Thursday, June 29, 2017

TRI-STATE: Southington 66ers no match for undefeated Watertown Blaze

Chris Comeau is greeted at home plate after his three-run home run Thursday.
(Copyright Sports on CT-69, 2017)
You could use a large amount of puns to describe the play of the defending champion Watertown Blaze so far in the 2017 Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League season.
Hot, on fire, ablaze, scorching.
Watertown continued its terrific run with a 15-4 walloping of the Southington 66ers on Thursday evening at Recreation Park in Southington. The Blaze improved to 12-0 with the victory and looked every bit like a team on a mission to repeat.
Watertown launched three home runs off of Southington pitching, one apiece by Nick DeLotto, Chris Comeau and Tony Patane. DeLotto and Patane went deep for two-run homers while Comeau's brought in three runs. DeLotto had three hits while Comeau added two. 
Conor McEvoy had three hits on the day. Alex Johnson threw six scoreless innings to claim victory on the mound. Former Holy Cross standout Chris Callahan batted seventh and played right field for the Blaze.
Southington, which is in its second year in the league, was overmatched from the get-go and left impressed by Watertown. Former St. Paul standout Tim Jalbert had a triple for the 66ers, who scored four times in the bottom of the seventh inning. Southington dropped to 5-6 with the loss. It was a rough night for the home team, but most Blaze opponents have had the same experience so far this season.
The 66ers had a bunch of former Bristol area high schoolers in their lineup. Jalbert was one, and he was joined by former Falcons Kyle Dube, Josh Dobratz, Matt Santovasi and Patrick Raymond. Steve Roy, who played for Bristol Eastern, was also in the lineup.

PHOTOS: Click here to view images from this evening's game.

Local Blues Curtin and Guilmette give back to Bristol community

Bristol Blues players Tommy Curtin and Mitch Guilmette give back to the Mum City community, and they do it both on and off the field.
On Thursday, Curtin and Guilmette visited The Beekley Center for Breast Health & Wellness, and they brought along a gift. The gift was a check for the proceeds from the team's Pink Night, which was held last Friday at Muzzy Field. The attendance for that game, a 7-6 win by the Blues, was 1,923.
Curtin and Guilmette played on opposing baseball teams in their high school days, Curtin for Bristol Eastern and Guilmette for Bristol Central. Now teammates, the two came together and presented a check to an organization that works hard to promote good health.

Click here to see the original Twitter post with a picture of the check presentation, via the Bristol Blues account.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fradette's single gives Bristol Legion 1-0, 11-inning win over Avon

Cory Fradette had the game-winning hit for Bristol in a 1-0, 11-inning marathon
victory over Avon on Tuesday night. (copyright Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)
In an American Legion 19U baseball game that had just seven total hits, Cory Fradette provided the biggest one of them all.
Fradette's single to left field in the bottom of the 11th inning drove in Noah Plantamuro with the game-winning run in a 1-0 Bristol Post 2 victory over Avon Post 201 on Tuesday night at Muzzy Field. Bristol improved to 9-3 in Zone 1 and put itself 1.5 games behind first place Avon (11-2). After losing two straight games, Post 2 has won four in a row.
Of the seven total hits, Bristol had four, and two came in the 11th inning. Plantamuro led off with a single the other way to right field. Jaeden Rasmus bunted and reached on an error, then Mike Lemke walked to load the bases. Avon got a strikeout for the first out of the inning, but Fradette ended the game with his hit.
Zach Marquis was nothing short of unbelievable on the mound for Post 2. He pitched the first 9.1 innings, gave up just two hits, struck out seven and walked two. Ben Mazzone threw the last 1.2 innings and picked up the victory in relief. 
Marquis threw 76 of 106 pitches for strikes, and Mazzone was 22 of 38. Marquis threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of the 30 batters he faced, and Mazzone did the same on 4 of 6 hitters. Bristol didn't make an error behind either one of its pitchers.
Zach Marquis threw 9.1 scoreless innings for Bristol.
(copyright Sports on CT-69, 2016 file)
Avon had the first runner in scoring position with two outs in the second inning, but Marquis got a grounder to Fradette at second to end the frame. 
Bristol didn't get its first hit until the fifth, when Jake Violette singled to left to lead off. Violette was advanced to second by a bunt, but Post 2 couldn't get him in.
Post 201 had a one-out walk in the eighth and that runner reached second on a passed ball, but Marquis got a flyout to Jalen Benoit in center field to end the threat.
Bristol saw Anthony Lozier single to lead off the bottom of the eighth, but he was out at second on a sacrifice bunt attempt. After a flyout, Avon caught a Post 2 runner trying to steal second to end the inning.
Post 201 had a single to lead off the ninth, that was erased on a fielder's choice. Catcher Chadd Richardson threw out the other runner trying to steal second, then Marquis got a flyout to the left fielder Rasmus to close the frame.
Lemke walked with one out in the bottom of the ninth, took second on a passed ball, then stole third base with two outs. A grounder to second kept the game tied 0-0.
Pitch count rules forced Marquis out of the game after one out in the 10th. Mazzone was greeted by a single, but Richardson threw out another baserunner. After back-to-back walks with two outs, Mazzone picked off a runner at second base to end the threat.
Lozier drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the 10th but was stranded at first.
Mazzone set Avon down 1-2-3 in the top of the 11th, then Bristol won it in the bottom of the inning.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dooley, Stephens will be Blue Devils in 2018

CCSU baseball recently announced its newcomers for the 2018 season, and two locals were among them.
One is left-handed pitcher Shea Dooley, a Wolcott native who just completed his second season with UConn-Avery Point. Dooley is a graduate of Kaynor Tech. Veteran Blue Devil head coach Charlie Hickey said this about Dooley:
"Shea is a 6-foot-5, 225-pound left-hander with a great arm and has the ability to throw the curveball and changeup for strikes," Hickey said in a release on the team's website. "We look forward to him being a part of our rotation for the next two years."
While Dooley will be a junior, Sacred Heart graduate Peyton Stephens will be just a freshman. Still, Hickey has some expectations for Stephens, one of the leaders of a solid Hearts team in 2017.
"Peyton has outstanding athletic ability," Hickey said. "He is a right-handed hitter who has shown the ability to hit for power and average. His positive attitude will help in his success at this level. Peyton is a two-way player that will see time in the outfield and on the mound."

MINOR LEAGUE MENTIONS: Fitzsimons returns to Arizona League Angels

Former Bristol Eastern standout Connor Fitzsimons is playing professional baseball in 2017, and he is once again on the roster of the Arizona League Angels.
Fitzsimons has played in one game so far this season, and that was the season opener. Fitzsimons went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. In the field, he made two clean throws to first to complete strikeouts for his pitchers.
Fitzsimons played in 11 games last season and started seven of them. He had a double, RBI, run scored, two walks and totaled 29 at bats.

