Lady Bulldogs go far in state softball tournament
By Kathryn Elliott - ReminderNews
Stafford - posted Thu., Jun. 9, 2011
After four frustrating trips to the CIAC Tournament Class S quarterfinals, 11-seed Stafford defeated 14-seed Old Saybrook (3-1) advancing to the semifinals against Hale Ray, June 7.
“The girls’ really dug in and gave it all they had,” said coach Steve Budaj. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Senior pitcher Jody Buckley returned from injury only days prior to the tournament. “I’m looking forward to finishing strong,” she said. Buckley came into the second-round game against East Windsor in the final innings, shutting down opposition and securing the Lady Bulldogs’ 2-1 victory. The starting pitcher against Old Saybrook, Buckley went on to rack up seven strike-outs and the win.
Catcher Emilie Peirolo’s bat was on fire, contributing a grand slam in Stafford’s first-round win against Windham(8-1), as well as the game-winning home run against East Windsor.
“We came out here to play our best game – we’re giving it all we’ve got,” Peirolo said. Her sacrifice fly in the first inning against Old Saybrook put Stafford on the board. On base in the sixth, Peirolo was driven in on a hit by Jamie Sierra, scoring the go-ahead run.
“It was really important for us to keep a positive attitude,” centerfielder Dani Clark said. “We have had some strong at-bats, and I think having the right attitude is a big part of that.” Clark contributed a pivotal single in the East Windsor game.
Budaj’s unofficial coach on the field, junior Tori Utter, had high hopes going into the quarterfinal round. “I was hoping to win, but I knew it was important to stay focused and play one inning at a time,” she said. Utter, the Lady Bulldogs’ starting third baseman, drove in the winning run in the second-round game.
Tipping his hat to Old Saybrook, Budaj summed up the quarterfinal: “They gave us an unbelievable game,” he said. “It came down to hits and who made the fewest mistakes. It was a very tight, well-played game; and I have to give credit to Old Saybrook, they are a very talented team.”
In the semifinals, Stafford fell to the number-two seed Hale Ray, 5-2. “We played well and made one mistake and Hale-Ray took advantage of it. They were the better team, but I would not trade my girls for anyone,” Budaj said.
Stafford High School Softball Head Coach Steve Budaj
Number of season with this team: 14
Assistant Coaches: Don Bradway and Kim Soucy
Senior: Jody Buckley
Coaching wisdom: “Play with heart,” Budaj said.