Darien Joins St. Joseph On Top Pedestal After Osherow Stars In 1-0 Win

TRUMBULL — The FCIAC softball storyline shifted slightly on Wednesday afternoon at St. Joseph High School. The Cadets, widely viewed as the conference favorite and possessors of the most potent offense, were limited to two hits by Darien’s Erika Osherow in a 1-0 loss.

Osherow has given the Blue Wave an old-school dynamic, if old school is the right term for just a few years ago, when the distance between home plate and the mound was moved back four feet. Games like Wednesday’s were the norm between contenders, but now have become close to extinct as offenses have caught up and even overtaken good pitching.


Former St. Joseph Star Jenn Vazquez Having Stellar Freshman Season At Manhattan

When Manhattan College softball coach Tom Pardalis got a commitment from Jenn Vazquez, there was no question he was adding a versatile player with tremendous upside.

But like with most freshman, Pardalis thought the former St. Joseph High School star’s contributions would be modest at the outset.

“I did not think she would make an impact her first year,” Pardalis said. “Especially since I brought her in as a catcher with the idea she could play first base. We have an All-League catcher who is a sophomore. I didn’t think Jenn would get a lot of playing time behind the plate.”

As those who followed the Cadets the last four years are well aware, Vazquez’s drive and skill set defy convention.


St. Joseph Softball Team Shows It Can Also Win The Close Games With 3-0 Win Over Greenwich

TRUMBULL — After rolling over its first nine opponents in a dominant display, the St. Joseph softball team faced its first real test since opening day on Friday afternoon, against its toughest FCIAC opponent to date.

Locked in a scoreless game with Greenwich heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, the Cadets showed they are equally resilient in close contests.

Lauren Pitney’s RBI double staked St. Joseph to a 1-0 lead and Amy Chacho’s two-run double in the sixth lifted it to a 3-0 home victory.


Midseason Softball Report: A Balanced Posse Remains In Pursuit Of St. Joseph

Three weeks ago we wondered whether a balanced pack of contenders could keep up with the St. Joseph softball team. Who might be this year’s New Canaan, which as the sixth seed defeated the Cadets last season for the school’s first championship in the sport.

We are still wondering.

As we reach the halfway point — the other seasons seem like middle- or long-distance races but the spring is always a 100-meter dash — there have been few surprises to date.


Darien 8, Trumbull 1: With Blue Wave’s Osherow, It Is Erika With A K. The I Is Silent

DARIEN — She hit what her coach said is the longest home run in the history of her team’s relatively new field, pitched a four-hitter and even flashed her defensive prowess by catching a couple of line drives that would have made the goaltenders at her school’s excellent lacrosse teams proud.

There is little that Darien’s Erika Osherow cannot do, and didn’t do in Wednesday’s 8-1 win over Trumbull.

Well, except open up about her performance, or hot start to the season.


Stamford Pitcher Christina Joannou Uses Offseason To Embrace Her Greek Heritage

STAMFORD — Christina Joannou’s time clock is atypical of the average high school senior.

During the spring, as the starting pitcher for the Stamford softball team, Joannou is up early for Sunday morning practices. In the months leading up to the season, some of Joannou’s Saturday nights end not long before her current workouts begin.

Joannou embraces her heritage going to what is known as Bouzoukia, a term for nightclubs that feature Greek music and dancing. Sometimes attending with her parents, or brother Sam and his friends, Joannou went to the regular social gatherings, occasionally traveling to Norwalk or more often to Flushing in New York.


Baseball Rotations A Key To Success; St. Joseph Softball On Early March

The recurrent storyline in late May of every baseball season may also be the trend for the next seven weeks as well.

For over a decade, lower seeds have won the FCIAC Tournament as often as higher seeds. The reason? Most of the title contenders have at least one good pitcher, the great equalizer.

This year, in a league that appears to be extremely top heavy, with what appears to be a larger number of very good teams than at any time in recent memory, more schools have at least one ace.


Joannou’s Pitching And Defense Carry Stamford Softball Team On Opening Day

FAIRFIELD — Christina Joannou was as economical with her words as she was with her pitches Wednesday afternoon, not long after pitching the best game of her career.

Joannou struck out eight, walked none and allowed just six hits in shutting out Fairfield Ludlowe, 4-0, in the season opener for both teams. Joannou hit her spots, deftly mixed her pitches, 69 percent of which were strikes.

Getting Joannou to open up about her performance was another matter. The Falcons were more successful with their bats against her than reporters were with their questions.


Softball 2014: St. Joseph Trying To Stay A Step Ahead Of A Hungry Pack

When we last left you 10 months ago, New Canaan — yes, New Canaan, where sticks and not bats usually predominate in the spring — was winning its first-ever FCIAC softball title.

The Rams were the sixth seed, a tribute to last season’s parity, when just two games separated the second through seventh seeds in the FCIAC Tournament.

Balance should again be a keyword this spring, though the dynamic will be different. Most of the top teams lost their best hitters. That means pitching, always the most important commodity, but one that was marginalized when the distance between mound and plate was moved back four feet, should return to being a vital element.

Not surprisingly, the preseason favorites all have good pitching.

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Commentary: 2013 A Year Rich In Memorable Stories And Accomplishments

My annual year-end columns are assured of one thing: if I re-read them days later, I will inevitably realize leaving someone or something off the list.

The athletes, coaches and games that stood out the most resonate in my mind, so this compilation is done without the aid or poring over old stories and strictly off the top of my head.

Here, then, is what I will remember most about 2013: