CANTON – After going 2-2 in a one-week stretch in late April and not playing a game in 12 days off due to rain, Canton High softball coach Doug Clement knew his players were focused and ready to play last week against Tolland High, which had won 11 of its first 12 games.
“They were all on the bus on time,” he said with a grin. “Right then, I knew they were focused.”
The Warriors rapped out 15 hits and committed just one error in a dominating 12-2 victory over the Eagles, who had lost their first game of the season just two days earlier to arch-rival Ellington, 4-1.
Canton pitcher Maureen Gauthier allowed just five hits and struck out 10 while catcher Jess Schroeder had three singles, a double and three RBI. Frances Klimczak had three hits and 2 RBI while Melissa Parente had a long triple. Christina Caldwell chipped in a key two-RBI single up the middle that helped turn a one-run lead into a five-run lead.
It was a strong statement for the Warriors (9-3, 6-2 NCCC), who began the season with visions of contending for the league championship only to fall to Ellington, 1-0, and Somers, 3-1. An injury to first baseman Sarah Benedetti didn’t help, either.
But Benedetti is healthy again and back in the lineup. Clement made some adjustments to the batting lineup, moving Klimczak into the leadoff spot, freshman centerfielder Stephanie Gauther (Mo’s sister) into the No. 2 spot, Mo Gauthier into the cleanup spot (No. 4) and Schroeder into the No. 5 spot.
“Stephanie has been a positive spark for us,” Clement said. “She is a good contact hitter.” Canton followed up the win over Tolland with a 7-0 shutout over East Granby. Mo Gauthier allowed just two Crusader hits and was 4-for-4 at the plate.
The Warriors conclude a suspended game with Suffield on Thursday [May 21] and host Granby on Friday. They’ll challenge New Britain again in a night game next week (May 27) at Chelsey Park at 7 p.m.
Clement is looking forward to Canton clinching a spot in the first NCCC softball tournament. The top four teams in the league qualify. The semifinals will be Friday, May 29 with the championship game on the following day, May 30.
Ellington ended last week one win shy of clinching its first-ever NCCC championship at 14-2 overall and 11-1 in the league. Sophomore pitcher Morgan McPartland limited Canton to just two hits in the Knights’ 1-0 win on April 25.