Thursday, May 24, 2018

Wolcott softball holds off Oxford in NVL quarterfinal

Wolcott pitcher Nicole Antonowicz winds up as shortstop Marissa Morales
gets ready behind her during Wednesday's NVL quarterfinal against Oxford.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Fourth-seeded Wolcott softball took advantage of fifth-seeded Oxford's miscues in the first inning, then held on in the final frame for a 3-2 NVL quarterfinal win on Wednesday at Wolcott High School.
The Eagles play top-seeded Seymour today at 6 p.m. at Naugatuck High School in one NVL semifinal. The other is between St. Paul and Watertown and starts at 4 p.m., also at NHS.
Oxford, which had to play its regular season finale earlier in the afternoon on Wednesday, had the tying run on first base with two outs. Wolcott starter Nicole Antonowicz got a fly out to leftfielder Jayda Cavanaugh to end the game.
Antonowicz threw a complete game. She gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits, struck out eight and walked three.
Josie Cammarata had two hits for the Eagles. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
The Eagles gave Antonowicz a pair of runs in the bottom of the first inning. Marissa Morales led off with a single, then Madison Rotella bunted her to second. Josie Cammarata laid down another bunt, which turned into a single and runners on first and third. Cammarata took second base with Alexis Boyce at the plate. Morales scored and Cammarata moved to third on a passed ball during Boyce's at bat. After a strikeout, Antonowicz grounded to short but the throw went wild, Cammarata scored and Wolcott had a 2-0 lead.
Oxford stirred up trouble in several innings, including the second. A walk, single and sacrifice bunt put Wolverine runners on second and third with one out, but Antonowicz got back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
Molly Sastram doubled home Kaylee Dolan with Oxford's first run in the top of the third inning, but Wolcott got it right back in the bottom frame. Rotella walked to lead off, then advanced to second on a passed ball. A single by Cammarata made it first and third. Cammarata allowed herself to get caught in a rundown between first and second with Boyce at the plate. Rotella raced home well before the throw, Cammarata got back to first, and the Eagles led 3-1. After some good baserunning, Wolcott ran into a double play on a sacrifice bunt and the inning ended.
In the top of the sixth, Sam Kostek blasted a triple the other way to right field with no outs. Pitcher Sage Borkowski walked, but Antonowicz got a pop-up to Boyce for the first out. Jenna Myers did the job for Oxford, however, with a sacrifice fly to center to score Kostek and make the score 3-2. Borkowski, who took second earlier in the Myers at bat, stayed put on the fly ball. Antonowicz reached back and got a called third strike to escape further damage.
Dolan reached on a bloop infield single between the circle and second base with two outs in the seventh, but the Wolverines couldn't get the tying run across and the Eagles moved on to the semifinal round.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Wednesday's game.

Eagles break sixth-inning tie, beat Hearts in NVL baseball quarterfinal

Wolcott's Jeff Nicol tags out Sacred Heart's Noah Knappe at the plate
during Wednesday's NVL quarterfinal at Wolcott HS. (Copyright, Sports on CT-690
Second-seeded Wolcott baseball scored twice in the bottom of the sixth inning to overtake seventh-seeded Sacred Heart 3-1 in an NVL quarterfinal on Wednesday afternoon at Wolcott High School.
That's the easy explanation.
Here's what transpired: With the game tied 1-1, Wolcott's Trey Nastri reached on an error. Sacred Heart pitcher Hector Alejandro got a called third strike on Nick Longo for the first out, though Longo and Eagle supporters certainly didn't see it that way. Ethan Gillotti singled to make it first and second with one out. Alejandro got another called third strike, this one on Jeff Nicol, for the second out. 
Wolcott's Jack Drewry delivers a pitch. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
With first and second and two outs, Tino Ciarlo worked a 3-2 count against Alejandro. On the payoff pitch, Ciarlo checked his swing and was given a walk. Alejandro, catcher Evan Laferriere and head coach Eric O'Toole didn't agree with the call. The Hearts tried to get an appeal from the base umpire. After a short delay, the appeal was made but the call stood.
The Eagles took advantage when the next batter, Dane Hassan, slapped a single to left centerfield, scoring Nastri and Gillotti for a 3-1 lead. Alejandro got Nick Trager to fly out to center to end the inning, but the damage was done.
In the top of the seventh, Wolcott starter Jack Drewry worked around a one-out walk to Jimmy Edwards to seal the win.
Sacred Heart's Hector Alejandro fires away. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Drewry and Alejandro both pitched great games, and they were helped out by some strong defensive plays, with the top two coming in the fourth inning. In the top of the fourth, Alejandro pounded a pitch off the left field wall. Noah Knappe tried to score from first, but a perfect relay from centerfielder Tino Ciarlo to the shortstop Gillotti to the catcher Nicol nailed Knappe at the plate. Sacred Heart led Wolcott 1-0 at the time, so it was a big play.
The Hearts turned an Eagle hit-and-run into a nifty 4-6-3 double play and two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Kyle Barbieri fielded a grounder, which was hit right at him, and quickly fed the ball to Edwards at shortstop. Edwards fired to first baseman Will Witkoski to complete the double play, and the Sacred Heart bench erupted.
Through four and a half innings, a two-out error for a run was the difference between the Hearts and the Eagles. Wolcott finally caught up in the fifth on a two-out bunt single down the third base line by Trager. The bunt scored Gillotti with the tying run.
The Eagles took the lead in the next inning, and held on for the win. Drewry gave up one unearned run on four hits while Alejandro yielded three runs (one earned) on eight hits and struck out eight.
Wolcott will play St. Paul today at 5 p.m. at Municipal Stadium in an NVL semifinal. The other semifinal between Holy Cross and Seymour is scheduled for 2 p.m.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Wednesday's game.

