Coming off its 15th state title, the winningest softball program in the state has its eyes on yet another.
Davina Hernandez enters her first season as Southington’s head coach, taking over for John Bores who retired after last season’s state championship. She has the team excited to get started.
“Everyone just wants to be outside. It’s fun,” senior shortstop Sydney Ferrante said. “Everyone was here a half hour early just to come to practice. We’re excited to be here.”
Southington has appeared in the Class LL finals each of the last two years, beating Mercy last season 1-0 and falling to Amity in 2012, 10-6. If the Blue Knights are to get back, they will have to replace four key seniors, including the battery of Jordyn Moquin, who is playing at Mercy College (24-1, 0.47 ERA) and Rachel Harvey, who is now playing at the University of Maine. Both corner outfielders also graduated.
“All of them were just big contributors on the team,” Hernandez said. “Definitely a big loss there, but we do have our whole infield back. They’re very cohesive in the infield, now we just have to figure out what our outfield situation is.”
Moquin is a tough act to follow, but Kendra Friedt will take over in the circle and has the confidence of her teammates behind her.
“I think this year Kendra’s going to be big,” Ferrante said. “Last year Jordyn was a great pitcher, everyone loved her, but then you have Kendra, no one’s really seen her. Now you have a junior coming in, no one quite knows what she’s about, but she’s very talented.”
Ferrante, the team captain and Northern Kentucky-bound, leads the Blue Knights both on and off the field.
“She’s very mature as a player and as a kid,” Hernandez said. “I consider her as a part of my staff because she really knows the game well. She gives good advice. She’s just a great leader.”
Overall, the team has three seniors who Hernandez said have done a great job leading this team so far.
Most teams in the CCC look at Southington as the team to beat. But the Blue Knights won’t take anyone lightly with a target on their back.
“Simsbury gave us a really tough game last year, both times we played them,” Hernandez said. “They have really great young talent. So, they’ll be a team we won’t take lightly this year.”
If there is one game circled on their calender, it’s May 7 vs. Bristol Central. The Rams handed Southington its only regular season loss last year.
The Blue Knights would love to repeat as state champions, but that’s a long way away.
“We have to stay focused on [division] games,” Ferrante said. “Once we get closer to tournament time and we see better teams, I think that’s when you’ll see this team is very talented at every position.”
Hernandez steps into the head coaching role after being an assistant last year and brings with her a wealth of softball knowledge. She played division I softball at UMass and was also a member of the Puerto Rico national team.
“She’s someone who’s a really important role model for all the girls here,” Ferrante said.
The Southington title defense begins April 9 when they travel to Wethersfield.