DARIEN — It isn’t very often that Erika Osherow gets overshadowed. There are many spectacular skyscrapers architecturally in New York, but you are always drawn first to the Empire State Building.
Osherow has been that for the Blue Wave, first as a freshman shortstop and the last three years as the league’s best pitcher and player.
But on Saturday afternoon, under the league’s new — and poorly thought out — playoff format, Osherow for one of the few times ceded center stage to her teammates. It speaks to her standard of excellence that a three-hitter with seven strikeouts almost seemed pedestrian.
The Blue Wave pounded out 15 hits — five players had at least two — led by Kelly Vodola, while the defense was superb and executed one rarely seen display in a surprisingly easy 12-1 rout of Trumbull in the FCIAC Tournament quarterfinals.
“We played very well,” Darien coach Nick DeMaio said. “This was a strange format; you had to come back with no time to prepare for a specific opponent.”
For the first time the FCIAC started the playoffs the day after the regular season ended, affording the eight qualifiers both no rest or chance for strategical planning.
As it turned out, the second-seeded Blue Wave (19-2) needed none in taking the first step toward their first league championship since the current seniors were freshmen. The next chance will come against No. 3 Stamford in the semifinals.
Trumbull (15-6), the No. 7 seed, took a 1-0 lead in the second on Taylor Brown’s RBI double.
Playing with a lead, however, proved fleeting, as Darien scored five times in the bottom of the inning. The first of Sophia Barbour’s three hits tied the score, and then Kelly Vodola hit a bases-loaded triple to break the game open. She came home on Cassidy Schiff’s base hit.
“I was confident in the team,” Vodola said. “We knew what was coming and that we wouldn’t get many breaks and had to be ready.”
Vodola is known for being great with her glove at second base, but this year she has already broken the team record for hits in a season with 44. Vodola was not informed of the accomplishment until Saturday morning.
“She’s started since freshman year and done a good job, but this year she has really been hitting the ball,” DeMaio said.
Sometimes Vodola just has to be in the vicinity for a positive outcome. With two outs in the fifth, Trumbull’s Harleigh Kaczegowicz hit a ball to shallow centerfield. Vodola saw the ball pop out of her glove and into the one belonging to Schiff, the shortstop who was following the play.
“The defense behind Erica was great, and we haven’t had to do a lot this year with her pitching,” DeMaio said. “Cassidy did a great job following and being where she’s supposed to be.”
Cassie Lopiano homered for the Blue Wave. Barbour added two doubles and another came from Lexi Lopiano. Osherow had two hits and reached base three times.
“They were clean hits,” Trumbull coach Cary Nadel said. “You can’t do much about clean hits. They earned the win. We didn’t give it to them.”