TOURNEY ROUNDUP: Hale wins single title; Hearts duo takes doubles

NVL singles champion Alex Hale of Wolcott. (Sports on CT-69, file)
The area claimed an NVL boys singles champion and girls doubles champion on Wednesday.
By the end of this afternoon, there will also be a girls singles winner from the area.
Wolcott's Alex Hale didn't drop a set over two matches on his way to the NVL boys singles crown Wednesday at Wolcott High School. Hale beat Watertown's Casey Butwell 6-2, 6-2 in a semifinal match, then took down Woodland's Josh Powanda in the final, 6-0, 6-2. Powanda beat Holy Cross' Dan Huang 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 in the other semifinal.
NVL girls doubles champions Nhi Nguyen (left)
and Alexa Gallino (right), with Sacred Heart
head coach Justin Michaud. (SHHS Athletics Twitter)

In girls doubles, Sacred Heart's Alexa Gallino and Nhi Nguyen also didn't lose a set on the way to the crown. Gallino and Nguyen beat Naugatuck's Brielle Behuniak and Hailey Russell, 6-0, 6-2 in the semifinal, then defeated Woodland's Mia Piccolo and Alanna Carasone in the final, 7-5, 6-1.
The boys doubles title was won by Torrington's Kevin Dixon and Brett Stater. 
The girls singles championship was suspended on Wednesday and will restart today at 3 p.m. at Wilby. St. Paul's Victoria Kilbourne and Wolcott's Edona Bytyqi have each won a set. Bytyqi took the first set via a 6-0 tiebreaker, then Kilbourne responded with a 6-4 victory in the second set.
In the girls singles semifinals, Kilbourne won 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 over Woodland's Amanda Doughney and Bytyqi defeated Holy Cross' Elena Tormo 6-4, 7-5.

Top-seeded Holy Cross rolled to a 14-3 win over eighth-seeded Oxford in an NVL quarterfinal at Holy Cross. John Greene went 3-for-4 with four RBI, and Brian Parzyck finished a homer short of the cycle (three RBI, two runs scored). The Crusaders pitched by committee with Fran Phelan Jr. going the first three innings and taking the win.
Third-seeded St. Paul shut out sixth-seeded Watertown 6-0 behind the pitching of Ethan Rembish and the power of Julian Thayer. Rembish struck out 12 and allowed three hits, and Thayer smacked a two-run homer. Ryan Parent (2 RBI), Ryan Greene (double, RBI, run scored), Josh Cofrancesco (RBI, run scored) and Nick Morrrell (run scored) all had two hits apiece for the Falcons.
Fifth-seeded Seymour upended fourth-seeded Woodland in the other NVL quarterfinal.
Semifinals: Today at Municipal Stadium -- Holy Cross-Seymour, 2; Wolcott-St. Paul, 5

Second-seeded St. Paul won a 9-7 slugfest against seventh-seeded Naugatuck in an NVL quarterfinal in Bristol. Abby Aldieri, Katrina Roy, Lindsey O'Bright and Abby Poirot each had two hits and an RBI for the Falcons. St. Paul fell behind 4-0 after a half inning, but scored six runs in the third to take the lead for good.
Third-seeded Holy Cross had a rough day and lost 7-1 to sixth-seeded Watertown. The same held true for eighth-seeded Sacred Heart, who was ousted 11-2 by top-seeded Seymour. Lizzy Diorio tripled and scored on a throwing error for the lone Crusader run, while Victoria Turnall homered for the Hearts. Erin Keeley and Kaitlynn Keeley also had hits for Sacred Heart.
Semifinals: Today at Naugatuck High School -- St. Paul-Watertown 4; Wolcott-Seymour, 6

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

MUM CITY RIVALRY: Lancers sweep season series in softball, baseball

Bristol Eastern completed a softball/baseball season sweep of city rival Bristol Central on Monday.
The Lancer softball team edged out the Rams 3-0 at Bristol Central High School. Alyssa Hackling put Eastern ahead 1-0, then Paige McLaughlin put the game away with a two-run single in the top of the seventh inning. Erin Girard struck out nine and allowed five hits. Peyton Greger and Jenna Ptak each had two hits for Central.
Records: Eastern 14-4, Central 9-11

In baseball, Eastern got a great pitching performance from Ethan Ryan on the way to a 6-2 win over Central at Muzzy Field. The Lancers fell behind 1-0 on an RBI single by the Rams' Austin Brown, but erupted for six runs in the bottom of the third inning to take the lead and break the game wide open. Eastern load the bases, then used two walks, two infield errors and a two-run single from Noah Hickey to quickly score six runs. Jaylen Dias drove in Evan Bouchard in the seventh for Central's final run. Eastern clinched the CCC South Region's Patriot Division title with the win. The Lancers were 6-2 in the Patriot, compared to 5-3 for the Rams. 
Records: Eastern 11-8, Central 7-11

Eastern also fared well against Central on the tennis courts last Friday. A sweep of both matches gave the boys and the girls Patriot Division titles. Each Lancer team won 4-3, with the boys doing so at Central and the girls at Eastern. The Eastern boys won the season's only meeting between city rivals while the girls split their two matchups.
Records: Eastern boys 7-7 (4-1 division), Central boys 7-8 (3-2); Eastern girls 7-10 (6-0 division), Central girls 5-11 (2-4)

When it came to track and field, it was another sweep for Central. The Ram boys won by a score of 135-14, and the girls took their side of the meet 103-46.
Dathan Hickey took first in the 100-meter dash (11.1 seconds) and long jump (21 feet, 8 1/4 inches), and he tied with Hunter Peterson for first in the high jump at 5-8. Peterson also won the triple jump at 40-2.25. Elijah Ortiz swept hurdles with times of 16.3 in the 110 and 41.8 in the 300. Central swept the relays, and it also picked up individual wins from Nigel West in the 200 (22.9), Mark Petrosky in the 800 (2:03, personal record), Devin Flores in the 1600 (4:51.7), Nate DeAngelo in the 3200 (10:39.3), Gabe Updegraff in the shot put (43-1), Mike Guzman in the discus (76-1, PR), Jakob Salinas in the javelin (138-11) and Diego Naranjo in the long jump (17-4.5, PR).
Eastern picked up individual wins from Joe Hardin in the 400 (51.7, PR) and Zach Martin in the pole vault (9-6, PR).
Records: Central boys 5-1, Eastern boys 1-3