Local baseball stars helped Connecticut sweep Massachusetts

Connecticut swept Massachusetts in a high school all-star baseball doubleheader on Saturday at Boston College High School, and there were locals in the middle of it all.
The senior squad won 12-3, with Matt Bonvicini of Holy Cross and Andrew Owsianko of St. Paul each contributing at the plate. Bonvicini had a two-run single during the third inning, when Connecticut jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Bonvicini later added another two-run single to help Connecticut blow the game open. Owsianko ended his day 2-for-4, including a RBI single. St. Paul head coach Vic Rinaldi served as an assistant on the Connecticut junior squad.
Bonvicini and Owsianko were joined on the senior team by Sacred Heart's Will Morales.
In the junior game, won 5-4 by Connecticut, Holy Cross pitcher Fran Phelan Jr. got the start. He was joined on the junior team by Sacred Heart shortstop Jimmy Edwards.
The NVL had a strong season on the baseball diamond, so it made sense that several local players represented Connecticut in Saturday's all-star games.   

Monday, June 26, 2017

Southington's St. Paul connection helping 66ers win in Tri-State

Connor Crean is one of several St. Paul grads who is helping the Southington 66ers
win in the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League. (Sports on CT-69 file photo)
The Southington 66ers won two games over the past three days to reach the .500 mark in the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League.
Several former St. Paul players had a strong influence on the success of the 66ers (5-5) in the past two games. 
On Friday, Southington knocked off the Valley Thunder 11-4 at Recreation Park. Connor Crean, a Class of 2016 St. Paul graduate, started for the 66ers and pitched six innings to claim victory. Tim Jalbert, Class of 2012, launched a two-run home run. Crean, Josh Dobratz (Class of 2014) and Kyle Dube (2013) each had two hits and drove in runs.
On Sunday, Southington edged past the Winsted Whalers 7-6 at Recreation Park. Dube had three hits, Dobratz had two hits and a RBI, and Jalbert had a RBI single.
Dube and Dobratz helped lead St. Paul to a ton of success in their careers, including a NVL Tournament title. Crean pushed the Falcons to a Class S state championship in 2016. Jalbert was a strong left-handed hitter for St. Paul in his career and made the NVL's All-Brass Division squad in 2012.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lawton goes above and beyond for Charmers

Recent Holy Cross graduate Sarah Lawton has been a pitching
machine for the CT Charmers 18U Gold. (Sports on CT-69 file)
Recent Holy Cross graduate Sarah Lawton has been ready to go for the CT Charmers 18U Gold travel softball team, and she was really needed this week.
Lawton threw 33.2 -- you read that right, 33.2 -- innings due to injuries to other Charmer pitchers. The 33.2 innings came in six games over a two-day span during the Team NJ Summer Classic in Edison. Lawton pitched in three different games Thursday, then did the same on Friday.
She threw six or more innings four times, including a high of 8.2. Lawton was a workhorse when the Charmers needed her, and that earned praise from head coach Neil Swanchak.
"Hats off to Sarah Lawton pitching 33 innings due to injuries," Swanchak tweeted. "Win over Washington Lady Hawks from West Coast was masterful."
Lawton threw all seven innings in that game and gave up a single unearned run on six hits. She threw 63 of 83 pitches for strikes.
Lawton heads to Florida Southwestern State, which has a strong Division I National Junior College Athletic Association team, this fall.

Friday, June 23, 2017

MINOR LEAGUE MENTIONS: Blandino pitches well in Billings debut, Cruz released

Blandino (Billings Mustangs)
Former Bristol Central Matt Blandino had quite the change in scenery over the past week.
Blandino was assigned to the Billings Mustangs in Montana on Wednesday after starting the 2017 season in the Class A Midwest League with the Dayton Dragons. Montana is quite the difference from Ohio, but Blandino made the most of his Billings debut.
Blandino went six innings in a 15-4 win over the Missoula Osprey on Thursday. He gave up two runs on six hits, struck out five, and didn't issue a walk. Blandino was efficient, tossing 55 of his 75 pitches for strikes.
Billings competes in the Pioneer League or rookie level baseball. While at Dayton, Blandino was 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA in four games, two of which were starts. He struck out 11 and walked none in 14.1 innings of work.

One day after Blandino made his Billings debut, the Mustangs made a routine roster move that shows how difficult life in professional baseball can be.
Billings released second baseman Manny Cruz, a former standout at Wolcott and Wilby, on Friday. Cruz played in one game for Billings, on Tuesday, and he went 0-for-2 with a walk. No further information was available on the league website regarding Cruz's release.
Cruz played for the Arizona League Reds, also a rookie level team, in 2016 and hit .272 in 33 games. Cruz was drafted in the 23rd round that same year by the parent club, the Cincinnati Reds.

Bristol Post 2 19U salvages Legion win against Terryville, splits doubleheader

After losing 6-5 to Southington in 8 innings, Bristol Post 2 found a way to walk off with a 5-4 victory
against Terryville in the resumption of a suspended game.
It could have been a really rough night for Bristol Seicheprey Post 2's American Legion 19U baseball outfit on Thursday at Muzzy Field.
Bristol went eight innings against Southington Post 72 in the first game of a doubleheader and lost 6-5. Southington got its winning run in an ugly way. Brandon Kohl reached via a dropped pop up, stole two bases, then scored on a wild pitch. Post 2 got Cory Fradette and Zach Marquis on base in the bottom of the eighth, but couldn't push the tying run across.
Bristol then had to come back and complete a suspended game against last place Terryville after the Southington loss. Post 2 restarted the Terryville game -- suspended earlier in the month due to rain -- tied 3-3 in the top of the seventh inning with runners on the corners. 
Terryville pushed across the go-ahead run, and it looked like a tough night was about to get worse for Bristol. Post 2 had led the game 3-1 entering the top of the seventh, only to see Terryville tie it before the rains came at Muzzy and play was suspended.
Bristol showed some serious resolve, however, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh to walk off with a 5-4 victory. Post 2 improved its Zone 1 record to 5-2, and it still has two games left against first place Avon (9-1). Bristol also snapped a two-game losing streak where both defeats came by a single run.
After a rough loss and falling behind in a resumption of a suspended game, Post 2 could have packed it in for the night. Even though there are 17 games left in the regular season, Bristol faced a gut-check moment Thursday, and it passed.
Post 2 sees Terryville again Sunday in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at Terryville High School.

