NORTH STONINGTON — The way Jenn Paride is pitching now, all the Wheeler High softball team only needs to do is give her one run to win the game.
Paries, who played for Stonington High last year, won her second straight 1-0 extra-inning game Friday. Behind Paride’s overpowering performance (three-hitter, 17 strikeouts and no walks), the Lions scratched home a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Lyman Memorial and improve to 8-2 overall, 5-0 ECC-Small.
In the Lions’ four games in May, Paride has pitched a seven-inning no-hitter, hurled a one-hitter and struck out 10 in five-innings, fired nine innings of three-hit ball with 13 strikeouts, and Friday scattered three hits over eight. In the 29 May innings, she has not allowed a run and has walked just one while striking out 48.
“She hasn’t given up a single run in five ECC-Small games,” Wheeler coach Joe Cawley said. “It’s her second straight 1-0, extra-inning game. She’s a workhorse. She takes the ball and keeps gunning it for strikes. I knew she was going to be good, but I didn’t know she’d be this good.”
While Cawley expected a tight game Tuesday against perennial ECC-Small contender St. Bernard, he said the Lions were frustrated with their inability to score against Lyman.
The Bulldogs (4-9, 2-4 ECC-Small) were a Class S semifinalist in 2009 but have lacked dominant pitching recently. On Friday, however, Lyman’s Annie Hardy matched zeros on the scoreboard with Paride despite striking out just two batters.
“We were popping up all game and leaving runners on base,” Purtill said. “We were swinging for fences we don’t have at Wheeler. We could have played 20 innings and we need to support her more. But we’ll take a win in the division any time.”
Wheeler’s Raven Houck was 3 for 4 with a triple and double to raise her batting average to .568. She tripled to lead off the first inning. On an ensuing infield ground ball to short, Houck was thrown out at the plate when the Lyman shortstop faked a throw to first base and nailed Houck at the home for an out.
The shortstop-to-catcher throw went the other way for Lyman later in the game.
In Wheeler’s bottom of the eighth inning, Jess Morgan singled to lead off. After a flyout, Kylie Baker walked and an infield error loaded the bases with one out.
Micaela Bergel hit a grounder to shortstop. The throw home hit a sliding Morgan and bounded away, allowing the winning run to score.
The Lions have completed the first half of the ECC-Small schedule unbeaten. The victory qualified the Lions for the Class S state tournament, which is usually a major fete for Wheeler but just a step along the way this year.
“An 8-2 (overall) record is very big at the halfway point for Wheeler softball,” Cawley said. “We’re keeping our sights on maintaining our ECC-Small lead and qualifying for the ECC tournament for the first time ever. We’re very excited to see things come together with Jenn throwing as hard and as well as she does. Jenn’s name belongs up there with the best pitchers in the entire ECC.”
Paride pitched five innings for Stonington last year, which had senior Andrea Chiaradio, All-ECC Medium pitcher as a junior in 2012, and Theresa Kane, All-ECC Medium pitcher as a junior last year. Paride batted .375 as a regular designated hitter as a Bear sophomore.
In 67 innings of Wheeler pitching, Paride has allowed 25 hits and four earned runs for a 0.43 ERA. She has walked 19 and struck out 112.
Wheeler returns to action 4 p.m. Monday against Tourtellotte at home.