Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Senior Day a rite of passage for local high school athletes

Wolcott baseball recognized its seniors and those from Wilby,
then the teams had a pizza party together after the game. (Anita Bandeira Warren photo)
Now that the spring high school sports seasons are in the middle of May, local teams are running through the bevy of emotions that make up Senior Day.
Senior Day, or Senior Night, is a rite of passage for those players -- and their parents -- who have put their heart and soul into their respective program.
There's also a great degree of sportsmanship involved. It's normal for the home team to also recognize the other side's seniors. In the case of Wolcott baseball, not only were the seniors from both sides honored, the teams got together for a pizza party after the game. The Eagles recognized Steve Urbanski, Bobby White, Ray Bartoli and Nick Baldwin, and they also pointed out Wildcat seniors Kevin Martinez, Jalen Monroe and Raymond Padia.
For teams like Wolcott and Holy Cross softball (and St. Paul baseball Wednesday), Tuesday brought a chance to recognize seniors who were a part of state championship teams. Wolcott showed love to players who played such an integral part in the program's first state championship, including Bartoli, who won the Class M title game with a walkoff home run.
Emma Gargano (22) and Sarah Lawton, right, were two of the four
Holy Cross softball seniors honored on Tuesday. (File photo)
Holy Cross softball hosted Woodland, and it honored seniors Sarah Lawton, Aubry DeFoe, Emma Gargano and Gabby Goldman. Those four seniors have been part of two straight Class S titles, and they are in pursuit of a third one. The Crusaders, not unlike other teams, have their seniors take one final run around the bases of their home field. You add that lap to the speeches given, and there's a lot of emotion pouring out.
The WCA seniors were honored before Tuesday's game against Torrington.
(Waterbury Career Academy Spartans Baseball Facebook photo)
St. Paul baseball will honor seniors Tommy Houle, Wes Lahey, Zach Parent, Andrew Owsianko and Jack Bator after today's game against Naugatuck. As juniors, these Falcons helped their team win the program's first state championship in 44 years.
Sacred Heart's seniors before last Friday's game at Municipal Stadium.
(Sacred Heart baseball Twitter account photo)
There are also those seniors that have the chance to be part of a building process, like those that play at Waterbury Career Academy. On Tuesday, WCA baseball honored five seniors -- Adrian Velez, Justin Torres, Frank Batista, Damian Feliciano and Jorge Cruz. It was the first full NVL season for the Spartans, and they recently won three of four games to get back into postseason contention. WCA is 6-13 and will miss the postseason, but the five seniors have helped start building a program.
For WCA softball, there are just two seniors, Vanessa Santiago and Gabie Rocco. Both were a part of the first Spartan postseason appearance and victory last year, and they are headed back to the state tournament this year. Santiago and Rocco have been part of something great, and they will be tough to replace.
Sacred Heart baseball got a special opportunity to hold its Senior Night at the famed Municipal Stadium in Waterbury. The Hearts honored Ben Gomes, Will Morales, Bryan Fernandez, Joel Betancourt, Peyton Stephens and Dominick Alamo. Sacred Heart played the game under the lights at Municipal and beat Kennedy 14-1.
In Bristol, baseball players at Central and Eastern experience their final Muzzy Field regular season game next Monday night. The Rams are the home team for that game. The Lancers play Maloney at on campus next Wednesday in their final game of the regular season. In Bristol softball, Eastern hosts Central next Monday at 3:45 p.m. in the last city game between those schools' seniors.
There are many, many more examples of Senior Day festivities and tributes. These are just a few of them, and every one is special in its own way.

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