In girls track, Central's Christine Attle won the 100 hurdles (19.1) and pole vault (6-6), and she set personal records in both events. Shy-Ann Whitten was first in the high jump (5-0) and triple jump (35-5, PR). The Rams swept the relays, and they also got individual wins from Salvatrice Bosco in the 1600 (5:56), Ashleigh Clark in the 300 hurldes (52.9, PR), Kaiya Alexander in the shot put (33-9.5), Deseare Johnson in the javelin (80-5) and Abigail Calfe in the long jump (14-8.5).
Eastern was very successful in sprints and middle distance. Kailey Laprise put up a school-record time of 1:00.5 with her win in the 400. Alyssa Lavoie won both the 100 (13.01, PR) and 200 (28.1). Avery Braccia set personal records in first place finishes in the 800 (2:30.4) and the 3200 (12.52). Emma Rodjenski captured the top spot in the discus at 75-8.
Record: Central girls 5-1 

In golf, Central (9-1) has won nine straight since losing its season opener to Middletown. One of those nine victories was a 191-217 tally against Bristol Eastern on May 1 at Chippanee Country Club. The teams join St. Paul at the City Championship match on May 29 at Pequabuck.

Monday, May 21, 2018

ADULT BASEBALL: Locals hit the diamonds in three different leagues

The Connecticut Tri-State Baseball League began another season on Sunday, and locals were right in the middle of wins by three different teams.
The Wolcott Scrappers knocked off the Tribury Twisters 5-1 behind the pitching of Justin Koutros, who threw the first six innings and struck out 12. Offensively, Wolcott was led by Mike Vaccarelli (3 hits, RBI) and Matt Warren (2 hits, RBI). Koutros helped himself with an RBI single.
The Bristol Greeners needed 10 innings, but were able to dispatch the Valley Thunder 6-3. Jaeden Rasmus and Kyle Torok had bit hits in the 10th, and Bristol was also helped out via a passed ball. Rasmus led the Greeners with four hits while Torok added two. Brad Burney pitched the ninth and 10th innings and picked up the win in relief. Valley's Shane Fusco had two hits and Ryan Ahern pitched the first nine innings. Tyler Pelletier came on to pitch the 10th and took the loss.
Blasius Chevrolet was downed 3-0 by the Terryville Black Sox, who got an impressive start from former Waterbury scholastic standout Kody Kerski (7 innings, 1 hit, 10 strikeouts). Terryville also has Ken Kerski, a formidable left-handed pitcher from Waterbury. Add in players from the disbanded Watertown Blaze, and the Black Sox could be a major contender this season.

The Connecticut Twilight League began play earlier this month, and the Bristol Knights hope to get back to their title-winning ways.
Nick Dzioba was the winning pitcher in a 16-1 romp of the Singing Surgeons, an expansion team, on May 11 at Bristol Eastern. That game was the season opener for the Knights.
Bristol veteran Rick Barrett's fingerprints were all over a 3-2 win over the Wethersfield Dodgers at Muzzy Field last Thursday. Barrett pitched a complete game on the mound and went 3-for-3 with two RBI at the plate.

The Greater Hartford Twilight Baseball League starts play on May 29. Rosters on the GHTBL website have a few locals, all former Bristol Eastern players. They are Mike Nocera of the East Hartford Jets, Eric Therrien of the Middletown Outlaws, and Nick Plachno of People's United Bank. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Lawton plays on NJCAA softball's biggest stage

Lawton (FSW athletics)
It was definitely not the ending the top-seeded Florida SouthWestern State College softball team was looking for.
The same can be said for former Holy Cross star and FSW freshman Sarah Lawton, given her competitive spirit. The Bucs saw their season come to an end on Friday with back-to-back losses in the NJCAA Division I Softball Championship in St. George, Utah. FSW lost 4-2 to Butler, then was downed 3-0 by Chipola in an elimination game.
Lawton pitched in relief in both games for the Bucs. She threw 1 1/3 innings against Butler and gave up a run on two hits and one walk. Lawton threw 21 of her 30 pitches for strikes in that outing.
Lawton pitched for 2 2/3 innings in the game against Chipola. She gave up a run on three hits, struck out four and walked one. Lawton threw 37 of her 49 pitches for strikes.
FSW concluded an incredible season with a record of 53-5. Lawton made 25 appearances in her freshman season and posted a 7-1 record with a team-low 1.13 ERA, one save and four complete games (seven starts). She struck out 93 and walked 31 (3:1 ratio) in 74 2/3 innings.

Chiovitti (UCAP athletics)
Mike Chiovitti, UConn-Avery Point baseball
The Pointers have to wait until tomorrow to play their East District Tournament games because of rain.
The games are at 10 a.m. against Westchester Community College and 4 p.m. against Monroe C.C. Both games are at Groton's Washington Park, the home of UCAP baseball.
The Pointers are in the district tournament after winning the Region XXI Division II Championship, and the former Holy Cross standout Chiovitti was in the middle of the action.
Chiovitti, a sophomore at UCAP, was named All-Region XXI team for his efforts. 
All Chiovitti has done in 39 games is lead UCAP (29-10) in batting average (.386), at bats (132), on-base percentage (.494), slugging (.742), hits (51), runs (50), doubles (13), home runs (10), walks (tied with 30), total bases (98) and stolen bases (tied with 6). Chiovitti has also handled 67 chances in the outfield without an error.

