Cadets cruise to FCIAC softball title

The St. Joseph’s High softball team didn’t sit idly by after its 1-0 loss to Darien High on May 7, the only blemish on a regular season that included 19 wins.

Instead, coach Jeff Babineau’s Cadets hit the film room and studied Blue Wave pitcher Erika Osherow, who shut them out that day. The observations turned out well.

St. Joseph put on a performance worthy of a highlight-show production of its own in rapping out 13 hits en route to a 12-1 demolition of Darien in the FCIAC championship game at Fairfield’s Sacred Heart University on May 29

Eight of the starting nine players in the Cadets’ lineup had at least one hit and the locals broke the game open with a eight-run inning in the fourth to record their 22nd victory of the year against that lone defeat.

“We had to be patient today, that’s what I told my players,” Babineau said. “That was my most important message. The first time we played them, we did hit the ball hard. Unfortunately, we hit it at somebody. We were way over-anxious.”

So the Cadets studied Osherow with clinical precision.

The junior Darien pitcher was just a bit off on Thursday, having difficulty finding the strike zone. When she did put the ball around the plate, the Cadets teed off on it.

St. Joseph sent 13 batters to the plate in the fourth, punched out nine hits, their first of the game, and put the game away.

Leading the way all day was the team’s lead-off hitter, junior shortstop Lauren Pitney. After walking in the first and grounding out in the third, Pitney tripled home three runs in the fourth before delivering again in the sixth with a two-run double.

Both times she drove the ball hard into the left-center field gap.

“She (Osherow) is always around the zone,” Pitney said. “We knew that if we made her work, we’d wear her down. We spent lots of time studying her.”

St. Joseph reached the final with a 1-0 win over Stamford High,  while the Blue Wave (20-3) defeated Westhill of Stamford, 4-1.

In addition to Pitney, whom Babineau considers the best shortstop in the state, Tori Ceballos, Amy Chacho and Hanna Errico all had two hits apiece. Melissa Bike drove in a pair of runs.

Not to be overshadowed in the one-sided win was the pitching effort of sophomore Nicole Williams, who threw a four-hitter using just 79 pitches.

“For our team in general and for Nicole is particular, this was some unfinished business that we had to take care of today,” Babineau said. “Nicole lost to New Canaan, 2-1, in last year’s championship game.”

Darien scored its only run in the sixth. Osherow had singled, reached second on a fielder’s choice and went to third on a wild pitch. She raced home on Julia Domiziano’s ground out to second base.

“It simply got away from us today,” said Darien coach Nick DeMaio. “Obviously, this is something that hasn’t happened to us all year long. Up until now, we’d only lost two games and they were both by one run, so this is new for our team.”

DeMaio also commented on Osherow. “I think they could’ve studied her all they wanted to,” he said. “What it really came down to was the fact that she didn’t have her best stuff today.

“I could see it in her body language. And that definitely affected her confidence.

“But give St. Joe’s all the credit. They had an intensity and a focus that we couldn’t match in this game.”

FCIAC roundup

St. Joseph defeated New Canaan, 11-0, in its FCIAC quarterfinal game on May 27. Williams allowed five hits and struck out eight with no walks shutting out the No. 8 Rams (11-10).

State tournament

Katie Gardella and Pitney hit home runs to pace a 21-hit attack when third-seeded St. Joseph  defeated Wolcott High, 15-0, in Class M state tournament first round action in Trumbull on Monday.

Williams allowed only one hit and struck out 10 batters as 30th-seeded Wolcott finished at 8-13.

St. Joseph defeated Haddam Killingworth, 9-1, in a second-round game in Trumbull on Tuesday. Pitney and Ceballos hit home runs to back Williams’ three-hit, 11-strikeout pitching. Blose and Gardella had two hits each against the 19th-seeded Cougars (14-8).

The Cadets (24-1) will next play sixth-seeded Oxford High (19-3) in the quarterfinals on Thursday, June 5, at 3:30 p.m. at St. Joseph.