One poor defensive inning proved to be the difference in the latest preseason scrimmage for New Canaan softball, as the Rams fell 1-0 at Trumbull Saturday morning. Senior pitcher Ali Reilly struck out 12 batters and allowed a triple in the fifth inning, which was quickly coupled with a throwing error that produced the lone run of the game. New Canaan first baseman Jamie Schlim knocked a triple of her own in the second frame, the first of two Ram hits on the day.
Freshman Ram catcher Molly Keshin worked all seven innings behind the plate in an impressive performance that included a number of positive defensive plays and a double at the plate.
"We just threw Molly behind the plate and said `let's see what she can do'," New Canaan coach Danielle Simoneau said. "She will split that time with Claire (Conley), but she's aggressive and makes it look easy, which puts a lot of confidence in our pitchers."
The 10 a.m. scrimmage was only the second time New Canaan has taken to the diamond in 2014, as it looks to follow a successful 2013 campaign highlighted by an FCIAC championship. This season, the Rams will look to replace their entire infield, which graduated last spring. Inside the circle, Reilly and Schlim, a transfer from St. Luke's, project to split innings. In addition, the pair can also play first base and hit in the middle of the order.
"Ali threw the ball well," Simoneau said. "She and Jamie are going to rotate going forward. When you have two pitchers, it really helps."
Outside of Keshin and Schlim, the only Rams to reach base Saturday were Reilly and shortstop Rachel Keshin. Each received a walk in the opening innings and was later stranded at first base. The Keshin sisters are a part of a talented freshman class that gives the Rams coaching staff a lot of hope for this season and those that will follow.
For now, the team will continue to work on fundamentals at the plate and in the field over its remaining scrimmages. After the second inning, 15 of the final 17 Ram batters to step into the box were retired.
"We know what we have to work on,"Simoneau said. "And for not being on dirt for too long, today was pretty good."
New Canaan is scheduled to open its regular season on the road against Fairfield Ludlowe on Thursday at 4 p.m. One day later, the squad will return home for its home opener against Greenwich.