Saturday marks the return of spring high school sports for the first time since 2019 and expectations are a bit murky as this year’s senior class was in its sophomore year the last time they played. Spring athletes were the first one to lose an entire season from the coronavirus pandemic, so returning to the field will be a much welcomed experience.
Two years in between seasons leave coaches in an unfamiliar position with how well they know and understand their teams, but with schedules becoming less localized, high school sports are starting to look more like they used to. Here is a look ahead as to what to expect from the local softball teams this year:
Head coach: Monica Hayes (6th season)
2019 season: 11-10, lost in first round of Class L tournament
Key losses: Peyton Greger, Kayla Beaulieu, Gianna Annelli.
Key returners: Gwen Torreso (senior), Brooke Soucy (senior), Kayla St. Onge (senior).
Outlook: The Rams return a deep senior class, highlighted by 2019 all-CCC selection Gwen Torreso who, like all student-athletes will look to make the most of this season. Central will look to build off of a season that yielded regular season record over .500 and a state tournament berth.
First game: April 14 vs. Simsbury.
Head coach: Scott Redman (7th season)
2019 season: 17-6, reached quarterfinals of the Class L tournament
Key losses: Paige McLaughlin, Erin Girard, Taylor Keegan, Lauren Aparo, Alyssa Hackling, Lyzah Corliss.
Key returners: Riley Giblin (senior), Alison Tellier (junior), Jasmine Perez (senior).
Outlook: The Lancers won 15 games in each of its previous two regular seasons, but they have a lot of talent to replace if they want to recreate that success. The biggest hole will be left by all-state pitcher Erin Girard, whose work from the circle was crucial to Eastern’s success. With some returns from the 2019 team that will lead this year’s campaign, expect a solid season from the Lancers.
First game: April 10 at Berlin.
Head coach: Joel Simmone (7th season)
2019 season: 13-8, lost in first round of Class LL tournament
Key losses: Josleen River (junior, pitcher), Makaila Masterson (senior, outfielder/DH/second base), Amanda Jacobs (senior, third base), Valentina Hernandez (senior, first base), Paola Martinez (senior, outfield).
Key returners: Xandra Silva (freshman, pitcher/shortstop), Liliana Silva (freshman, catcher).
Outlook: There will be a lot of holes to fill for the Hurricanes to return to their winning ways from 2019. They lost a lot of their core pieces in the past two years and will look to its limited number of returners to lead the way.
First game: April 12 at Platt
Head coach: Davina Hernandez (7th season)
2019 season: 22-3, reigning Class LL Champions
Key losses: Abby Lamson (senior, infield), Chrissy Marotto (senior, infield), Gabby Verderame-Malachowski (senior, outfield), Julia Theriault (senior, pitcher), Katelyn Lipsky (junior, pitcher).
Key returners: Nicole Greco (senior), Kayla Pelletier (senior), Alison Rembish (senior).
Outlook: The Blue Knights have been able to enjoy the title of Class LL champions for two years, but will have to replace the output of two all-state players to reach three years. Many of the team’s most important players from the championship roster are gone and Hernandez will have to find new players to fill the shoes when the season begins this weekend.
First game: April 10 vs. Windsor
Head coach: Scott Marcucio (4th season)
2019 season: 9-12, lost in first round of Class M tournament
Key losses: Makayla Caron (shortstop), Mackenzie Alvarado (pitcher/first base), Makenzie Caron (left field).
Key returners: Kayla Wisz (senior, pitcher/first base), Sabrinna Matthews (senior, utility), Samantha Thompson (junior, third base), Aliana Shover (junior, catcher/outfield).
Possible newcomers: Kori Jones (senior), Tessa Susco (senior), Nora Couture (sophomore), Alison Wisz (sophomore), Amanda Linhoff (freshman), Talyia Torres (freshman), Alexis Graff (freshman), Faith Emery (freshman).
Outlook: The Blue Devils return a strong base from two years ago that should lend some experience to the team. Looking to compete among a deep CCC, Plainville will look to make the most of its chances on the field this year.
“The team has been working hard every day,” Marcucio said. “We have good leadership from returning players and we’re excited about the potential of incoming freshmen and sophomores. The girls have an excellent attitude and a great work ethic. Our goal is to work to our potential and to improve day to day. We want to be as competitive as we can throughout the season. As we gain experience and continue to work hard, we'll continue to progress the way we should.”
First game: April 12 vs. Canton.
