Sunday, July 03, 2022

Sports

East Haven Softball Clinches Oronoque Division Title

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Senior captain Emilee Bishop and the East Haven softball team won all three of their games last week to improve to 12-2 overall and clinch the SCC Oronoque Division title. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Emilee Bishop and the East Haven softball team won all three of their games last week to improve to 12-2 overall and clinch the SCC Oronoque Division title. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Senior captain Jilien Ayala helped the Yellowjackets rally for victories against Hamden, Foran, and Shelton during a wild week on the ballfield. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Jilien Ayala helped the Yellowjackets rally for victories against Hamden, Foran, and Shelton during a wild week on the ballfield. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

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Junior Adriana Franceschi got a pair of base knocks and stole three bases when the Easties posted an 8-7 home victory versus Foran on May 3. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Junior Adriana Franceschi got a pair of base knocks and stole three bases when the Easties posted an 8-7 home victory versus Foran on May 3. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier)

With three wins last week, the East Haven softball team has clinched the Southern Connecticut Conference’s Oronoque Division title. With one goal out of the way, Head Coach Ed Crisafi is looking for the Yellowjackets to continue relying on their strong defense, consistent pitching, and emerging offense to lead his club on another deep postseason run.

East Haven won the Oronoque Division title by earning a 9-6 home victory versus Hamden on May 2. The Yellowjackets were down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning, but battled back by scoring 5 runs in the third, 2 in the fourth, and 2 in the sixth to take a 9-4 lead into the seventh inning. Although Hamden scored two runs in the top of the seventh, East Haven hung on to claim both the victory and the divisional championship.

“They change the division every year, and we’ve been in with Cheshire the past two. After winning the Oronoque five out of six years, we hadn’t won it in the past couple of seasons. It’s nice to win that crown,” said Coach Crisafi, whose team is 12-2 overall and 7-0 in the Oronoque. “The next step is the SCC Tournament, and after that is states. Those were our three goals, and we’re one third of the way there.”

Senior captain Lena Barthel had a single and a double with 2 runs scored in the victory. Freshman Lexi Heaphy 2 hits with 2 runs and 2 RBI, junior Lily Gagnon had 2 hits and 3 RBI, and junior Adriana Franceschi had 2 hits and 3 stolen bases for East Haven.

Barthel has been hitting out of the leadoff spot for the past few games, trading places with senior captain Jilien Ayala, who is now batting third. Barthel is 11-for-14 since being moved up in the lineup. Coach Crisafi knows how big of a role Barthel plays in East Haven’s offense, and he’s happy to see the senior captain flourishing in the leadoff role.

“Ever since we moved Lena up, she has seemed to have woken up. We needed a little jolt, and we need her to hit,” Crisafi said. “It gets her a few more at-bats. She’s making the coaches look like geniuses. She has really been on fire.”

East Haven continued its week by claiming an 8-7 home win against Foran on May 3. The Yellowjackets trailed 1-0 after the first inning before scoring 4 runs in the third and 3 more in the fourth. Foran answered back with 3 runs in the fifth, 2 in the sixth, and 1 in the seventh to make to 1-run game. However, with the bases loaded and two outs, senior captain Emilee Bishop struck out the final batter to preserve the victory for East Haven.

Bishop finished the game with 10 strikeouts and also had a single, a triple, and a home run with 3 runs scored and 5 RBI at the plate. Barthel had 2 hits and scored 2 runs, while Ayala had 2 hits and 2 RBI.

When East Haven had faced Waterford on April 28, Bishop took a foul ball off the foot and had to sit out the next two contests. She returned to the field for the Hamden game last week. Coach Crisafi said that Bishop’s velocity has been great and that she is working her way back to finding the location on her pitches. Whether it be on the mound or in the batter’s box, Crisafi felt that Bishop’s return provided the Easties with a major boost.

East Haven closed out its week by posting a 9-7 win over Shelton in another home game on April 5. While it was the day before the prom, the Yellowjackets were locked in and focused on finishing the week with a sweep. Still, even with that focus, the Easties once again found themselves facing a deficit as they trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom half of the third inning.

That’s when East Haven struck for six runs, keyed a big home run from Barthel. The Yellowjackets added 2 more runs in the sixth to take a 9-3 lead into the final frame. The Gaels hit a grand slam to cut the deficit to 9-7, but Bishop fanned the last batter of the game to halt the Shelton’s rally and solidify East Haven’s third victory of the week.

Bishop struck out 12 hitters en route to getting her ninth win of the year for the Yellowjackets. Heaphy went 4-for-4 with 2 RBI; Barthel had the homer with 2 singles, 2 runs scored, and 3 RBI; and sophomore Gianna Fowler contributed with 2 hits in the win.

The Yellowjackets had to climb out of an early hole in each of their games last week. The Easties weren’t used to being in that position this season, but displayed their resiliency by rallying for the victory in all three matchups.

“We haven’t been behind too much this year. Even though it was no more than a two-run deficit, it was nice that we came back and we didn’t hold our heads,” said Crisafi. “We’ve been hitting well the past couple of games. It’s a good feeling knowing that even if we fall behind, the girls are going to hang in and stay with it. They’re resilient.”

The Easties also showed off their potential on offense during the past week. East Haven has now won four games in a row and has scored 38 total runs between those contests. With Bishop and Barthel leading the charge, Coach Crisafi believes that everyone on the team is feeling confident in the batter’s box, and the results certainly back that up.

“Everyone’s averages have jumped up in the last four games. Emilee is batting an amazing .622. Lena was batting .333 six games ago. Now, she’s all the way up .477,” Crisafi said. “Hitting in softball is contagious. Once one or two people start hitting, it just picks up, and that’s what’s happened for us. The girls are gaining more confidence in their offensive ability. It’s a nice feeling right now.”

With the Oronoque Division title in the books, East Haven is now focused on finishing its regular season strong in preparation for SCCs and states. The Yellowjackets are no stranger to postseason success after having reached the semifinals of last year’s Class L State Tournament. Coach Crisafi said that this year’s success stems from the Easties’ work ethic. Crisafi feels that if his players continue working hard in practice, then the East Haven softball team will be a formidable foe for any opponent come playoff time.

“We just have to keep going how we have been going and keep practicing the way we have. This is a team that practices hard all the time, and it carries over into the games,” said Crisafi. “We’ve had good defense and good pitching. Now, we’re getting hits in bunches. As long as we keep going, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.”

The East Haven softball team’s roster features senior captains Emilee Bishop, Lena Barthel and Jilien Ayala; juniors Lily Gagnon, Arielle Dupree, Callie Capotorto, Adriana Franceschi, Gianna Bernovich, and Autumn Clancy; sophomores Miranda Consiglio and Gianna Fowler; and freshmen Gianna Santoro, Bella Jaskowicz, Lexi Heaphy, and Hailey Cooper.



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