DARIEN -- Ten days into the new season, few expected the two preseason favorites for the FCIAC softball title to enter an early showdown with two losses apiece.

But that is the position St. Joseph and Darien found themselves in when they met Saturday afternoon. And perhaps it was an indication that not all similar records are built alike and the teams for the time being may be headed in opposite directions when the Cadets came away with a 5-1 road win.

"We finally hit a little today," St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau said. "We bunted a couple of times and I think we did the small things today that contributed to their demise. It has happened to us."

The Cadets improved to 4-2. Both of their losses came by a run in extra innings.

"We lost a couple of close games. We hadn't really exploded yet and we got hits today," said Jenn Vazquez, the Cadets' star catcher, who accounted for one-third of her team's 6 hits, including the 100th of her career. "The losses were frustrating. They could have gone either way. Of course at this point you'd like to be without a loss but we've just kept on playing."

St. Joseph freshman Nicole Williams and Darien sophomore Erika Osherow, who is making the transition after playing shortstop last season, were locked in a 1-1 duel until the Cadets scored three runs in the 6th inning, on Mikaela Mallozzi's RBI single and two wild pitches.

After brief control issues the first two innings, Williams settled down and retired 16 of the final 17 batters she faced, finishing with a 3-hitter to improve to 3-1.

"She threw really well and she knows she has a good defense behind her," Vazquez said. "We are lucky to have a lot of depth at the position."

Williams has been splitting time with last year's starter, Tori Ceballos, who when not pitching has been making important contributions with her bat. Ceballos drove in the Cadets' first run in the opening inning, singled, reached on a walk and was robbed of a hit on a low line drive to second base.

"Nicole threw very well," Babineau said. "She didn't warm up well, but the best thing is we have experience with people throwing. The best thing with Tori is she has really helped with the bat and keeping the bench alive. A lot of other kids would have gone south. The early part of the season I'm trying to get both work."

Darien, on the other hand, seems burdened by high expectations because of their recent success, including last year's FCIAC title, despite losing a large core of that team and now starting six underclassmen.

"You see how far away we are from being competitive right now," Darien coach Nick DeMaio said. "Our problems are too numerous to go into. We aren't hitting, the defensive play has been poor and Erika has been hurting herself."

Osherow, who doubled in the Blue Wave's lone run in the second inning, is extremely talented and just struggling with her command in the early going.

DeMaio said he has no doubt that his highly touted pitcher will settle down soon.

"She's got it all," DeMaio said. "She has all the physical talent she needs."

dave.ruden@scni.com; Twitter: @DaveRuden

ST. JOSEPH 5, DARIEN 1

ST. JOSEPH 100 003 1--5 6 0

DARIEN 010 000 0--1 3 2

Records: St. Joseph 4-2; Darien 2-3

Batteries: SJ--Nicole Williams (W, 3-1) and Jenn Vazquez. D--Erika Osherow (L, 2-3) and Rebecca DeMaio. Doubles: SJ--Vazquez; D--Osherow.

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