The top four seeds in last year’s FCIAC softball tournament finished within two games of one another, while just one game separated the bottom four seeds. In the end, the regular-season champion, Westhill, was defeated by No. 2 Darien in the final.
There are more teams entering this year with high hopes than at any time in recent memory, though at this point to road to the title might go through the town of Trumbull, with the Eagles and St. Joseph currently looking like the favorites.
Trumbull: After getting eliminated in the opening round of the FCIAC Tournament by an 11-0 decision to St. Joseph, the Eagles regrouped and made a memorable run to their first state title. Two of the stars responsible, pitcher Ally Szabo and shortstop Taylor Brown, have moved on, but Trumbull is built for long-term success. Two highly touted pitchers, Emily Gell and Mackenzie Bruggeman, are respectively a sophomore and freshman. Third baseman Delilha DeStefano and catcher Courtney Fairfield were integral to the postseason success, while Alexa Adinolfi will make an impact in the outfield. Many of the names have changed, but the Eagles will be targeted this spring.
St. Joseph. The Cadets’ three-year title run and streak of four straight final appearances came to an end last season, but they are poised to contend again despite graduation losses. Coach Jeff Babineau enters the year with three pitchers: Claire Gardella, Payton Doiron and Catherine Connell. He also has a number of givens, like shortstop Kayla Giacobbe, centerfielder Hannah Hutchison and first baseman Kaitlyn Capobianco.
Norwalk. The Bears are primed to make a leap up the standings after finishing in eighth place a year ago. They have one of the league’s top players in shortstop Katie Sciglimpaglia. Offense will not be a problem, with catcher Dina DiBlasio and first baseman Jessica Otto wielding hot bats. The Bears ended last season on a five-game losing streak and played more high-scoring games than anyone in the conference. They are also more experienced and that will reap rewards.
Fairfield Warde. Can the Mustangs throw themselves into the race after missing the FCIAC Tournament by two games? League coaches answer affirmatively, in large part because of pitcher Olivia Vadas. The Mustangs have a good cast back. Sophie Sancho, despite a shoulder injury, batted .395 as the designated hitter.
Stamford. Melissa Giordano, a long-time assistant to Tony Esposito, and former star shortstop, takes over at her alma mater with a good lineup. She has a great shortstop to work with in Dana Serricchio. Second baseman Gloria Mattioli and centerfielder Diana Magarian provide strength up the middle. If the pitching comes through the Black Knights will be back high in the standings.
Fairfield Ludlowe, Ridgefield, Darien, Staples, Westhill. We are not trying to be coy or cop out, there is a lot of balance and potential surprises this season. And don’t discount New Canaan, with a top pitcher in Gillian Kane, and Greenwich as well.
20 Players To Watch
Sophia Alfero, Staples
Alexa Adinolfi, Trumbull
Kaitlyn Capobianco, St. Joseph
Maddi Cortell, Westhill
Delilha DeStefano, Trumbull
Dina DiBlasio, Norwalk
Liz Doolan, Fairfield Ludlowe
Courtney Fairfield, Trumbull
Julie Gambino, Greenwich
Kayla Giacobbe, St. Joseph
Ali Green, Staples
Hannah Hutchison, St. Joseph
Gillian Kane, New Canaan
Hailey King, Darien
Jessica Otto, Norwalk
Katie Sciglimpaglia, Norwalk
Dana Serricchio, Stamford
Mallory Shofi, Ridgefield
Sophia Strazza, Wilton
Olivia Vadas, Fairfield Warde
Danbury: C Trinedey Santiago, 1B Emily Bogues, 2B Makenna Cooke, 3B Gianna Iaquinto, SS Alex Cooke, IF Aziarah Bowden, CF Shea McNamara, RF Shannon Quinn, P Elizibeth Croxford, P Alexa McCarley.
Darien: P/1B Keilani Caruso, IF Hailey King, OF Stephanie Gentle, C Carolin Kreuger, IF Rosili Pirone.
