WEST HAVEN >> Caroline Taber likes to take naps on game days – sometimes more than one.
They must be doing her some good.
The two-time Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year scattered three hits and struck out 11 to lead top-seeded Fitch to a 2-0 victory over No. 2 Masuk in the CIAC Class L softball championship game Friday night at Biondi Field.
With the victory, Fitch finished 27-0 and undoubtedly will be crowned the No. 1 team in the final New Haven Register/GameTimeCT poll when it comes out early next week.
“On days when I have night games, I spend most of the day sleeping because I think too much about the game,” said Taber, who needed just 77 minutes to win the Most Valuable Player Award
“This morning, I was up at 7 a.m. and I knew I going to have to take naps throughout the day. We had a team lunch, so I took naps before and after it so I didn’t think about it.”
The only runs Taber would need came in the bottom of the first inning as the Falcons got to Masuk freshman pitcher Sam Schiebe, who walked three batters in the inning. Jayden Delaporta singled to center for a run batted in and courtesy runner Casey Flax scored on a wild pitch.
“Scoring first was definitely beneficial for us the way the game played out,” Fitch coach Arielle Cooper said. “We had to come out strong.”
After that Schiebe settled down despite getting into trouble in the third inning when Fitch had runners on first and second with one out.
“It was nerves and I told her you have to settle down, pitch the ball and let your defense do the work,” Masuk coach Leigh Barone said. “It’s hard as a freshman to keep it going when they get two runs off walks.”
With Taber allowing more than two runs only three times all spring, Barone knew it wasn’t going to be easy coming back. She just had to convince her Panthers it was possible.
“I’m not concerned considering the way they hit all season. I know they can get two,” Barone said. “It’s whether they think they can get two. Confidence is a big thing. We knew it would be hard to fight back.”
Taber took a perfect game for 11 outs, but Maggie Lebinski broke that up with two down in the top of the fourth inning when she collected the first of her two hits.
Masuk (21-5) did have a big chance in the top of the fifth when Eric Pullen singled to lead off the frame and then Allie Lichvar flew out to deep left.
After that, only Lebinski’s leadoff single in the top of the seventh was the lone Panther baserunner.
The championship was Fitch’s second in three years. The Falcons beat Sacred Heart Academy, 3-1, in 2014.
“The first time we were surprised to get there since we were such a young team,” Taber recalled. “This year we were all older with three seniors and the rest juniors. We knew we were good enough to get here.”
Cooper smiled when she was asked about 27 wins and a perfect season.
“It’s a lot of games in a lot of cold weather and rain,” Cooper said. “It’s a lot of hard work all season then through the ECC tournament and the state tournament. Twenty-seven is a lot of wins.”
Fitch 2, Masuk 0
Masuk 000 000 0 — 0 4 0
Fitch 200 000 x — 2 4 0
WP: Caroline Taber (Fitch); LP: Samantha Schiebe (Masuk)
M — Samantha Schiebe and Erica Pullen; F — Caroline Taber and Taylor Wolfgang.