PHOTOS: Click here for images from last night's first game against Southington.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

LEGION 17U UPDATE: Bristol playing well, Wolcott trying to catch up

Bristol Post 2's 17U American Legion baseball team has won three straight games and boasts a 7-1 overall record.
Bristol is 5-1 in Zone 1 play, and the only loss came to Wolcott in the second game of a June 11 doubleheader at the BAW Complex in Wolcott. Post 2 responded to that loss with wins over Middletown last Monday, West Hartford on Wednesday and Glastonbury on Thursday.
Bristol beat West Hartford (7-0) and Glastonbury (2-0) by a combined score of 9-0. David Bernier threw a complete-game shutout against West Hartford, then Alex Denote and Alec DiLoreto combined for eight more in an extra-inning road win over Glastonbury.

The Post 165 17U squad gave Post 2 its only loss of the season, 6-0 in the second game of the June 11 doubleheader. Robert Snide and Ethan Gillotti combined for seven shutout innings and yielded just five hits between them in the victory. The win was the first of the season for Wolcott's 17U team.
Wolcott is 3-5 on the season, with the other two wins coming against RCP Post 105 on June 15 and West Hartford on Sunday. Snide threw the first 6.1 innings in the 2-1 win over RCP, and Tyler Brzonkalski took the final 0.2. Reece Ketchum tossed a complete game in a 2-1 win over West Hartford in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader.
Wolcott was tied 2-2 after four innings in the second game, but gave up two runs in the top of the fifth. Post 165 could only get one run back and lost 4-3.

Post 1's 17U team is 0-5 and still looking for the first win of the 2017 season. Waterbury came close in losses to Oxford (2-1 on June 13) and Meriden (7-6 last Saturday). 
Post 1 plays Oakville at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday.

LEGION UPDATE: Wolcott hands Avon first loss, Bristol one game back in Zone 1

Wolcott Post 165's American Legion 19U baseball team gave Avon its first loss of the season during a doubleheader on Sunday.
Wolcott beat Avon 5-1 in the second game of the double dip at Buckingham Field on the campus of Avon Old Farms. Post 165 improved to 4-3-1 on the season with the victory.
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first inning, but Wolcott broke free for three runs in the top of the fourth. Steve Urbanski led off with a single, then stole second base. Matt Warren singled him home, and Post 165 had a 2-1 lead. Ike Negretti reached on a single, then Jeff Nicol got to first on an error that brought Warren home for a 3-1 lead. Trey Nastri completed the scoring with a single to center that scored Negretti.
Nastri drove in Warren with another single in the seventh for the final run. Wolcott scored its first run on an error off a ball hit by Negretti in the first.
On the mound, Urbanski fired a complete game, yielding a run on two hits. Urbanski struck out five, walked one and hit one. He threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 27 batters he faced.

Post 2 is 5-1-1 after seven Zone 1 games, which puts its a game behind first place Avon.
Bristol has won five of its last six games overall, and the only non-win was a tie. Post 2 is 4-0-1 in its last five Zone 1 games, and it also won against Milford on Saturday.
Pitching has been key for Bristol, which outscored Unionville 3-0 in a doubleheader sweep on June 11 to start the win streak. Post 2 added a 6-1 win over Torrington on June 13, then took down Simsbury 5-2 on the road on June 14. Last Friday's game against Terryville ended in a 3-3 tie, then Bristol came back for a 5-3 win over Milford on Saturday.
Post 2 pitchers allowed just four runs in the first three games of the winning streak. Wes Lahey, Zach Marquis and Noah Cruz all threw complete games in those first three wins. Jake Violette pitched the first six innings of the Simsbury game, then Ken Knox Jr. came in for the save. Lahey threw six innings against Terryville.
On Saturday, three pitchers combined for the nine-inning victory over Milford. Jaeden Rasmus threw the first five innings and took the win. Cory Fradette pitched two innings in relief before Ben Mazzone covered the final two frames and claimed the save.

Post 1 began the season with a 2-1 win over Bethel on June 9, but five straight losses followed against Monroe (2), Oakville, Shelton and Danbury.
Waterbury got back in the win column, 4-0 over Naugatuck on Saturday. Zacery Rodriguez threw a complete game shutout, scattering eight hits. Rodriguez also won the season opener against Bethel and pitched a complete game.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Guilmette, Pileski and Curtin putting the "Bristol" in the Blues

The Bristol Blues have a well-earned day off today after an 11-7 win over the Brockton Rox on Sunday evening at Muzzy Field.
Guilmette (CCSU athletics)
Pileski (Framingham St. athletics)
Bristol has four straight wins on its ledger, and three Mum City natives have been part of it, especially in Saturday's 7-4 victory against the Seacoast Mavericks. Those three Bristol natives are Mitch Guilmette, Kyle Pileski and Tom Curtin.
Trailing 2-1 entering the fourth inning, Bristol had Guilmette leading off. Guilmette started the inning with a bang, launching a solo home run on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game at 2-2. The Blues later scored another run to claim a 3-2 lead.
In the fifth, Guilmette procured a one-out walk. Guilmette advanced to second on a wild pitch, then stole third base. Ben Maycock and Mitch Williams (Berlin) loaded the bases with two-out walks for Pileski. Pileski singled to score Guilmette and Maycock to put Bristol ahead 5-2.
In the seventh, Guilmette walked again and scored a run as the Blues extended their lead to 7-4. 
Curtin (CCSU athletics)
In the ninth, Bristol gave the ball to Curtin, and he did the rest. Curtin needed just seven pitches, all strikes, to record a 1-2-3 ninth inning for the save. The right-hander struck out the first two batters two batters, then got a first-pitch grounder to second to end the game.
How's that for some Bristol pride? Two Rams and a Lancer combined to help the Blues extend their winning streak.
On Sunday, Bristol added a fourth straight win, and Guilmette had two more hits, two runs scored and a RBI. He had two hits in the first game of the winning streak, then drew two walks and drove in a run in the second game. Guilmette is hitting a rock-solid .385 since joining the team following CCSU's brief turn in the NCAA Tournament.
Pileski is hitting just .207, but his two RBI on Saturday proved to be big.
All Curtin has done is appear in three games and record three saves. No one has scored off of Curtin, and the only baserunner in 2.2 innings came on a walk. Curtin has five strikeouts in his three appearances.
Bristol hosts the Pittsfield Suns on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Muzzy.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bristol Knights off to another strong start in Twilight League

The Bristol Knights are again off to a strong start in the Connecticut Twilight League.
Bristol improved to 8-3 with an 11-2 victory over the Wethersfield Dodgers. The Knights have won six of their last seven games during this most recent hot stretch. Bristol was scheduled to play at Bristol Eastern on Friday against the Brickhouse Indians.
The usual suspects have been there for Bristol, including Earl Oakes, Rick Barrett, Marco Ross and Julio Ortiz-Rivera, along with newcomers like Tyler Pina from Plainville and Neil Kelley of West Hartford. 
One familiar face who will be hanging up his playing spikes after the season is Scott Dickens. The player/coach was hit by a pitch in his final Muzzy Field at bat on May 17. Dickens has suited up for many a Bristol team, from the Monahan League to the Twilight League, the Tigers to the Lancers, Post 2 and finally the Knights. He started with the Monahan League Tigers in 1991 and has become very familiar with the friendly confines of Muzzy since.
Of note, the league will hold its third Home Run Derby on June 23 at 6 p.m. at dinger-friendly Martin Park in East Hartford. The event should be a blast with plenty of balls finding their way out of the park.

