BRISTOL - Wednesdayâ€™s second round loss to South Windsor in the Class LL state tournament for the Bristol Eastern softball team was a sign of progress after being eliminated in the first round last season.
â€śItâ€™s partially matchups,â€ť Lancers coach Scott Redman said. â€śIn LL you have so many good teams. When you get to the second round thereâ€™s no gimmes. I mean, you look at the teams that are left and the top eight teams that are left after today are all hammers. Theyâ€™re all stud teams. In order to really go deep in the LL tournament you, number one, need to have a really good team, but number two, you have to have some things go your way and have things clicking on all cylinders. Iâ€™m proud of the way they played this year.â€ť
To get to that point Bristol Eastern was challenged all season.
The Lancers had a tougher schedule than last yearâ€™s team and with the departure of five seniors - Jillian Maghini, Makenzie Jankowski (all-conference), Nicole Dâ€™Amato, Lexie Mastroianni and Mikayla Martin (all-conference) - Bristol Easternâ€™s youth was going to get its opportunity to shine this season.
Led by a strong sophomore class, the Lancers finished their season 15-5 overall and won games by a run margin of 117.
Bristol Eastern played 11 games against winning teams and went 7-4 in those games.
The losses came against Southington (6-0), South Windsor (4-0), Maloney (6-1) and Middletown twice (5-3, 12-5). The wins were against Windsor (4-1), Enfield (3-0), E.O. Smith (9-8), Berlin (9-0), Platt (22-0), South Windsor (2-1) and Glastonbury (10-3).
Against teams with a losing record, Bristol Eastern went 7-0 and allowed a total of three runs in those games.
Much of the success this season and last can be attributed to sophomore pitcher Erin Girard, who has led the Lancers to back-to-back postseason appearances.
â€śFor me, personally, I feel like I did a lot better hitting my spots this year,â€ť Girard said. â€śI mixed in some different pitches and had better command.â€ť
Last season, Bristol Eastern was a more experienced team and it showed with an 18-3 record, including going 5-2 against winning teams in the regular season.
However, this group of young players - Girard, Taylor Keegan, Jenna Winters, Lyzah Corliss, Riley Giblin, Lauren Aparo and Alyssa Hackling - proved the Lancers are capable of competing against the best teams in Class LL and will continue to be a team to watch out for in coming years.
â€śI feel like next year weâ€™re going to be an even better team,â€ť Winters said. â€śEvery year you can get better and we have gotten better as a team over the years. And we have a lot of good girls coming in and a lot of girls staying. We have a lot of potential to get better.â€ť
Dan Orencole can be reached atÂ 860-973-1811 orÂ firstname.lastname@example.org