Players to Watch
- Tori Ceballos, Sr., St. Joseph, First Base: Ceballos is batting .488 with 41 RBIs and 25 runs this season. A four-year starter, Ceballos just might end her career with a state title. The Cadets (22-1) are seeded third in Class M, and have the talent to win the championship. Ceballos had two hits and drove in a run in St. Joseph’s 12-1 victory over Darien in the FCIAC championship game where she was named the game’s most valuable player.
- Emily DeVito, Sr., Norwich Free Academy, Catcher: Most pundits believe DeVito is the best catcher in the Eastern Connecticut Conference. Not surprisingly, then, DeVito was chosen as an all-ECC Large Division selection. Then, this past Saturday, DeVito helped the Wildcats capture the ECC tournament championship with an 8-4 victory over previously unbeaten Fitch. DeVito will play at Long Island University-Post next season.
- Molly Flowers, Sr., Sacred Heart Academy, Pitcher: Flowers will attempt to bookend her career with state titles. As a freshman, Flowers led the Pacers to the Class M championship in 2011. Now, Flowers will try to win in Class L. Flowers missed most of her sophomore year, and some action this season, due to injury, but a healthy Flowers is one of the state’s most dominant pitchers. Flowers is hoping for the storybook ending, both for her and Sacred Heart Academy head coach Ray Ramelli, who announced he is retiring at the end of the season.
- Erika Leonard, Sr., Rocky Hill, Shortstop: Leonard is a triple threat who can hit, run and field. Leonard has already won a state championship, as a sophomore in 2012, but the Terriers have the talent to make a run at another title. Rocky Hill (18-2) is seeded fourth in Class M. Leonard became the first athlete at her school to commit to playing softball at a Division I program when she signed last fall to play at the University of Maine.
- Ariel Virgulto, Sr., Maloney, Shortstop: Virgulto is one of the state’s most electric players. In 20 games during the regular season she batted .691 with 40 runs, 19 RBIs and stole 49 bases out of 50 attempts. Virgulto is a big reason why the Spartans are in position to reach the Class L state semifinals for the third straight season.
Storylines To Watch
1. Only 1 Left
Plot line: After Fitch lost in the Eastern Connecticut Conference championship game, and Torrington fell to Seymour in the Naugatuck Valley League final, Southington (20-0) is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the state.
The Blue Knights have been the No. 1 team in the Register Top 10 Poll for the majority of the season, and will likely stay in the spot if it can successfully navigate through the competitive Class LL field. Southington is the defending Class LL champ, and the Blue Knights certainly have the talent to repeat.
Senior shortstop Sydney Ferrante and junior pitcher Kendra Friedt are two of the state’s best players, but Southington also has a talented supporting cast.
You should know: Southington has won a state-best 15 state titles.
2. These ‘Cats Rock
Plot line: Seymour (22-1) has won 20 straight games, including a 2-1 victory over previously unbeaten Torrington in the NVL championship game. It was the 18th league title for the Wildcats.
Now, Seymour will attempt o win it all in the Class M state tournament. The top-seeded Wildcats received a first-round bye will play either No. 16 Ellington or No. 17 Lewis Mills in the second round on Tuesday.
Seymour has a favorable draw. It could meet NVL rival Woodland, which the Wildcats defeated three times this season, or North Central Connecticut Conference champion Suffield in the quarterfinals, and No. 4 Rocky Hill in the semifinals, but most of the field’s heavyweights, like East Haven, Oxford and St. Joseph, are on the opposite side of the bracket.
You should know: Seymour has won eight state titles, but none since 2009.
Plot line: Foran will attempt to reach the Class L championship game for the fourth straight season. The Lions lost in their previous two trips to the finals after winning the title in 2011. The last team to make four straight finals was Waterford from 2007-2010.
The Lions (11-10) have been somewhat inconsistent this season, but an injury kept senior pitcher Jess Harkness sidelined for most of the year. When Harkness is healthy and throwing as she’s capable, she’s one of the top pitchers in the state. Fellow senior, first baseman Fallon Bevino, was named the Southern Connecticut Conference player of the year (video below), so Foran certainly has the talent to make another lengthy tournament run.
If the Lions can defeat Barlow in the first round, Foran hits the road for a clash with No. 2 Torrington, which could be one of the premier match ups in the second round.
