CIAC TOURNAMENTS: Two weeks down a crowded road to glory

CIAC TOURNAMENTS: Two weeks down a crowded road to glory



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Friday was Pairings Day as the CIAC released state tournament brackets for the spring postseason.

It will be a busy two weeks. As usual, the R-J coverage area is well represented, with seven softball teams, five baseball squads, three girls tennis teams and a pair of strong contenders in boys volleyball all in the hunt.

There are a couple of head-to-head matchups right out of the gate. Platt and Lyman Hall will square off in the first round in the Class L baseball tournament on Tuesday. The same day, a little to the south on Oregon Road, No. 11 will host No. 22 Sheehan in Class M softball.

Here’s the complete breakdown.

SoftballCheshire: The Rams saw their 15-game winning streak go by the wayside in the first round of the SCC Tournament in a 3-2 loss to No. 8 Sheehan.

But Cheshire still sports a 19-2 record and enters the fray as the No. 3 seed in Class LL. The Rams earned a first-round bye and will face the winner of No. 14 Stamford and No. 19 Glastonbury in the second round at home on Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Cheshire won it all two years ago and marched to the Class LL semifinals last spring. With the season the Rams have had this season, another deep run would shock no one.

Senior Natalie Amato stepped into the circle vacated by 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year Abby Abramson and has emerged as a force. Sara Mulligan and Kinsey Ratchelous are the other two senior regulars.

The talented junior trio of MIa Juodaitis, Bri Floyd and Lexie Hemstock have seen it all for Kristine Drust’s squad over the last three years and that continued this season. Juodaitis, a three-year starting shortstop, is a speed and power threat from the top of the order.

Sophomores Ari Perlini and Emma Watkinson also emerged as solid regulars for the SCC Hammonasset champs.

Southington: Coach Davina Hernandez’s girls are in a familiar position as Class LL’s top seed. The Blue Knights collected another CCC West-Colonial crown with a spotless 8-0 divisional record and completed the regular season 19-1.

Southington finished the season on a nine-game winning streak following its lone loss on May 6 at Norwich Free Academy. In the ensuing winning streak, Southington has outscored foes 89-9.

Senior pitcher Kara Zazzaro has been the catalyst. The flame-thrower is 19-1 with a 0.32 ERA. Opponents are hitting a paltry .111 off her and she has fanned 177 in 110 1/3 innings. That included an 18K effort in a 2-1 regular-season finale win over Rockville on Wednesday.

The team batting average is .423, so the offensive standouts are plentiful, led by Abby Lamson (.483, 9 2B, 4 3B, 19 runs, 30 RBI), Chrissy Morotto (.476, 6 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 30 runs, 25 RBI), Zazzaro (.475, 7 2B, 4 3B,  24 RBI) and Frankie Ferrante (.456, 6 2B,  28 runs, 20 RBI).

Southington will face the winner of No. 16 New Britain (13-7) and No .17 New Milford (12-8) at home. Down the road, Southington could be staring at a Class LL semifinal with No. 4 E.O. Smith or No. 5 Amity. No. 2 Trumbull and No. 3 Cheshire are on the other side of the bracket. Trumbull defeated Southington in last spring’s Class LL final.

Sheehan: The No. 22 Titans are coming off the biggest win in Sarah Wyant’s a young career, a 3-2 win over top-seeded Cheshire in the SCC Tournament.

Following that upset, Sheehan (12-10) fell to Amity in the SCC semifinals, but will look to carry momentum into the Class M tournament behind senior captains Sam Iannone, Erin Dighello, Sydney Hunt and Carolyn Biel.

Meghan Murphy slugged the deciding homer against Cheshire. Junior Riley Wolcheski is one of the better sluggers in the Titan lineup and went 3-for-3 in the loss to Amity.

Wilcox Tech: The Tribe earned the No. 11 seed in Class M and will host Sheehan in Tuesday’s first round. The Indians (18-5) won the inaugural CTC Tournament championship on Thursday with a 21-0 victory over Norwich Tech (though it was their third straight conference flag dating back to the defunct Constitution State Conference).

Wilcox Tech pitcher Briana Brown heads into states with a 13-4 pitching record and a  .532 batting average.

