STRATFORD- Holy Cross hadn’t won a state softball title since 1989 until it beat Thomaston for the CIAC Class S title last June.
Sarah Lawton and the Crusaders didn’t feel like waiting three decades for another one.
Lawton, who pitched a shutout in last year’s title game, repeated the feat Saturday afternoon as top-seeded Holy Cross stopped No. 6 Notre Dame-Fairfield 2-0 through the raindrops in the Class S championship game at DeLuca Field.
“There’s nothing really different except we lost some people, but we picked up some freshmen that have really stepped up to plate and filled their shoes,” Lawton said.
Holy Cross (24-3) got all the runs in the game in the bottom of the first when freshman Allie Brown tripled with one out. Alex Lombardo hit a line drive to Lancer third baseman Dayniera Artis, but she had no play at the plate as Brown scored.
With the bases loaded, Aubrey Defoe came within a couple of feet of a grand slam (the ball went foul), but followed with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
From there on, it was all Lawton and the Holy Cross defense, which played errorless ball on a wet day.
Notre Dame-Fairfield’s biggest threat came in the third inning, when pitcher Madison Letizia led off with a walk and Arianna Denitto followed with a dribbler up the middle that Lawton couldn’t field. It was scored a hit, one of only two for the Lancers on the day, neither of which went more than 70 feet.
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No. 9 batter Jillian Howe then popped up a bunt that Holy Cross third baseman Lindsay Barton snared. With the runners moving, it quickly turned into a triple play, which erased the only baserunners the Lancers (20-6) had in the contest until the seventh inning.
“Every day at practice, we talk about head’s up plays and making sure everyone is moving on every play,” Holy Cross coach Megan Dwyer said. “And our third baseman made a head’s up play and realized everyone was moving and everyone was in the right positions to pull that off. It’s nice to see what you do in practice come out in the game.”
ND leadoff batter Emily Schofield opened the top of the seventh with a bunt single and advanced to third with one out, but catcher Defoe made a tremendous diving catch on a pop-up and Lawton got a strikeout to end it and preserve the shutout.
“I just told them there’s only eight teams in the state that get one of these (CIAC) medals, and you’re one of them,” Notre Dame-Fairfield coach Jeff Bevino said. “From where they’ve come from and where they are today is amazing. I loved their effort and they’re tremendous kids. We just ran into a great team and pitcher today.”
Lawton faced just 22 batters (one over the minimum), finishing with one walk and 10 strikeouts. She’s only a junior, meaning she and Holy Cross might not to wait too long for a third state championship banner, either.
“We’re excited to see what next season brings for us, too,” Lawton said.