This past spring was an exciting season in area softball. St. Paul made its first appearance in a state title game, while Bristol Eastern - led by a well-rounded roster - had one of its best regular seasons. But the season wasn’t without downs. Bristol Central had the biggest regression of the four area teams, missing the postseason, while Terryville missed the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season after being the No. 2 seed in the 2013 tournament.
Regardless of how the teams did, each one had many talented athletes and the best of the area’s softball players is represented on this, the ninth-annual All-Press team.
St. Paul entered the Class S tournament with the No. 9 seed after completing a 16-4 regular season. The Falcons were lifted to their success this season by a core group of talent and a balanced lineup around it. St. Paul is represented by four players on this year’s team.
Leading the way for the Falcons was Brigid Johndrow. The senior center fielder earned All-State honors each of the past three seasons and was the driving force behind all that the Falcons did this spring. She batted .585 with 38 hits and 33 runs scored. She also added 26 stolen bases, exhibiting her athleticism.
“Constantly battling at the plate (walks, hits, bunts, gap power) and then a terror on the base paths,” St. Paul coach Gary Hovhanessian said. “Brig is moving on to play basketball at Utica College but if she's nudged by a softball coach, maybe we'll see her on the field again next spring in college.”
Joining Johndrow on the Class S All-State team was teammate Alessandra Milardo. Pitching for the Falcons, the senior posted a 10-4 record with a 2.23 ERA and 108 strikeouts. She also raked at the plate, batting .515 with a team-high 32 RBI. Her 11 doubles was also the tops on St. Paul and her two homers was tied for first.
“At the start of the season, [Alessandra] asked me, ‘Do you think I'm good enough to make All-State?’ My answer was, ‘You have to go out and prove it,’” Hovhanessian said. “And, she did. Hard work, determination and pushing her teammates to achieve the goals that she had personally - and all three captains had personally - to make it to the Class S finals.”
Completing the trio of Falcons seniors on the All-Press team is Brooke Perez. She earned all-conference honors in the NVL this season for her play at the plate and at second base. Perez batted .424 and had 20 RBI on 28 hits and had six doubles. She was also solid in the field, impressing her coaches.
“Brooke is an outstanding defensive infielder,” Hovhanessian said. “And, she loves to assist others in honing their defensive skills.”
St. Paul will be without all three of their previous All-Press players next seasons but the Falcons will have their fourth. Janessa Gonzalez followed up her impressive freshman basketball season with an equally successful campaign on the diamond. She batted .466 and earned all-conference honors. On 27 hits, Gonzalez had 21 RBI and 24 runs scored. She was also steady in the field.
“Janessa made several fine defensive plays at 3b in only her first season at St. Paul Catholic,” Hovhanessian said.
Bristol Eastern made the biggest jump as far as records are concerned, as the Lancers posted an 18-2 regular season mark just one year removed from a 9-11 campaign. The regular season success earned the team the No. 4 season in the Class LL tournament, and despite a shocking first-round exit, the Lancers are represented by four players on the All-Press team.
Bristol Eastern’s leader on defense was a freshman: Erin Girard. The rookie pitcher pitched all but one of the Lancers’ games, posting an 18-2 record with a 0.79 ERA and 184 strikeouts. She averaged over 10 strikeouts per seven innings and batters hit .179 against her. Girard’s highlight was her perfect game, in which she recorded at 15 outs by strikeout. She also batted .407 with 23 RBI. Her impressive season earned her all-conference and All-State honors.
“Coming into the season, we knew Erin was talented but being a freshman, we weren't positive how she would make the transition to the high school varsity level,” Bristol Eastern coach Scott Redman said. “She answered our questions pretty quickly and definitively.”
Another All-Press player that will be back next season for the Lancers is Jordan Fitzsimons. In her junior season, the shortstop batted .429 and hit 24 RBI, eight of which came with two outs. Fitzsimons led the Lancers’ selections with five triples and had one home run. On defense, she finished the season with a fielding percentage of .938. She joined Girard with all-conference honors.
“Jordan is an absolutely special player. She is always the last player to leave the field, sometimes having to be forced to leave,” Redman said. “She is always looking to improve her game, taking extra fungos and always working on weaknesses with teammates. This year she missed 5 games due to injury and still was second on the team in extra base hits and RBIs.”
In addition to Girard and Fitzsimons, Bristol Eastern also had an important senior class. Part of that group was Makenzie Jankowski. Playing her fourth year as a starting outfielder for the Lancers and batting second, Jankowski was the team leader in hits (40) and runs (33). She also had a perfect fielding percentage on the season, helping her be selected to the all-conference team.
“She was an integral part of the success we had this season and it will be a real challenge to replace her next season, both her on-field production and off-the-field leadership,” Redman said. “We wish her the best of luck at Keene State next year.”
Another important veteran for Bristol Eastern was Mikayla Martin. The Lancers’ all-conference third baseman led the team with 26 RBI and 15 extra-base hits (10 doubles, three triples and two home runs). Her double and home run totals were also best on the team. Martin also had 36 hits, one of them being the 100th of her career.
“Mikayla came into her own in this her senior season,” Redman said. “She was continually the driving force for the offense. She gave the rest of the team confidence and her production was critical in our success.”
Terryville improved by two wins from the 2016 season but it was still not enough to reach the postseason. But the improvement was catalyzed by some talented players, two of which are on this year’s All-Press team.
Senior Alycia Calabrese was one of the Kangaroos’ best weapons on both sides of the ball this season. Her .377 batting average was the best on the team among players with more than 42 plate appearances and she had a team-high two home runs. In the circle, she had a 4.56 ERA over 70 2/3 innings and recorded 35 strikeouts.
Joining Calabrese on the All-Press team from Terryville is Amy Ieronimo. In her junior season, she batted .364 and led Terryville with 14 RBI. Her four doubles were also the best on the team and she scored 13 runs, which was second.
Bristol Central regressed in a big way this season, dropping by almost 10 wins and missing the playoffs for the first year in a long time. But there were still some strong players on the roster and a pair of them are representing the Rams on this year’s All-Press squad.
Jenna Ptak was the sparkplug of the Bristol Central team and that is reflected on the stat sheet. The sophomore second baseman batted over .440 and hit four home runs from the leadoff spot. She also led the Rams in runs scored. She was named to the all-conference team.