Kyle Bonicki, Clark University baseball
Bonicki (Clark athletics)

The graduate student and former Chase Collegiate standout was named to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference First Team for the third time for his efforts this season.
Bonicki was second in the NEWMAC in batting average at .392. He also led Clark in on-base percentage (.475), hits (58), runs (43), total bases (82), triples (5), walks (25), sacrifice hits (3) and stolen bases (11). Bonicki was second in doubles (11) and extra-base hits (17), plus third in slugging percentage (.554).
Bonicki wasn't the only local Clark player to earn postseason NEWMAC recognition.

Joshua Dobratz, Clark University baseball
Dobratz (Clark athletics)
On the field, the former St. Paul first baseman and pitcher made eight appearances, recorded a 2.87 ERA and picked up two saves.
Dobratz, a senior, was recognized for who he is as a student-athlete. He was named to the Academic All-Conference Team, which requires a student-athlete to maintain minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale or 4.35 on a 5.0 scale. Dobratz majored in Biology.
Dobratz was also recognized for how he carried himself on the field. He was chosen for the All-Sportsmanship Team.

Vallee (Bay Path athletics)
Lauren Vallee, Bay Path University softball
The Wildcats saw their season end with a pair of losses in the NCAA's Ithaca (N.Y.) Regional, but what a run it was for the team and for the senior two-sport standout Vallee.
Bay Path won the New England Collegiate Conference tournament by winning four straight games after falling into the loser's bracket. The tournament title was the first for the Wildcats, and it gave them a berth in the NCAA Division III Softball Tournament. Vallee was an NECC All-Tournament selection.
Vallee ended her Bay Path career with two hits, including a double, and a run scored in a 12-1 loss to Ramapo in an elimination game.
Vallee was a tremendous student-athlete while at Bay Path. She owns nearly every hitting record for the Wildcats, and she was also an Academic All-American for four years. Vallee majored in Forensic Science.

Statistics and information compiled from the team website of each athlete.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Holy Cross baseball overcomes three-run deficit in seventh inning, stuns St. Paul

Holy Cross' Brian Parzyck (33) and Corey Fappiano (4) react to Fran Phelan Jr's two-run
double in the bottom of the seventh inning on Friday. The Crusaders went on to stun
the Falcons by a score of 4-3. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Holy Cross baseball could have just packed it in against St. Paul on Friday.
The Crusaders already had the top NVL tournament seed wrapped up, along with a good ranking in Class S. Holy Cross was also banged up, with several starters out due to injuries or illness. And for the first six innings on Friday, the Crusader offense was being shut out by Falcon starting pitcher Ethan Rembish. Holy Cross had its chances for sure, but Rembish found a way out every time.
The bottom of the seventh started with a strikeout by Rembish. The Crusaders were down to their final two outs, and trailing 3-0. Then Holy Cross started to string together a rally, and this time the rally bore fruit. When it was over, the Crusaders had claimed a stunning 4-3 walk-off victory on Austin Brown's infield single with the bases loaded. Holy Cross finished the regular season at 18-2 and dropped St. Paul to 15-5.
From down and out to a celebration. How did it happen?
It started with back-to-back one-out singles by John Greene and Will Greene. Fran Phelan Jr. was up next, and he grounded an 0-1 pitch down the third base line. The ball went over the bag, just inside the line, into left field. Both Greenes scored, Phelan was on second with a double, and Holy Cross suddenly trailed by just a run at 3-2.
Connor Goggin, who threw a scoreless seventh in relief of Brown and Zach Lerner, was intentionally walked. St. Paul's intent was to set up a double play, but that idea was gone with a wild pitch. Brian Parzyck hit a grounder up the middle that found its way to the edge of the infield dirt. Phelan hustled home with the tying run, and Goggin stopped at third.
The Falcons walked Corey Fappiano to load the bases and set up a force at any base. Brown was the next batter, and he hit a grounder deep in the hole between short and third. St. Paul shortstop Julian Thayer went after the ball but had no play. Goggin scored and Holy Cross had pulled off the incredible comeback win.
Brown went from struggling on the mound as a starter to finishing the game off with a big hit. It was quite the turnaround, and one that him and his teammates celebrated.
For St. Paul, it was a tough loss to swallow. The Falcons had built a lead and used Rembish and their defense to stay ahead. St. Paul took advantage of Holy Cross errors and walks to build a 2-0 lead. The first run scored on an error, the second on a groundball that followed three walks. Ryan Greene added an insurance run in the top of the seventh with an RBI single.
Rembish had allowed four hits through six innings. He had worked around those hits, plus four walks, and struck out six. Rembish picked up his seventh strikeout to start the seventh, but Holy Cross got its offense going and knocked him out. Julian Thayer came on after the Phelan double, but couldn't slow the Crusaders down.
Both teams are scheduled to begin play in the NVL Tournament next Tuesday.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Friday's game.

GIRLS TENNIS: Sacred Heart downs St. Paul in NVL semifinal; Wolcott ousted

Katie Uszakiewicz and Katie Brown helped Sacred Heart sweep doubles in Thursday's NVL
girls tennis semifinal against St. Paul at Fulton Park. The Hearts won 5-2. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

Thursday's Sacred Heart-St. Paul NVL girls tennis tournament semifinal came down to doubles, and the Hearts won out at Fulton Park.
Sacred Heart swept doubles, won the match 5-2, and moved on to the NVL final, where it will meet Naugatuck at a site, time and place to be announced. The Greyhounds took out Wolcott 5-2 in the other semifinal.
The doubles teams were sent onto the courts in the order of numbers 3, 2 and 1. Sacred Heart's No. 3 team of Hannah Dombrowski and Najma Braddock defeated St. Paul's Alexia Carabetta and Tessa Rogers 8-6. At No. 2, doubles, Katie Uszakiewicz and Katie Brown beat Lizzie Etter and Grace Carabetta 8-5. In the No. 1 doubles match, it was Alexa Gallino and Nhi Nguyen by a score of 8-4 over Orenda Huang and Caroline Badal.
In singles, St. Paul's Victoria Kilbourne had to battle through some tough games against Colleen Flanagan, but prevailed 8-3 at No. 1. The Falcons also took No. 2 singles with Kaite Pauloz's tough 8-6 win over Nellie Drewry. 
Sacred Heart picked up a singles win at No. 3 with Ava Longo's 8-4 tally against Ximena Varela-Marin. At No. 4, Siobhan Gilmore of the Hearts defeated Carina Fiscella 8-1.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Thursday's NVL semifinal.