Tri-State Baseball close at the top of standings, and with plenty of area influence in its ranks

The Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League is just under halfway into the regular season, and it is close at the top of the standings.
The defending champion Watertown Blaze are off to a 7-0 start with the Terryville Black Sox (7-1) and Bethlehem Plowboys (6-1) hanging right behind them. Watertown has Chris Callahan (Holy Cross) and Darryl Wilson (Sacred Heart) on its roster.
One of Terryville's leading players is pitcher Kenny Kerski, who made his name in the high school ranks at Crosby. Kyle Skidmore played for Holy Cross, Kyle MacLean at St. Paul.
At Bethlehem, former Holy Cross standout Mike Chiovitti is one of the top hitters in the lineup, but he's far from the lone local. There's also Shea Dooley (Kaynor Tech), Matt Mancini (Sacred Heart), Tyler Erickson (Holy Cross), Kevin McDonnell (Bristol native) and Dennis Poulter (Wilby).
The runner-up Naugatuck Dogs are not far behind at 5-2. Their roster has several Holy Cross grads, including Ryan Plourde, Devin Murphy, Kyle Murphy and Christian Cuevas. 
As far as the local teams go, Blasius Chevrolet (formerly Brass City Brew) has the best record at 5-3. Blasius was scheduled to play the Burlington Hunters (1-7) today at 10 a.m. at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington. Blasius has won four straight games since starting the season 1-3.
The Wolcott Scrappers are 3-4 entering today's 11 a.m. contest against the Winsted Whalers (3-5) at Walker Field in Winsted. Wolcott battled its way to an 8-7 win over the Litchfield Cowboys (3-5) on Thursday at the BAW Complex.
The East Mountain Cougars sit at 2-5 entering today's 6 p.m. road game against the Southington 66ers (3-4) at Recreation Park in Southington. Southington has several players known to the Sports on CT-69 area on its roster, most notably former St. Paul standouts Kyle Dube, Connor Crean, Josh Dobratz and Matt Santovasi.
The Bristol Greeners are having a tough season so far at 1-7. Bristol plays the Torrington Rebels (4-3) today at noon at Fuessenich Park in Torrington.
There are other players from Sports on CT-69 schools throughout the Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League, and here's just a sample:

TRIBURY TWISTERS -- Ben Brown (Holy Cross), Jeff Cappa (Holy Cross), Ben Guisto (Wolcott), Dom Mascolo (Holy Cross)
VALLEY THUNDER -- Nick Forino (Kennedy), Zach Goldberg (Wolcott), Matt Meier (Wolcott), Tyler Pelletier (Wolcott), Tom Rinaldi (Holy Cross)

These are the names I pulled off of the Tri-State website. If I've missed someone, please let me know:, Twitter: @SportsonCT69, Facebook: Sports on CT-69

Friday, June 16, 2017

Bristol Central, St. Paul track and field athletes take part in national meet

Bristol Central's 800-meter sprint medley poses
at the New Balance National Outdoor Championship
meet Friday in Greensboro, N.C.
(Photo via head coach Tamara Stafford-Kirk's Twitter account)
Track and field athletes from Bristol Central and St. Paul took part in the 2017 New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championship meet on Friday at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C.
Bristol Central freshman David Bowes took 16th in the country in the freshmen 400-meter dash. The Rams competed in the emerging elite portion of the 800-meter sprint medley, and the team of seniors Luis Medina, Sean Fitzgerald and Kaynan Conrod combined with Bowes to take 19th place.
St. Paul junior Christian Sturm got the chance to compete at the emerging elite level of the hammer throw. Sturm finished in 23rd place in the event.
The New Balance Nationals Outdoor Championship continues on Saturday and Sunday.

Crosby senior Jordan Wilkins had a terrific season on the track

He may have been overshadowed by Sacred Heart sophomore sensation Edward Williams, but Crosby senior Jordan Wilkins had an awesome season on the track.
Those strong efforts included an individual championship during the Class L meet.
Because of strong state performances, Wilkins got a chance to compete in the 72nd Interscholastic New England Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He finished fourth in the 110-meter hurdles, a two-spot improvement over his preliminary rank.
Wilkins also took fourth in the 110 hurdles in the State Open meet at Willow Brook Park. Wilkins was fifth in the preliminaries, then moved up one spot. 
In Class L, Wilkins was the champion in the 110 hurdles, and he also took seventh in the 300-meter hurdles.
Wilkins also had strong efforts in regular season meets. At the Torrington Varsity Alumni Track and Field Challenge, Wilkins took second in the 110 hurdles and fourth in the 300 hurdles.

Sacred Heart's Edward Williams had sensational sophomore season on the track

Edward Williams had a sensational sophomore season for the Sacred Heart outdoor track and field team. (Sports on CT-69 file photo)
Sacred Heart sophomore Edward Williams had an awesome season for the outdoor track and field team.
For Williams, first place in hurdle events was almost second nature. Williams won the 110-meter hurdle event in the city, at the Torrington Varsity Alumni Track and Field Challenge, the NVL championship meet, Class S and the State Open. In the 300-meter hurdles, Williams was first in the city, at the Torrington meet, the NVL championship, Class S and the State Open.
You read that correctly. Williams swept the hurdle events at the city meet, the Torrington challenge, the NVL championship, Class S and the State Open. That's quite the accomplishment.
And Williams is just a sophomore.
"What a great season!" head coach Tom Festa posted on Facebook. "It will only get better!"
In the NVL championship meet at Seymour High School, Williams was one hit hurdle away from a possible sub 14-second time in the 110-meter hurdles. In the 300 hurdles, Williams broke a 15-year old record on the way to victory. Festa summed up the work of his super sophomore in simple terms.
"It's amazing what he has done," Festa said during the meet.
An injury kept Williams from competing in the 110-meter hurdles at the New England championship meet, but he has two more years to go after it. He also has two more years to do more amazing things in the hurdles in the NVL and the state. It should be a fun two years to watch.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Sturm's win, LeBeau's third highlight local efforts in final state meet of season

