Berlin softball wins season opener, 11-1, over Bristol Eastern

Lori Riley, Hartford Courant
·3 min read

Last spring, when the softball season had been canceled and Stephanie Poulin was pitching in her basement, she would think about the day in 2021 when she would be able to play again for her high school team.

“We had to [have hope,3/8,” said Poulin, Berlin’s senior pitcher. “Looking forward to this was our motivation.”

On Saturday, it was warm and sunny. The Berlin players got to Sage Park early for their season opener against Bristol Eastern, just so they could soak in the atmosphere of their newly refurbished field.

The vibes, Poulin said, were good. And they carried over to their first game, an 11-1 victory over Bristol Eastern Saturday morning.

Poulin, one of the seven returning starters, struck out nine and gave up five hits and had two hits and an RBI. Freshman Jess Petit hit a three-run inside-the-park home run in her first at-bat and went 3-for-3 with three runs and three RBI.

“It’s very nice to be out here,” Berlin coach Jason Pires said. “Obviously, the result of the game makes it that much sweeter, but truthfully, it is just nice to be out here and playing softball again.”

The Berlin field was upgraded with new fencing, scoreboard, flagpole and backstop. “We used to have like 50 foul balls go into the woods,” Pires said.

Many of the players had played travel softball since last spring but there were still nerves Saturday. Poulin walked her first batter, Alison Tellier, who advanced on a stolen base, a single and scored on an error, but she shut Bristol Eastern down the rest of the way.

“First inning, we had a couple mistakes, my pitcher walked a girl on four pitches – it was like, ‘Ohhh,’” Pires said. “But they settled in and when Jess hit that bomb, everybody said, ‘OK. We’re OK.’ That took the pressure off.”

That was in the second inning. Poulin singled, Kylie Lanteri singled and Petit drove them both home with a shot to center field.

“I was shocked,” Petit said. “I shocked myself.”

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a freshman hit a ball that hard in 20 years,” Pires said.

“My throat hurts from screaming so loud, ‘Go, go, go,’” Poulin said. “That was amazing.”

Berlin batted around in the fourth and scored six runs and added two more in the fifth. Rylee Cop singled and tripled for Berlin and drove in a run and Sophia Fazzina had a two-run double in the fourth.

Pires expects a lot from this team, which advanced to the Class M tournament quarterfinals in 2019, with basically the same lineup.

“We’ve talked about where we want to be,” he said. “I’m confident and we have goals.”

After Saturday, the players are ready.

“I remember the first meeting we had in Coach Pires’ room [in school] and he was like ‘This is it. They’re giving us a season,’” Petit said. “We were so hyped to actually play.”

Lori Riley can be reached at