Wolcott knocked out of NVLs
The Eagles had to play a doubleheader on Thursday at Woodland Regional High School. Wolcott took down the host Hawks in the first matchup, but fell 5-2 to top-seeded Naugatuck in the second half of the double dip. Beacon Falls was hit hard by a tornado on Tuesday, so the Wolcott-Woodland match had to be postponed.
Edona Bytyqi won No. 1 singles for the Eagles by a score of 8-3 and Bella Piacentini took No. 4 singles by a tally of 8-4.

TRACK AND FIELD: French keeps on winning for Hearts; Williams makes his return

Sacred Heart junior Jenna French won the 800 and 1600-meter races during Thursday's meet
against Watertown and Naugatuck in Naugatuck. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
The Sacred Heart boys track and field team has had a very strong season, even with Thursday's loss to Naugatuck.
That's all well and good, but head coach Tom Festa thinks that his girls team has been overshadowed by the boys, especially junior Jenna French.
All French did during Thursday's meet at Naugatuck High School, which also included Watertown, was win two more events. French, who excels in distance races, took the top spot in the 800 meters (2:26) and 1600 meters (5:24). French looked good in the 1600-meter race, where she beat out fellow distance standout Bethany Ottowitz of Watertown.
What French did on Thursday was nothing unusual for Sacred Heart. She has a had a terrific season, according to Festa.

  • Senior Michele Vasiliou picked up a win in shot put with a toss of 29 feet, 10 inches.
  • The Hearts are 7-7 on the season after a win over Watertown and a loss to Naugatuck.

Williams makes his return
Junior EJ Williams made his return on Thursday, and the Hearts are happy to have him back.
Festa made sure Williams took it easy, though. Williams only ran sprints -- no hurdles -- as he comes back from an ankle injury that has cost him several weeks of his season. Festa said he would see how Williams felt after his races to make sure everything was going smoothly. Williams won the 100-meter dash in 10.9 seconds on Thursday.
Williams is a champion hurdler for Sacred Heart, and the Hearts would love to have him healthy. There is potential for a lot of individual points in the upcoming NVL meet if Williams continues to get better.
Sacred Heart senior Jonny Warren (second from left) won the 1600
and 3200-meter events on Thursday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)

  • Senior Mechai Hayes continued his impressive season with wins in the 200 (22.2) and 400 meters (51.5).
  • Senior Jonny Warren also continued to shine Thursday with victories in the 1600 (4:38) and 3200 meters (10:39).
  • The 4x400-meter relay of senior Noah Francisco, junior Mike DiGiovancarlo, senior Andre Anderson and senior Hayes won again on Thursday, this time in 3:33.7.
  • The Hearts are 11-3 after a win against Watertown and a loss to Naugatuck.

GALLERY: Here are my photos from Thursday's meet.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

NJCAA NATIONAL TOURNAMENT: Lawton gets chance to pitch in first FSW game

Lawton (FSW athletics)
Top-seeded Florida SouthWestern State College opened the NJCAA Division I Softball National Championship with a 5-1 win over No. 16 South Georgia State on Wednesday at the Canyons Complex in St. George, Utah.
Former Holy Cross star Sarah Lawton got a chance to pitch in her first national tournament game, and she had to have had some butterflies in her stomach while in the circle. Lawton came on in the sixth inning and gave up a two-out double before getting a grounder to short to end the frame.
In the seventh, Lawton picked up two outs, but gave up a run on two hits and walked a pair of batters. Starter Kelsi Collins reentered the game and picked up the final out with the bases loaded.
Lawton pitched an inning total and threw 37 pitches, 22 for strikes. It may have been a little shaky, but it was also the first time the freshman has pitched in a game of such magnitude in with the Bucs.
FSW (52-3) is in the winner's bracket and will play No. 8 Seminole State of Oklahoma (47-5) today at 4:30 p.m. The FSW softball website has links to Facebook live and live stats from the game, so check those out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

NVL SOFTBALL: St. Paul wins 17th straight; Holy Cross tops Sacred Heart

Abby Poirot (44) and Katelynn Oullette (51) each drove in a run,
and Poirot was the winning pitcher for St. Paul on Monday.
The Falcons have won 17 straight games.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2018 file)
St. Paul scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning to grab the lead and held on for a 3-2 win over Oxford on Monday on the road.
The Falcons (17-1) picked up their 17th straight win, and they also claimed a second one-run win over the Wolverines (13-6).
Abby Poirot gave up two runs on three hits, struck out 10 and walked three in a complete-game effort. She also had a hit and an RBI for St. Paul.
Lindsey O'Bright was the leading hitter for the Falcons. She was 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Katelynn Oullette had a hit and drove in the other run.
St. Paul is at Farmington on Wednesday and Seymour on Thursday to close the regular season.

Holy Cross 5, Sacred Heart 1: Nicole Strielkauskas tossed a complete game and struck out 10 for the Crusaders, who beat the Hearts for the second time this season.
Val Nobrega had three hits, including a double, and scored a run for Holy Cross (14-5). Jenna Mowad tripled, singled and drove in a run, and Brandi McIntosh had two doubles and a single. Carley DeFoe had two singles, an RBI and a run scored.
Erin Keeley had two singles and the lone RBI for Sacred Heart (12-6). Lauren Kiluk scored the lone run for the Hearts.

