St. Joseph gains FCIAC final

It took almost a full turn around the batting order for St. Joseph High to get its bearings, when coach Jeff Babineau’s top-seeded Cadets took on fourth-seeded Darien High in the FCIAC softball semifinals at Pioneer Park on the campus of Sacred Heart University on Tuesday.

No. 9 batter Katie Gardella was the first to solve the right-handed pitches of Darien ace Erika Osherow — going the other way to right field for an RBI single in the bottom of the third inning.

That hit scored courtesy runner Jenna Carrano, and the rest of the Cadets followed suit as they pounded out a 13-0 victory over the two-time defending league champs to advance to the finals.

“We made our adjustments at the plate, let the ball travel deeper, and then went to right field,” Babineau said after his Cadets (19-3) moved on to play New Canaan (16-6) in today’s 5 p.m. final game at Pioneer Park.

“Katie is a sophomore, is a good hitter, and could bat anywhere in our lineup.”

While Gardella’s was the first blow struck, it certainly wasn’t the last. St. Joseph scored five runs in the third, the next four coming with two outs.

Michaela Mallozzi lined one through the hole into right to score Gardella. She stole second, and after a walk to Jenn Vasquez, scored on a pair of wild pitches to make it 3-0.

Kristen Chacho and Tori Ceballos walked to load the bases for Amy Chacho, who also went to right field to plate two more runs.

The Cadets were back at it in the fourth, when they turned four hits and a walk into four runs and a 9-0 lead.

Gardella’s second hit of the game came with one out. Lauren Pitney walked before Mallozzo knocked in her second run with a single.

Pitney scored on a wild pitch to deny Vasquez an RBI, as the slugger followed with a two-run home run into the tennis courts in left field to make it 9-0.

Mallozzi had her third straight RBI hit in the fifth to score Kristen Markarian, who had singled.

Vasquez then singled home Gardella, who had doubled.

Ceballos base hit to right-center plated courtesy runner Samantha Platz to complete the scoring.

Not to be lost in the offensive display was the pitching of Williams, as the right-handed freshman limited Darien to two hits and one walk over five innings. She faced only one batter over the minimum during this stretch.

Vasquez caught a runner stealing after an infield hit in the second, and Kristen Chacho turned a checked-swing liner into an unassisted double play at first base, after another infield hit in the fourth.

A walk on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth resulted in the only baserunner still standing for Darien.

Williams showed she knows how to a finish the game in the final two frames.

Darien (17-5) had a solid single and two infield hits around a strikeout in the sixth.

With the bases loaded, Williams got a pop out to Amy Chacho in right before posting her fifth strikeout.

For good measure, she struck out the side in the seventh.

“Nicole was lights out today,” Babineau said. “Her location was on target all game.

“Now we have to get ready for New Canaan. My prediction (looking at the seeds) was that they would be in the finals.

“They have two aces (in Ali Reilly and Cydney Ventura), both who have pitched for three or four years. They are well coached and well schooled in the game.”