Several local athletes competed in the final track and field events of the season on Tuesday and Wednesday at Willow Brook Park in New Britain.
St. Paul's Christian Sturm had reason to smile
after winning the hammer throw event.
(Photo via St. Paul athletics Twitter account)
By far the highlight of the two days was the victory by St. Paul junior Christian Sturm in the hammer throw. Sturm's best was 158 feet, 5 inches, and that was enough to secure first place.
Sturm's event was part of the decathlon, heptathlon, steeplechase and hammer throw competitions held every year, mostly in New Britain.
Sturm wasn't the only local highlight though.
Bristol Eastern senior Christopher LeBeau nabbed third in the boys 3000-meter steeplechase. LeBeau crossed the finish line in 10:04.79. Bristol Central junior Matthew Roy was 10th in the same event.
In the boys 2000-meter steeplechase, Eastern freshman Jake Woznicki took fifth place.
The best local finish in the girls 2000-meter steeplechase came from Sacred Heart sophomore Stephanie Sullivan, who placed 16th.
Wolcott senior Cynthia Dias had the highest finish of any local in the heptathlon. She placed 29th overall, but was able to put together a third place effort in the javelin. Javelin has been a strong event for Dias throughout her senior season.
St. Paul junior Jake Sanzone turned in a 34th place finish in the decathlon, the best of any local athlete. Sanzone's best placement was 13th in the 400-meter dash.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Monteiro adds to growing list of Brass City pro basketball accolades

The Brass City is pretty darn good at basketball.
Need proof? Well, here's some good evidence.
B.J. Monteiro, former star at Crosby High School, was named Player of the Year for Nationale Masculine 1 by for the 2017 season. Monteiro plays guard for the Caen Basket Calvados in that league. He earned First Team honors for the league, and he was also chosen as Import Player of the Year. Monteiro led Caen in points (15.5), rebounds (6.7), assists (4.3, tied), blocks (0.9, tied) and minutes (31.1) per game.
Monteiro, a graduate of Duquesne University, has also played in Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Canada and Venezuela.
Monteiro is far from the first Waterbury basketball player to be recognized for outstanding play in an international league.
Ta'Quan Zimmerman, a former standout at Holy Cross High School, was named to the Canadian National Basketball League's All-Rookie team. Zimmerman is a guard for the Halifax Hurricanes. Zimmerman tied for second in assists on the team at 3.1 per game. Zimmerman was nearly the sixth Halifax player to average double figures in points (9.9). He was also a strong three-point shooter for the Hurricanes.
Before Halifax, Zimmerman was a member of the Idaho Stampede in the NBA D-League. Zimmerman went to Monroe Community College in New York before moving on to Thompson Rivers.
Still need more evidence?
Add former Crosby star Anthony Ireland to the mix. Ireland was team leader for Trefl Sopot in points, assists and minutes per game. Ireland, who has been a solid player for Trefl since his arrival, has scored in bunches, including a 31-point outburst on Jan. 6.
Ireland was a star at Loyola Marymount University, where he played all four years. After college, Ireland played in the NBA Summer League with the Las Vegas Lakers, but did so for just three games. His international career began in France, followed by a stint in Greece. Ireland seems to have found a home with Trefl Sopot in the Polish Basketball League.
There have been others who have found playing time on international courts. A few recent examples are Marcus James, Julian Allen and Damian Saunders. 
James played for the Boca Juniors in Argentina. Allen played in Canada, Estonia and Italy. Saunders spent most of his pro basketball career in the NBA D-League, but he also played in Chile as recently as 2015-16.
Current players like Monteiro, Zimmerman and Ireland show that the Brass City can indeed play basketball at the pro level.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

CRUSADER CONQUEST: Holy Cross sweeps Class S championships on the diamond

Holy Cross made history this past weekend, on both the baseball and softball field.
For baseball, Saturday's 13-9 win over Lyman Memorial-Lebanon marked the first state championship in program history. In softball, the Crusaders beat St. Paul 4-0 on Friday night to capture the third consecutive title.
Each championship made its own mark, and both combined to give Holy Cross a truly historic weekend. We'll start first with baseball, given it's the first title in program history.

Holy Cross baseball won its first state championship on Saturday.
"We've had so many great players come through the halls and wear the green and gold as baseball players, and this is the first time we're going to be able to hang a banner," head coach Mike Phelan said. "That's always been one of my goals, especially first, for our players. What a great group of kids I have. But also, for all of the alumni who played baseball here. I know they're going to be just as happy as we are."
"It's something that we'll never forget," senior Matt Bonvicini said. "It's awesome for the school and awesome for coach. I know he's really wanted that for a long time now."
"[Phelan] has been preaching to us that he wants that banner on the wall, and we not only did it for him, we did it for ourselves," senior Adam Razza said. "I'm proud of everybody."
Senior Nick Hernandez, who picked up the win in relief, had trouble finding a way to describe what happened Saturday.
"I'm just lost for words," Hernandez said. "I'm so happy."
In two previous appearances, Holy Cross lost state championship games to Plainville in 1994 (Class L) and 2008 (Class M). On Saturday, the 2017 Crusaders avenged those losses for their alumni, and they made a name for themselves.
"It's an absolutely amazing feeling," sophomore catcher Brian Parzyck said. "To be known as the team that put the first banner for baseball up in that school, it's great."

Senior Aubry DeFoe, Sarah Lawton, Emma Gargano and Gabby Goldman were part of
a third straight state championship for Megan Dwyer's Holy Cross softball program 
All Holy Cross did on Friday night was become the first Class S team since Coginchaug Regional of Durham to win three straight state championships. Coginchaug, long a softball power in Class S, did it from 1997 to 1999.
For standout pitcher Sarah Lawton and fellow seniors Aubry DeFoe, Gabby Goldman and Emma Gargano, they leave the program with three straight titles. When asked if she thought she would win three straight state championships, Lawton said simply, "No."
"I didn't really think about it until we got closer to states, but we did what we had to do," Lawton said.
While baseball won with a bevy of seniors, softball had a bunch of young players in big spots. Sophomores Hannah and Allie Brown batted one and two in the lineup, and freshman Jenna Mowad rode a ball out of Biondi Field for a home run. Mowad ended up with a homer, double, two RBI and the game's MVP. 
How did it all come together again for Holy Cross? Mowad summed it up well.
"We do whatever it takes to be the best," Mowad said.
Head coach Megan Dwyer saw extra focus from Lawton leading into her last game.
"I think that she recognized the fact that this was the last game that shed was putting this uniform on," Dwyer said. "She wanted to get this team together, she was texting them all [Thursday night], getting them ready for this moment."