Sophomore Katie-Rae Gaedeke has been Wilcox Tech’s top hitter. She has hit .671 with an .820 on-base percentage and 14 home runs. She had a grand slam and eight RBI in the CTC final.

Sam Petro emerged in the middle of the season after returning from injury and has hit .638 with two homers. Lexi Durand has a .592 average with a .778 on-base percentage.

Platt: The Panthers ended a five-game skid with a 5-0 shutout of Wilcox Tech on Wednesday night. As the No. 15 seed with a 11-9 record, the Panthers have earned a home game in Class L against No. 18 Fitch (9-11) on Tuesday. No. 2 Daniel Hand will be awaiting the winner in the second round.

Platt coach Trish Wodatch has deployed Machaila Arjavich (7-5) and Caitlyn Hart (4-4) in the circle and both have led the Panthers back into the postseason.

Both Hart (.370, 5 2B, 4 3B) and Arjavich (.419, 2 2B, 2 3B, HR) have been among the Panthers leading hitters along with Dani Fuentes-Mercado (.451, 4 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR).

Maloney: The Spartans originally had the No. 6 seed in Class L with a 14-6 record, but fell to No. 7 at 15-5 after having to forfeit a win to Tolland for the use of an ineligible player.

So, instead of having a first-round bye, the Spartans will play Tuesday. They host No. 26 Mercy.

Makenzie Meyer has totaled a 15-1 record in the circle with a 3.36 ERA. She’s fanned 50 and walked 15.

The leaders at the plate are senior leadoff hitter Regan Maloney (.537, 30 runs, 12 RBI, 11-11 SB), Alexa Papallo (.484, 29 runs, 23 steals), Anna Hendrickson (.435, 24 runs, 32 RBI), Hannah Abele (.431, 19 runs, 12 RBI) and Militzya Perez (.409, 20 runs, 23 RBI).

Lyman Hall: The Trojans (13-7) drew the No. 11 seed in Class L and will host SCC foe Lauralton Hall. The SCC Oronoque rivals split their regular-season meetings. The Crusaders (9-11) won the first meeting 6-5 on April 21. The Trojans countered with a 7-5 victory on May 7.

LH has won nine of its last 11 and is playing its best ball just in time for the postseason.

Elise Hastings was the leading hitter for the Trojans with a .526 average. She has 29 runs and 17 RBI.

Also hitting well are Sam Carbone (.426, 19 runs, 18 RBI,  2 2B, 4 3B, 2 HR), Morgan Tuscano (.371, 17 runs, 18 RBI, 4 2B, 3B, 6 HR), Alex Tenero (.343, 14 runs, 22 RBI, 7 2B) and Kate Miller (.340, 11 runs, 16 RBI, 4 2B, 3 3B).

Baseball

Lyman Hall: The No. 26 Trojans finished 10-10 and will travel to Meriden to face No. 7 Platt on Tuesday.

LH has five regulars hitting over .300, paced by Russell Edeen (.376, 11 runs, 15 RBI, 3 2B), Anthony Cretella (.320, 13 runs), Tyler Lyons (.319, 13 runs, 9 RBI, 3 2B), Jack McDonald (.317, 11 runs, 7 2B) and Ethan Day (.304, 12 runs, 18 RBI, 5 2B, 2 HR).

The top pitchers have been Jake Ranney, who went 3-3 with a 2.08 ERA and a no-hitter in seven starts. Colin Blake has made eight starts with a 3-4 record and 3.92 ERA. Edeen has three saves in 11 appearances.

Platt: The Panthers are 14-6 and have won 11 out of their last 13, including 12-11 over Bristol Central’s on Jack Clancy’s walk-off single in the regular-season finale. The 11-2 run erased a four-game skid in mid-April and earned Platt the CCC South-Colonial Division crown and home games in the state tournament.

Jake Baker is Platt’s leading hitter, sporting a .484 average with five doubles, 23 runs scored, 17 steals and 12 RBI. Other Panther standouts include Peyton Thiel (.463, 13 runs, 11 RBI), Clancy (.361, 12 runs, 11 RBI), Ethan Dudley (.352, 20 runs, 7 doubles, 4 triples, 13 steals) and Cam Germe (.333, 17 runs, 17 RBI).

