St. Joseph (Trumbull, Conn.)
softball team has avenged itself once already this season. The Cadets have one more matter to take care of — going further than the second round of the CIAC Class M tournament and winning a state title.St. Joseph routed Darien
last Thursday, 12-1, to win its first FCIAC title since 2007. Darien was the only team that beat St. Joseph during the regular season.
On Monday, the third-seeded Cadets trounced No. 30 Wolcott, 15-0, in a Class M first-round game.
"We've been scoring a lot of run this year," St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau said. "They have a lot of talent. We have a couple of good power hitters, and they worked really hard in the off-season. They put the work in."
St. Joseph (23-1) spent the majority of the regular season thumping opposing pitchers, averaging 10.3 runs per game. A few teams held the Cadets to a few runs, but Darien was the only one to beat them, 1-0 on May 7.
Erika Osherow pitched a two-hitter in that game for Darien.
"It was good pitching," Babineau said of the loss. "We had two hits, they had three. It was one of those days, to be honest with you. We had a couple of hit-and-runs on that turned into bang-bang double plays on line drives.
"People asked me if I was upset and I said, ‘no, we had quality at bats all through the game.' "
That loss stuck with the St. Joseph players, though.
"Oh, yeah, it bothered them pretty badly for a couple of days," Babineau said, "which is always a good thing (to be hungry)."
St. Joseph left nothing to chance in the FCIAC final as it scored eight runs in the fourth inning. It finished with 14 hits.
Junior Lauren Pitney
had a double and triple with five RBI and a run scored for the Cadettes. Classmate Katie Gardella
singled and scored twice and freshman Melissa Bike
had two hits and two RBI. Sophomore Nicole Williams
pitched a four-hitter for St. Joseph.
"The FCIAC is a very tough league," Babineau said. "We're a Class M school playing against a lot of Class LL and L schools. It prepares us pretty well for states. We were in the semis last year and lost, 2-1. We've been sniffing around it. This year, they finally got it.
"They were in it last year, and it really made them work a little harder in the winter."
Senior co-captains Tori Ceballos
(.482, 41 RBI and 27 runs) and Mickaela Mallozzi
(.526, 29 runs, 21 RBI), and Pitney (.489, 36 runs, 28 RBI) have been among the team's top hitters.
Ceballos showed a selfless streak before the season, too. She had pitched all but a few games as a sophomore in 2012. Williams joined the program last season, and her talent forced Babineau to use a rotation with both her and Ceballos.
"A lot of games, I wouldn't decide who'd pitch until they warmed up," Babineau said. "They'd warm up, and then they'd either be the pitcher or the designated player. Tori threw a few two and three-hitters."
Babineau and Ceballos discussed her pitching future at the end of last season, and she eventually decided to move aside for Williams.
"Over the winter, she came to me and said, ‘Can I go back to first base, if you don't mind,'" Babineau said. "I said, ‘no, and we still need you. She's done a great job and made All-State and All-FCIAC. She's quite a young lady."
Williams is 22-1 this spring with a 0.56 ERA and 162 strikeouts.
The Cadets were a fixture in the state finals in the new millennium as they played for five state titles, winning in 2006, 2007 and 2010.
St. Joseph hasn't made past the second round since then. It lost to eventual champion Waterford in last year's second round, 9-4.
"Hopefully we do better," Babineau said. "There are a lot of really good teams in the middle, from the 14th-to-20th seeds. There's (top-seeded) Seymour and (No. 4) Rocky Hill. (No. 7) East Haven has a strong team. You look all the way up and down and there's no easy game there."Ned Griffen has covered high school, college and professional sports in the Northeast since 1992. A 2003 New England Associated Press News Executives award winner, he may be reached at
or follow him @MetalNED