Head coach: Steve Markie (21st season)
2019 season: 14-7, lost in first round of Class LL tournament
Key losses: Cyan Gonzalez (shortstop), Rachel Thureson (first base), McKenna DeLuca (outfield), Dani Pantano (pitcher).
Key returners: Amanda Ackerley (senior, outfield), Hannah DeMarco (junior, catcher), Elisa Taylor (junior, utility)
Possible newcomers: Jaelyn Gonzalez (sophomore, pitcher), Jaiden Tucker (sophomore, third base), Brianna Gadarowski (sophomore, shortstop), Ella Stair (freshman, utility)
Outlook: Newington was anchored by four all-conference selections in 2019 and all-state shortstop Cyan Gonzalez. Looking to recreate some of the success of 2019, this team will look to new players to step up to bring home wins.
“I think many of us don't really know where we stand with not having a season last year so things should be wide open and we are all going to learn a great deal about our teams as we go,” Markie said. “Looking forward to the new season and whatever it may bring.”
First game: April 12 at Conard.
Head coach: Jason Pires (17th season)
2019 season: 15-8, reached quarterfinals of Class M tournament
Key losses: Lindsay Walsh (outfield), Kelsei Zliczewski (third base), Callie Gendron (catcher).
Key returners: Stefanie Poulin (senior, pitcher), Jenna Zup (senior, shortstop), Kylie Lanteri (senior, third base), Casey Uryga (senior, outfield), Rylee Cop (junior, second base), Sophia Fazzina (junior, catcher)
Possible newcomers: Julia Oakes (senior, outfield), Sam Goode (senior, outfield), Hailey Wieczorek (sophomore), Jess Petit (freshman).
Outlook: The Redcoats may have an advantage this season with a variety of returning players that have legitimate varsity experience. With many players coming back from a quarterfinal run in the state tournament two years ago including all-conference selections in Zup and Poulin, the Berlin seniors could be large difference makers for this team.
“I expect us to finish over .500 and contend for the conference championship,” Pires said.
First game: April 10 vs. Bristol Eastern.
Head coach: Gary Hovhanessian (16th season)
2019 season: 18-5, reached quarterfinals of Class S state tournament
Key losses: Abby Poirot, Jess Persechino, Katrina Roy, Janessa Gonzalez, Cari Marchak, Rebecca Nerbonne.
Key returners: Caleigh Mcdougall (sophomore).
Outlook: The Falcons graduated a pair of all-state players since they last took the field and won a pair of state tournament games. St. Paul will have new faces at most of its positions, all of whom are in a position to succeed because of the program they are and the players that came before them.
First game: April 10 at Ansonia
Head coach: Stephanie Fuller (10th season)
2019 season: 3-15, missed state tournament.
Key losses: Alexandria Michaud, Olivia Tuohy.
Key returners: Jessie Valentine (senior), Tiffany Pires (senior), Lacy Lyons (senior), Emma Farrow (senior), Gianna Farrow (senior), Alexis Fitzherbert (senior), Taylor Barnett (junior), Zoe Zappone (junior).
Outlook: 2019 was a difficult season for the Kangaroos, who only won three games. But this year’s team features plenty of returning players, which should give them the chance to put together more quality games and increase its number in the win column.
First game: April 19 vs. Northwestern
Head coach: Amy Labas (1st season)
2019 season: 8-13, lost in first round of Class M tournament
Key losses: Isabella Orejuela (pitcher), Jierydiaz Garcia (third base), Luicille Rodriguez (first base).
Key returners: Kaylee Dobransky (senior, shortstop).
Outlook: There were only three sophomores on the Ravens’ roster in 2019 so much of this year’s team will take the field with no varsity experience. Add a first-year coach into the mix and it is challenging to predict what this season will look like for Innovation.
First game: April 12 at Goodwin Tech
Head coach: Loren Rozanski (2nd season)
2019 season: 12-9, lost in first round of Class S tournament
Key losses: Val Ramirez (pitcher), Izzy Hancock (catcher), Korina Trammell (first base).
Key returners: Tabetha Trammell (senior, shortstop).
Possible newcomers: Kayla Vargas (sophomore, first base), Kiamylis Rivera (junior, pitcher), Caydence Levesque (freshman, catcher).
Outlook: The Gladiators will have to deal with inexperience this season as they are only returning one varsity starter and three players from the 2019 roster. They will look heavily to whoever steps up from the batch of new players on the team this year as they look to once again compete within in the CTC.
“[The] 2021 season is going to be a rebuilding year for Goodwin Tech,” Rozanski said. “We will have new players in almost every position.”
First game: April 12 vs. Innovation.