You should know: In addition to 2011, Foran also won a state title in 2002.
4. A Fond Farewell?
Plot line: Both Lauralton Hall and Oxford are exiting the South-West Conference at the end of the season to join new leagues next school year.
Lauralton Hall will depart for the SCC, but not before trying to win the Class L title. The Crusaders, who recently lost to Oxford in the SWC championship game, are seeded fifth in L.
Oxford, which will join the NVL, won the Class S title last season but moves up to M this year.
You should know: Lauralton Hall has won three state titles, but none since 2008.’
5. S(tate) C(hampionship) C(onference)
Plot line: The SCC has had much success in the postseason. The league saw two teams (Mercy in Class LL, Foran in Class L) advance to the state final last season.
Recently, SCC members Amity (2012), Foran (2011), Sacred Heart Academy (2011) and North Haven (2008) have captured championships.
This year, the league has several contenders, including Amity, Cheshire, Hand and Mercy in Class LL and Foran, Law and Sheehan in Class L.
Brianna Sawicki pitched a shutout, and Astin Donovan had three hits, two runs and an RBI as Mercy defeated Amity to repeat as SCC champions.
You should know: Law won its only state title in 1980.
Overview: Southington, the defending champion, is the state’s only remaining unbeaten team. The Blue Knights are the top seed in this class and have a good chance to repeat. No. 2 Darien and No. 6 Mercy,are both on the opposite side of the bracket from Southington, setting up what could be a potential classic of a championship game.
Upsets on the horizon: No. 20 Danbury over No. 13 East Hartford, No. 18 Newington over No. 15 Manchester and No. 22 Fairfield Warde over No. 11 South Windsor in the first round.
Final Four: No. 1 Southington, No. 4 Bristol Central, No. 2 Darien, No. 6 Mercy.
Champion: Southington caps a perfect season. In a rematch of last season’s final, the Blue Knights defeat Mercy to earn their second straight championship.
Overview: No. 1 Fitch sets its sights on its first state title since winning Class LL in 2009, while No. 2 Torrington has all the ingredients to win its first championship. Keep an eye on No. 18 Foran, which has advanced to the past three finals in this class, and fellow SCC member No. 19 Sacred Heart Academy.
Upsets on the horizon: Foran over No. 15 Barlow and Sacred Heart Academy over No. 14 E.O. Smith in the first round. No. 13 Naugatuck over No. 4 Pomperaug in the second round.
Final Four: No. 1 Fitch, No. 5 Lauralton Hall, No. 2 Torrington, No. 3 Masuk.
Champion: Torrington’s senior slinger Sydney Matzko finishes her remarkable career as a state champion.
Overview: It should be an interesting and exciting tournament in this class. Seymour, the top seed, has a favorable draw to the semifinals. The bottom half includes such powers as No. 3 St. Joseph, No. 6 Oxford and No. 7 East Haven. Then there’s No. 12 Waterford, the defending champion, which should never be counted out come tournament time.
Upsets on the horizon: No. 28 Killingly over No. 5 Platt Tech, No. 18 North Branford over No. 15 Granby, No. 19 Haddam-Killingworth over No. 14 Holy Cross and No. 22 Enfield over No. 11 Kaynor Tech in the first round. No. 13 Stonington over No. 4 Rocky Hill and North Branford over No. 2 Northwestern in the second round.
Final Four: No. 1 Seymour, No. 12 Waterford, No. 7 East Haven, No. 3 St. Joseph.
Champion: Seymour wins its ninth state title, and first since 2009, when it defeats St. Joseph, the FCIAC champion, in a thrilling final.
Overview: With defending champion Oxford moving up to Class M, this class is wide open. This field features several Shoreline Conference teams, including No. 4 Morgan, No. 8 Old Saybrook and No. 12 Coginchaug, that could capture the championship.
Upsets on the horizon: No. 24 Cromwell over No. 9 Abbott Tech, No. 28 Westbrook over No. 5 East Granby, No. 23 Notre Dame-Fairfield over No. 10 Norwich Tech, No. 19 Putnam over No. 14 Ellis Tech and No. 27 Trinity Catholic over No. 6 Wheeler in the first round.
Final Four: No. 4 Morgan, No. 8 Old Saybrook, No. 2 Thomaston, No. 3 Coventry.
Champion: Morgan defeats Thomaston to win its first state title since 2002.