STAMFORD -- The Stamford softball team won 11 of its first 13 games this season, largely riding the arm of pitcher Christina Joannou.
When Joannou went down with a hamstring injury, it was no coincidence the Black Knights stumbled as well, going 3-4 to finish the season.
Fully recovered, Joannou led the Black Knights to the FCIAC semifinals last week where they lost by a run to eventual champion St. Joseph with Joannou allowing just four hits.
Joannou was just as sharp in the opening round of the Class LL tournament Monday, pitching the No. 12 Black Knights to a 7-2 win over No. 21 New Canaan.
Stamford will face No. 5 Daniel Hand at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the second round.
Joannou struck out five batters, allowing four hits while going the distance.
"(Joannou) has been working very hard," Stamford coach Tony Esposito said. "She started the season off on fire, then she got hurt and she had to work her way back in and she did. She went like three weeks without doing anything and now she's fine and working her butt off and she's locked in."
The Black Knights (16-7) took advantage of seven New Canaan errors in the game, scoring two runs in the second, two more in the third and three in the fourth to pull away.
New Canaan's defensive woes were too much to overcome against a team with a deep lineup such as Stamford.
"Lack of defense and not enough offense, but we can't complain. Stamford is just flawless with their defense and we wish them the best of luck in states," New Canaan coach Danielle Simoneau said. "They put the bat on the ball, so, you can't take anything away from Stamford. We can't blame us not playing well, they just played better. That's the type of coach he (Esposito) is, he is always four steps ahead and sometimes you can't compete with that."
The Rams (11-11) got runs in the in fourth and sixth inning but could not string together enough offense to compete on this day.
For Stamford, Brianna Arias and Maddie Santora had two RBI apiece and Kelly DiPietro had two hits and scored twice.
Getting some runs on the board is always a welcome sight for Joannou.
"Getting runs early is a great amount of help. It really is," Joannou said. "I know I have a great team behind me. They are going to field no matter what, so, I just have to hit my spots. I feel like we have it as a team right now, I really do." Read Full Article
Stamford 7, New Canaan 2
NEW CANAAN000 101 0 -- 2 4 7
STAMFORD022 300 X -- 7 8 4
Records: S -- 16-7; NC--11-11. Batteries: S -- Christina Joannou (W) and Colleen Adams; NC -- Ali Reilly (L), Jamie Schim (4) and Molly Keshin