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2013 High school softball preview

Published April 01. 2013 4:00AM
Tim Cook/The Day
Fitch's Alana Luzzio (13) returns for her senior season and looks to help the Falcons unseat Waterford as Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division champions.

ECC Large

EAST LYME

Coach: Judy Deeb (42nd season).

Key returnees: Sr. SS Madison Horner, Sr. C Sidney Swanson, Sr. OF Nicole Lee, Jr. OF Kirsten McGinty, Jr. OF Morgan Lloyd, Jr. 3B Samantha Horner, Jr. P Erica Hill, Jr. IF Shae Crosby, Jr. 1B/C Sarah Bond.

Top newcomers: Jr. P Meghan Welch, Jr. C/utility Hannah Burke, Jr. IF Hannah Erb, Jr. OF Brooke Soderberg, Fr. IF/OF Kaylie Crosby.

Outlook: The Vikings have a veteran team, anchored by Madison Horner (.372, 20 RBI), who is in her fourth year as a starter at short. Horner, a two-time All-ECC pick, already had a torrid start to her senior year, receiving Class L all-state honors for the girls' soccer team as it remained unbeaten all the way to the state semifinals. East Lyme had several quality wins last season, including those over Fitch and Stonington, and looks to improve on its 11-10 record.

FITCH

Coach: Kate Prpich (5th season).

Key returnees: Sr. P Alana Luzzio, Sr. OF Alesha Mancini, Sr. C Holly Noe, Sr. OF Joscelyn Amar, So. IF Jackie Lewis.

Top newcomers: So. OF Katie Grant, So. OF Haley Flax, So. IF Sophie Clark, So. OF Lauren Szczesny, So. IF Katherine Georgetti, Fr. IF Caroline Taber, Fr. IF Mackenzie Aldridge, Fr. IF Olivia Knotts, Fr. OF Nalissa Amar.

Outlook: Fitch returns its battery of pitcher Luzzio (.531 batting average, 35 runs scored) and Noe from a team which went 19-5 (three losses to Waterford) with berths in the ECC tournament semifinals and Class LL state quarterfinals. The Falcons have several talented newcomers, including a few members of Mystic's state championship Junior League team, ready to round out the infield as they vie for the Large Division title.

NFA

Coach: Bryan Burdick (5th season).

Key returnees: Sr. P Sam DeVito, Sr. utility Beth Stone, Jr. C Emily DeVito, Jr. SS Brianne Brennan, Jr. 1B/P Melissa Castillo, Jr. OF/2B Samantha Chinigo, So. 3B Emily Arico, So. OF Caitlyn Dubreuil.

Top newcomers: Jr. utility/P Kaitlyn Kelly, Jr. OF/1B Abii Laboy, So. P Megan Weir, So. OF Shaina Beatrice, Fr. C/1B Alexa DeVito.

Outlook: The Wildcats lost all-state centerfielder Ally Blanchette to graduation, but return a solid core as they try to rebound from a 9-13 season in which they struggled to qualify for the Class LL state tournament. Emily DeVito was an honorable mention All-ECC pick at catcher. Burdick said the team's strong points are a mix of experience, talent and enthusiasm.

WATERFORD

Coach: Liz Sutman (12th season).

Key returnees: Sr. P/3B Megan Spellman, Sr. CF Talia Rickerson, Sr. 2B Katelyn Haff, Sr. OF/1B Jaime Dahl, Sr. 1B Courtney Borysewicz, Sr. OF/utility Julia Zawacki, Jr. C Elaina Sullivan, Jr. OF/utility Megan Elphick, Jr. 2B/utility Hannah Swanson.

Top newcomers: Jr. OF/utility Sage Caristo-Mobley, So. C/utility Sarah Pacheco, So. SS Jodi Weiss, So. P/utility Tori VanCleave, Fr. 3B/SS Sara Buscetto, Fr. P/utility Kazi Walker, Fr. OF/utility Claire Hurley, Fr. OF/utility Shea Spellman.

Outlook: The loss of Class M all-state picks Kelli Connors (P, Gatorade Connecticut Player of the Year) and Alyssa Hancock (SS) leave question marks for Waterford, yet the Lancers still return a veteran lineup. Haff (.477 batting average, 33 RBI) and Sullivan (.365, 25 RBI) were All-Area selections last season and will be joined by Megan Spellman, Rickerson and Dahl in solidifying the defense, even though the Lancers will have a few new faces in the lineup. Waterford was 24-2, winning the ECC Large Division, ECC tournament and reaching the Class M semifinals before falling to Granby.

ECC Medium

LEDYARD

Coach: Ray O'Donnell (11th season).

Key returnees: Sr. 1B Kathrine Welles, Sr. 3B Lindsey Reinhart, Sr. C Tyler Gernhard, Sr. P Jessica Monday, Sr. OF Cassidy Powell, Jr. 2B Hannah Lawrence, Jr. SS Savannah Johnson, Jr. OF Fran Francischelli.

Top newcomers: So. OF Sara Bennet, So. OF Kali Money.

Outlook: A team laden with veterans, O'Donnell expects Ledyard (12-10) to improve its standing in the ECC Medium Division and at the state level. Francischelli was an All-ECC selection as a sophomore, hitting .440 with eight home runs and 26 RBI.

NEW LONDON

Coach: Missy Parker (2nd season).

Key returnees: Jr. 1B Jessica Baskett, Jr. RF Emily Corbeil, Jr. 2B/SS Manuela Duran, Jr. OF Arlene Martinez, Jr. 3B Bryanna Parkes. So. LF/C Aisha Correa.

