We are at the midway point of the FCIAC spring sports season, and the biggest news so far is the COVID pandemic has had a minimal impact. Sure, the New Canaan girls lacrosse team, which is scrambling to make up games because it was in quarantine for most of the preseason and the start of games, and a few other teams will disagree.
But so far the disruptions have not had a great effect on missed games and the race for playoff spots.
Speaking of which, in tomorrow’s Extra-Base Hits column I am going to list the top baseball and softball teams, blended by their chances of winning an FCIAC title.
As we pass the midway pole, here are some thoughts on the races in the four major sports as we prepare for a week of contenders facing off in all sports.
Right now four teams have slightly separated themselves from a large pack: Fairfield Warde, Greenwich, Staples and Trumbull. The Mustangs, at 8-1, have had the most impressive combination of pitching and hitting. The Cardinals were expected to be good but maybe not 7-1 good. Their pitching is both quality and deep.
Staples is 8-2 after a stretch of two losses in three games, to Norwalk and Ridgefield. The Bears made big plays in their win and the Tigers waited out Staples ace Carter Kelsey, who left the game after six innings due to pitch count with a 3-2 lead and rallied. The Wreckers are getting two key pitchers back for the second half of the season. Trumbull has been riding the pitching of Bryan Kraus, who suffered his first loss Friday against Staples.
After that comes a pack of teams — Norwalk, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Wilton and Brien McMahon — with three league losses. At least a couple of them figure to have strong second halves.
It will be a good race, though baseball is a sport not suited for single elimination. Lower seeds have won titles more times than in any other sport.
The road to the FCIAC title goes through St. Joseph. That was reinforced on Wednesday with a 5-2 win over Fairfield Ludlowe. Pitcher Lauren Wasikoswki, the overwhelming candidate for Player of the Year, has dominated, while Maddy Fitzgerald leads a potent lineup.
Who can stop the Cadets? Ludlowe, Staples and Stamford have the best chance. The Falcons may have the best hitting throughout the lineup but is still figuring out their pitching situation after losing four to quarantine and injury. The Wreckers defeated both Stamford and Trumbull this week. The emergence of junior pitcher Tasha Taubenheim has elevated their chances. And the Black Knights, led by Kim Saunders’ pitching and hitting, are still very much a factor.
Darien flexed its muscles again yesterday but after yielding six of the final seven goals suffered a 9-8 overtime loss to Brunswick in a game against national ranked teams. The Blue Wave may have tired some in the late going but it was still an impressive display.
Darien defeated Staples this week to add to previous wins against Ridgefield and New Canaan. It gets Greenwich and Wilton this week. The Blue Wave are a prohibitive favorite, but with no interstate games are going to face some of the contenders anywhere from one to three more times.
How would you rank the next five best teams? Until yesterday it would have been Ridgefield and Staples 2-3 in some configuration. But Greenwich, with everyone back, defeated the Tigers and Wilton beat the Wreckers. And New Canaan may rebound for the second half of the season.
So there is a lot of interesting lacrosse left to be played.
It will be a surprise if someone other than New Canaan or Darien wins league and state titles. The Rams are the favorites right now because of their impressive victory over the Blue Wave in their first game back from quarantine.
The outlook may change by tonight: the teams meet this afternoon in Darien. Another factor: the status of Blue Wave star Chloe Humphrey due to a stress fracture in her back.
There have been several teams behind them that have played some fun games. Ludlowe is unbeaten. Greenwich has not lost in conference play. Wilton and Staples have impressed.
There are now several teams that can provide compelling entertainment.
(This story appeared in this morning’s edition of the Overtime newsletter, which always has content you won’t find on the site. Overtime is free and delivered weekly to you email inbox. Click here to subscribe.)