— Jim Fuller (@NHRJimFuller) June 10, 2017
WEST HAVEN >> Calling Sarah Lawton and Jenna Mowad the odd couple for the Holy Cross High School softball team doesn’t just seem appropriate because there is simply not much peculiar about the All-State senior pitcher and precocious freshman catcher.
However, standing about 50 feet from each other not long after helping the second-seeded Crusaders top No. 9 seed St. Paul 4-0 in Friday night’s CIAC Class S title game, the two teammates showed the range of emotion that comes from ending a long, challenging season in glorious fashion from two players on the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their softball experiences.
Lawton was unleashing tears of joy after ending her high school career as the winning pitcher for the Class S champions for the third season in a row. Lawton was so overwhelmed by emotion ranging from the elation of completing the Class S 3-peat to the realization that her remarkable four-year run at Holy Cross is over. Meanwhile, Class S title game MVP Mowad walked around with the championship trophy in her hands and a look of wide-eyed exuberance for all to see as parents, teammates and administrators snapped more celebratory photos than any of them could possibly count.
“It is a bittersweet feeling,” said Lawton, who threw a three-hit shutout and struck out 13. “It is an awesome feeling. I really didn’t imagine it.”
Lawton needed just 78 pitches to complete the final non all-star game of her high school career. At one point she faced 10 batters in a row without having one of her pitches being called a ball. A total of 58 of her pitches went for strikes and perhaps even more impressively, 27 times St. Paul swung and missed at one of Lawton’s offerings.
“I was in my zone,” Lawton said. “My catcher kept me where I needed to be.
“I had to keep throwing strikes because I knew no matter what, if they hit the ball, I had my team behind me.”
Lawton received all the offensive support she would need as Mowad ripped the fourth pitch she saw over the fence in the bottom of the second inning, Lawton would added a two-run single to give the Crusaders the 3-0 lead. The next inning Lizzy Diorio singled with two outs and Mowad followed with an RBI double. Mowad would be hit by a pitch so her freshman season ended with her not being retired by NVL rival St. Paul.
Nobody seemed more surprised than Mowad when her name was announced as the MVP of the game.
“Honestly, I didn’t really think it would be me because I am a freshman but honestly it is one of the greatest feelings I can every have,” Mowad said. “It was really just amazing to have that feeling.
“It is a lot on my chest but it is amazing to me. This team is just great, we are all one big family.”
In each of her first two at bats, Mowad looked at a couple of pitches before delivering two of the hardest balls hit off St. Paul pitcher Ali Milardo.
“At first when I hit the foul base down the third-base line (before the home run), I was thinking I could hit this girl and I am ready to do what I need to do for my team,” Mowad said.
Some might think catching for a pitcher as good as Lawton would be rather routine but some freshmen might be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the role. Mowad proved early on that she was ready for the challenge.
“She is a freshman, she stepped up big this year,” Lawton said. “She keeps me in the zone all game, every game.”
Mowad said it didn’t take her long to keep comfortable catching one of the state’s best pitchers.
“The day after I caught for her,” Mowad said. “Honestly, it is indescribable but Sarah she has this way of making you feel right at home and made me feel welcome as with all the other freshmen.”
Lawton and Mowad had two hits each for Holy Cross (25-2).
Lindsey O’Bright broke up Lawton’s no-hit bid with a two-out single in the fourth inning. Abby Poirot and Brigid Johndrow also had singles for St. Paul (21-6).