It has been a very long time since Danbury High School had made an impact in the FCIAC girls softball playoffs.

The Hatters were FCIAC runnerups in 1994 and then the ledger goes blank.

Well, Danbury decided that 2011 was a long enough wait as the Hatters advanced to the FCIAC softball playoff semifinals Tuesday thanks to a 4-1 road triumph over New Canaan.

"This is a big win for our season. Our first playoff victory in a long time is a big deal," Danbury sophomore righthander Marisa Ferguson said. "I'm proud of everybody on the team today. The semifinals will be an exciting experience."

Indeed. No. 5 Danbury (16-5, 14-5) will face No. 8 Fairfield Ludlowe in Thursday's 3 p.m. semifinal at Fairfield University. Ludlowe stunned previously unbeaten Westhill, 1-0 Tuesday. Darien faces Stamford in the 5 p.m. semifinal. The FCIAC championship is currently set for Friday at 4 p.m. at Fairfield University.

Danbury trailed 1-0 but broke through for one run in the fourth and three runs in the fifth to conquer No. 4 New Canaan (15-6, 13-6).

Danbury's Ferguson allowed Courtney Rogers' single and Marlee Ready's RBI triple in the first inning to give New Canaan a 1-0 edge.

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From there, Ferguson locked in and finished with a complete-game, five-hitter with three strikeouts and three walks.

"One key was I got ahead in the count today. New Canaan hit me pretty well when we met in the regular season," Ferguson said. "I threw fastballs and curves. The curve kept their hitters off-balance."

"Ferguson didn't give us pitches in our wheelhouse," said New Canaan coach Danielle Simoneau, a star pitcher herself at both Westhill High and the University of Hartford. "I'd say 95 to 98 percent of her pitches were on the outside corner. She pitched very smart. And she was rewarded."

New Canaan sophomore righthander Cydney Ventura allowed 10 Danbury hits to go with one walk and five strikeouts.

Kara Orr's two-out RBI single forged a 1-1 tie in the fourth. Erica Carboni and Hannah Keiser laced triples while pinch-hitter Katie Falmouth contributed a sacrifice fly to center in a three-run fifth inning for Danbury.

"We played three perfect innings then we fell into the `UH-OH' zone. We didn't adjust. We're so young (just two seniors) we had some first-time FCIAC playoff jitters," Simoneau said. "We have to learn from this and move on to the state tournament. Danbury's hitters stayed within themselves. They hit the ball where it was pitched."