THOMASTON >> In the Thomaston high school gymnasium there is a banner that reads “small school…big dreams” which is the best way to define this season’s Golden Bears softball team.
After winning a share of the Berkshire League title and reaching the Class S semifinals, the Golden Bears have to replace five starters and only have 11 players on their roster this year.
No matter their roster size the Golden Bears have their eyes on the prize.
“You play a sport to win; I have great respect for our opponents. Last year we were co-champions, this year we would like to be just champions,” Thomaston co-coach Gene Torrence said. “The core of girls we lost, they started it, and they showed these girls what it takes to win. I think we have a shot to go deep in the State Tournament.”
Last season the Golden Bears went 18-4 and though they have spots to fill co-coach Kelly Finlay is confident that they won’t miss a beat.
“We still have a core group returning with experience that will show throughout the year,” she said. “Eleven is an unusually small number for a softball team, but most of them have been playing other sports together.”
“We tell them it’s all for one and one for all mentality,” added Torrence who has found positives with the small roster. “Being a small school, they get a lot of one-on-one attention, no one is standing around.”
Of the returning players, senior Abby Hurlbert who dominated Berkshire League hitters last season is moving out of the pitchers circle to shortstop making room for sophomore Morgan Sanson to take over full-time on the hill.
“Morgan worked hard in the offseason; she went 7-1 as a freshman and has enough experience to continue what she started,” Finlay said. “We’re confident in her.”
Hurlbert, who will see some time on the mound this year, is happy to be playing shortstop.
“I kind of like it, it’s less stressful,” Hurlbert laughed. “I like that we are going to switch between each other, she (Morgan) worked a lot, she practiced a lot and you can that she has improved from last year.”
“She’s a big leader out there, she will talk to the younger players and make sure everyone knows what is going on,” Finlay said.
Hurlbert is joined by Erin O’Neil as the only seniors for the Golden Bears this season and both look to help the younger players grow.
“Tell them to always keep their heads up,” O’Neil said.
Despite the short roster, Thomaston aims to back a top the league fighting for the top spot, this time they plan on it being their own.
“We definitely don’t like to share,” O’Neil said. “We want the title to be ours.”