2021 H.S. softball preview capsules

The Day, New London, Conn.
·10 min read

Apr. 7—ECC Division I

Bacon Academy

Coach: Cynthia Hardy (1st season)

Key returnees: Sr. 3B Julia Baer, Sr. P-OF Avianna Ibrahim, Sr. SS Julia Grottole, Sr. 1B Emily Tellar, Sr. UTL Claire Gillerlane, Sr. UTL Delaney Lima.

Top newcomers: Fr. P-2B Samantha D'Atri, Fr. C Gracie Gladding, Fr. OF Jazlyn Small-Yu, So. P Chloe Marshall.

Outlook: Harding, an assistant for 10 seasons, takes over the head coaching role for the Bobcats and will field a young team this spring while relying on a core of six seniors. "We have a committed, hard-working group of players and are exited to get started," Harding said. "The potential is there."

East Lyme

Coach: Judy Deeb (49th season)

Key returnees: Sr. 3B-P Jaylyn Mueller, Jr. C Sophia Gannoe, Jr. CF Anna Bonelli.

Top newcomers: Sr. OF Madison Sjostrom, Jr. IF Julia Smith, So. 1B Madison Pfanner, So. OF-IF Ava Roach, So. P-OF Arleen McKiernan, Fr. IF Ava Korineck, Fr. SS Karly Sorrentino, Fr. IF Skylar Bell, Fr. P-IF Abigail Robinson, Fr. C-OF Lindsay Todd, Fr. IF Mia Williamson, Fr. IF Neva Flickinger.

Outlook: The veteran Deeb has been energized by the new players in the program. "The improvement and growth has been evident after each practice session," she said. Mueller and Gannoe are the captains and will lead the group which includes a freshman (Robinson) on the mound. Deeb said there is tremendous competition at just about every position, which she predicts will help the Vikings "develop into a solid performing and successful team."

Fitch

Coach: Kyle Baron (4th season)

Key returnees: Sr. IF Alyson Cabral, Sr. UTL Kylee Wtulich, Jr. OF Maddie Southers, Jr. IF Fiona Taber, Jr. OF Riley Nystrom.

Top newcomers: Sr. UTL Frankie Foster, So. OF McKynzi Dawson, So. OF Sydney Lyon, So. IF Grace Jenkins, So. IF Charlotte Cabral, Fr. IF Avery Frickman.

Outlook: Baron will try to incorporate two new classes into the program after not being able to play in 2020. He has to replace all-state catcher Karly Morales and pitcher Ellie Hohfelder, but has already begun the process of finding the right pieces to the puzzle. "We have many great girls on the team this year who play competitive softball during the year," Baron said. "My hope is that we are more offensive minded than in years past."

Ledyard

Coach: Brittany Robinson (7th season)

Key returnees: Sr. P Sara Rivers, Sr. CF Samantha Fancher, Sr. LF Shailynn Williams, Sr. RF Codee Carroll, Jr. 3B Aaliyah Amidon, Jr. SS Samantha Money, Jr. C Paige Perkins, Sr. UTL Samantha Lajoie.

Top newcomers: Jr. OF Iyana Kirvan, So. IF Layla Lasisomphone, So. C Jennifer Towne, So. C Caylee Cliett, Fr. UTL Madison Miller.

Outlook: The Colonels fielded a young team in 2019, winning the ECC Division II tournament, so despite missing the 2020 season, Ledyard returns an experienced lineup this spring that should be a factor in the ECC. Said Robinson: "We are anxious to get back out there to see if we have what it takes to be competitive in every game we play."

Montville

Coach: Derek Wainwright (4th season)

Key returnees: 1B Rori Curran, CF Jillian Murallo, C Maggie Wainwright, 2B Brooke Taylor, RF Eva Peltier, SS Christyna Winstead, P Lillie Corrice.

Top newcomers: IF Alanice Michon, IF Taryn Feragne, IF Allie Olsen, IF Reagan Anderson, P Amanda Corrice, IF Ava Gero.

Outlook: The Indians must replace two-time all-state pitcher Alexis Michon, who missed her senior season when COVID-19 canceled play, but seven starters from the 2019 team return, led by ECC all-stars Murallo and Curran. Winstead, who started at second as a freshman, moves over to short and Wainwright expects big thing from Taylor at second and Lillie Corrice, who will replace Michon.

New London

Coach: Missy Parker (10th season)

Key returnees: Sr. P Caylee Parker, Sr. C Finella Smith, Sr. 1B Ella Cook, Jr. Cassandra Roman.

