Oxford defeats St. Joseph in state softball final
The clock was ticking in the Class M state championship softball game and no one from No. 2 Oxford High or No. 1 St. Joseph of Trumbull, nor the estimated 1,400 fans in attendance, knew exactly when an offensive explosion of any sort would take place.
It finally began in the top of the sixth inning with Oxford’s Marisa Bruno’s lining an infield hit off St. Joseph pitcher Nicole Williams for an infield hit. It ended with Ashley Guillette’s bases-loaded double.
When the dust had settled at Frank DeLuca Hall of Fame in Stratford, it was coach Jim Husar’s Oxford Wolverines hoisting the championship plaque after scoring four runs in the frame en route to a 4-0 victory.
“Our game plan was good, but we were chasing a lot of pitches,” Husar said of his team’s approach to facing Williams. “She’s an outstanding pitcher. That one ball that went through — a foot the other way it would have gone to the shortstop.”
But Ashley Lombardi’s two-out grounder didn’t veer toward Cadet shortstop Lauren Pitney.
It went up the middle to score Meghan Sastram, who had followed Bruno’s single with a one-out double before Kaley Kempf walked to load the bases.
Pitney then turned Kaley Kempf’s rocket shot to shortstop into a force out at home with a throw to Jovanna Hillman for out number two.
But Guillette completed the rally, and sewed up MVP honors, with a bases-clearing triple.
“You play and you take your chances,” St. Joseph head coach Jeff Babineau said after his team suffered its first loss in 26 starts.
“We scouted (Guillette). When you can throw that hard and then come back with that nasty change-up...That difference in variation is why Ashley’s going where she’s going (Coastal Carolina).”
Guillette finished with a three-hitter. She walked two and struck out 10, as Oxford improved to 26-1.
Williams took a no-hitter into the sixth. The junior had struck out nine batters, hit one, and another had reached on an error.
Hanna Errico had two hits for the Cadets; bunt singles in the third and sixth innings but advanced no further.
Williams was St. Joseph’s first base runner after she drew a leadoff walk in the second inning.
Courtesy runner Trish Bastek went to second on Amy Chacho’s sacrifice bunt, but was cut down on a delayed steal attempt of third by Kempf, the Oxford catcher.
Hillman began the home seventh by drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch.
Williams followed with a line single to left field, and both runners advanced a bases when the ball was bobbled.
Guillette settled in and retired the next three batters — on a popup to second, a strikeout, and foul pop to Kempf.
Oxford had threatened in the first when Sastram reached on an infield error, only to be erased when Hillman pegged her out trying to steal second with Pitney making the tag.
Oxford’s Sam Kostek was hit by a pitch to open the third, Bruno sacrificed her to second, but Williams struck out the next two batters.
That was all the base runners until the clock’s buzzer went off in the sixth.