Holy Cross has been ready for those moments for the last three years in softball. Baseball took its turn for the first time on Saturday, giving the Crusaders a weekend to remember.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hard work, heart and brotherhood helped Holy Cross reach the state baseball mountaintop

Holy Cross baseball used hard work, heart and a love for each other to win the program's first state championship.
Top-seeded Holy Cross baseball found itself down 3-0 to second-seeded Lyman Memorial-Lebanon in its first Class S state championship game, before it took its first at bats.
It was not a good start, but the Crusaders still had confidence in themselves. Too much hard work had been put in during the previous 26 games to give up.
And Holy Cross had too much heart.
"We just got heart," Crusader senior first baseman Matt Bonvicini said. "That's what it comes down to."
Bonvicini spoke of the two to three hours per day of work that he and his teammates put in throughout the season.
That hard work showed in the second inning, when Holy Cross struck for four runs to claim a 4-3 lead. The Crusaders worked counts, then swung away against the Bulldogs.
"All year, that's what we've done is come back," sophomore catcher Brian Parzyck said.
"You can't let yourself get down," senior center fielder Adam Razza said.
Holy Cross built its advantage to 7-3, then saw it evaporate in a five-run Lyman fourth. Colton Bender's long grand slam to left field put the Bulldogs ahead 8-7.
Holy Cross answered Lyman's salvo with a six-run explosion of its own and took a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
"We saw it in the first inning when they scored three runs, we came back with four," sophomore left fielder Connor Goggin said.
Goggin had a huge two-run double during that inning.
"It would have been better if it was my own grand slam, but I'll take the two-run double," Goggin said with a laugh.
Before Goggin's hit, Lyman decided to walk Bonvicini. It's something the senior slugger has dealt with all season. Rather than get frustrated, Bonvicini gave words of encouragement to the next batter, sophomore right fielder Tim Zupkus. Zupkus showed reason for the trust with a RBI single.
"It's good to be able to help the team, but I also trust Tim Zupkus behind me, and he got the job done today," Bonvicini said.
Goggin then ripped his two-run double. It's not just Razza, senior No. 2 batter Fran Phelan, Bonvicini and Zupkus that hurt an opponent. It's the whole lineup that can strike.
"You can always count on the guy before you, behind you, to make a big play," Razza said. "It worked out, and it's a blessing."
For example, Parzyck had three hits down in the No. 8 spot. His triple over the center fielder's head in the second inning started the four-run rally. Parzyck's RBI double in the fourth tied the game at 8.
"Everyone in the lineup can hit the ball, they can all throw, they can all run the bases," Goggin said.
Parzyck proved that point by throwing out a pair of runners trying to steal second base. Fran Phelan made an athletic catch on Parzyck's first throw and slapped the tag on the runner below his jump. Senior third baseman Mike Keating snatched a line drive out of the air with a dive toward the third base line. Zupkus did the same with a full-out lunge in the seventh in right field. Goggin ran down a fly ball in left field, Razza held a runner at third with a missile from his position in center field.
Why was Holy Cross able to make plays? Desire.
"You got to come back, you got to face adversity," Razza said.
The pieces were there for a state title, according to Bonvicini.
"We had the pitching, we had the hitting, we had the fielding," Bonvicini said. "We just had to make it happen, and we did."
The Crusaders also believed in each other, and worked hard for one another.
"We're not only teammates, but we're family," Parzyck said. "We love each other like brothers, we treat each other like brothers."
One brother counted upon was senior reliever Nick Hernandez. Senior starter Chris Flynn had a tough outing, and sophomore reliever Austin Brown was hit hard, so Hernandez was called upon. Hernandez had been shelled in last year's NVL title game against Oxford, and he took it to heart. Hernandez put in the effort necessary, then came back and shut down Lyman Memorial in the state championship game when Holy Cross needed him most.
"I needed to work hard," Hernandez said. "I came back, and this is what happened."
The "this" is the program's first state championship. The Crusaders won it together as a family, and they did it with hard work, heart, and love for each other.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

St. Paul softball made lifetime of memories in state tourney run

St. Paul softball reached its season-long goal on Friday night when it played for the Class S state championship against Holy Cross in West Haven.
The Falcons came up a win shy of the ultimate prize in a 4-0 loss to the Crusaders.
"To be the best, you got to beat the best," St. Paul head coach Gary Hovhanessian said afterward. "Right now, [Sarah Lawton] is the best in Class S."
What the loss can't take away are the memories made by the Falcons, especially in the 9-8 comeback win over Coventry in the semifinal round.
"The accomplishment of the other night, that's something they're going to remember forever," Hovhanessian said.
Going into the tournament, Hovhanessian and the Falcons were aware of who the best teams were. One was top-seeded East Granby, which ninth-seeded St. Paul stunned 7-3 in a quarterfinal contest.
Hovhanessian had nothing but praise for the effort of senior pitcher Alessandra Milardo, who battled against a tough Holy Cross offense.
"Her goal this year was to be an all-state pitcher, and she pitched like an all-state pitcher in my opinion," Hovhanessian said.
After the game, senior captains Milardo, Brigid Johndrow and Brooke Perez accepted the runner-up plaque. It may not have been what they wanted, but those seniors -- along with senior Bianca DiLernia -- were part of the greatest run a St. Paul softball team has ever made in the state tournament.
For this season, check off a NVL semifinal appearance and a Class S state final game. That's quite the legacy to leave behind.
There are solid players returning for 2018. Shortstop Jess Persechino, who made several good plays in the field during the title game, will be a junior. Lindsey O'Bright and Katelynn Oullette return as seniors and Abby Poirot will be a junior. Janessa Gonzalez and Katrina Roy have a year of varsity experience under their belts and will be back as sophomores.
It will take a lot to come close to what St. Paul did this season, but that's because the Falcons made history, and a ton of memories, along the way.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Holy Cross baseball slugs way to first-ever state championship