Top newcomers: Jr. CF/SS Haley Brennan, Fr. 1B Kate Ashbey, Fr. utility Riley Barnes, Fr. P Ally Perrino, Fr. utility Shaiann Rosado.

Outlook: The Whalers have a young team, losing All-ECC honorable mention selection Diana Montalvo at catcher. Parker believes New London (5-15) will improve as the season progresses.

STONINGTON

Coach: Ann-Marie Houle (10th season).

Key returnees: Sr. P/CF Andrea Chiaradio, Sr. SS Ally Curioso, Sr. C Katie Headley, Sr. OF Mackensie Crowley, Sr. OF Jaclyn Paride, Jr. P/CF Theresa Kane.

Top newcomers: Jr. IF Gabrielle Fabien, Jr. IF Kara Jones, Jr. IF Shenice McCarthy, Jr. P/OF Brianna Nolan, So. P/1B Jennifer Paride, So. 3B Christine McNeil, Fr. IF Rhianna Maynard, Fr. OF Mallory Kane, Fr. IF Jessica Connors, Fr. IF Brooke Arruda

Outlook: After losing some key players from last year's 21-5 team which shared the ECC Medium Division title with Griswold, the Bears are welcoming some newcomers to the varsity. Chiaradio, a Class M all-state pick who highlighted the 2012 softball season by pitching a 21-strikeout perfect game, and Kane will split time on the mound. Houle's expectations are to be competitive in the Medium Division and build off last year's quarterfinal run in the Class M state tournament.

ECC Small

MONTVILLE

Coach: Robert Alves (4th season).

Key returnees: Sr. IF Jessica Ware, Jr. OF Nicole Walmsley, Jr. P Alyssa Mattison, Jr. IF Caitlin Perkins, Jr. C Courtney Thompson, So. IF Hannah Meyers, So. OF Stephanie Szot, So. IF Katrina Awad, So. P Brianna Cottrell, So. IF Nicole Dutka .

Top newcomers: Jr. OF-IF Mackadie Heon, So. OF Adrienna Foret, So. OF Alyssa Nissen, So. OF Emiley Bigelow, Fr. OF Alex Clemons, Fr. IF Katie Banta, Fr. IF Olivia Fargo.

Outlook: Even though the Indians (7-13) return many of their starters, they are a young team. They will continue to develop this season. They hope to compete in every game and qualify for postseason play, missing by one victory a year ago.

ST. BERNARD

Coach: Brittany Connors (1st season).

Key returnees: Sr. P Mena Buscetto, Jr. OF/SS Ali Patterson, Jr. 1B/OF Kiely Smith, Jr. OF Gretchen Green, Jr. 3B Amy Bouchard, So. C Shoshana Berkman.

Top newcomers: Jr. SS/2B Talia Coleman, So. OF/1B Alex Santiago, Fr. C/2B/P Alex Belisle.

Outlook: The Saints (15-10) lost seniors Rivkah Berkman (pitcher), Melissa Halloran (shortstop) and Tara Kowalski (first base) from last year's team which reached the Class S state championship game. Connors, however, a Waterford High graduate in her first season after serving as an assistant to Jeff Mauri, said if her team took one thing from last year's experience it's confidence. "We have a lot of talent and potential," Connors said. "With new coaches, many new players and returners in new positions, we will need to form that special bond needed for greatness, but I have no doubt in my mind we will overcome that obstacle." Patterson was a Class S all-state selection.

WHEELER

Coach: Joe Cawley (3rd season).

Key returnees: Sr. P Summer Cipriani, Sr. SS Kayla Collins, Sr. 3B Julie Wanstall, So. 1B Kylie Baker.

Top newcomers: Fr. C Raven Houck.

Outlook: Cawley's team made history last season, winning a state tournament game for the first time since 1991 ... and not stopping until it reached the Class S quarterfinals. Wheeler (14-9) returns Cipriani for her fourth season at starting pitcher, although catcher Kaitlin Banks graduated and will be replaced by a freshman in Houck. Cawley expects the lineup to have some pop, as well, in support of Cipriani.

Others

GRASSO TECH

Coach: John Blake (9th season).

Key returnees: Sr. 3B Mary Murphy, Sr. OF Deborah Florez, Sr. OF Abigail Soriano, Sr. IF Nicole Texiera, Jr. C Amanda Overton, Jr. OF Tonia Johnson.

Top newcomers: Fr. P Morgan Ruggieri, Fr. 1B/C Tabitha Ford.

Outlook: Blake believes that Ruggieri, the team's freshman pitcher, will benefit from experience. He likes the way the defense looks and is hoping for some run support to make a run in the Constitution State Conference East Division and in the state tournament.

NORWICH TECH

Coach: John Saporita (7th season).

Key returnees: Sr. SS/P Stacey Bowen, Sr. C Cami Marion, Sr. P/OF Geraldine Taranto, Jr. OF/3B Kianna Dailey, Jr. 1B/3B Cerena Dean-Rathbun.

Top newcomers: Sr. OF Heather Strong, Jr. 2B Shannon Deveny, So. 2B Jordyn Clark, So. OF Dori Libby, Fr. 3B/1B Saige Laguitara, Fr. SS/OF Alexis Paul, Fr. OF Kerrie Belerose.

Outlook: The Warriors return only three starters from a 9-10 season, but Saporita calls it "the best young team Tech has had in years." Taranto and Bowen will be called on to anchor things while the rest of the players grow into their roles, meanwhile Dailey has gotten better every year, the coach said. "The underclassmen have been quite a nice surprise," Saporita said. "We look to be competitive in every game we play."

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