CIAC Softball Preview Capsules: Class L & Class M
STRATFORD >> Unfinished business.
That’s been the East Haven softball team’s motto throughout this season, a result of a disappointing 7-0 loss to Granby in last year’s Class M state semifinals.
With a strong core of returning players, East Haven believed it could advance farther this season.
Part 1 of that mission is complete.
Seventh-seeded East Haven held off St. Joseph 1-0 in the semifinals Wednesday and will now face No. 1 Seymour for the championship Friday at 7 at DeLuca Field.
Update: The game has been ppd to Saturday, 1 p.m. at West Haven’s Biondi Field.
For the Easties, it is their first final since the program won its lone title in 1984.
“This group of girls — the seniors — made it their goal, and they wanted to get back here (the semifinals),” East Haven coach Ed Crisafi said following the victory over the Cadets. “Our whole theme was that the semifinals were not enough, and the finals are not enough. We want to win it. It’s been a motivating factor.”
East Haven junior Giovanna Russo drove in the game’s only run with a single in the sixth inning against St. Joseph.
“This is really great to come back (to the semifinals) and win it and make it to the finals,” Russo said. “We knew we could come back and do it this year.”
Crisafi, in his 21st season, makes his first trip to a state final. He reached the semifinals for the first time last season.
“I’m just so excited,” East Haven senior pitcher Talia Loda said. “I am excited for the team, and for him.”
This is the third straight year that East Haven and Seymour will play in the state tournament. The Easties earned a thrilling 1-0 victory in eight innings in last year’s quarterfinals, while Seymour escaped with a 3-2 win in the second round in 2012.
“We’ve had two epic battles with them the past two years,” Crisafi said. “It should be a heck of a game.”
The run to the championship game came not without obstacles.
East Haven had a somewhat surprising slow start to the season, going just 5-4. But the Easties then won 11 in a row, including victories over Class LL finalist Amity and Class L finalist Sacred Heart Academy, before losing to Mercy in the quarterfinals of the Southern Connecticut Conference tournament.
During the winning streak, East Haven won by shutout eight times.
“We’ve been on a tear,” Crisafi said.
Only one opponent has scored on the Loda and the Easties in four state tournament games. East Haven held off Griswold 5-4 in the second round.
“With Tal pitching, we have a chance to win every game,” Crisafi said.
Who will win between Bloomfield at Glastonbury?
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East Haven’s resurgence can be attributed to a now strong feeder program, and a renewed commitment to the sport by both athletes and the community.
“When last year’s group were freshmen, that’s when I thought our program was going to turn around,” Crisafi said. “Everybody started playing summer ball; (hiring) pitching coaches, batting coaches; going to clinics. Everything has started to come together.
“We’re stressing that we’re on the Amity-Cheshire- Mercy level. That’s how you have to believe. I really think the program is there. It feels good, now I know how these other programs feel. Having a dominant pitcher helps.”