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LATEST UPDATE: DARIEN ROUTS NEWINGTON IN CIAC SECOND ROUND
Darien 18, Newington 2 (5 inn) - After Darien was drubbed by St. Joseph last Thursday in the FCIAC championship, coach Nick DeMaio simply told his team, "Let it go, focus on states."
The Blue Wave responded in a big way Tuesday by mercy-ruling Newington 18-2, largely behind the arm and bat of Erika Osherow.
The junior fire-baller started the game by striking out six of the first seven batters to face, finishing with 10 in the five inning contest. In the batter's box Osherow walked, drilled a two-run double and hit a solo home run to help her own cause.
"That's a pretty typical Erika performance if you look at the season," said DeMaio, whose Blue Wave will host No. 7 Amity in Thursday's quarterfinals. "Aside from the performance what she does is take the wind out of their sails right away when they see what they're facing as far as her pitches and velocity. If we manage to get a couple runs early we're tough to beat."
After mustering a lone run in the FCIAC final the Darien bats came out hot, scoring in every inning of the contest.
"They made it very easy on themselves today because they had good at bats," DeMaio said. "They worked the count on the first pitcher, who is a good pitcher, but they put good swings on the ball; very happy with the bats today."
In addition to the big day at the plate by Osherow, senior captain Julia Domiziano belted a two run shot and Kelly Reyes walked, hit two singles and ripped a bases-clearing double in an eight-run third for the Blue Wave.
"I think part of playing softball is learning that you have days like (the FCIAC finals)," Osherow said of the bounce-back performance. "Coming back shows what kind of player you are and our team coming back today showed that were a team and were out there together."
For Newington, coming off its first playoff win in 14 years might have been a bit too much to handle emotionally heading into the buzz saw that is Osherow and Darien.
"Honestly we maybe were a little too excited from the win yesterday," Newington coach Steve Markie said. "We hadn't won a playoff game in 14 years we went out and played the best game we had all year, I told them that wasn't enough and we had to come out strong today but that wasn't the case."
FCIAC PREVIEW: League Enjoys Unprecedented Depth
If you have not been paying attention to FCIAC softball the last few seasons, you have missed one of the greatest shifts of power the conference has ever seen.
For 30 years the league was controlled by three communities -- Stamford, Norwalk and Trumbull.
With the increased numbers in youth leagues, greater participation in summer travel teams and quality coaching at the high school level, towns like Darien, New Canaan, Greenwich and Fairfield quickly inserted themselves into the conversation.
The good news is, the teams from Trumbull, Stamford and Norwalk are still just as good, creating one of the league's most competitive atmospheres where once there was great imbalance.
Darien won the league in 2011 and '12 and New Canaan claimed its first ever championship last season while Greenwich had its best campaign in recent memory.
The increased parity does not appear to be an anomaly because as these upstarts graduate players from championship teams, more quality players are coming up through the ranks to replace them.
Teams to watch
DARIEN - The Blue Wave have one of the best players in the state in ace Erika Osherow and a solid core around her, meaning a return to the title game is in their sights. IF Julia Domiziano, C Rebecca DeMaio and SS Avery Maley should provide stout defense and big hitting behind Osherow.
WAVE GETS ON A ROLL IN NON-LEAGUE OPENER
Darien 12, Brookfield 0 (6 inn.) - Blue Wave softball started off the 2014 with something to prove. On Wednesday, they got off to a great start with a dominating performance against Brookfield.
Junior Erika Osherow was absolutely perfect, not allowing a single baserunner and striking out 12 hitters over 6 innings. Junior Kelly Vodola provided all the offense Osherow would need, getting on base three times and scoring each time.
Osherow's perfect game was nearly ruined in the fifth, when a Brookfield hitter drove the ball into the right-centerfield gap. However, Junior Lauren Cicero made a beautiful running catch, saving perfection for her pitcher.
FIRST FCIAC GAME, FIRST FCIAC WIN FOR WAVE
Darien 12, Wilton 0 (5 inn.) - The Blue Wave kept the strong start going with their first conference win on Friday in five innings. Junior Erika Osherow was once again dominant, striking out the side in the first inning and finishing with 9 Ks in four innings of work. Freshmen Sophia Barbour threw a scoreless inning in relief.
Junior Rebecca DeMaio and Freshman Cassidy Schiff led the way on offense with 3 RBIs each. Osherow added four hits of her own, and senior captain Julia Domiziano add a pair of hits.
WAVE KNOCKS OFF STATE CHAMPS MASUK
Darien 1, Masuk 0 - Coach DeMaio said it perfectly following Saturday's non-league matchup. "That was one of the best high school softball games I have ever seen."
And it was, as Junior Erika Osherow went pitch-for-pitch with All-State pitching star Tatum Buckley. Osherow struck out 13 on the day; Buckley had 9 Ks.
