Darien falls to Foran in Class L semifinals
STRATFORD -- The task of trying to reach a state final for just the second time in school history did not prove daunting for the Foran softball team.
The Lions struck immediately for two runs in the top of the first inning and used a strong pitching performance by Taylor Harkness to shut down a high-scoring Darien offense en route to a 4-1 win in the CIAC Class L semifinal Monday night at DeLuca Field.
Third-seeded Foran (21-4), which won the title in its previous appearance, in 2002, will face No. 1 Bacon Academy -- a 3-2 winner over Masuk -- in the final.
"They are the Cardiac Kids," Foran coach Jeff Bevino said of his players. "They just have too much fun. They are the loosest kids I've ever seen. They enjoy themselves and it is a pleasure to coach them."
The Lions, who were riding a 16-game winning streak before falling in the SCC semifinals, have rebounded to win their three state tournament games by a 19-5 margin.
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Bevino said the quick start, provided by Marissa Bruno's two-run single, was critical to the outcome.
"Everyone is telling everybody how good this team is," Bevino said of Darien. "It was good to get out there on them 2-0. It gave the girls confidence."
The third-seeded Blue Wave (22-4), whose only previous trip to the final was a loss in 2009, got a run back in the bottom of the inning on two-out singles by Olivia Gozdz and Courtney Bell, and a long double by Kelly Fahey. But a base-running mistake prevented another run from scoring, and errors, more mental than physical, hindered Darien's comeback effort.
"We gave them way too much," Darien coach Nick DeMaio said. "This is probably the worst game -- I think this was our worst game. Not to take anything away from Foran, but if we played the way we did Friday against New Canaan, I think it is a different outcome."
The Blue Wave had a chance in the second when Emily Moscatello led off with a single and Brittany Osborn reached on an error, but both runners ended up being thrown out trying to advance an extra base.
Darien stranded eight runners in all, including leaving the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
Harkness allowed nine hits but did her best work during the most demanding situations.
"She's tough," Bevino said. "She locates the ball. (Darien) is never, ever out of a game. The biggest thing is she kept the ball down today. We tried to keep the ball away from them."
Consecutive RBI singles in the fifth by Rachel Booth and Bruno gave Foran a 4-1 lead and Harkness a comfortable cushion.
Bruno and Gina Georgetti each had two hits for Foran.
Blue Wave star shortstop Nicole Buch, in her final game, and Fahey each had two hits for Darien.
"If you are going to lose, you want to lose playing your best," DeMaio said. "This is something we are going to have to live with all offseason long."