MONROE — It’s only the beginning of May, but it was a playoff atmosphere as No. 2 St. Joseph softball took down No. 1 Masuk 2-0 Saturday afternoon.
The anticipated matchup was a battle of aces as Payton Doiron of St. Joseph outdueled Masuk’s Sam Schiebe.
Doiron tossed a complete game shutout, allowing just five hits, one walk and striking out four while teammate Paige Hunter rewarded her with the game-deciding, two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth.
“I’m very happy with the way they played,” St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau said of his team. “It was a nervewracking game, you know with No. 1 and No. 2 in the state.
“We said, no matter what happened, today will be a lesson game. We learn a lesson whether we win or lose and I think that was the point today. We played small ball. We got timely hits and we got a home run out of Paige. Can’t ask for anything better than that.”
With the win, St. Joseph (15-0) remains undefeated while Masuk (14-1) saw its 41-game win streak come to an end.
“A 19-1 season is still a really great season,” Masuk coach Leigh Barone said. “Right now we’re 14-1, that’s still a great season so we just have to take this, learn from it and move forward. You can’t be down just because of one loss.”
St. Joseph and Masuk were both state champions last year with St. Joseph capturing the Class M title and Masuk winning Class L. St. Joseph has won four out of the last five FCIAC softball championships and Masuk has won back-to-back SWC championships.
Since St. Joseph has moved up to Class L, both teams will be competing for the same state title this year.
To add even more anticipation, the game was originally scheduled for March 30 – opening day — and was postponed multiple times. Rain again threatened Saturday’s rescheduled game, but it was ultimately moved to Masuk, allowing it to be played. St. Joseph remained the home team.
Schiebe pitched six innings allowing two runs on three hits with eight strikeouts.
The game was scoreless headed into the bottom of the sixth inning when Madison Fitzgerald led off with a single.
Two batters later, Hunter capitalized on a rare Schiebe mistake and parked one over the fence in left-center, giving her team a 2-0 lead and supplying all of the offense in the game.
Masuk’s best scoring opportunity came in the second inning with runners on first and third one out, but Doiron navigated her way out of trouble recording a strikeout and a groundout to second.
Dorion settled in on the mound after the second, allowing only two hits over the next five innings.
“Patyon shut down one of the most dominating teams in the state today,” Babineau said. “That shows a lot for her creed and her character so we are very happy with that”.
It might not be the last time these two powerhouses face off against each other, as this game was a potential preview of a future playoff matchup in Class L.
“They’re class L this year so we’re going to see them again,” Barone said. “To win when it really matters would be the best.”
No. 2 ST. JOSEPH 2, No. 1 MASUK 0
MASUK 000 000 0 — 0 5 0
ST. JOSEPH 000 002 x — 2 3 0