There is not much Trumbull softball coach Cary Nadel would change about the season to date.
OK, there is a 5-3 loss to Norwalk separating them from perfection, but there was bound to be one blip, and so far Nadel considers it a teaching moment.
“It is what I would call a good loss,” Nadel said, “because they learned something from it.”
The Eagles (11-1) are 7-0 since that defeat. The last five wins have been by shutouts. If the regular season ended today, they would be the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, one game behind unbeaten St. Joseph.
So, is Trumbull just a very good team or a championship contender? We will have a better answer in 72 hours, after home games Wednesday against Darien and Friday against the Cadets. The two teams were the preseason favorites.
“We’re focusing one game at a time,” Nadel said Sunday night, prior to a 6-0 win the next day at Staples. “But they know who is coming to our house.”
After those two games is a meeting with Ridgefield, the surprise team of the season. Stamford soon follows. It is a difficult stretch.
So how does Nadel think his team matches up for this week’s dynamic duo?
“I’ve seen both Darien and St. Joseph play,” he said. “We can play with them if we play clean softball, the way we’ve been playing the last two and one-half, three weeks. There’s no reason we cannot beat both of those teams. Maybe not in the same week.”
St. Joseph, the defending champion with the heart of its lineup back, and Darien, with pitcher Erika Osherow, headed everyone’s teams to beat list back in early April. Both have lived up to expectations — though the Blue Wave suffered a setback Monday when errors proved costly in a 2-1 loss to Stamford.
Trumbull and Stamford figured to head the so-called second tier of teams, which included Westhill. Ridgefield and Fairfield Warde must also be thrown in the mix.
Trumbull has received strong pitching from both Ally Szabo and Taylor Brown. Szabo has emerged as the No. 1 starter, in part because of a 6-1 record and 0.89 earned run average.
“It is not that Ally is that much better than Taylor,” Nadel said. “As long as she’s throwing well we’re better defensively with Taylor at shortstop. I’d be happy with either in the circle.
Good pitching as been complemented in the field and at the plate. Catcher Harleigh Kaczegowicz is hitting a team-leading .517, just ahead of infielders Emily Clark and Jayme Thompson, who are batting .500. Outfielder Lea Thompson is next at .452.
“I’m thrilled with the way the girls have played and come together as a team,” Nadel said.
Both of this week’s games are of equal importance, but the town showdown with St. Joseph carries the extra emotional resonance.
“We’d be happy with a split,” Nadel said. “St. Joseph should be a big one. If we have our way, going into that game still with just one loss, and St. Joseph has none if they do what they are expected to do… The girls know it is a big rivalry. They want to go home happy Friday night.”
Top Of The Order
1. St. Joseph (12-0). The Cadets are still picking up speed downhill. Does Trumbull have the ability to slow them?
2. Darien (10-2). We are sticking with the Blue Wave in the second spot for the time being, but Monday’s game showed how, even with Osherow, they have a small margin for error.
3. Trumbull (11-1) and Stamford (10-2). It will be interesting to see if our view of the Eagles is changed by the end of the week. We couldn’t omit Stamford. It may not be great in many areas but it is solid everywhere.