BRISTOL - Leading St. Paul 16-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning Thursday, Ali Tellier needed three outs to complete a no-hit effort and secure Bristol Eastern softball’s 11th win of the season.
The first batter Tellier made contact on a bunt, but the junior pitcher played the ball with familiarity and made the out. A strikeout earned the second out of the frame before Tellier was asked to flash the leather again, cleanly backhanding a hard-hit ground ball and finishing the game.
Tellier displayed comfort fielding her position and the Lancers finished the day with no errors, a goal they are putting a heavy emphasis on with the postseason nearing. Fielding has been a downfall for Eastern at times this season and needs to minimize its mistakes in the latter part of the year.
“Our defense is key,” head coach Scott Redman said. “When we don’t make errors and we don’t give extra outs, we’re obviously a way better team. We lost a game this week because we made five errors and gave away the game.”
Talented from the plate, the Lancers have both the offensive power and pitching skill to compete with any team, but the fielding will need to be consistent in those games. Tellier pitches to contact, specifically ground balls, so talented teams will be putting the ball in play consistently and all fielders need to be prepared to be tested.
The Eastern outfielders had a light day against St. Paul as nothing the Falcons put in play escaped the infield. The infielders had a strong day and created outs consistently without letting any balls get by them.
“They made the plays they were supposed to,” Redman said. “They had some routine ground balls that they stuck with. Jasmine Perez bobbled one, but stuck with it. She didn’t give up on it and we’ve been talking a lot about that. Don’t give up on a play, [if there is] a bad hop, stick with it, maybe you’ll get a kid like she did [Thursday]. She bobbled it, grabbed it quick, fired a dart and got her out. So I think it’s just focus. They’ve been working really hard on defense, it’s a huge point of emphasis for us, so they came a little more focused defensively.”
The Lancers are currently the 14th-ranked team in Class L, which would give them at least one home game in the state tournament. Regardless of their postseason path, the fielding with need to tighten if they want to win games they know they are capable of winning. Eastern lost to South Windsor in 10 innings Monday because of fielding mistakes so it is learning the importance of clean defense.
“If we’re going to make a run in the tournament, you can’t kick the ball all over,” Redman said. “You give extra outs, you lose games. Period. That’s what our focus is, our focus is on playing clean defense, if Ali pitches well and we play clean defense, we should be able to score some runs against a lot of pitchers and be in games. That’s what the goal is.”
Matt Hornick can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or email@example.com