Hot Trojans roll to home title
The Fairfield Invitational marked a fitting end to an impressive week for the Trojan softball team, which won its home tournament for the first time in five years Saturday.
The suddenly streaking Trojans (12-3, 4-2 Southeast Conference) won all three games at the tournament to stretch their winning streak to nine, capping it all with a 7-2 victory over ninth-ranked (Class 4A) Washington in the championship match. The home team earned a spot opposite its SEC rival thanks to a 4-1 victory over Chariton in the opener Friday and a 9-0 shutout win over Cardinal in Saturday’s semifinal.
The tournament title wrapped up a seven-win week for Fairfield, and head coach Bob Bradfield said he could not have envisioned the stretch going any better for his Trojans.
“With highly ranked teams West Burlington/Notre Dame (No. 1 in Class 3A) and Washington in the tournament, not too many people would’ve picked Fairfield going in,” said Bradfield. “It’s nice to come out on top in a tournament that’s probably about as competitive as it’s ever been.”
Fairfield accomplished the feat using the same dependable pitching and sharp defense that earned it four straight conference victories earlier in the week. Overall, the host team committed just five errors while holding its three opponents to three runs. From the pitcher’s circle, freshman Alli Deao allowed only one earned run in 12 innings and senior teammate Haley Grunwald pitched nine innings of two-run ball during the two-day tournament. Both starters had a hand in Fairfield’s shutout win vs. Cardinal.
“Our pitchers threw well all week. That’s the first thing that needed to happen for us to win all those games,” explained Bradfield. “And our defense was a lot better. In our three [early-season losses], our defense just let us down.”
In the championship match, Fairfield and Washington both scored two runs in the opening inning and stayed even through four. The Trojans broke the game wide open in the fifth, however, getting three solid hits in a row from Mackenzie McClure, Karley Williams and Mackenzi Harwood. McClure led off with a single, and Williams and Harwood punched back-to-back doubles to put Fairfield on top 4-2.
“The two really key plays were Williams’ and Harwood’s doubles,” said Bradfield. “The back-to-back doubles seemed to break [Washington’s] back a little, and they really got us fired up.”
In the sixth inning, Katie Anderson and Marisa Repp kept Fairfield going with a pair of base knocks to set up a two-run single from McKenna Ledger, as the Trojans upped their lead to 7-2 in the frame.
Harwood led the Trojans in the game with a double and three RBI. Anderson was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Williams scored twice.
“We played better and they didn’t, so that completely flip-flopped the score around,” said Bradfield. “It should give our kids some confidence when we play Washington in another week or so. Now that we got that win, we know we can beat them if we show up and play well.”
In Fairfield’s opener vs. Chariton, Williams knocked in McClure and Ledger singled home Madison Roberts in the second inning for a 2-0 lead, and the Trojans never looked back on their way to the 4-1 victory.
Williams went 2-for-4 and scored twice, and both Sydney Burnett and Ledger supplied one RBI in the contest.
Against Cardinal, Kenady Waugh led the way with three hits, including two doubles, in four at-bats. Waugh batted in two runs and scored twice. Repp was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI, and Ledger went 2-for-2. Burnett had a triple and three runs, while Williams knocked in two runs on a double.
Fairfield looks to stay hot when it visits rival Mount Pleasant (5-8, 0-2) today in a Southeast Conference doubleheader.
Fairfield @ Fairfield Invitational
Fairfield vs. Chariton (First Round)
Chariton – 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 — 1 5 2
Fairfield – 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 — 4 7 1
FAIRFIELD — Burnett 1-4, 2B, RBI; Anderson 1-4; Waugh 1-2; Repp 1-3; McClure R; Roberts R; Williams 2-3, RBI, 2R; Ledger 1-1, RBI
Pitching — Deao (W) 7 INN, 5H, R, ER, 4K, BB
Fairfield vs. Cardinal (Semifinal)
Cardinal – 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 1
Fairfield – 2 0 2 3 0 2 0 — 9 12 1
FAIRFIELD — Burnett 1-3, 3B, 3R; Anderson 1-3, RBI, R; Waugh 3-4, 2(2B), 2RBI, 2R; Repp 2-4, 2(2B), 2RBI, R; McClure 1-4, R; Williams 1-2, 2B, 2RBI; Ledger 2-2; Harwood 1-1, R
Pitching — Deao (W) 5INN, H, 0R, K, 0BB; Grunwald 2 INN, H, 0R, 4K, 0BB
Fairfield vs. Washington (Championship)
Washington – 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 2 3 3
Fairfield – 2 0 0 0 2 3 0 — 7 7 3
FAIRFIELD — Burnett R; Anderson 2-4, 2R; Repp 1-4, R; McClure 1-3, RBI, R; Williams 1-4, 2B, RBI, 2R; Harwood 1-3, 2B, 3RBI; Ledger 1-4, 2RBI
Pitching — Grunwald (W) 7 INN, 3H, 2R, ER, 2K, BB
Comets take third
Cardinal softball wrapped up its busy week Saturday with a 16-2 victory over Davis County to finish third overall at the Fairfield Invitational.
Cardinal earned the right to play in the third-place consolation match after it won the opener vs. Wilton 6-2 but lost the semifinal to Fairfield 9-0.
Carlie Bennett led the Comets during the tournament with six hits, including a home run and two doubles in the opener vs. Wilton. Lindsey Davis had three hits, smacked a homer and knocked in five runs; Lindsay Moore finished the weekend with four hits and six runs; and Alexis Adam had three hits, including a double. Lexi Fullenkamp knocked in a pair of runs.
Delaney Ridgway got the win against Wilton and Fullenkamp picked up the win vs. Davis County. Against Wilton, Ridgway tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing six hits and one walk but striking out four. Fullenkamp later went all four innings vs. Davis County, allowing two runs on nine hits while fanning two.
Cardinal (8-6, 3-1 SEISC South) returns home Tuesday for a conference matchup with New London.