Softball: St. Joseph defeats Stamford for championship
There is nothing matter-of-fact about the St. Joseph High softball team winning three FCIAC championships in a row.
No one knows this more than Cadet senior pitcher Nicole Williams, named MVP after St. Joseph’s 7-1 victory over Stamford High in Thursday’s title game at Sacred Heart University’s Pioneer Park.
“We had two goals this one and the next one’s states,” Williams said of her team’s expectations. “In the FCIAC we feel there is a target on our backs (because of Cadet success). I feel like I know what I have to do (to get ready) and the fact we work so hard together really helps. It’s not so much what we do in the game, but how we practice each day that prepares us.”
Williams allowed three hits, an unearned run, and struck out 11 batters.
She didn’t issue a walk, as top-seeded St. Joseph improved to 22-1 (the loss was out of state).
“Nicole is the most humble kid you’ll ever run into,” Cadet coach Jeff Babineau said. “She doesn’t care about the accolades, she’s all about her team and that’s a testament to her. For her to go out with three FCIAC titles in a row….”
Williams was backed up by a 13-hit attack, which plated two runs in the second, one in the third and put together a four-run rally in the fifth.
Lauren Blose and Elena Ball each had three hits.
Ball drove in three runs and Kayla Giacobbe a pair.
Stamford (16-9) gained the final from the sixth seed, and put leadoff runners on base in the first two innings.
Each time Williams ended the threat with a strikeout.
St. Joseph took a 2-0 lead in the home second, with both tallies off Black Knight left-hander Sara Staley unearned.
Blose and Hanna Errico reached on one-out infield hits, before Ball stroked a single to right field to load the bases.
Staley, who effectively used her changeup to keep the Cadets off stride, enticed an infield pop up for the second out.
Melissa Bike then hit a ball up the middle that was gloved, but not controlled.
Ball’s hustle beat the play at second, as Blose and Errico crossed the plate.
Blose set the table for the Cadets next run, when the senior waited on a changeup and singled to right field to lead off the fourth.
Ball promptly lined a double up the left-center field gap to score pinch-runner Arianna Morton.
Stamford’s Allie Buzzeo helped coach Tony Esposito’s Black Knights get that run back in the top of the fifth.
Buzzeo hit the ball sharply to right field and hustled to beat Kaitlin Capobianco’s throw to Bike at first base.
She stole second and went to third when Dana Serrichio reached on St. Joseph’s second of three infield errors in the game.
Williams got the next batter on strikes, before Buzzeo got a good jump and scored on a passed ball.
The Black Knights left a run at second base on Williams’ ninth strikeout.
St. Joseph took control in the bottom of the fifth.
Bike was hit by a pitch to start the frame.
Jovanna Hillman singled, before Staley put the next out in the book on a foul pop to Lauren O’Neill at first base.
Allie Petronchak came off the bench and singled to center to load the bases for Giacobbe, who ripped a long double to right-center to score Bike and Hillman.
Blose continued her torrid hitting with an RBI single for a 5-1 lead.
Errico bid for a slap hit was caught by Buzzeo, who had an active night in left field.
Ball then completed her 3-for-3 game from the ninth spot in the batting order with a two-run single.
For Stamford, Staley had a bunt single in the second, Buzzeo had her hit in the fifth, and Rebecca Schwartz singled to open the sixth.