Holy Cross baseball celebrates its first-ever state championship after beating Lyman Memorial 13-9 in the Class S final Saturday.
From no hits to 14 hits.
That's what it took for top-seeded Holy Cross baseball to get past second-seeded Lyman Memorial-Lebanon in the Class S state championship game on Saturday afternoon at Palmer Field in Middletown. The Crusaders rallied twice and pulled out a 13-9 slugfest victory over the Bulldogs, clinching the first state championship in program history.
Holy Cross trailed 3-0 before taking its first at bats, but quickly regained a 4-3 lead in the second inning. The Crusaders built their lead to 7-3, but saw it go away in a five-run outburst by the Bulldogs in the top of the fourth inning. That included a grand slam by Colton Bender, which gave Lyman an 8-7 lead.
Brian Parzyck dives safely into third base on his triple.
Holy Cross responded to the adversity with a six-run eruption of its own in the bottom of the inning. Will Marshall led off with a walk, then was pinch run for by Justin Alaimo. Brian Parzyck blasted a double to left center to score Alaimo and tie the game 8-8. Matt Cipriano's sacrifice fly to right field scored Parzyck and put the Crusaders ahead 9-8, but they were far from done. Adam Razza doubled, then Fran Phelan reached on an error. With first and third, Matt Bonvicini was intentionally walked. Tim Zupkus made Lyman pay for the decision with a RBI single for a 10-8 advantage. Connor Goggin blasted a two-run double to drive in Phelan and Bonvicini to make the score 12-8. A bases loaded walk from Marshall, his second free pass of the inning, brought in Zupkus with the sixth run and upped the Holy Cross lead to 13-8.
Lyman got a run back in the seventh, but Zupkus made sure no more were scored. Zupkus dove all-out for a fly ball to right field and caught it, preventing a big hit. With two outs, Nick Hernandez whiffed the final batter and the Crusaders mobbed him on the mound in celebration. Hernandez picked up the win in relief.
Zupkus was a perfect 3-for-3 with a RBI, run scored and two walks. Parzyck finished a single short of the cycle (3-for-4), drove in a run and scored two more. Phelan and Goggin each had two hits and three RBI. Phelan also scored three runs. Razza had two hits and scored three times while Bonvicini added three RBI and a run scored. Marshall and Cipriano each had a RBI.
On defense, there were several awesome plays. Goggin ran down a fly ball close to the foul line in left, Keating made a diving catch on a smash down the third base line, and Zupkus had his highlight-reel snag in right field. Parzyck threw out two runners trying to steal second.
It wasn't Holy Cross' usual formula of pitching, defense and timely hitting, but it was enough for a first state championship.

PHOTOS: Click here for images from the game on my gallery site.

A freshman and a senior lead Holy Cross softball to a three-peat

Holy Cross freshman Jenna Mowad was cool as a cucumber, smacking a homer and double in her first two championship at bats.
The fireworks began with a blast from a freshman, and the night ended with a strikeout from a standout senior.
That has been the story of Holy Cross softball this season. Senior Sarah Lawton has always been strong in the circle, but she had help behind her. 
In Friday night's 4-0 Class S state final victory over St. Paul, freshman Jenna Mowad stepped up for her first championship game at bat in the bottom of the second inning. All Mowad did was whack a home run over the center field fence.
Sarah Lawton thinks about her next pitch as fellow captain Aubry DeFoe looks on
from her position at third base.
"Honestly, it was the best feeling I could ever have," Mowad said of rounding the bases.
Mowad wasn't done at the plate. She added a RBI double in the third inning, her second at bat in a championship game, to put the Crusaders ahead 4-0. Mowad was named the game's MVP.
"This night means so much to me," Mowad said. "As much as it means to me, it means a lot more to my team, and that's really important to me."
Mowad and her teammates brim with confidence about Lawton. One or two runs figures to be enough, and it would have been Friday. Holy Cross just happened to tack on two more, and those came on a two-run single from Lawton. Lawton wasn't going to let anything in when she was pitching.
"I just saw it in her eyes," Mowad said. "She is such a great leader."
Head coach Megan Dwyer began her run at Holy Cross when Lawton was a sophomore. She has seen Lawton grow as both a player and a student.
Lawton and Alexandra Lombardo slap hands after one of Lawton's 13 strikeouts.
"We had to work on building this program together, and every step of the way, she's had my back and I've had her's," Dwyer said. "I'm definitely going to miss her."
Lawton struck out 13 and walked just one in her final game as a Crusader. St. Paul managed three hits off the Holy Cross ace, and the Crusader defense was solid. Add timely hitting, and it was a recipe for a three-peat.
"We know that this team can hit, and we wanted to work really hard in the days leading up to this to make sure we had our best offensive and defensive performance on the field, and it came together," Dwyer said.
It was the last game at Holy Cross for Lawton and fellow captains Aubry DeFoe, Gabby Goldman and Emma Gargano. All the Crusaders did was send them out with a three-peat. It was a fitting way to end an incredible three-year odyssey. 
For Mowad, the trip is just beginning. She's back next season, and NVL teams will have a seasoned sophomore to deal with. Lombardo and Nicole Strielkauskas will be seniors, and they will have help from junior veterans Hannah Brown, Allie Brown, Val Nobrega and Carley DeFoe. Oh yeah, Lizzy Diorio will be back too as a sophomore, and she gained great experience as a freshman.
One era ends at Holy Cross, but don't count the Crusaders out in 2018, not by a long shot.

PHOTOS: Click here to see images from Friday night's game on my new gallery site.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Holy Cross softball completes Class S three-peat with win over St. Paul

Holy Cross softball beat St. Paul for its third straight Class S title on Friday night
The Class S state championship plaque will once again reside with Holy Cross.
The second-seeded Crusaders took down ninth-seeded NVL foe St. Paul 4-0 in the final on Friday night at Frank Biondi Softball Field in West Haven. Holy Cross has won the last three state championships.
Senior Sarah Lawton closed her impressive career with another splendid effort in the circle. Lawton yielded just three hits and one walk while compiling 13 strikeouts. She also had a two-run single in the second inning to put Holy Cross ahead 3-0.
Earlier in that inning, freshman catcher Jenna Mowad announced her arrival on center stage with a bang as she clubbed a solo home run. Mowad added a RBI double in the third and earned championship game MVP honors.
St. Paul saw its magical run end a win short of the ultimate prize. Alessandra Milardo gave up four runs (two earned) on nine hits, struck out three, walked one batter and hit another in her final game as a Falcon. Brigid Johndrow, Lindsey O'Bright and Abby Poirot each had one hit.
Much more to come on this game.

