A pair of underclassmen that both have family members with local sports hall of fame credentials are our Athlete of the Week selections for area scholastic sports. They are sophomore shortstop Gwen Torreso of the Bristol Central girls softball team and freshman second baseman Ryan Daniels of the St. Paul baseball team.
Torreso, the daughter of Ginny and Jeff Torreso, has been on a batting spree for the Rams, 2-3 on the season coming into this week. Her mother, a graduate of Bristol Eastern, is an inductee of the Bristol Sports Hall of Fame as a local three-sport athlete and basketball player at Pace University. Her grandfather, Greg Ziogas, a standout multi-sport athlete at Bristol Central, has been enshrined into the Plainville High School Hall of Fame as a successful boys basketball coach at the school.
Toresso had three doubles last week in a 11-1 win over host Wethersfield and homered in a 4-1 loss to visiting Northeast Catholic.
“Gwen is the quintessential student-athlete,” said her coach, Monica Hayes. “Her work ethic matches her ability, which makes her a genuine leader, and watching her development is truly special. I try to stress to my players how softball is a metaphor for life. Being a great player will only take you so far, but being a good person can take you much further in life. Gwen understands that how to treat people matters. Gwen is constantly encouraging and helping her teammates. She is fun to be around on a daily basis.”
The Rams are coming off a 9-12 season.
“We have a lot of young players and we’ve played five games so far,” Torreso said. “So from the first game to now we had them moving to multiple positions and because there’s not a lot of varsity experience we’ve been working to communicate with one another. I think we’re definitely starting to come together. Our team goal is to keep improving every day, working hard, and everyone’s goal is to make it to the state tournament and do well in it.”
In addition to softball, Torreso also plays volleyball and basketball for the Rams. She’s been a right-side hitter in volleyball and will be learning the setter position for next fall. She started the sport as a freshman and likes the fact that it’s a constantly moving game and finds it fun to play.
With basketball, she said, you have to know what’s going on at all times and that it’s also a moving, fast-paced sport. Softball is somewhat slower, but Torrseo doesn’t think it’s boring to watch.
“It’s something I’ve played since T-ball softball,” Torreso said. “For softball, it can at times not be the fastest game, but there are situations where you need to execute. Offensively, you are never seeing the same pitch and there’s always something to get better at.”
In short, for Torreso, it’s a general love for sports with no favorite.
“It’s whatever season I’m in,” Torreso said. “I love the competitiveness of sports and I’ve been on many teams with many sports with coaches with different styles. I love the team bonding and family environment it brings. I was never forced to play sports, but it was open to me. It’s something I’ve enjoyed and like.”
Daniels is the son of Peter and Wendy Daniels of Meriden. Like Torreso, he’s been hot with his bat and has four home runs already to date this young season. His hall of fame family member is his father, who is in the ECSU Athletic Hall of Fame for his hitting and pitching in baseball.
“Ryan is off to a pretty remarkable start in his high school career,” said his coach, Victor Rinaldi. “Not only is he very talented, but he is well beyond his years with his baseball IQ and understanding of the game. We are excited to have him in our program for the next four years.”
Daniels, in return, talks about St. Paul baseball, a program that went 19-7 overall in 2018 and is 4-1 coming into this week.
“I think we look good this year overall,” Daniels said. “We have really good pitching and we can hit really well and I think we play well together. Our goal this year is a state championship.”
Daniels added that his job on the team is to hit well, score runs and get on base for Julian Thayer and Ryan Parent, the team’s power hitters. He started the sport in T-ball, like Torreso.
“I got a batting cage put in my backyard and that was my father’s idea,” Daniels said. “He’s been my hitting coach since I’ve been playing baseball.”
Daniels concentrates on baseball as his one sport.
“I definitely like hitting and having fun with my teammates on and off the field,” Daniels said. “We’re close on and off the field. The seniors really took me in, even though I have to carry the equipment more than them. There is no other option, but they are really good to me. They all had to do it when they were freshmen. They had to do more, actually.”