BRISTOL - The Fairfield American Little League has gotten used to representing the state of Connecticut in the New England Regional held in Bristol.
This year is the seventh over the last nine that Fairfield American has been the team to win the state title and advance to Bristol.
“It’s pristine and it’s not by coincidence,” Fairfield American Little League president Matt McGuire said. “These kids see the older kids’ success and once they hit eight years old, they start working towards following that same path. And by the time they’re 12, they’re ready to go.”
Last year’s Fairfield team won the New England Regional, the third time Fairfield has done so.
Its run in Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series was equally impressive, as it reached the U.S. semifinal game before being eliminated with a 14-4 loss to Texas.
Strong pitching and stellar defense was a key for last year’s team and that shouldn’t change this time around, despite a completely different roster without any players returning.
“Pitching and defense is special with this group,” McGuire said. “That’s what they’re going to show in Bristol and if they move on [to Williamsport] it will be a big reason why.”
Leading the way for Fairfield on the mound will be a pair of ace pitchers in Will Meyers and Pierce Cowles. They lead the charge for Fairfield, but the team also has a close third in Charlie Yates, and Aidan Gouley is also capable of coming into pitch if needed.
Cowles will be the big bat in the lineup for Fairfield. With double-digit home runs, Cowles could be the star if Fairfield makes a run in Bristol. He will be a name to watch out for.
This year was the first time all 13 players played spring travel baseball while gearing up for the Little League summer and it’s been a big reason behind Fairfield reaching this point, something manager Jeff Gouley wasn’t certain would happen.
The goal was to win districts and then “anything could happen,” Gouley said.
It took a 13-1 run to get to this point, but the group isn’t done just yet.
“This year’s group is a quietly confident group,” Gouley said. “They’re not a loud group. They’re very athletic and play multiple sports. They’re not just baseball players. They have what it takes. We just have to play our best baseball.”
Fairfield teams have gone 6-6 in Williamsport.
The 2010 team that started the town’s run went 1-2, with the losses coming against Texas (14-1) and Washington (9-5).
Two years later, Fairfield was back in Williamsport and defeated Nebraska 12-0 in its first game before losing the next two to Indiana (4-0) and California (5-0).
Being from Fairfield automatically puts expectations on the group, regardless of whether or not it was expected to be here this time around.
While true, Gouley is trying to not let the Fairfield’s winning ways get into the heads of his players. There’s going to be plenty of talent in Bristol as the New England Regional starts Sunday for Connecticut.
“Our expectation is to win on Sunday, that’s our first game,” Gouley said. “We have to take care of business on Sunday. Everyone is there to win the tournament, but our focus is on Sunday at 1 o’clock versus Rhode Island.”