BRISTOL - Many teams develop a family dynamic during the season, but the Bristol Central softball team did not take very long to feel like a tight-knit group because two of its players are already family.
Cousins Peyton and Morgan Greger are both freshmen with the Rams this spring and they have already contributed to the team, both on and off the field.
Peyton is Bristol Central’s starting shortstop and Morgan is one of the Rams’ catchers and both have been in the lineup more often as the season has worn on.
“[Monday was] only Morgan’s second game behind the plate. She hasn’t been able to play there because she was on vacation and she didn’t play in some of our games for whatever reason,” Bristol Central coach Monica Hayes said. “And Peyton missed some time, too, so now having them back, now we can get in a flow and moving forward, we can see some improvement.”
While their play on the diamond has been important, possibly the biggest impact the Gregers have made has been bringing a family feeling to the Bristol Central team.
“They’ve played together for a while,” Hayes said. “They know each other really well. It’s something that we can grow on and build on in the coming years, having them the same age [and] knowing each other well. They have that camaraderie that we’re trying to get with the rest of the team. It’s just taking a while.”
For Peyton and Morgan, it’s a wonderful experience to share with each other, but they both see the rest of the team as family as well.
“It’s great to have family on the team,” Peyton said. “But I feel like, as a team, we are family when we’re all together. Without everyone else, we wouldn’t be family.”
“We’ve played together in the past on travel teams. It’s been a great experience,” Morgan said. “We’ve always been close. That chemistry on the field is really great. But it’s kind of like that with the rest of the team.
“We all become very close. If I need anything from anyone, I can always rely on them. I can always go to them for advice, either on the field or off. We’re like family. We joke around. But we can focus and do our job.”
According to Hayes, the cousins stuck together early on in the season, but as they got more comfortable with their teammates, they branched out while also bringing the rest of the team into their family.
“It isn’t anything that you would notice. You never would’ve said, ‘Oh, those two are sisters or those two are cousins and they’re family,’” she said. “They don’t isolate themselves like that. It’s kind of good. It’s more of a family atmosphere, which we’re trying to build on and infuse into the rest of the team.”
Bristol Central is currently 4-8 on the season, but the Rams entered the spring with an unproven, young team. Yet that youth helped the Gregers integrate easier and not remain dependent on each other.
“Obviously, we’re a very young team. It wasn’t hard to be accepted by the team,” Morgan said. “Everyone came in with a very positive outlook of how we were going to do this year because we had real talent coming in. Even the people who are veterans on the team had talent. We all came in with a good idea that we were going to have a lot of potential this year.”
How young the Rams are this season aided the cousins, but it was one of the team’s veterans that has really brought the whole team together.
“One of the upperclassman, Sarah Strilkauskas, has been very helpful getting everyone together and getting everyone together as one,” Peyton said. “Without help from everyone around us, it wouldn’t be the same. It’s not a one-person or two-person game. It’s a team effort.”
Peyton and Morgan are not the only members of their family that are currently competing in Bristol high school softball. When Bristol Central took on Bristol Eastern, another one of their cousins, the Lancers’ Jordan Fitzsimons, lined up against them. And with so much family on the field, there was that much more in the stands.
“They bring 400 family members with them, too, so we get a lot of people at our games. They’re everywhere,” Hayes said.
“It’s good for our team. It’s just cool to have people that are in the same family on the same team. You get that family atmosphere. And having their cousin on the other side is cool, too. It’s good for Bristol. You get a lot of people at the games.”
The Rams only have two seniors this spring, so the majority of the core of this season’s team will be together for at least one more season and the Gregers figure to be a big part of the Bristol Central program for the next few years.
“Peyton and Morgan both possess engaging personalities, talent, desire to improve their craft and have supportive families,” Hayes said. “These are factors imperative for success not only in softball, but in life. I look forward to their development as players and people over the next three years.”
Josh Kestenbaum can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter: @K_baum30