Carson Coon is Platt’s ace with a 3-1 record and a 2.44 ERA and two saves. Joe Salafia is 5-1 with a 3.66 ERA. Edisson Ortiz is 2-2 with a 3.41 ERA.

Southington: The Blue Knights finished the season on a six-game winning streak and earned a share of the CCC West-Colonial Division crown.

No. 17 Southington finished with a 12-8 record and will travel to No. 16 Trumbull (13-7) for the first round in Class LL.

The leading hitters are Andrew Paradis (.373, 10 2B, 17 RBI, 8 SB), Dan Topper (.347, 15 SB, 25 runs), Jeremy Mercier (.344, 11 runs, 16 RBI, Dylan Chiaro (.329) and Jake Neuman (.319).

Mercier is 5-2 in nine starts with a 3.19 ERA. Jason Krar has a 3-2 record with a 1.15 ERA.

Cheshire: The No. 4 Rams (16-5) begin their title quest with a home tilt against No. 29 New Canaan (9-11) on Tuesday. The talented rotation of Ben DeLaubell (3-1, 0.48), Ben Shadeck (4-1, 2.38) and Matt Downing (3-2, 1.19) has the goods to carry this deep into the tournament.

Closer Rob Roles has three saves in five appearances. The team ERA for Cheshire is 1.53.

Cheshire is coming off an 8-5 SCC Tournament first-round loss to Branford. The Rams are 9-2 at Burt Leventhal Field.

Ryan Strollo (.361, 18 runs, 11 RBI, 11 steals), Shadeck (.353, 4 2B, 12 RBI) and DeLaubell (.308, 5 2B, 14 RBI) are Cheshire’s top hitters this season.

New Canaan has dropped five in a row and six out of seven.

Wilcox Tech: The Indians are 16-7 and will open up the Class L brackets as the No. 8 seed, hosting No. 25 Middletown.

The Tribe is coming off of a 3-2 loss to Cheney Tech in the Connecticut Technical Conference championship game.

Sean Dupuis, Brian Carabetta and Mike Carroll have been reliable pitchers for Wilcox Tech this season. Mike Furgalack, James Theriault, Vin Verlezza and Carabetta have been solid at the plate.

Boys volleyballSouthington: The Blue Knights (18-2) are CCC Tournament champions after downing Newington 3-1 on Thursday night. They will look to carry that over into states. No. 5 Southington’s first hurdle is No. 12 Shelton at home on Wednesday.

Tim Walsh powers the Knights with 251 kills. He is followed by William Pfanzelt (150 kills, 25 aces, 29 blocks, 260 assists) and J.J. Clark (122 kills, 52 blocks).

Walsh also leads the team with 47 aces and is second on the team in digs (209). Libero Niko Sophroniou has 339 digs and 30 aces.

Zack Morgan heads the team in assists with 403 and also has 25 aces. Six-foot junior middle Rocco Possidento is among the team leaders in blocks with 35.

Cheshire: The Rams were 11-7 heading into Friday night’s SCC Tournament final with Daniel Hand. Cheshire has the No. 10 seed in Class L and will travel to No. 7 Hall on Wednesday.

Colby Hayes, Alex Feldman, Owen Goldberg and setters Joe Chen and Luke Pinciaro lead the way for the Rams. Berkley Fang and Aiden Godfrey have also highlighted Cheshire this spring.

Girls tennisSouthington, Cheshire and Maloney all qualified as a team.

The Blue Knights (14-4) drew No. 11 in Class LL and will square off against No. 22 Westhill in Greenwich at 10 a.m. The winner will square off with host No. 6 Greenwich immediately following the first match.

Also in Class L, No. 15 Cheshire (12-6) will play in the qualifying round against No. 18 Ridgefield at Hand-Madison at 10 a.m. The winner will hang around and try to knock off the No. 2 Tigers, who won the SCC championship.

The Spartans (10-8) qualified in Class M as the No. 19 seed. They will travel to East Lyme to face No. 14 Fitch at 10 a.m. The No. 3 Vikings are looming for the survivor.


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