Fairfield Ludlowe: P Kylee Holderied, P Jayne Magliocco, IF Elizabeth Doolan, IF Allison Clark, IF Caroline Belinsky, IF Sarah Szuchman, C Ira Boci, C Caitlyn Romero, IF/OF Bella Bookas, OF Luka Holderied, OF Margaret Nolan, OF Madeline Reyes, Katie Petroni, Grace Kresser.
Fairfield Warde: P Olivia Vadas, 3B/C Lizzie Kane, SS Abrianna Natoli, C Katie Goodchild, 1B Sophie Sancho, 2B Haley Bivens, OF Gen Tiago, OF Amanda Petrizzi, OF Jasmine Castro.
Greenwich: P Sophia Prieto, 1B Jalynn Marrero, 2B Michelle Morganti, SS Emma Beinstein, 3B Kelly Brogan, OF Katie Walko, OF Julie Gambino, OF Emily Delepine, P Marissa Munoz.
Brien McMahon: P/IF Aliza Perez, C Lila Young, 1B Karla Chumpitaz-Ruiz, 2B Ali Mills, 3B Lynette Morales, SS Megan Stefanowicz, LF Julia Bale, CF Jess Trujillo, RF/P Riley Finn.
New Canaan: P Gillian Kane, C Emma Shullman, 2B Kaitlyn Fico, 3B Sofia Delicata, 3B Kendall Somma, 3B Mary Haney, SS Kara Fahey, OF Adriana Annesse, OF Lizi Kuchinski, OF Unity Lee, OF Sofia Delicata, OF Kendall Somma, OF Mikaylah Vindas, OF Allison Fitzpatrick, OF Megan Ziegler.
Norwalk: P Brianny Garcia, C Dina DiBlasio, 1B Jessica Otto, 2B Brenda Garcia, SS Katie Sciglimpaglia, 3B Catherine Sheehan, CF Skyler Suda, LF/P Mia Lanzarotto.
Ridgefield: CF Mallory Shofi, LF Lauren Bayer, C Claire Filaski, SS Sabrina Grizzaffi, 3B Chiara Signorelli, 1B/3B Makena Skrobar, P/RF Mikayla Melahn, 2B Alex Kinkead, RF Ellie Brady, C/1B Reagan Bonadies, 1B/3B Julia Kocsis, P/1B Skylar Arent, P/OF Alyssa DeStafano.
St. Joseph: SS Kayla Giacobbe, CF Hannah Hutchison, C Charlee Horton, 1B Kaitlin Capobianco, OF Paige Hunter, Alyssa Noce, P Claire Gardella, P Payton Doiron, P Catherine Connell.
Stamford: SS Dana Serricchio, 2B Gloria Mattioli, CF Diana Magarian, C Amy Covino, OF Brycelin Stalteri, OF Morgan Yacavone, 3B/DH Tonianne Ferraro, 1B Ally Lyons, OF/DH Abby Hogan, 1B/3B/DH Alissa Lauture, P Rebecca Schwartz, P Kim Saunders, P Jordan Rossi.
Staples: Sophia Alfero, Ali Green, Taylor Rochlin.
Westhill: C Maddy Cortell, P/OF Fran Deleo, 1B Caroline Kollar, 2B Maddy Battista, SS Olivia Butler, 3B Betsy Sachs. P/OF Hannah Burston, OF Tessa Manella, RF Annaliese Fishkill.
Wilton: OF: Hannah Belanger, IF Sophia Strazza, IF/P Claire Wilson, IF Iso Casiraghi, IF Julianna Musilli, IF/P Kate Shouvlin, IF Maya Farrell, OF Brianna Catino, OF Emily O’Brien, OF Hailey Dube, OF/P Hannah Lifrieri, OF Tori Choinski, IF Lara Burke.
(Teams missing did not reply to requests for information.)