If pitching and defense wins championships like most coaches preach, then North Haven is going to be in outstanding shape when tournament time arrives.
Crunch time is almost here for the undefeated Indians, who are off to a perfect 13-0 start amidst a difficult SCC schedule. Having one of the best pitchers in the state and an outstanding defense behind her, the Indians look poised to defend its SCC title.
North Haven was ousted in the second round of the Class L tournament last year as a 4-2 loss to Law ended the season. With Masuk and St. Joseph dominating the headlines, the now No. 3 Indians have somehow flown under the radar for a lot of the season.
“We’re trying not to get attention, we like to fly under the radar,” said North Haven coach Karen Castagnola. “I don’t want them to get ahead of themselves; they’re excited but we’re trying to stay low key about it.”
University of Hartford-bound Lauren Card is a ground-ball pitcher who has allowed just three earned runs all season. North Haven hasn’t allowed a run since April 10, having shut out its last eight opponents.
Peyton Davis is having a monster season at the plate. She leads the team with 18 hits and 14 RBIs to go along with a .474 batting average. Haylee Garthwaite is hitting .448 while Alex Ferriouolo is batting .438. Hitting has been the aspect of the game worked on the most for North Haven, which has been held to three runs or less five times this year.
“Our defense is good but we work on our hitting a lot,” said Castagnola. “We’re seeing the ball better; we’ve gotten a lot of hits recently; they seems to do well against both good and lesser pitchers.”
With Card in the circle, it hasn’t mattered.
Another trend in the Indians’ favor: Experience. Eight of the 10 starters are in their final years of high school and hope to end it with a championship.
“We tell them it’s in your hands, you take it,” Castagnola said. “There’s a favorite saying that they tell me: ‘we got this coach’. They tell me that every day, every time they step to the plate, and I believe them.”
Most of the games between top-10 teams have featured dramatic finishes that are leaving fans hungry for more come state tournament time. Just last week alone Cheshire walked off with a win over neighbor Southington, while St. Joseph edged rival Trumbull in eight innings on a walk-off home run by Charlee Horton.
The Cadets have survived several tests to stay undefeated. An extra-inning win over Stamford preceded the win over the Eagles, and a 2-1 win over Warde was a close shave. Payton Doiron has lowered her ERA to 0.79 during the dominant stretch with 126 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched so far. Warde and Trumbull would be undefeated if it wasn’t for the Cadets.
The Rams have been involved in several of these already and a big week ahead may produce another. Cheshire will face North Haven before taking on Amity in consecutive days. Masuk’s win streak sits.
Bri Floyd, Cheshire: Delivered the winning hit in the 4-3 win over Southington.
Hailey Golembiewki, E.O. Smith: Threw a three-hit shutout in a 5-0 win over then No. 9 Bristol Eastern.
Ciana Chiappone, Waterford: Had three hits — including a grand slam — in a 21-0 win over Bacon Academy. Chiappone collected her 100th hit in the win.
Charlee Horton, St. Joseph: Clobbered the game-winning home run to lift Cadets past rival Trumbull.
Sara Rivers, Ledyard: Threw a one-hitter in a 5-0 win over Fitch.
Ivy Santos, West Haven: Tossed a three-hitter with seven strikeouts in an 8-0 win over Shelton to keep the Westies undefeated.
Peyton Davis, North Haven: Earned her 100th career hit during a 2-0 win over East Haven.
Sophia Strazza, Wilton: Went 4-for-4 with a home run — while picking up hit No. 100 — in a 17-0 win over Bridgeport Central.
Molly Sastram, Oxford: Doubled twice and had three hits in an 8-0 win over Seymour.
Bernadette Kingsbury, Sacred Heart: Threw a two-hitter with 15 strikeouts in an 8-0 win over Branford.
GAMES TO WATCH
Seymour at Oxford, Monday, 3:45 p.m.: Wolverines are on fire at the moment, having routed Woodland and the Wildcats last week. Neither has to wait long for the rematch.
North Haven at Cheshire, Monday, 4 p.m.: Another quality rematch, this time of the 1-0 win earned by the Indians in April.
Montville at Plainfield, Monday, 4 p.m.: Montville enters this one with a 10-1 record and ECC hopes after an opening-day win over Griswold.
Griswold at Waterford, Monday, 4:15 p.m.: Speaking of the Wolverines, they make the trip down 395 to take on Waterford. Both sides have three losses.
Warde at Trumbull, Tuesday, 4:30 p.m.: Mustangs have flown under radar all season. That will change if they win this matchup.
Southington at South Windsor, Friday, 3:45 p.m.: One of few top-10 matchups this week; Bobcats with a tough week that includes E.O. Smith and Enfield.
East Haven at West Haven, Friday, 7 p.m.: The final five games for the undefeated Westies will be under the lights at Biondi Field.