In epic battle, Holy Cross tops St. Paul for state crown

By MICHAEL LETENDRE

STAFF WRITER

lecting eight strikeouts as she was overpowering the St. Paul Catholic offense to that point of the showdown.

Cross’s Lizzy Diorio slapped out a two-out single to centerfield in the third, attempting to pad the lead and Mowad again blasted out another RBI tally.

This time, Mowad sent a double to the warning track in center as Diorio tagged the plate and the Crusaders surged to a 4-0 lead through three stanzas of work.

“They’re well-coached,” said Hovhanessian of Holy Cross. “They’re fun to play. That’s the kind of game we want to play 20 times a year.”

The Falcons finally dropped in a hit as O’Bright flipped in a single to center with two out in the fourth but when Persechino flew out to right, Holy Cross managed to hold on to its four-run cushion.

In the bottom of the tilt, St. Paul Catholic finally generated a 1-2-3 inning and entering the fifth, the Falcons were looking to get on the scoreboard.

Poirot opened the session with a little blooper to short right and the visitors had something brewing.

Brooke Perez then struck out and when Katelynn Ouellette lined a shot to the first basemen for an out, she calmly ran to the bag to double-up Poirot as Cross kept the 4-0 push intact.

The bottom of the fifth saw Alex Lombardo smack a one-out single past shortstop and Val Nobrega slapped a ball off the fence in center – going for just a single – as the Crusaders were threatening once again.

Diorio later hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. But when Mowad was hit-by-pitch, the bases were loaded as Aubrey DeFeo was up at the plate.

But DeFeo was cut down by Milardo and going into the sixth, St. Paul Catholic was looking to dent the 4-0 deficit.

Johndrow attempted to put a drive together, slipping a single past the outreached glove of the third baseman to get on base, and the leadoff runner was on for the second consecutive inning for the Falcons.

“We needed to get some bats on the ball,” said Hovhanessian. “If we were able to, we would have gotten the bunts down and done some things. I leave Brigid on her own. We live and die sometimes by her in the leadoff spot and Holy Cross knows that because when we lose to them, they shut her down. We we’ve beaten them over the years when she gets on base.”

“Because many times when she gets on base, she scores. Holy Cross knows that. They’re a good team.”

Gonzalez was called out on a controversial low third strike for the second putout and when Milardo grounded out to Lawton, time was growing short for the visitors.

St. Paul Catholic freshman Katrina Roy made two slick putouts in right field to help keep Cross from scoring in the bottom of the sixth and down to its final three outs, the Falcons had some ground to make up, trailing by four.

But Lawson retired the Falcons in order to end the championship game and Holy Cross picked up it third consecutive state title by a 4-0 final.

“I told them yesterday ‘you play your best game. That’s all you can do,’” said Hovhanessian. “You’re not going to win the game with zero runs. I don’t care how many innings you play, you end up with zero at the end of the game, you’re not going to win. No one’s ever done it yet. It’s a miracle no one’s ever done.”  WEST HAVEN – The St. Paul Catholic softball team knew it was in for an epic challenge against Naugatuck Valley League rival Holy Cross in the finals of the Class S championship on Friday, June 9.

The contest pitted the Falcons against a familiar foe in the form of All-State pitcher, senior Sarah Lawton, and the chucker was on top of her game from the opening pitch.

Lawton picked up 13 strikeouts while teammate Jenna Mowad went 2-for-2, including the go-ahead home run in the second inning of play, as the second ranked Crusaders won its third straight Class S championship, defeating No. 9 St. Paul Catholic 4-0 from the Frank Biondi Softball Field from the campus of West Haven High School.

Holy Cross ended the season at 26-2 while the Falcons, getting to the championship game for the first time ever in program history, did well by finishing the year with an outstanding 21-6 ledger.

The Falcons completed its season against one of the best pitchers in the state, held to just three hits overall while Mowad – the MVP of the Class S championship game – ramped up two hits, two RBI, and was hit by a pitch to pace Holy Cross.

“The last couple weeks, you know, we were playing some great teams,” said St. Paul Catholic coach Gary Hovhanessian. “Coventry, the battle we had with them. [The] East Granby winner up there. That was a team with one loss. We played well against them. You’re playing the best [and] to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”

“She [Lawton] is the best right now in Class S.”

Lindsey O’Bright, Abby Poirot, and Brigid Johndrow all singled to get on board for the Falcons but the squad managed to put only one runner in scoring position all game long.

St. Paul Catholic’s Jenessa Gonzalez earned a walk early in the game, getting stranded on third base, as Lawton collected eight strikeouts over the first three innings of play – setting the tone of the contest.

Alessandra Milardo finished her scholastic career in the circle for the Falcons allowing nine hits that helped produce the four runs, but never showed any signs of quit.

She battled throughout, struck out three and walked just one in a very good effort to close out the campaign.

Lawton also generated two hits and two RBI as the Crusaders struck for three second inning runs to seize control of the showdown.

The Holy Cross pitcher was on top her game in the first, striking out the side although Gonzalez snuck out a base-on-balls, eventually stole second, and reached third via error.

But when O’Bright was fanned, Gonzalez never made it home and the Crusaders came up to bat in the 0-0 affair.

And then Cross tried to mount a scoring drive with one out gone in the bottom of the first frame.

Allie Brown dropped in a beautiful infield bunt and when Lawton followed with a single to center, two runners were on.

From there, Alex Lombardo grounded out. To end the tilt, the Falcons’ Jessica Persechino chased down a short pop-fly to left field – making a tough catch – as the teams went into the second inning scoreless.

Lawton stayed in the groove, fanning all three batters she faced, and when the Crusaders got up to bat, the squad put a few runs on the scoreboard.

With one gone in the frame, Mowad drilled a 2-1 pitch to deep centerfield – just clearing the fence – as the Crusaders took a 1-0 edge in the affair.

Aubrey DeFeo then sliced out a single to left and when Gabby Goldman bunted, Milardo couldn’t cleanly field the ball as two runners were on.

Hannah Brown then grounded out, advancing the runners into scoring position, and when Allie Brown drew a base-on-balls – the bases were loaded up with two outs.

Lawton followed by dropping in a base hit to right, scoring two runs, but when Allie Brown tried advancing from third to home, she was tagged out by O’Bright at the plate to close the inning but Cross was leading 3-0 through two.

Lawton faced just one above the minimum through three innings, col-

Brooke Perez of St. Paul gets the out against Holy Cross in the Class S state finals. The Falcons were shutout, falling just short of the crown. (KELLY MAY DEL DEBBIO)

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