrissy McCarthy.