You can gauge the future outlook for the Stamford High School softball team by the talent it will have returning next season.
Perhaps a better indicator is how the Black Knights reacted to their 1-0 loss to top-seeded Southington on Wednesday.
“We left a lot of people on base,” Black Knights coach Tony Esposito said. “Five times we had a girl on second base with one out.”
That disappointment was shared by his players. Stamford was not content with nearly upsetting the top seed.
“It was a really tight game,” said junior Jordan Schepps. “The whole team did everything we could. Even though they beat us we played them evenly.”
Schepps was the revelation this week for the Black Knights, and a big reason for optimism. A reliever behind Christina Joannou for a good part of the regular season, Esposito made Schepps his starter for the postseason and, pun intended, she delivered.
Schepps shut out South Windsor in the Class LL opener, 2-0. The run she allowed against Southington was unearned.
“We had some scrimmages before the tournament and I said I was going to go with whoever did the best job throwing strikes,” said Esposito. “The end of the year Jordan really came on. She threw a gem in the FCIAC playoff loss to St. Joseph and we didn’t do anything to help her, and she through two more gems again this week.”
Schepps has at least one trait shared with the more heralded Stamford city pitcher, Westhill’s Allison Macari: a firm reluctance to talk about herself.
“I just wanted to do what was best for the team all season,” Schepps said. “Whenever I got into a game I wanted to do as well as I could. I’m really excited for next year and will try the best I can.”
Stamford was 6-5 following a 10-4 loss to the Vikings. It then went 7-2 down the stretch to earn the No. 6 seed in the FCIAC Tournament. Three of the wins came against playoff teams, and one of the losses, by 8-6 in extra innings against the Cadets, could easily have been a victory.
The Black Knights are losing two solid starters, Tori Hynd and Angela Altamura. Everyone else is back, led by star shortstop Krista Robustelli, one of the state’s top players, who hit .611 this season. How feared is Robustelli? Southington intentionally walked her to load the bases with two outs in the 7th inning.
Esposito is hoping Schepps and Joannou will give him a hard decision next spring. The defense needs to be more consistent, but talent abounds. There is no reason, with a strong commitment by the players in the offseason, why the Black Knights can’t be contenders next season.
“It could be bright,” Esposito said. “The young kids, we are counting on them. Jordan and Christina have to come in ready to go. We’ll see what happens.”
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