Softball: St. Joseph wins long-awaited game with Cheshire

TRUMBULL — St. Joseph had been waiting for an opportunity to test itself against Cheshire—well forever.

“We haven’t played them during my time, although we will go to their place next year because we’d like to keep it going," Cadet coach Jeff Babineau said after his third-ranked team in the GameTime CT Top 10 poll topped fourth-ranked Cheshire High, 3-0, on Thursday.

“It was a big game for the girls. I told them this was game number 11 on the schedule; not game 28 (which would be a state final).

"The kids were pumped up.”

The matchup was postponed earlier in the season by weather.

Payton Doiron pitched no hit ball for five innings and struck out 13.

“I was more excited than nervous,” said Doiron, who pitched out of a jam in the sixth inning that saw the Rams bring the tying run to the plate. “Cheshire is a really good team. The atmosphere was there coming on to the field. It is good to know we can handle a high-pressure game like this.”

Maddie Fitzgerald smacked an 0-1 pitch from Cheshire’s Brie Pearson for a line drive home run over the center field fence to give St. Joseph (11-0) a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

Senior captain Kaitlin Capobianco opened the frame with a single to right and cruised home on the power jack by her sophomore teammate.

“Cheshire has a great pitcher who really was hitting her spots,” said Fitzgerald, who singled to knock in the Cadets’ third run in the home fifth. “I went to the plate looking for a good pitch. After I hit it, I was just saying to myself ‘please fall in somewhere.’ Then I saw the ball had cleared and hit the back fence.”

Capobianco ripped a single off Cheshire first baseman Grace Hemstock’s glove and into right field with two down in the fifth.

Fitzgerald followed with her run-scoring single, with Capobianco sliding in safely around catcher Jade Barnes’ tag.

“At any point two runs are not enough,” Babineau said. “You want to add every inning if you can. Both teams are well schooled, and you could see that in the way Pearson pitched to us. Everything was a battle.

“Payton changed the eye level of their batters and moved the ball up and down. She hit her spots.”

Cheshire, now 8-2 having lost 1-0 to North Haven a day earlier, threatened in the sixth.

Mia Juodiatis put down a fine bunt up the first base line and beat it out for the Rams’ first hit.

That brought Bri Floyd to the plate with one out. She stroked a first-pitch single into center to set things up for the heart of the batting order.

Doiron got Ari Perlini to fly out to Paige Hunter in center.

She then struck out Pearson, the No. 4 batter.

Floyd had opened the game with a 3-2 walk, the only free pass issued by Doiron, who retired the next three batters.

The Rams’ Barnes was hit on the foot in a 3-2 pitch with one out in the third.

That brought the top of the lineup to the plate.

Juodiatis blooped the ball over first base.

Cadet right fielder Brittany Mairano made an outstanding diving catch, keeping the ball snow-coned in her mitt while hitting the ground.

Courtesy runner Sarah Capute showed great speed in stealing second, before Capobianco went into foul territory to catch Wood’s pop fly by the fence.

Pearson set the side down in order in the second and third innings.

Hunter ended that skein when the junior hammered a double off the fence down the right field line.

A right-handed sophomore, Pearson set down the next three batters on strikes.