Top newcomers: Fr. 3B Alina Skrabacz, Jr. 2B Wennonah Amar.

Outlook: Coach Parker's biggest concern is rust because most players haven't played since the 2019 season. But New London is experienced in two key positions — pitcher (Caylee Parker) and catcher (Finella Smith) — and the Whalers will ride their talent and leadership skills this spring. "I have no doubt they will continue to teach the newcomers the "Whaler Way" of working hard and never giving up," Missy Parker said.

NFA

Coach: Bryan Burdick (13th season)

Key returnees: Sr. OF Alicia Abde, Sr. C Brenna Comeau, Sr. P-1B Tessa Hospod, Sr. 1B Callie Teper, Jr. OF Hannah Daniewicz.

Top newcomers: Sr. IF Kaylee Bingham, Sr. OF Avery Holzworth, Sr. C-IF Gemma Peterson, Jr. 1B-3B Tessa McLaughlin, Jr. C-UTL Morgan Tainter, So. P-IF Jillian Dykema, Fr. IF Melina Graziano, Fr. C-3B Madisyn Porter, Fr. P-IF Hailey Smith, Fr. SS-C Madison Waltke.

Outlook: Abde, Comeau and Daniewicz are the lone holdovers from the 2019 season — which ended with NFA as the Class LL state tournament runner-up — as the Wildcats suffered major graduation losses the last two seasons. "The experience of these three will help lead a talented, but inexperienced group of newcomers," Burdick said. "As this team grows and develops, it will look to remain competitive in the ECC and Class LL."

Stonington

Coach: Ann-Marie Houle (17th season)

Key returnees: Sr. 2B Maggie Constantine, Sr. SS Tori LoPresto, Sr. RF Shea O'Connor, Sr. P-OF Elaina Previty, Jr. 3B Phoebe Werlington, Jr. C Maddy Stepski, Jr. LF Maddie Mendez, Jr. P Cayla Beverly.

Top newcomers: Jr. CF Lola Worsdale, Sr. IF Jada Cruz, Sr. OF Hannah Ferguson, Sr. IF Maya Shaughnessy, Jr. 1B Carli LoPresto, So. IF Carly Constantine, So. 1B Payton Lowe.

Outlook: It's back to business for the Bears, a perennial contender in the ECC. Houle returns a solid group of veteran players just anxious to compete again, and she can't wait to resume Stonington's annual Play4TheCure game against Waterford after missing last year's game due to COVID-19.

Waterford

Coach: Andy Walker (5th season)

Key returnees: Jr. P-SS Maddie Burrows, Jr. C-IF Emma Marelli, Jr. 1B-CF Lily Marelli, Jr. 2B-3B Anna Donahue, Jr. OF Abby Maynard, Sr. OF Angela Colonis, Sr. C-2B Emma Beardsley.

Top newcomers: Sr. 2B-OF Kyleigh Pinell, Sr. 1B Brynn Holmes, Jr. UTL Tori Kiefer, So. SS-3B-P Anne Dziecinny, Fr. 3B-OF Emilia Podeszwa, Fr. OF-UTL Bella Correa.

Outlook: The Lancers won the 2019 Class M state championship and were confident of making another run in 2020 before the season was canceled. Still, this will be an exciting year for Waterford, which returns four starters from that title team, has some talented new additions and finally gets to play on its new turf softball complex this spring. Expect the Lancers to be a force in the ECC and in the postseason.

ECC Division II

Griswold

Coach: Rick Arremony (21st season)

Key returnees: Sr. 1B Samantha Falco, Sr. SS Mandy Brehler, Jr. P Kaelin Waldron, Jr. C Sonja Matheson, Jr. 1B Sydney Lickwola, Jr. UTL Lillana Morano.

Top newcomers: Jr. OF Sydney Dameron, So. OF Makayla Neilson, So. 2B Adrianna Morabito, Fr. UTL Olivia Provost.

Outlook: Since the Wolverines last took the field in 2019, seven starters have graduated, leaving Falco, Matheson, and Waldron as the only players with significant varsity experience. Waldron will take over on the mound for Julia Janca, who graduated last season while Falco moves from the outfield to short and Matheson from the outfield to behind the plate. Griswold has been one of the ECC's best and most consistent teams during Arremony's tenure, but this team will need time to develop.

Lyman Memorial

Coach: Ron Vigue (9th season)

Key returnees: Sr. 3B Madi Crawford, Sr. P-1B Hannah Christiansen, Sr. CF Kayla Goins, Jr. UTL Rayne Bobbi.