NOTE: As of today, St. Paul and Seymour are tied for the league's best record (16-1) and the top seed in the NVL Tournament. Wolcott and Holy Cross, both 13-4, are third in fourth in the overall NVL standings, and Sacred Heart (11-6) is seventh.

WCA 17, Wilby 1 (5): The Spartan offense erupted at Huntingdon Park, and it led to a crucial eighth win and a state tournament berth.
In softball, teams must win 40 percent of the games they play, and WCA (8-10) made that happen on Monday. It's the third season in three tries at the varsity level that the Spartans have qualified for postseason play.
Shyra Fisher finished a single short of the cycle and drove in five runs. Megan Romaniello singled three times, drove in four runs and scored three more. Cheyenne Whidbee had three hits, two RBI and two runs scored, and Leila Lazaro doubled, singled, drove in two runs and scored two more. Ariana Torres had two hits and two RBI, and Michalyn Vaichus added two hits, three runs scored and an RBI.

Wolcott 5, Watertown 4: The Eagles, fresh off of clinching the NVL Iron Division title, completed their season sweep of the Indians.
Wolcott snapped a 2-2 tie and scored three times in the top of the sixth inning, all on the same play. Madison Rotella singled to right field with the bases loaded, which scored Hailey Krol. An error by the Watertown fielder allowed Jayda Cavanaugh and Marissa Morales to score on the same play.
The Indians scored twice in the bottom frame to make the score 5-4, but Eagle pitcher Nicole Antonowicz got a grounder back to herself to preserve the lead. In the seventh, Antonowicz stranded a runner on second by getting a flyout to Sarah Hughes in center field to end the game.

Fran Phelan Jr. just keeps on winning for Holy Cross baseball

Fran Phelan Jr. has won 20 straight games for Holy Cross. He improved to 5-0 in the 2018
season with a 4-0 victory over Sacred Heart on Monday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69, 2017 file)
For his last 20 games, it hasn't mattered when or where Fran Phelan Jr. has pitched for Holy Cross baseball.
All the senior ace has done is win for the Crusaders.
Phelan won his 20th straight game with a dominant complete-game performance in a 4-0 victory over Sacred Heart on Monday night under the lights of Municipal Stadium. Phelan allowed a pair of singles to the Hearts, one by Justin Stephens in the second inning and the other from Hector Alejandro in the seventh.
That's it. Other than those two hits and a Holy Cross error in the field, Phelan was Phelan. He threw 93 pitches, 70 of which went for strikes. Twenty-four batters stepped to the plate against the right-hander, and 17 saw a first-pitch strike. Phelan struck out 13, walked none and hit none.
Phelan's effort overshadowed a good performance from Alejandro, who kept Holy Cross scoreless in the first four innings. In the top of the fifth, the Crusaders scratched across a run. Justin Alamo got on base leading off, then stole second base. Alamo got to third on a grounder off the bat of John Greene, then scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Will Greene.
Holy Cross picked up two more runs in the sixth. Corey Fappiano walked with one out, then Austin Brown reached on an error. An Alamo walk loaded the bases, and Fappiano scored on a sacrifice fly from John Green. Will Greene followed with an RBI single to bring in Brown and increase the Crusader lead to 3-0.
Brian Parzcyk's RBI single in the seventh scored Tim Zupkus with the final run. Zupkus reached first on a dropped third strike leading off the inning.
Holy Cross improved to 16-2 and moved closer to the top seed in the NVL Tournament. Sacred Heart dropped to 11-8. Alejandro took the loss for the Hearts. He pitched the first 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on three hits. He struck out nine and walked four.

Iron is again kind to Wolcott baseball

Jack Drewry pitched six innings of three-run ball, and he had a homer
and a two-run single at the plate to help Wolcott clinch the NVL Iron
Division title on Monday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
For the second time in three seasons, Wolcott baseball has won the NVL Iron Division title.
The Eagles made it official with a tight 4-3 win over chief Iron rival Watertown on Monday afternoon in front of a nice crowd at Wolcott High School. Wolcott exacted a bit of revenge on the Indians, who won 11-10 in Watertown on April 28 on a Dan Graziano walk-off, two-run homer.
The Indians used another long ball, this time a two-out, two-run shot off the bat of Robert Johnston, to pull to within 4-3 of the Eagles in the top of the fifth inning.
Wolcott shortstop Ethan Gillotti shadows Watertown's Justin Guerrera
during Monday's game. The Eagles won 4-3. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
From there, Wolcott held on behind the pitching of starter Jack Drewry and ace reliever Dane Hassan. Drewry retired the last four batters he faced, then the ball was handed to Hassan. Hassan faced a pair of 3-1 counts in the seventh. On the first 3-1 count, Hassan got Graziano to fly out to Tom Marciano in right for the first out.
The second 3-1 count came with two outs against the ultra-dangerous Justin Guerrera. In two games last week, Guerrera hit for the cycle then nearly did it again the next day, coming up a single short. 
Guerrera took a 3-0 strike to make the count 3-1, then got under a Hassan pitch and hit a fly ball to right. Marciano squeezed it for the final out, and Wolcott had its NVL Iron Division crown. The Eagles improved to 15-3 (7-1 NVL Iron).
Drewry has been good on the mound and at the plate, and he got Wolcott on the board Monday with a solo homer to right field for a 1-0 lead. In the third, Drewry was at it again, this time with a two-run single to plate Hassan and Nick Trager, who had singled and doubled respectively with one out. Drewry's hit made the score 3-0 Eagles. Drewry scored on an interference call to make the score 4-0.
The NVL Iron Division champions. (Photo credit; Anita Bandeira Warren)
Watertown got a run back in the top of the fourth on Larry Zapata's RBI single. In the fifth, Guerrera lined a single to center with one out, then Johnston hit a towering two-run homer on an 0-1 pitch to get the Indians to within 4-3.
If Wolcott was extra tense in the final two innings, it may have been because of bad memories of what happened on April 28. Watertown trailed 8-3 entering the bottom of the fourth inning, but rallied and won on Graziano's home run. 
This time, there would be no Indian comeback. Drewry finished strong, then the ball went to Hassan, and the Eagles collected another win. It's been a good formula on the mound for Wolcott, and it helped the Eagles clinch the NVL Iron title.
Wolcott celebrated its seniors and the division crown with a pizza party following the game. One goal down, but the Eagles are hoping to be far from done.

