SOFTBALL Cadets stand tall
TRUMBULL — Shutouts are a rare feat against the Cheshire softball team, a program which has piled on the runs and wins against most opponents.
The Rams have run into a pair of buzzsaws in a 24-hour stretch, though.
A day after a 1-0 loss to North Haven and ace Lauren Card, the same fate befell Cheshire Thursday. No. 3 St. Joseph claimed its biggest win of the season as Payton Doiron fired a three-hitter in a 3-0 victory to keep the Cadets undefeated at the expense of the No. 4 Rams.
St. Joseph now sits at 11-0 after several potential showdowns have been pushed back to the second half of the season due to the weather.
“It’s a big game yes, but it’s No. 11 on our schedule,” said Cadets coach Jeff Babineau. “It’s not No. 28; but we were pumped up. The girls were ready to play and we wanted to show what we got. I’m very tentative sometimes to say are we that good, and I think we showed we can play.”
Contact for Cheshire was few and far between against Doiron, who struck out 13 batters. The Rams suffered back-to-back losses for the first time since 2014.
“The last two pitchers we’ve seen are by far two of the best pitchers in the state,” said Cheshire coach Kristine Drust. “I think, for me, you get frustrated the big hits aren’t coming but just hearing what the girls are saying I feel this is more of an opportunity to learn and get better.”
The Cadets jumped on the visitors immediately as a single by Kaitlin Capobianco was followed by a two-run blast from Madison Fitzgerald. That was more than enough for Doiron, who walked just one batter and hit another.
“Knowing the defensive having my back because they are strong was key,” Doiron said. “(Waling out with the lead) was a lot more comforting and it was a cushion.”
Cheshire’s Bri Pearson was also dominant after the homer from Fitzgerald, — the second batter of the game — striking out the side in the second and fourth innings. She finished with 10 strikeouts in six innings of work.
“Bri is doing her job and I keep telling her that,” Drust said. “That’s the biggest compliment you can get; she is putting us in a position to win every softball game. What more can you ask?”
Fitzgerald added an insurance run with an RBI double that plated Capobianco in the fifth.
The Rams’ lone threat came in the sixth when Mia Juodaitis broke up a potential no-hitter and Bri Floyd followed it up with a single. Doiron responded by retiring two straight to retire the side.
“We changed her eye level and moved the ball down and up,” Babineau said. “They were doing the same thing to us; (Doiron) was hitting her spots today.”
Though both were ranked inside the top five of the latest GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, Thursday’s matchup was not the lone tough game on the schedule. St. Joseph is set to square off against Trumbull next week while the Rams have Amity next to complete a brutal three-game stretch, which also continues into next week against Southington.
“Losing these two games the way that we did is making us stronger,” Drust said. “We’re not allowing it to do otherwise. These are the games you want to play and preparing you for the end. As a coach I would wish to be in a game like this instead of a game where the competition isn’t there.”
With the Cadets in Class L and Cheshire in LL, this was the lone meeting between the schools this year, and the first in Babineau’s tenure. Babineau claimed his 200th win last time out against Westhill.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Payton Doiron, St. Joseph: Thrived in the big-game setting and made a good offense look ordinary.
“Cheshire is a really good team and we did well against them,” Doiron said. “It’s good to know we can handle high-pressure situations against good teams for the future.”
ST. JOSEPH 3, CHESHIRE 0
CHESHIRE000 000 0 — 0 3 0
ST. JOSEPH200 010 x — 3 5 0
Batteries: C—Bri Pearson and Jade Barnes; SJ—Payton Doiron and Charles Horton. Highlights: SJ—Madison Fitzgerald hit a home run, doubled and had three RBIs. Kaitlin Capobianco had two hits and scored two runs.