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Canton blanks Avon to finish regular season with four straight wins

Canton catcher Joy Shand, left and pitcher Alice Butterfield celebrate after Canton’s 17-0 win over Avon on Thursday. More game photos

CANTON, May 18, 2023 – As May dawned, the Canton High softball team found themselves with seven wins, one victory shy of a second straight CIAC tournament berth – something the Warrior program had not achieved since 2015.

Canton dropped four straight games in the span of seven days including a one-run loss to Northwestern Regional.

But the Warriors have righted the ship. Canton closed out the regular season with four consecutive wins over Simsbury, East Windsor/SMSA co-op, Gilbert and Avon to finish the season at 11-9.

Canton played their final regular season game on Thursday and prevailed with a 17-0 win in five innings over a very young Avon team.

Senior pitcher Alice Butterfield improved to 10-8 on the season with her second shutout win of the season. Butterfield gave up three hits, struck out 10 and didn’t walk a batter.

Second baseman Erin Mackin was 2-for-2 for the Warriors with four RBI. She hit her team-leading fourth home run of the season and her second homer in the last three games.

Senior catcher Joy Shand had a single and one RBI while Butterfield had a single and two RBI. Senior outfielder Joelle Daigneault walked four times and drove in two runs while senior first baseman Olivia Daigneault drew three walks, singled and scored twice. Sophia Mazza drove in a pair of runs for the Warriors, too.

Canton’s Joy Shand (3) gets hit by a pitch during Thursday’s non-league game against Avon. Falcon catcher Mia Ausiello reaches for the ball. More game photos

“We had a couple of tough losses in the middle of the season but in the last week or so, we’ve really turned things around with better defense,” Canton’s fifth-year head coach Kristi Kehoss said. “We’re doing a great hitting and we’re more disciplined at the plate. We’re making better contact and getting better swings.”

On Saturday, Canton bounced Simsbury, 8-3, thanks to 11 hits. Shand, Joelle Daigneault, Mackin and Butterfield each had two hits in the win with Mackin driving in two runs and getting a triple. Lyla O’Connor went the distanceon the mound, striking out seven and allowing just four hits.

On Monday, Butterfield fanned 10 and gave up five his in a 9-3 win over the East Windsor/SMSA co-op program. Butterfield, Shand and Mackin each had home runs in the game with Shand also ripping a triple to highlight Canton’s 10-hit attack.

On Tuesday, the Warriors beat Gilbert-Winsted for the second time this season with a 13-1 win in five innings. Butterfield went the distance on the mound, giving up two hits and striking out nine. Mackin was 2-for-2 with three RBI while Shand was 2-for-2.

Avon (0-15) hasn’t won a game this season. A year ago, they had a pair of All-State players at pitcher and catcher and advanced to the CIAC semifinals for the first time since 1976.

“We have a very young team,” Avon High coach Michael Mihalek said. “We have only two seniors. Our starting shortstop is hurt and our (starting) catcher is hurt. Half of the team has never played softball before. It’s been a challenging year but we’re trying to make the experience the best we can for the kids.”

Junior Sydney Caso and freshmen Lily Silva and McKinley Wade each had singles for the Falcons.

“They love the game. They love each other and that is 90 percent there,” he said. “They love to come to practice. They love the bus rides. They love to compete.”

Avon High center fielder Olivia Johnson made a great catch to end the second inning, On the run, she just got the ball before hit the grass to rob Canton’s Joy Shand of a hit. More game photos

Avon plays their final home game on Saturday at 10 a.m. against Farmington before closing out the regular season with road games at Hall and Windsor Locks.

The Class S tournament begins with qualifying on May 27 and first round play on Tuesday, May 30. It was Canton’s first win over Avon since 2015 but the two schools had only played each other twice since that time  (2016, 2022) before Thursday’s game. It was Canton’s most lopsided win over the Falcons (17 runs) since a 26-0 win in 1994.

Canton 17, Avon 0 (5)
At Canton
Avon (0-15)        000  00  —   0-3-6
Canton (11-9)     493  1x  — 17-7-0
Juliana Portal and Mia Ausiello; Alice Butterfield and Joy Shand; WP: Butterfield (10-8); LP: Portal; HR: Erin Mackin

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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