GREENWICH — Watching Payton Doiron consistently control the strike zone and Charlee Horton swing her bat with authority, it’s apparent why St. Joseph won the FCIAC and state title in 2018.
The dynamic duo were each on their game again Wednesday at the expense of another opponent.
A junior right-hander, Doiron pitched a four-hitter with seven strikeouts, while Horton, also a junior, hit two home runs and collected five RBIs in undefeated St. Joseph’s 8-0 win over host Greenwich.
The Cadets, who broke open a close game by scoring three runs in the fourth and sixth inning, improved to 7-0. St. Joseph has picked up where it left off last season when it captured the FCIAC and Class M championships.
“We have a lot of potential this year,” Doiron said. “Our defense is definitely good and we’re hitting.”
And Doiron has sparked the squad with her pitching.
Including Wednesday’s performance, she has allowed just two runs in her last four outings. She pitched the Cadets to a 2-1 victory against Fairfield Warde on Tuesday.
“She’s one of the top pitchers we’ve faced so far,” said Greenwich coach Mary Beth Fratello, whose squad hasn’t experienced much trouble scoring runs this spring. “She had a lot of movement on a lot of her pitches — inside, outside, up down.”
The Cardinals, who began their season with six wins in its first seven games, have lost two straight. They will play for the third time in as many days when they host Ridgefield Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
“I think these two losses will motivate us to do better,” said Greenwich senior outfielder Katie Walko, who had one of her squad’s three hits against Doiron. “We’ve been hitting really well and playing defense really well, but these last two games have been a wake-up call for us. We’ll come back ready tomorrow (Thursday).”
St. Joseph scored the only runs it wound up needing in the first inning off GHS senior right-hander Sophia Prieto. Senior Kaitlin Capobianco led off the inning with a single, advanced to third on sophomore Maddie Fitzgerald’s double and scored on a ground out to third by Horton, making it 1-0. Fitzgerald scored on freshman Kyra McCarthy’s fielder’s choice, giving the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Prieto kept it a two-run game until the Cadets added three runs in the top of the fourth inning. Junior infielder Cami Heintz, who went 3 for 4 with one run scored, began the rally with a one-out single to right field, then stole second. Capobianco reached base on error and after both runners advanced on a wild pitch, sophomore shortstop Maddie Fitzgerald delivered a sacrifice fly, putting St. Joe on top, 3-0.
Horton then stepped to the plate and hit a fastball over the left field fence for a two-run home run, extending the Cadets’ advantage to 5-0.
“I am just trying to help my team in that situation,” said Horton, her squad’s starting catcher. “I was zoning in on the pitcher and doing what I could to help Payton on the mound. There is hitting all across our lineup, everyone can hit. We just have to be patient and wait for our pitch.”
Meanwhile, Doiron allowed just a single to GHS leadoff hitter Kelly Brogan in the third inning, a pair of singles to outfielder Julie Gambino and a double to Walko in the sixth for the game.
“It wasn’t my best game, but the defense was there for me,” Doiron said. “The defense backed me up a lot and gave me comfort.”
Said Walko: “She (Doiron) had a lot of movement, which we hadn’t really seen until now, so it was kind of hard for our team to catch on to that early in the game. We know we are facing really good pitchers, so we have to step up our defense.”
Horton capped her big day at the plate by smashing a two-run homer to center field, stretching the Cadets’ edge to 7-0 in the sixth inning. Junior outfielder Paige Hunter added a run-scoring single in the inning to seal St. Joseph’s scoring.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Doiron issued only one walk and pitched out of the two jams she faced, as GHS put two runners on in the first and seventh inning.
“She got a little tired at the end, pitching two days in a row,” Cadets coach Jeff Babineau said. “But she has a good defense behind her and she pitched to contact and let the defense do its job.”
Horton drove in five runs, including a pair of two-run homers.
“She had a great day at the plate,” Babineau said. “The second, or third time at the plate, everyone was patient. They were a little too impatient the early part of the game.”
“We definitely need to hit better,” Prieto said. “Our defense was fairly good, but I think that can also improve. Our game against Ridgefield is important, because we definitely need to turn it around.”