Holy Cross baseball looks to finish dream season with title in Class S final

Top-seeded Holy Cross baseball has been on a mission all season.
There were big goals along the way. The Crusaders notched one when they won the NVL Tournament title. 
Holy Cross takes a shot at an even bigger prize on Saturday afternoon at Middletown's Palmer Field. The Crusaders take on second-seeded Lyman Memorial-Lebanon at 3:30 p.m. One team will emerge from this clash with its first state championship in the third try.
Pitching has been the driving force for Holy Cross this season, led at the top by Fran Phelan and Chris Flynn. Phelan threw 116 pitches in a complete-game effort Wednesday when the Crusaders beat No. 5 Housatonic Regional-Falls Village in a semifinal at Muzzy Field in Bristol.
Phelan is unavailable to pitch due to CIAC rules, so head coach Mike Phelan will more than likely give Flynn the ball. Flynn is 2-0 in the state tournament and has thrown 12 total innings, five in a second round blowout of East Windsor on June 3. Flynn has full availability.
Nick Hernandez, also a starting pitcher this season for Holy Cross, has full availability. Hernandez worked an inning against East Windsor.
Offensively, the Crusaders look to be way more productive than they were on Wednesday in the semifinal. Holy Cross was no-hit over six innings by Housatonic's Scott Dignacco, but used walks and errors to push three runs across.
The offensive starts with leadoff batter Adam Razza, a tough out for any pitcher. Phelan has been in the two-hole, and the powerful Matt Bonvicini is behind him at No. 3. Cleanup batter Tim Zupkus can also be a tough hitter to retire. Fifth in the order has been Connor Goggin, followed by Mike Keating at No. 6 and Will Marshall at No. 7. Catcher Brian Parzyck has been batting eighth, followed by Matt Cipriano at ninth. That has been the lineup for Holy Cross in each of its first four state tournament games.
Defensively, the outfield of Goggin, Razza and Zupkus has been terrific. Teams don't often run on them because of strong throwing arms. 
Parczyk handles the duties behind the plate. At third base is Keating, with Matt Cipriano at shortstop, Phelan at second and Bonvicini at first.
When Holy Cross has put pitching, timely hitting and defense together, it has been unbeatable. The Crusaders hope to be that team one more time on Saturday.

Proud NVL has four teams on the softball diamond on championship weekend

Seymour, Holy Cross, Torrington and St. Paul were the top four softball teams in the Naugatuck Valley League during the season.
All four of them have something major in common: Each is fighting for a state championship. That's right, the mighty NVL claims four of the eight softball finalists.
In baseball, Holy Cross plays in the Class S title game.
Five teams from one league have a chance at glory on the diamond this weekend. Four can emerge as champions with Holy Cross and St. Paul softball having to do it against each other. The NVL, maligned by some, has every reason to beat its chest and be proud.
Let's talk more about NVL softball.

"Beyond proud of NVL softball right now, show the state how we do it down in the valley!!" tweeted Seymour standout Jenna Geffert.
Seymour, led by legendary head coach Ken Pereiras, has been a standard-bearer for championship softball in Connecticut. Holy Cross joined the party under head coach Meg Dwyer with state titles in each of the past two seasons. Torrington and St. Paul are both newcomers. This will be the first state championship game for the Raiders and the Falcons.
"Funny how people like to say, '...but you play in the NVL'," tweeted Noel Lawton, father of Holy Cross ace Sarah Lawton.
The NVL has showed how great teams from this league can be this season. Led by strong pitching from the likes of Geffert and Molly Adamo (Seymour), Lawton (Holy Cross), Torrington's Ali DuBois and St. Paul's Alessandra Milardo, the Wildcats, Crusaders, Raiders and Falcons are all playing for a title.
Holy Cross goes for a three-peat tonight at 7 p.m. at West Haven's Frank Biondi Softball Field. The Crusaders have been there and done that, but you can bet they don't want their season to end with a loss.
St. Paul is in its first championship game. The Falcons have been on the rise in the last couple seasons, but they really took off this year. St. Paul played Seymour tough twice, and did the same on the road at Holy Cross. Falcon head coach Gary Hovhanessian has believed in his team all season, and player confidence has been an important asset.
Strong competition breeds better teams. Seymour and Holy Cross have helped make others in the league better, with St. Paul being one of those teams. Torrington is no slouch, having made it to the Class L semifinals in 2016. Still, this is the first go at a final for the Raiders and well-deserving head coach Maryann Musselman.
Teams and fans have been rooting for the NVL teams to succeed, though that kinship fades when Holy Cross and St. Paul take the field tonight.
"Congrats Torrington!! #nvl #ctsb," read a tweet from the Seymour Softball account after the Raiders won their semifinal game Thursday.
The competitive fires collectively lit by these four teams have allowed them to reach the biggest games of the season. Here are the games, their times and locations for all four teams:

Class S: No. 2 Holy Cross vs. No. 9 St. Paul, 7 p.m., Frank Biondi Softball Field (West Haven High School)
Class L: No. 4 Torrington vs. No. 10 Joel Barlow-Redding, 1 p.m., Biondi Field
Class M: No. 4 Seymour vs. No. 7 North Branford, 4 p.m., Biondi Field

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Persechino had big night for St. Paul softball

St. Paul softball wouldn't be playing for a state championship without the effort of sophomore shortstop Jess Persechino.
Persechino was 4-for-4 with four RBI, and her sixth inning single gave the Falcons a 9-8 lead over Coventry in their Class S semifinal Wednesday. St. Paul wound up winning 9-8 after a great catch by Abby Poirot completed the final out. The ninth-seeded Falcons face second-seeded Holy Cross for the title on Friday at 7 p.m. at Frank Biondi Softball Field in West Haven.
Persechino was there for St. Paul when it trailed 3-0 in the first. Her RBI single helped get the Falcons to within 3-2 in the bottom of the first. Persechino's two-run single in the fifth cut a six-run deficit to 8-4.
St. Paul completed its remarkable comeback in the sixth. The Falcons got a run, then Lindsey O'Bright blasted a bases-clearing double to tie the game at 8-8, setting up Persechino's chance to play hero. Persechino hit another single, and O'Bright came in to give St. Paul an improbable lead.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

St. Paul softball joins Holy Cross for finals weekend (with game days, times, and sites)

St. Paul has been making trips every couple of years to Disney World in Florida to play softball, bond as a team, and have fun.
The ninth-seeded Falcons have been on a fairy tale ride in this year's Class S state tournament, and the most exciting moment so far came on Wednesday night in West Haven.
St. Paul stormed back from an 8-2 deficit against No. 12 Coventry and won 9-8 in its first semifinal appearance since 2000. The Falcons went wild after Abby Poirot made a diving catch in left field for the final out (nice video from Josh Kestenbaum of The Bristol Press). St. Paul will make its first appearance ever in the state final on Friday night.
The opponent is a very familiar one. It's two-time defending Class S champion Holy Cross, the No. 2 seed in the bracket. The Falcons and Crusaders play at 7 p.m. Friday back at Frank Biondi Softball Field in West Haven.
Holy Cross won the only meeting in the regular season by a score of 5-3 on May 1 at Holy Cross High School. This time, the Falcons and Crusaders meet with everything on the line.

Top-seeded Holy Cross will face second-seeded Lyman Memorial-Lebanon in the Class S final on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Palmer Field in Middletown. The Crusaders and Bulldogs are both seeking their first state championship in baseball. Each school is 0-2 in state finals.