TRUMBULL — St. Joseph’s Charlee Horton wasn’t pleased with her last at-bat and brought a different mindset to the plate before clubbing a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat Trumbull High, 2-1, on Wednesday.
“I was anxious,” Horton said. “This time, I waited for my pitch and ripped it. Yeah, I knew it was gone. This was a good win, a tough one, a long one.”
The meeting between the GameTimeCT Softball Top 10’s No. 2 Cadets (13-0) and the No. 3 Eagles had many twists and turns.
If not for Horton’s timely blast, the town rivals may have left the Dalling Sports Complex with nothing more to show for their efforts than a suspended 1-1 game.
“I can’t say for sure, but I think the umpires were thinking of calling it because of the darkness if it went much further,” St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau said. “I was all for keeping it going. This one was a lot of fun. Both teams got to show their mettle.”
Trumbull, now 13-1, had built what looked to be the game’s decisive run in the fourth inning.
Maggie Coffin walked, Alexa Adinolfi sacrificed her to second and Kenzie Bruggeman singled her home.
Coach Jacqui Sheftz’ Eagles carried that lead into the bottom of the sixth inning.
Alyssa Noce plated Brittany Mairano with a double to right field to knot the game at 1-all.
Mairano had singled with one out and moved into scoring position on Kyra McCarthy’s sac bunt. Noce then drilled a 1-2 pitch to the fence in right.
Trumbull had its chances to extend its advantage, but left the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings.
“We can’t leave that many base runners on base,” said Sheftz. “We had nine hits and left the bases loaded twice with one out. Tip your hat to Horton for hitting that blast in the eighth.”
St. Joseph’s Payton Doiron struck out 13 batters, but was forced to dance through a slew of trouble.
‘Payton did a great job of bearing down,” Babineau said of his right-handed junior. “She wasn’t happy that the walk led to a run. She made great pitches in tough situations.”
Jenna Duffy (two hits), Ava Dunn and Julia Huzi singled with one out in the fifth.
Doiron battled back from being behind in the count to earn a pair of strikeouts.
In the Eagles sixth, Emily Gell singled and Cassie Barbato pulled a double inside the first base bag. Kiley Barbagallo bunted her way on board.
With the bags full, the Cadets’ Kaitlin Capobianco at first turned a grounder into a force play at the plate. Doiron put the next batter in the book on strikes.
Trumbull’s two-armed pitching tandem of Bruggeman and Gell were outstanding.
Bruggeman allowed one of everything (hit, reach on error, HBP, walk and strikeout) except a run in her first four innings of work in the circle.
Gell came on with one out and Cami Heintz on base with a single in the fifth. She got out of the jam on two pitches.
The Eagles’ Adinolfi in center field made the defensive play of the game in the third inning with a fully-extended diving catch on Maddie Fitzgerald’s liner up the gap. The ball never rose above 12 feet before finding a home in Adinolfi’s glove.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Payton Doiron, St. Joseph, Kenzie Bruggeman, Trumbull: Bruggeman struck out 13 batters and pitched out of three tough jams to hold the Eagles to one run. In her first start in the circle this season, Bruggeman pitched shut out ball for four innings. She knocked in Trumbull’s run with a single.
“This one was a lot of fun. Both teams got to show their mettle.” — St. Joseph head coach Jeff Babineau