GALLERY: My photos from Monday's game.

Bristol Central bats lead the way in runaway win over Plainville

Bristol Central's Austin Brown went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI in a 9-1 win
over Plainville on Monday at Muzzy Field. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
Bristol Central baseball is fighting for its state tournament life in the final games of the 2018 regular season.
It has been a trying year full of injuries and illness, but the Rams moved closer to state qualification after a 9-1 win over Plainville on Monday at Muzzy Field. Central improved to 7-9 with the victory and sits at No. 31 in the Class L state rankings.
Jake Santiago also went 3-for-4 for the Rams on Monday. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
A team needs to win 40 percent of its games for automatic qualification, but there's a caveat. If 32 teams -- a full bracket -- don't win 40 percent of their games, the bracket will be filled until there are 32 teams. There are several teams that can still reach 40 percent in Class, Central included, but the Rams would love to not only qualify for the tournament, but avoid a dreaded play-in game.
On Monday, Central rode its offense to a big win. 
Austin Brown had a great day, going 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Jake Santiago, who was one of the injured players for Central, was also 3-for-4. Big first baseman Ryan Rodriguez went 2-for-3, including a two-run double the other way down the left field line to put the Rams ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning. Noah Plantamuro provided a pair of sacrifice flies, a single, a walk and two RBI.
Steve Warkoski pitched the first six innings and gave up a single run on his way to the win. Alex Balfour closed out with a scoreless seventh.
Central plays Avon at Muzzy on Wednesday, followed by three straight road games to close the regular season. The Rams are at Platt Thursday, then they are the visiting team in next Monday's game at Muzzy against Eastern. The regular season is slated to end with a road game against Avon on May 23.

GALLERY: My photos from Monday's game.

Friday, May 11, 2018

GIRLS TENNIS: Sacred Heart falls to Naugatuck in battle of last NVL unbeatens

It was the ultimate regular season battle of NVL unbeatens in girls tennis on Thursday afternoon at Naugatuck High School.
Sacred Heart, 15-0, took on 14-0 Naugatuck, in a matchup of the last two undefeated teams in the league. It was a hard-fought match by both sides, but the Greyhounds prevailed over the Hearts by a final count of 4-3. Sacred Heart finished the regular season at 15-1 while Naugatuck ended at 15-0.
Colleen Flanagan (8-6) and Ava Longo (8-3) picked up wins at No. 1 and 3 singles for the Hearts. The No. 1 doubles team of Alexa Gallino and Nhi Nguyen claimed an 8-1 win.
Three of the four Greyhound wins were absolute nail-biters. In singles, Naugatuck No. 2 Patricia Escaleira knocked off Nellie Drewry 9-7. It took Greyhound No. 4 Kelly Redmond a tiebreaker to defeat Hearts No. 4 Siobhan Gilmore, 9-8 (7-3).
The craziest match of them all came at No. 2 doubles. Naugatuck's Brielle Behuniak and Hailey Russell needed a tiebreaker to outlast Sacred Heart's Katie Brown and Katie Uszakiewicz by a score of 9-8 (10-8).
The Greyhound No. 3 doubles team of Cristina Rego and Natalie Paradise scored an 8-4 win over the Heart tandem of Hannah Dombroski and Najma Braddock. 
It was a matchup befitting the league's last undefeated teams. They could see each other again in next week's NVL team tournament.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

HIGH 5 OF THE WEEK: Lawton finishes off Florida SouthWestern's state title win

Lawton (Fla. SW athletics)
Former Holy Cross star pitcher Sarah Lawton was used to starting, and finishing, games during her fantastic career in Waterbury.
Last Saturday, Lawton was called upon to finish off Florida SouthWestern State College's biggest game to date. Lawton more often than not finished what she started for the Crusaders, and she did the same for the top-seeded Buccaneers in the FCSAA/Region 8 State Tournament championship game against No. 2 Chipola.
Lawton struck out two and walked one over 2 1/3 innings for the save in a 2-1 Florida SouthWestern victory. She got the final out in fitting fashion, on a strikeout, and the Bucs celebrated their second straight state championship. The win clinched a third straight berth in the NJCAA National Tournament, to be hold May 16-19 in St. George, Utah.
Lawton came on with two on and two outs in the top of the fifth inning of last Saturday's game. Florida SouthWestern led 2-1, and Lawton kept it that way with a grounder to shortstop.
In the sixth, Lawton got three straight flyouts after a leadoff walk. Lawton closed the game in the seventh with a foul pop and a pair of strikeouts.
Florida SouthWestern is 51-3 entering the national tournament. The Bucs have won a ridiculous 43 of their last 44 games and 13 straight.
To date, Lawton has appeared in 22 games and posted a 7-1 record with one save, four complete games and a 0.90 ERA. She has 89 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings.

Matt Warren, Albertus Magnus College baseball
Warren (Albertus Magnus athletics)
The former Wolcott standout was recognized by the Great Northeast Athletic Conference for his efforts on offense and defense on Tuesday.
Warren, a sophomore, was named to the All-GNAC First Team, and he won a Gold Glove for his stellar performance at third base. On offense, Warren led the GNAC in triples (6), home runs (6), sacrifice flies (5) and slugging percentage (.719). He tied for the team lead in hits at 32 with junior Tyriq Harris -- more on him later on -- and he hit .360. Warren drove in 40 runs and scored 19. He ranked in the Top 20 in the NCAA with his six triples.
On defense, Warren handled 86 total chances and made just three errors for a .965 fielding percentage. He had 28 putouts, 55 assists and helped turn a pair of double plays.
Warren was named team MVP at Albertus' year-end sports banquet.

