Easties edge Cadets in softball semifinals

East Haven High scored a run in the top of the sixth inning and defeated St. Joseph, 1-0, in the Class M state semifinals at DeLuca Field in Stratford on June 11.

Coach Jeff Babineau’s third-seeded Cadets finished their season at 25-2.

“I’m very proud of them, to have worked so hard since March to get onto this big stage,” Babineau said. “They (East Haven) got the one big hit. Both pitchers were on tonight and tied up two good hitting teams.”

East Haven (20-4), the seventh seed, lost to top-seeded Seymour High (23-1), in the finals on Saturday.

The Wildcats had edged No. 4 Rocky Hill, 4-3, in nine innings in their semifinal.

The Easties, out of the Southern Connecticut Conference, took the lead after a walk to Alyssa Apuzzo to open the sixth.

Apuzzo went to second on a sacrifice bunt, but Nicole Williams notched one of her nine strikeouts to put two outs in the book. That brought Giovanna Russo to the plate, and the junior lined an RBI single to left center to score Apuzzo.

That was only the second of three hits off Williams, as the sophomore walked five and left eight runners on base.

“They’re young,” Babineau said of his team, which started senior Mikaela Mallozzi in center field and classmate Tori Ceballos at first.

“When you get on a big stage (the semis) things go fast. Basically, we missed a couple of signs and that came back to hurt us.”

East Haven’s senior right-hander Talia Loda set down the first nine batters she faced, before junior Lauren Pitney reached base on a swinging bunt single to open the bottom of the fourth inning.

A missed steal/bunt sign took her off the bases and the game moved into the fifth inning.

Williams was retired on a fine play by Eastie center fielder Jenna Gaudioso, but junior Amy Chacho clubbed a 3-2 pitch to deep right field for a double.

With sophomore Jenna Carrano on to run, Lodia struck out the next batter and fielded a comebacker to strand the runner.

Lodia retired St. Joseph in order in the sixth and threatened in the seventh.

With two runners aboard after a walk and a single, the Cadets’ Hanna Errico went into right field from her second-base position and the freshman made the catch to save at least one run and keep St. Joseph’s hopes alive.

Mallozzi led off the final at-bat with a solid first-pitch single to left. Senior Samantha Errico came in to run and went to third when Ceballos’ bunt was misplayed to put two runners in scoring position with no outs.

Williams squared to bunt, pulled the bat back, and Easties’ catcher McKenzie Miessau threw down to third to get the runner leaning toward the plate for the first out.

Williams completed her trip to the plate with a looper to right field that was caught by a charging Marissa Vittorio.

Chacho was intentionally walked before Lodia got the third out to send East Haven to its first final since 1984.

With sophomore’s Lauren Blose (catcher) and Williams (pitcher), returning, along with freshmen Errico (second base and Melissa Bike (left field) and juniors’ Chacho (right field), Pitney (shortstop) and Katie Gardella (third base), St. Joseph is poised to make another run at a state title next spring.

“We hope so,” Babineau said when asked about the future for his Cadets, who finished fifth in the state in the final tally among state writers. “This hurts, but hopefully we’ll be better for it next year.”