With that sort of pitching dominance, it would only take one run to solidify a win. That run came in the bottom of the second inning. With one out, Freshman Cassidy Schiff racked up an 8-pitch at-bat that finished with a line drive to right, the first hit for the Wave. Two batters later, Sophomore Lexi Lopiano tripped a 2-2 fastball down the left field line that was nearly caught by the diving left fielder. Fortunately, the ball rolled all the way to the fence, and Schiff was able to score all the way from first.
That would be all that Osherow would need. On the afternoon, she gave up just two hits, both to Buckley, and a walk.
WAVE DROP STUNNER TO LUDLOWE
Ludlowe 3, Darien 2 - Coming off a huge win against Masuk, a letdown was natural. Unfortunately, that letdown came against the senior-laiden Falcons of Ludlowe.
Despite another 13 strikeout performance from Junior Erika Osherow, the Falcons were able to scatter the seven Blue Wave hits over all seven innings and limit the scoring to just two runs in the second inning. Osherow's homerun got the ball running. Senior captain Julia Domiziano also had two hits.
OSHEROW'S DOMINANCE POWERS WAVE PAST GREENWICH
Darien 6, Greenwich 0 - She rarely walks a batter, strikes out an average of two hitters per inning and yields just a few hits each game. Indeed, facing Darien High School hard-throwing right-hander Erika Osherow isn't much fun.Monday, Greenwich became the latest team to be silenced by the shutout specialist.
Exhibiting pin-point control, Osherow pitched a five-hitter with 15 strikeouts in Darien's 6-0 victory over host Greenwich in an FCIAC matchup. Osherow helped her own cause, going 3 for 4 with a two-run double. The first nine outs Darien's ace recorded came by strikeout.
"That's a typical Erika game, a lot of strikeouts," Darien coach Nick DeMaio said. "The other team may occasionally challenge, but she usually gets 13, 14 15 strikeouts a game. As long as we play defense behind her, she'll usually pitch a shutout."
Junior second baseman Kelly Vodola went 2 for 3 with two triples and drove in three runs for the Blue Wave, who improved to 11-1. Cardinals senior pitcher Jessie Schelz went the distance, striking out four in the loss.
After Osherow (8-1 with six shutouts) struck out the side in the second inning, the Blue Wave scored two runs in the third inning. Center fielder Kelly Reyes singled up the middle and Vodola tripled to right field, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead. No. 3 hitter Julia Domiziano's single to left field scored Reyes, putting Darien on top, 2-0.
DARIEN JOINS ST. JOSEPH ON TOP PEDESTAL
Darien 1, St. Joseph 0 - The FCIAC softball storyline shifted slightly on Wednesday afternoon at St. Joseph High School. The Cadets, widely viewed as the conference favorites and possessors of the most potent offense, were limited to two hits by Darien’s Erika Osherow in a 1-0 loss.
Osherow has given the Blue Wave an old-school dynamic, if old school is the right term for just a few years ago, when the distance between home plate and the mound was moved back four feet. Games like Wednesday’s were the norm between contenders, but now have become close to extinct as offenses have caught up and even overtaken good pitching.
The outcome didn’t knock the no-longer-unbeaten Cadets (12-1, 10-1 FCIAC) off their perch but rather allowed the Blue Wave (12-1, 10-1) to move up a step and join them.
Asked if prior to the game he felt his team should have had a little higher elevated status, and whether that was extra motivation, Darien coach Nick DeMaio said, “We might have been a little bit more of an unknown going into the season. We felt that way, but we didn’t feel slighted. I think if St. Joseph had beaten us they would be out as a frontrunner as an undefeated team with a couple of teams chasing them. This kind of evens things out a little bit.”
The win over St. Joseph further stamped Osherow as the league’s most valuable player at the three-quarter pole, and her lead is by many lengths. No one player does more for her team, though her excellence tends to overshadow the fact she has a solid team behind her, especially on defense.
“Coming off this game it is an emotional win,” Osherow said. “St. Joseph is an all-around awesome team. Really, I feel like it could have gone either way. We managed to stay on them the entire time.”
A quote from Osherow will never be found on another team’s bulletin board. Getting her to talk about herself is more difficult than hitting against her. It is an opening to either talk about the Blue Wave’s “energy level,” a favored phrase, or praising the opponent.
Osherow was pushed to near-perfection because the Cadets’ Nicole Williams was almost her equal. On another day, it would have been Williams deflecting questions about herself to an opponent.
“I think Nicole did a great job,” Osherow said. “We knew coming in it would be a pitchers’ duel. We tried to keep our energy up and keep coming at them.”