Harris (Albertus Magnus athletics)
Tyriq Harris, Albertus Magnus College baseball
The former Wilby star was named Second Team All-GNAC for his performance at the top of the Falcon lineup.
Harris had a team-leading 14 stolen bases, and he tied with Warren for the top spot in hits with 32. Harris had a strong .372 batting average, scored 24 runs and drove in a career-high 14 more. He compiled a .465 on-base percentage for Albertus.
In the field, Harris made a single error in 49 total chances. He had 46 putouts and two assists.

Vallee (Bay Path athletics)
Lauren Vallee, Bay Path University softball
Vallee was a clutch player at Bristol Central, and she continued that effort with the Wildcats when it counted most as a senior.
Bay Path, the No. 3 seed, had to battle out of the loser's bracket of the New England Collegiate Conference Tournament, but they reached the championship round. The Wildcats swept second-seeded Becker College by scores of 2-1 (8 innings) and 3-2 on Tuesday at Regis College in Weston, Mass., to claim the title and a friste-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Vallee was named to the All-Tournament team, and she turned in a big effort on the final day. She was 3-for-6 with a double and two runs scored in the two games.
Vallee has been a tremendous student-athlete, earning Academic All-America honors while at Bay Path. On the field, Vallee gets a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament in her final season. The fourth-seeded Wildcats play top-seeded Ithaca College on May 11 in the Ithaca Region of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Vallee has had a a tremendous season to date and leads Bay Path in average (.504), hits (71), home runs (5), triples (7), doubles (18), runs scored (50), RBI (38), stolen bases (14), on-base percentage (.547) and slugging percentage (.837).

Add caption
Jake Kawiecki, Western New England University baseball
The Burlington native and former St. Paul standout earned Third Team All-Commonwealth Coast Conference in his final season with the Golden Bears.
All the right-hander did was go 5-0 with a 4.17 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 41 innings in the regular season. WNEU will play for the CCC Tournament title in a series on May 11 and 12, and Kawiecki has a chance to be right in the middle of it.
Kawiecki got a chance to pitch earlier in the CCC Tournament, and he turned in a great effort in a 10-2 win over Gordon College. He pitched eight innings, gave up two runs on five hits, struck out eight and walked three.
To date, Kawiecki is 6-0 in 10 appearances (9 starts) with a 3.86 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 49 innings.

Statistics and information compiled from the team website of each athlete.

Wolcott baseball beats St. Paul in matchup of two of NVL's best

Wolcott's Nick Longo gets down a sacrifice bunt in front of St. Paul catcher Chris Mills
during Monday's game in Bristol. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
You really can't get a better matchup in the regular season than the one that was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at St. Paul Catholic High School.
The 14-2 Falcons hosted the 12-3 Wolcott Eagles in a game that pitted two of the NVL's best baseball teams against each other. Each won a state championship in 2016, and they would both love to make some noise in the 2018 postseason as well.
St. Paul shortstop Ethan Rembish chases after Wolcott's Anthony Ligi
during a rundown in Monday's game. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
The game featured Wolcott's Jack Drewry and St. Paul's Julian Thayer on the mound. Offensive would be at a premium, and the Eagles gave Drewry and reliever Dane Hassan enough for a 3-0 win over Thayer, Joe Persechino and the Falcons. Wolcott improved to 13-3 while St. Paul fell to 14-3.
Drewry gave up seven hits in six innings of work and compiled three strikeouts. Hassan allowed a hit in the seventh, but got around it and picked up a save. Drewry and Hassan relied on a strong defense that made nearly all the plays. St. Paul had its chances but couldn't get the big hit. The Falcons left nine men on base in a four-inning stretch from the third through the sixth.
Drewry provided run support for himself in the top of the first inning. Hassan led off with a walk, stole second base, then was sacrificed to third by Nick Trager. Drewry grounded out, but Hassan scored and Wolcott had a 1-0 lead. Trey Nastri singled, Nick Longo reached on an error, and Ethan Gillotti singled to drive home Nastri and make the score 2-0.
Wolcott starter Jack Drewry follows through on a pitch.
(Copyright, Sports on CT-69)
The Eagles added the third and final run of the game in the third inning, and again scored without a hit. Drewry led off with a walk and Nastri was hit by a pitch. A great bunt by Longo moved the runners up, then Drewry scored on a wild pitch for a 3-0 lead. Wolcott wound up with six hits in the game, led by two from Hassan. Nastri, Gillotti, Anthony Ligi and Tino Ciarlo had one hit each. Hassan doubled twice and Ciarlo added a two-bagger.
St. Paul had two runners on in the third inning. Sean Crean led off with a single, then Josh Cofrancesco reached on an error with two outs. A fielder's choice from Gillotti at shortstop to Nastri at third ended the inning.
In the fourth, the Falcons loaded the bases on singles by Ryan Greene and Ryan Parent and a two-out walk to Crean. A flyout to Hassan in right field closed out the inning.
Cofrancesco, as he has done many times this season, started a potential rally in the fifth with a single. Thayer singled with two outs, but a grounder to Gillotti ended the threat.
The sixth looked really promising for St. Paul when Parent and Chris Mills started the frame with back-to-back singles. Trager made a nice, backpedaling catch on a soft liner to second base for the first out, then two flyouts to Ligi in left field closed out the inning.
Cofrancesco greeted Hassan with a single to start the seventh, but the left-hander got three straight flyouts to end the game.
These teams could see each other again soon in the NVL Tournament.

GALLERY: My photos from Monday's game.