BRISTOL - As the St. Paul softball team lined up to shake the hands of three-time defending Class S champion Holy Cross, there was disappointment in the eyes of the Falcons after losing to the Crusaders in the Class S state quarterfinals.
It was because the group expected more and knew they had an opportunity to outlive the meager expectations put on them before the season began, needing to replace three key players that were part of last season’s runner-up finish in Class S.
While St. Paul may have hung their heads down for a brief period following the game, senior catcher Lindsey O’Bright said it best: “With such a young group of players, we didn’t expect to be here before the season started. Just making the tournament would have been successful.”
Last year’s team finished the regular season with a 16-4 record. At the time it was the best record in head coach Gary Hovhanessian’s tenure.
This year the team was just hoping to be at or above the .500 mark.
But Falcons actually bested last year’s regular season by one win, finishing with a 17-3 record.
Outside of last year’s state final appearance, this year was St. Paul’s best postseason run since 2006, when the Falcons were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Coginchaug.
Junior starting pitcher Abby Poirot and senior catcher O’Bright helped make this year’s team special.
Poirot and O’Bright’s ability to buckle down and get out of tough situations was especially impressive, and it showed as the Falcons had an 8-1 record in games decided by one run.
“I love [Abby] to death. I’m confident in her and I’d do anything for her,” O’Bright said. “And it works on the field.”
“If I shake off a pitch, I love the pitches that she calls, because she knows what pitches I’m the most confident in and which ones I’m not,” Poirot said of O’Bright. “She knows me really well.”
Outside of O’Bright and Poirot, Katrina Roy, Katelynn Oullette, Jessica Persechino, Carolyn Marchak, Caleigh Mcdougall, Rebecca Nerbonne, Abby Aldieri and McKenzie Gauthier each played roles in the success of the team throughout the season.
Being a “family” is something some teams point to for their success. The Falcons showed that bond on the field at the toughest of times.
With a 3-0 lead in the Class S quarterfinal game and the Crusaders at the plate with two outs, St. Paul sophomore second baseman Roy committed a crucial error that kept the inning alive and ultimately led to a five-run inning for Holy Cross.
Senior first baseman Oullette turned to Roy not in disdain, but rather to let her know to keep her head up and get the next one.
After all, Roy had been a big reason the Falcons reached the quarterfinals. She hit in the No. 2 spot and was productive all year for St. Paul.
As a senior playing in an elimination game and what turned out to be the final game in her softball career, Oullette’s actions toward Roy reflected that bond the Falcons had until the final out.
“We came together and we were really excited for this game,” Oullette said. “We were ready to go, so I think a lot of good things came out of this game even though we didn’t win. Collectively we’re just a family. We wanted the best for each other and we were always going to have each other’s backs no matter what.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org