By Rick Menning
There are simply not enough superlatives in Webster's Dictionary to describe this summer of incredible and amazing girls' softball as it relates to the Milford, Connecticut All-Stars.
The world is their stage, and their performances are drawing rave reviews across the globe.
When center fielder Riley Fagan-Davies easily caught the final out in Friday's Orange Bracket semifinal game against Puerto Rico, the end result was so much more than a 'W' in the scorebook.
The victory marked the second time in as many weeks that a Milford team achieved a berth in the Final Four in their respective World Series.
The Junior League/U.S. East/United States champions not only accomplished that but also reached the championship game against The Philippines in Kirkland, Washington.
Now, this coastal city on the shores of Long Island Sound can celebrate yet again as the 10-13-year-old representatives from Milford earned their place in the Little League Softball World Series' Final Four with a 10-0 win over their island-nation neighbors. It was their third triumph against an international team in six days, having previously defeated Italy twice.
The New England champions go up against Massapequa, New York on Saturday at 2 p.m. This showdown of neighboring northeast states will be broadcast to a national television audience on ESPN.
The girls from Brewster Field have now won 16 of their 18 games in All-Star tournament competition since play began at the district level against Annex about a month and a half ago.
Championship weekend bonus
The Milford squad's success on Friday night guaranteed them game action on both Saturday and Sunday.
After the respective bracket finals on Saturday, there will be both consolation and world championship games on Sunday. How huge is the latter? The title clash on Sunday afternoon will be broadcast on ABC!
Connecticut's diamond dynamos took an early 3-0 lead against Puerto Rico and never looked back.
That score stayed the same until New England put their talents into the highest of gears in the third inning by putting up a seven-spot.
Dani Kotansky and Addie McKenna-Hansen each blasted two-run rips into the outfield. Kotansky singled to right/center field to plate a pair of runs, and McKenna-Hansen rocketed a stinging double all the way to the fence for the exclamation point.
Other highlights from that inning were a great sacrifice RBI bunt by Emma Bonanno, a run-scoring base hit to right field by Riley Fagan-Davies and Holly Coon's bloop single between the second baseman and right fielder.
"Our mindset was we all wanted to make it to the Final Four," Milford left fielder Addie McKenna-Hansen said during an ESPN interview after the game. "We just went out and played our game. We never give up no matter what."
Meanwhile, inside the circle, Grace Weber pitched another gem with four strikeouts. She scattered two hits and walked only one batter.
Una grande vittoria nel softball
The New England champions reached Friday's Orange Bracket semifinal by virtue of their 9-5 victory over Italy on Wednesday in Greenville. It was the second time the Milford girls had defeated Milano at the World Series, having won 11-1 in their opening game on Sunday.
Emily Speringo was an offensive force with two doubles, a single and three RBI, and she also made two great defensive plays as an infield substitute for the final two outs in the contest.
Addie McKenna-Hansen led off the fourth inning with a rocket launcher that hit the bottom of the fence in left field and missed being a home run by only a few feet. After Emma Bonanno ripped a single to center in Milford's next at-bat, Grace Weber and Audrey O'Connell delivered back-to-back RBI sacrifice flies.
Dani Kotansky pitched a super game for the Connecticut representatives. She struck out five and walked only one Italy batter. Three of her punchouts came in the fifth and sixth innings.
Milford also benefitted from Kotansky's effort at the plate in the fifth inning when she singled home Speringo, who had wacked her second double and fourth in the World Series. Riley Fagan-Davies started the outburst with a single to left and she scored on Speringo's two-bagger.
Shortstop Holly Coon again anchored a terrific infield with two great plays, including an over-the-shoulder catch on a sinking liner in short left field.