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Dave Ruden offers news, commentary and analysis on the FCIAC and local sports

Ridgefield baseball team has been downright offensive

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EXTRA-BASE-HITS2

Ridgefield has emerged as a boys lacrosse power in recent years, one of the Fairfield County towns where the sport has really bloomed.

The baseball program has had periods of success, but just one FCIAC championship trophy  in the school showcase, and that was in 1988.

Is this the year the Tigers win titles in both spring male sports? At 11-1, the lacrosse team is currently tied with New Canaan for the best record in the FCIAC. And the baseball team, prior to Monday’s win over Stamford, was one of four baseball teams tied with a league-low two losses.

What is the secret to Ridgefield’s success? Coach Paul Fabbri offered a one-word answer: “Offense.”

The Tigers entered Monday’s game with a team batting average of .359, led by Bryce Maher (.460) and Devin Martin, who has accounted for 38 runs between RBIs and runs scored.

“We made a decision to keep 16 seniors on the team, and 10 of those fit into nine spots in the lineup,” Fabbri said. “We rotate guys. We’ve been smashing the ball.”

Fabbri, who took over for the popular Tony Wilmot, who stepped down after five seasons to take a job at Western Connecticut State University, has a varied and interesting background. He was known as “Super Fan,” the person who roused the crowds at Alumni Hall for Fairfield University men’s basketball games, during the mid-1980s. He married Tricia Sacca, a 1,000-point scorer and one of the best players in Stags women’s basketball history.

Fabbri was Ridgefield’s girls hockey coach for the first 11 years of the program before stepping down after the 2011-12 season. He coached the Notre Dame-Fairfield baseball team to two state titles in 14 years, before Ridgefield athletic director Carl Charles was able to sway him to take the opening.

The Tigers have wins over Danbury, New Canaan and St. Joseph, the latter two top 10 teams in the state. The losses have come to Greenwich and Wilton.

The race for the FCIAC title is wide open. And Fabbri feels if his team can continue averaging 12 runs a game, the Tigers will be right in the chase to end their league championship drought.

“We’ve been hitting the ball,” he said. “I agree we have as good a chance as anybody, as long we play the way we’ve been and get representative pitching.”

The Osherow Factor

Is it possible, after all the big numbers being put up and all the talk about offense, that a pitcher could again be the most influential person in the race for the FCIAC softball championship?

Darien's Erika Osherow

Darien’s Erika Osherow

Some league coaches are beginning to think so. As the weather has warmed up, Darien’s Erika Osherow has heated up. After three tough outings in her first four starts, the highly touted sophomore, who played shortstop a year ago, has shutouts in her last five starts. The includes games against New Canaan, Greenwich and Danbury, all contenders.

Hatters coach Harry Trohalis said on Friday that Osherow was impressive in shutting down his hard-hitting team, 5-0.

I’m headed down this week to do a story on Osherow for the paper.

It would be ironic if, like the old days, pitching becomes the storyline during the FCIAC Tournament. Osherow is making that a strong possibility.

Top of the order

BASEBALL

1. GREENWICH (12-2): The Cardinals have outscored their last five opponents by a combined 41-1 margin. Kind of impressive.

2. ST. JOSEPH (12-2): The Cadets are riding a seven-game winning streak, the latest one of the best games of the season, a 1-0 duel over town rival Trumbull on Saturday night.

3. RIDGEFIELD (11-2): Who said Ridgefield is just a lacrosse town? The Tigers are on a nice roll. And it still seems absurd that New Canaan, which could be the best team in the league but has the most recent loss, is left out of The Order for the second straight week.

SOFTBALL

1. DARIEN (11-3): A big shakeup this week as most of the top teams, playing against one another, suffered a loss. You could make a strong case for several teams here. We are going with Darien, which has won nine straight, the last six by shutout, and allowed just five runs during the stretch. Call it the Osherow Factor.

2. WESTHILL (11-3): The Vikings slipped up against a Greenwich team that has been lurking around but received little attention. They are allowed a slip up.

3. STAMFORD (11-3): No one could argue if we put St. Joseph, Fairfield Ludlowe, Danbury, Greenwich or New Canaan in this spot in a year of great parity. Seeing that the Black Knights went 2-1 in the toughest regular-season week — Ludlowe, Westhill, Danbury — any team will have this season (cue John Houseman voice), The Black Knights got the No. 3 spot the old-fashioned way. They earned it.

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