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Saturday, March 24 Sports

Fairfield win LL softball state championship

After finishing up as state runners up in an extra-inning game in 2013, losing to Waterford, the Fairfield Little League Girls Softball all-star team won the 2014 state championship in the division for 11 year olds last Sunday in Rocky Hill.

In exacting some measure of revenge, Fairfield beat Waterford 14-0 and did not allow a run in the state tournament, going 3-0 and beating Waterford twice in Rocky Hill. There is no competition for 11 year olds beyond the state level, no tournament at the New England regional stage. Fairfield went as far as it could go.

Seymour (District 3) and a Terryville/Plymouth co-op (District 6) were the other teams to reach the state tournament.

Little League softball officials in town applied to participate in the state tournament when none of the other teams in District 2 -- to which Fairfield and some other nearby town's Little Leagues belong -- decided to field a team in the division for 11 year olds, said the team's first-year manager, Dennis Nolan. The league's team of 12-year-old all-stars lost to Westport for the District 2 championship in late June.

The 11-year-old team was formed on June 16, following evaluations by the springtime regular-season, in-house league managers. Players were also scouted. It was a two-part process, Nolan said. The team began practicing on June 23 and scrimmaged teams from nearby towns in exhibition games in late June.

Fairfield beat Seymour 9-0 on July 13 on a one-hitter, then met Waterford on July 16. Fairfield pitcher Kylee Holderied threw a perfect game in a four-inning, mercy-rule 10-0 victory over the defending champs.

Waterford defeated Seymour 9-5 on July 17 to win the losers' bracket final to reach the championship game against Fairfield. Nine of Fairfield's 13 players were on the 10-year-old team last summer that lost the state championship. Mark Szuchman and Chris Meehan were assistant coaches both years.

"This was a great win by the girls. I attribute that to all the hard work put in by the girls," Nolan said of the championship. "This is a great all-around team with a great pitcher. They were kind of perfect for three games all-around."

Fairfield's fielders combined to commit one error. The only base-running mistake, he said, was from an assistant coach later admitting to him that he should have not sent the base-runner who was put out.

Holderied's stats might have been better than great. She pitched 14 innings total in the three state tourney games and allowed three hits, while striking out 21 batters. In the perfect game, she recorded five Ks. Nolan says her pitches have great velocity.

At bat, Holderied's stats could be viewed as more impressive as Fairfield's leadoff batter. She went 6-for-7, for an .857 batting average, scoring eight runs, drawing three walks and recording a sacrifice fly. She reached base safely in 9 of 11 plate appearances.

"She's a dynamic hitter," Nolan said of Holderied. "Kylee's a special softball player, no question."

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Three of her teammates had impressive hitting statistics as well. Sarah Szuchman, a third baseman, went 3-for-5 (.600) with three walks, a pair of sacrifice bunts and six runs scored. Molly Meehan went 4-for-9 (.444) and scored three runs. Serena Ta batted .500 (3-for-6), drawing five walks and scoring five times.

Second baseman Olivia DeSabella was strong in the field, Nolan said. DeSabella and Szuchman each paced the team with seven putouts.Catchers Bella Bookas and Ira Boci combined to allow a total of two stolen bases by the opponents.