East Haven has reached at least the state quarterfinals the last four seasons.
This year, the Easties capped that run by capturing the Class L title over previously unbeaten Fitch 4-2 on Friday night. It was the second championship for East Haven (19-7), and first since 1984. The Easties were making their second straight trip to a state final after losing to Seymour in the Class M title game last season before moving up to Class M this year.
Also on the East Haven resume are two wins against SCC champion Amity, two victories over Class L semifinalist North Haven, a win over perennial SCC power Mercy, and one win in three tries against Class L quarterfinalist Sheehan. The Easties also defeated nine-time state champion Seymour in the quarterfinals in 2013.
While East Haven has been nothing but consistent of late, it needed to win that elusive state title to be considered one of the elite programs. After some coaxing, East Haven coach Ed Crisafi agreed.
“Yea, OK, I think so,” a smiling Crisafi said.
Moments before, Crisafi said: “It’s been (four) years in a row where we’re right there. Like I said … I don’t want to sound cocky, but I think we’re one of the elite programs now. We’re right up there.”
It was the first state title for Crisafi, who just completed his 22nd year as head coach. The Easties will lose just three seniors to graduation, so it’s very possible East Haven can defend its title.
“Like I keep telling you, I think we’re a year away, and we did it this year. We have young kids coming in.”
Juniors Laura Anderson and Kara Hanson and freshmen Selena Mauro will return. Anderson allowed just two hits in the victory over Fitch. Junior shortstop Allie Luzzi, who hit a home run and was named the Class M MVP is also back, as are freshmen Jess Stettinger (catcher) and Julia SanGiovanni (first base).
East Haven will bid farewell to seniors Giovanna Russo (second base), Casey Smith (designated player) and Jena Villecco (third base), who each were instrumental in their final game with the Easties.
Russo hit the eventual game-winning two-run double in the third inning. Russo had the winning hit in a 1-0 victory over St. Joseph in last year’s semifinals.
“Big-time player, big-time hit,” Crisafi said.
Said Russo: “I’ve been in a slump for the past few games, so this has been a great thing to just come back in a state championship game and finally get out of it.”
Villecco had two hits and a run, and caught the final out on a game-ending double play against Fitch, while Smith had two hits and an RBI.
Southington just refused to lose. The Lady Knights trailed Cheshire 4-0 through four innings, but rallied for a 5-4 victory when Bella Russo scored on an error with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in Saturday’s Class LL state championship game.
It was the third straight title for Southington, and 17th overall. The Lady Knights (24-0) have won 70 straight games.
The Lady Knights defeated an SCC school for the third straight year in the championship game. Southington won on a walk-off home run by Rachel Dube in a 1-0 victory in 15 innings over Amity in last season’s final. The Lady Knights defeated Mercy 1-0 in the final in 2013.
“I think that’s the best conference in the state,” Hernandez said. “I’m really proud of them because every year the question is: what’s Southington going to do against a great team? And I think year after year we continue to prove to everybody that we can still win. And, if not, we’re still going to give it a battle, and that’s all I can really ask for.”