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Riptide Shoots for State Softball Title

NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Riptide softball team reached the New England Regional Tournament last year in the 12-year-old division. The team coached by Wally Hurd begins its postseason journey this year in the 14-and-under division Friday in the Babe Ruth state tournament in New Milford.

"We have pretty good pitching depth, and they've been getting better at each practice,'' Hurd said. "We're looking forward to a good tournament."

Norwalk plays Stamford in its tournament opener Friday at 6 p.m. Cheshire and New Milford are the other teams in the tournament. Friday's games will determine seedings for the double-elimination bracket, which begins Saturday. The tournament concludes Sunday.

"You want to get off to a good start,'' Hurd said. "You also want to put teams away when you have the chance. If you get up 3-0 in the first inning you don't want to give them back."

Norwalk's pitching staff is anchored by Amy Hurd and Ryan LaJoie, who helped the team reach the New England Regional last year as 12-year-olds. "We're younger than most teams, but they're still talented,'' Hurd said. "I think they can still play with anybody."

The Riptide has fared well in several summer tournaments and is 6-1 in the Fairfield County Fastpitch Softball League. The girls have experience playing in pressure situations, which should benefit them this weekend.

"We should be prepared for this weekend,'' Hurd said. "We've upset some higher-seeded teams in the tournaments, and then we've turned around and lost games we shouldn't have. It depends on which girls show up. If they play the way that I think they're capable of, I think we have a pretty good shot."

The Norwalk team includes Nicole Bonanni, Ali Brown, Erin Frederick, Leslie Garcia, Allison Hall, Katelyn Spielman, Amy Alfson, Amy Hurd, Ryan LaJoie, Tori Dugan, Mallory Rochefort, Becky Stefanatos, Mia Grenier and Kasey Hogan.

The state champion advances to the New England Regional in Burlington, Mass., beginning July 29.

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