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Meriden — It was ironic, if not amusing, that while Arielle Cooper's four starting freshmen were generally calmer than the library Saturday night, Cooper recalled some nerves, even as the celebration unfolded around her.
"I thought I was going to have an ulcer," the twentysomething interim coach of the brand new Class L state champs said. "I was like, 'Mr. P. (assistant coach Bob Peruzzotti), I'm too young for this.'"
And yet it was the coach they call "Coop," or more accurately "Coooooop," who hoisted the championship plaque for all to see at Dunn Sports Complex, punctuating top-seeded Fitch High School's 3-1 victory over No. 19 Sacred Heart of Hamden.
It is Fitch's second softball title since 2009, the team on which Cooper was the starting third baseman.
The Falcons finished 26-1.
"A good day to be a Falcon," Cooper said.
Indeed. And more good days figure to follow, given Fitch's absurdly young group of players.
"I never really focused on age," Cooper said. "The kids are well experienced. They've been playing together forever. It was like our group. We had played together since we were nine. Age isn't a factor. If you are here to win and have fun and be here for each other, it's all going to work out."
It did, thanks mostly to Taber to Taylor: sophomore pitcher Caroline Taber throwing to freshman catcher Taylor Wolfgang. Taber had a no-hitter into the fourth, escaped jams in the fourth and fifth and needed but 10 pitches in the sixth and seventh combined.
She induced a grounder to short to strand two in the fourth and a ground ball and pop up to strand two more in the fifth.
"Coop had to remind me stay within myself and keep throwing what I throw best," Taber said.
She allowed five hits and struck out five.
All the runs she needed came in the fourth. Wolfgang rifled a two-out, two-run single to left center off losing pitcher Molly Flowers, who hit Cassie Woods, walked Taber and allowed an infield hit to Jayden Delaporta preceding Wolfgang's single.
"You can't really think about it," Wolfgang said, alluding to playing as a freshman in a title game. "When your time comes you've got to make things happen."
Wolfgang, named the game's Most Outstanding Player, became the second member of her family to catch for a state championship team. Her brother, Zach, started for Fitch's baseball's 2012 state champion.
The Falcons added an insurance run in the fifth when a throwing error allowed courtesy runner Rylee MacMillan from first.
Taber pitched a perfect seventh, recording the final out on a grounder to second baseman Jonell Hobert.
"It's so exciting," Taber said. "I know this exact same team will be back next year. I can't wait for next season."