Top newcomers: So. SS-P Kassidy LaTour, So. OF Taylor Pankowski, Fr. C-3B Rylee Benway.

Outlook: The Bulldogs return four starters from 2019, so despite not playing a year ago due to the pandemic, Vigue has some experience for the upcoming season. He's also excited about some of the new players that will play prominent roles and expects to be competitive within the division and qualify for the state tournament.

St. Bernard

Coach: Ray O'Donnell (1st season)

Key returnees: Sr. IF-OF Sam Salas, Jr. IF-OF Kiara Ampuero, Jr. IF-OF Miloura Francois, Jr. C-3B Ariana Guinassi.

Top newcomers: So. IF-OF Leah Eagan, So. O-IF Abby Jarrard, So. P-IF Alyssa Lazaro, So. IF-OF Sophia Novak, So. IF-OF Alexis Rose, Fr. IF-OF Sunshine Rangel, Fr. C-SS Angelica Tompkins.

Outlook: O'Donnell is new to the Saints, but not to the high school softball season (he spent 12 years as head coach at Ledyard). He will field a young team that should improve throughout the course of the season. "We will work hard daily on fundamentals," he said, "and will strive to impart the fundamentals as well as the love for the game."

Wheeler

Coach: Stephen Bailey (1st season)

Key returnees: Sr. 2B Marissa Bergel, Sr. 1B Molly Butremovic, Jr. C Maddie Perkins, Jr. SS-P Addie Hauptmann.

Top newcomers: Jr. OF Ashley Meyers, So. OF-3B Marissa Perkins, So. OF Keelan Groves, So. IF Emma Cottingham, So. OF-C Makayla Delzer, So. OF Valerie Barajas, So. OF Kaycee Fonnemann, Fr. P-SS Reese Maine, Fr. 2B Leah Clearly, Fr. 1B Mackenzie Perkins.

Outlook: Bailey said Wheeler's four returning players will lead the way on and off the field, but his young players are fitting in just fine and helping the Lions develop depth as they prepare to return to the field this spring. "I love this group," Bailey said. "They come every day ready to work in practice and I cannot wait to see what they can do in a game this season."

Others

Grasso Tech

Coach: John Blake

Key returnees: Sr. OF Ayanna Hazel, Jr. 3B Jazmyn Lopez, OF Samantha Post.

Top newcomers: P Cynthia Holland, OF Camryn Hobbs, IF Katherine Buckley.

Outlook: The year off hurt the Eagles, so Blake expects this to be a rebuilding year in the Connecticut Technical Conference. "We have a group of girls that are eager and willing to learn the game," Blake said. "We are looking at this as a rebuilding year with lots of potential to improve, win games, be competitive and build for the future."

Norwich Tech

Coach: Jordan Buscetto (1st season)

Key returnees: Sr. SS Emili Fiasconaro, Jr. 3B Megan Dittrich, Jr. C Madison Tweedy.

Top newcomers: Jr. OF Elisa Barry, Jr. 2B Gabby Fedus, Jr. OF Casey Langlois, Jr. OF Sonnie Nixon, So. 2B Alicia Burroughs, So. P-IF Caitie Flynn, So. 1B Emily Grant, So. UTL Nancy Johnny, Fr. OF Sydney Brown, Fr. CF Morgan Cook, Fr. IF Madelyn Jolly.

Outlook: Buscetto takes over a program that will go so through some growing pains in the CTC after not playing in 2020, but she says, "the energy and enthusiasm have made this team electric during the preseason." The Warriors are young but have tremendous speed which Buscetto hopes to utilize. She expects Norwich Tech to be competitive in the CTC and challenge for a state tournament berth.

Old Lyme

Coach: Tim Gavin (5th season)

Key returnees: Sr. C Paige Kolesnik, Sr. SS Grace Lathrop, Sr. 3B Alison Ward, Sr. 1B Cassidy Standish, Jr. P Victoria Gage.

Top newcomers: So. CF Jamie Bucior, Fr. IF-OF Ava Roth, Fr. P-OF-IF Emma Bayor, Fr. IF OF Jenna Schauder.

Outlook: The Wildcats' only loss was a big one, all-state centerfielder Maddie Cann, but Old Lyme does return its battery of pitcher Gage and catcher Kolesnik, as well as an experienced infield. Newcomers will fill roles in the outfield and provide depth. "We look to be competitive in (the Shoreline Conference)," said Gavin. Some of our underclassmen will definitely impact our team as they have been playing in the offseason for seven years."