FCIAC baseball, softball teams head into the playoff homestretch

St. Joseph had two huge victories last week to stay unbeaten and seize the No. 1 ranking in the current GameTimeCT Top 10 Softball Poll which was released May 5.

Trumbull’s softball team is ranked fourth as the only other FCIAC softball team in the Top 10.

Staples is ranked second and Fairfield Ludlowe is tied for fifth in the state baseball poll.

And, as could be expected, those four teams are in great position toward securing high seeds in their upcoming FCIAC tournaments heading into the homestretch of the conference baseball and softball seasons.

St. Joseph’s softball team had a very huge 2-1 win at home over Trumbull on May 1 and then ended Masuk’s 41-game winning streak with a 2-0 win May 4 at Masuk – the pivotal reason why coach Jeff Babineau’s Cadets leapfrogged over Masuk to become No. 1.

The kept things rolling with a 9-1 home victory over Ridgefield on Monday to improve to 16-0 overall and 12-0 in the FCIAC, already having clinched their berth in the FCIAC tournament.

St. Joseph is the defending conference champion as the Cadets were seeded third and they shut out top-seeded Trumbull, 6-0, in the final.

Masuk (14-1) dropped down to No. 2 in the state softball poll and was followed by North Haven (13-0).

The top three softball teams will play in the CIAC Class L softball tournament and the following five teams, ranked 4-8, are Class LL teams.

Trumbull is ranked fourth and the Eagles improved to 15-1 overall and 11-1 in the FCIAC with their 5-0 home win over Fairfield Warde on May 7.

West Haven (14-0) was ranked fifth and followed in the softball Top 10 by Cheshire (11-2), South Windsor (13-0), Southington (8-2), Valley Regional (12-0) and Bristol Eastern (9-2).

Fairfield Warde received the 17th most polling points and was the only team from the FCIAC among the 13 total teams in the “Others receiving votes” category.

As for the FCIAC softball standings as of May 7: St. Joseph’s Cadets are homing in on the top seed with their 12-0 record, Trumbull is 11-1 and followed by Fairfield Warde (10-2), Fairfield Ludlowe (9-3), Danbury (8-4), and Stamford (8-4). Ridgefield and Staples are tied for seventh at 7-4.

Warde hosts Ludlowe at 5 p.m. on Friday in the annual showdown of crosstown rivals which should have major implications toward which team can snatch the third seed in the FCIAC softball tournament.

The top eight teams qualify for the FCIAC softball and baseball tournaments. Norwalk (7-5) and Greenwich (7-6) are looking for hot finishes to snatch one of the final softball berths.

The conference seasons consist of 16 games so most of the conference’s baseball and softball teams had about four games left in their regular seasons going into the Wednesday games on May 8.

The respective first rounds of the FCIAC baseball and softball tournaments are scheduled to begin May 17 (a Friday) with four quarterfinal games at the home fields of the higher seeded teams.

The FCIAC baseball and softball semifinal doubleheaders are scheduled for May 20 (a Monday) and the respective championship games are scheduled for May 22 (a Wednesday).

The FCIAC softball tournament semifinals (3 and 5 p.m.) and final (5 p.m.) will be played at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

The FCIAC baseball tournament semifinals (5 and 7:30 p.m.) and championship (7 p.m.) will be played at Cubeta Stadium in Stamford.

The top three teams remain the same from the previous week in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Baseball Poll.

Cheshire, 12-1 at the end of last week, received 14 of the 15 first-place votes to stay No. 1.

Senior righthander Chad Knight struck out 10 batters while firing a three-hit shutout and leading Staples to a 3-0 victory Monday at Darien. That improved coach Jack McFarland’s second-ranked Wreckers to 14-2 overall and 11-1 in the FCIAC.

Darien won the 2018 FCIAC baseball tournament with a 7-4 victory in eight innings over Staples.

Amity (11-3 at the end of last week) received the other first-place vote to remain third in the baseball Top 10 and was followed by Daniel Hand (12-3), which vaulted up from No. 7 last week to No. 4.

Ludlowe, which improved to overall 14-2 overall and 10-2 in the FCIAC on Tuesday with a 14-4 home victory over Westhill, is the only other conference team in the Top 10 and tied for fifth with Southington (11-2) in the state baseball poll.

The final four teams in the Top 10 are Newtown (12-1), Ledyard (11-3), Glastonbury (10-2) and Berlin (11-1).

Ridgefield, which was ninth the previous week, dropped out of the Top 10 and received 14th most points in this current poll. Danbury received the 16th most points and St. Joseph the 18th most points as the other two FCIAC teams in the “Others receiving votes” category.

The conference records as of Tuesday, May 7, had Staples (11-1) on top and followed by Ludlowe (10-2), Danbury (10-3), Darien (9-4), St. Joseph (8-4), Ridgefield (7-5), a trio of 6-6 teams in Norwalk, Brien McMahon and Westhill, while Wilton had a 5-5 record.

The tiebreaker of head-to-head competition could very well wind up as a major factor in determining final playoff berths.

As far as that goes with the latter four teams with the .500 winning percentages: Norwalk has surged into the race and won its fourth straight game with a huge 6-2 victory Monday at McMahon after having previously lost to Wilton and Westhill, which has losses to Wilton and McMahon, while the final big matchup among those four is Wilton at McMahon at 3 p.m. this Friday.

Because Wilton had played two less games than the other three, the Warriors were in a position where they had to play their final six games in the eight-day stretch from May 8-15.

Norwalk’s Bears also have a challenging finish as their final three games are at Ridgefield and at home against Ludlowe and Darien.

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