Softball could be more exciting than ever for area teams this year.
Torrington made it to the Class L quarterfinals two years in a row but lives in the same Naugatuck Valley League as three of the GameTimeCT poll’s top 10 pre-season picks.
Thomaston ruled the Berkshire League for the past several years, with a state championship two years ago and a runner-up finish last year, but two other teams in the BL also made surprise post-season runs. All three bring back most of their teams.
Wolcott Tech, with a strong coaching duo of Head Coach Jenn Stango and Assistant Coach Jamie Coty, rose from years of softball frustration to its first state tournament qualification in history and hopes to make its first Constitution State Conference Tournament this year.
With No. 5-ranked Seymour ruling the roost, softball life is never easy in the NVL. Lights-out pitching is more key in softball than it is in baseball because the same great softball pitchers start every game.
The Red Raiders have been blessed with top pitchers for years. Sydney Matzko started 15 games for the University of North Carolina as a freshman last year with a team-best 2.39 ERA after setting records for four years at Torrington.
Junior Ali Dubois, already verbally committed to Purdue, took over last year.
A year-round player, Dubois suffered a stress fracture in her foot before the high school season. She’s limited to three innings a game in the early going.
Second-baseman Alexis Tyrrell strained a ligament in her wrist playing basketball. She’s out for a while as well.
The schedule doesn’t help. The Raiders host No. 9 Holy Cross next Friday, Seymour the following Monday.
Oxford is the other pre-season top-10 pick at No. 10.
Thomaston was undefeated in the Berkshire League last year, but Nonnewaug and Wamogo, turned loose in the postseason, opened some eyes to the blasphemy that the Golden Bears might just get a stern challenge this year.
The Chiefs, bumped up to Class L thanks to their regional vo-ag program, slashed all the way to the Class L semifinals before East Haven, the eventual state champion, edged them out 4-3.
Wamogo, in Coach Dave Sylvester’s first year, steamed along under the BL radar to a 14-6 regular-season record, then went to the Class S quarterfinals.
The Golden Bears bring back almost all the kids who helped make Thomaston a winner’s town for four years in three sports (field hockey, basketball and softball).
Nonnewaug lost all-world catcher Kaylee Rasmussen, but brings back almost everyone else, more experienced and confident than ever.
Wamogo graduated All-BL first baseman Malia Rebot, but they, too, bring back almost everyone else, more charged and excited than ever.
That kind of excitement is bound to be catching for softball fans.