The only separation between the teams came in the third inning, and this time it was Osherow’s bat — she even overshadows herself — that made the difference. Kelli Reyes led off with a single and went to second when the ball got by the leftfielder. After Christina Chariott walked, Osherow delivered what proved to be the game-winning double.
What could have been a big inning was stymied by Williams, who retired the next three batters, and was unyielding thereafter.
“This was a great win against a great team,” DeMaio said. “Erika threw her usual gem out there. It was a tight game with no margin for error. What was great to see about Erika is the way she handled the pressure. She does not give into pressure. We did have a few opportunities to put up another run and didn’t. We should have had a little bit more of a cushion.”
OSHEROW FANS 15 AS DARIEN SHUTS OUT WESTHILL
Darien 6, Westhill 0 - The Darien softball team has already clinched not only a playoff spot but a first round home game when the postseason kicks off next week.
Last season the Blue Wave were in the same spot but the schedule eased up for them over the final week, playing non-qualifying teams ahead of the playoffs. This year, Darien closes with fellow playoff teams Westhill and Stamford, something Darien coach Nick DeMaio feels can only help his team prepare for the tournament.
The Blue Wave pounded out 13 hits and pitcher Erika Osherow was nearly perfect, striking out 15 and allowing just one hit as the Wave beat the Vikings 6-0 at Allyson Rioux Field.
DeMaio said the schedule worked out just as he would have drawn it up.
"Westhill today and Stamford Friday, just perfect," DeMaio said. "These are the teams we are going to be playing against next week. These are the games you want to play. We were fortunate today that we started getting the ball up the middle today."
Darien (17-2, 15-2 FCIAC) scored one in the third on a single by Julia Domiziano, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth, padding the lead.
Domiziano was 3 for 3 with two RBI and two runs; Cassidy Schiff had two hits, two runs and a RBI and Kelly Reyes was 2 for 4 with a RBI.
The one run was all Darien really needed as Osherow equaled her season-high with 15 strikeouts, with a sixth-inning single to Zoe Carillo being the only blemish between her and a perfect game.
Osherow said she had everything in her arsenal working.
"Today, yes, I felt like I was in the groove," Osherow said. "I was feeding off everybody's energy during the game, I almost lost my voice cheering. I think today I was definitely in it. Westhill has always been a strong team and we knew coming in they would be strong and today we just had it all in our favor."
Osherow struck out seven in a row in a stretch between the first and third innings, keeping Westhill off balance all afternoon.
DARIEN, OSHEROW DOMINATE TRUMBULL
Darien 8, Trumbull 2 - Kelly Vodola smacked three hits and clobbered a triple, while Rebecca DeMaio connected on a two-run single in the Wave’s 8-2 win over the visiting Eagles in the FCIAC quarterfinals Tuesday. It was DeMaio’s blast that set the sweet tone.
“That was a big hit,” said coach Nick DeMaio of the catcher’s second inning two-RBI shot. “Zero-zero in the first inning, to get out to that early lead is so important.”
The second seed Wave plays No. 3 Westhill at Sacred Heart in the semis 3 p.m. Wednesday with the final set for 4 p.m. Thursday back at Sacred Heart in Fairfield.
Julia Domiziano made the most of her chances and reputation at the plate, psyching out the pitcher to find herself walked twice and on base four times, scoring two runs.
Junior league-leader Erika Osherow blew threw the Trumbull batters to the tune of striking out a dozen of them for the win. Osherow’s had 15 strikeouts several times to top out her average of a baker’s dozen per game.
“You know, now we are in this tough thing and they’ve put this tournament where we are going back-to-back days,” DeMaio said. “It’s difficult.”
Darien jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and racked up six to punch its ticket to the semis in the fifth. The Wave had nine hits to the Eagles’ four and committed only one error.
DARIEN FALLS IN FCIAC FINAL
St. Joseph 12, Darien 1 - Following its 1-0 victory over Stamford in the FCIAC semifinals Wednesday, there was no reason to expect anything but another one-run affair for St. Joseph in the conference final. After all, the Cadets were about to meet Darien, the only team to have beaten them this year in a 1-0 contest, which boasts first-rate ace Erika Osherow.
Through three innings of championship play Thursday, neither Osherow nor St. Joseph’s hurler Nicole Williams could disappoint. Then, with 10 hits and eight runs in the game-deciding fourth inning, the Cadets changed everything. For the only repeat from the day before was to be a St. Joseph win.
By day’s end, Lauren Pitney recorded 5 RBIs and every Cadet hitter in the starting line-up reached base in a 12-1 St. Joseph championship victory. The normally dominant Osherow was tagged for eight earned runs and chased after her disastrous fourth inning, due to unusually poor control. The Blue Wave managed to scratch across one run in the sixth, after collecting two of its four hits in the inning.
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Darien Blue Wave Softball Contact Information: Head Coach Nick DeMaio
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