Two St. Paul students are the Athlete of the Week picks for area scholastic sports: Jessica Persechino, the daughter of Anglea and Tony Persechino of Torrington; and Michael Dolce, the son of Anthony and Lori Dolce of Bristol.
Persechino, a senior infielder and pitcher for coach Gary Hovhanessian’s 5-1 Falcons, came into the season with a boatload of honors already.
This past week, the Torrington resident, 3-0 on the mound, tripled in beating her hometown high school 4-1 on the road Tuesday. The following day, she played shortstop and went 3-for-4 with two runs, three RBI and one stolen base. One of her hits was a home run in a 9-2 win over visiting Watertown.
Persechino is batting .609 with 11 runs, 14 hits, one home run, 10 RBI, two doubles and two triples in six games this year. Other stats include an on-base percentage of .654, slugging percentage of 1.000 and on-base plus slugging of 1.654.
Last season, Persechino, who could not be contacted, earned All-State and all-conference honors after a nine-home run season that saw her bat .495. She scored 52 runs and had 27 RBI. Her batting average at St. Paul is .456.
In last year’s Athlete of the Week interview, Hovhanessian noted that his infielder/pitcher had been a starter since her freshman year and that she had just taken up pitching. She was also noted as being “aces” on the base paths, with her base stealing having been 19-for-19 at that point in the season. And after receiving compliments from her coach, Persechino returned the favor.
“He does everything to make us better,” Persechino said. “He pushes because he knows we can do better. He knows the game very well.”
Persechino’s resume is impressive. She’s a St. Paul captain who is a 2018 Softball Factory All-American, Bristol Sports Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete, St. Paul Honor Roll honoree for four years and much more.
In addition to softball, she ran cross country for St. Paul, placing fourth for the girls team at the 2018 Class S meet in finishing 97th overall.
Next year it’s off to St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, a Benedictine liberal arts school in Goffstown where she will play softball.
Dolce, a junior golfer, is leading St. Paul this season in earning medalist honors on three of four occasions coming into this week.
His latest was a 37 on Thursday, when he and his teammates topped NVL foe Naugatuck by a score of 164-220 at Chippanee Golf Club.
His coaches, Ryan Phillip and John Odell, combined in an email to comment about their No. 1 player this spring.
“Michael takes his practice sessions as serious as any other golfer at St. Paul has in years,” the coaches said. “While others like to ‘play through’ their down cycles, Michael insists on practicing to better his game. As a junior co-captain he helps mentor younger team members and offers his leadership skills and encouragement.
“He is never afraid to ask his coaches for advice and is becoming a true student of the game. His fine play in the arena of golf courses this year will help the team to one of its best records in many years. We are as proud of Michael’s achievements at St. Paul off the course this year as we are with his scores.”
Dolce talked about the team’s positive start this spring.
“The season’s good, we got off to a strong start,” Dolce said. “My game looks very good, one of the best shapes I’ve ever seen it. All of the starting five have contributed to what we have done so far. If we play strong enough, we have a good shot at winning the NVL.”
Dolce hopes to make the all-conference team once again.
“If I play as well as [I am] now, maybe even All-State,” Dolce said.
The ultimate goal for Dolce, though, is playing in college.
“I started playing as a little kid,” Dolce said. “I always went to Chipannee and was taught by the pro, Gary Sassu. My dad played with me and taught me as a kid and I kind of learned on my own. I like that it’s just you and the ball there. If you’re on with your mind, you’re on that day. I don’t know of many people who can stand out there for four hours and hit a little white ball. But if you can, it separates you from the rest.”
Last season Dolce went 16-2 in match play, was named All-Press and all-conference in the Naugatuck Valley League’s Copper Division.
In addition to golf, Dolce ran indoor track to keep in shape for the spring schedule. He competed in both the 600 and 800 meters.
“If you don’t come into the golf season in shape, it’s going to be tough with a 30-pound sack on your back,” Dolce said.