TORRINGTON – A friendly baseball scrimmage — the NVL’s Torrington Red Raiders vs. the Berkshire League’s Shepaug Spartans Friday afternoon at Fuessenich Park — begins a look at the width and breadth of area teams in CIAC single-elimination state tournaments over the next two weeks, beginning with a play-in round today.
Shepaug, 19-1, ran its regular season table, including wins over Class M Brookfield and Class L No. 7 Platt-Meriden, except for a late-season loss to the Berkshire League’s Lewis Mills.
Torrington, 9-11, beat a good Watertown team before limping down the stretch in a five-game losing streak with almost-wins against other good NVL teams, finally closing out with a solid win over WCA.
Shepaug earned the No. 1 Class S seed over defending champion No. 2 Holy Cross (18-2).
Torrington, Class L No. 27, typified many other teams hurt or helped by the luck of the draw.
The Raiders won a CIAC lottery pick over four other Class L teams with identical records. Two of those teams face play-in games today, Further up the line, Watertown lost a similar draw with three other 14-6 teams, missing a rematch with Torrington, which plays No. 6 Ellis Tech from the traditionally-weak tech school league instead.
No matter where they fell, coaches all over the area echo the Shepaug/Torrington coaches’ pre-scrimmage words today.
“We’re excited to have a home game in the tournament,” Shepaug coach Scott Werkhoven said. “It’s always exciting to start a fresh season. We’ll keep taking it a game at a time.”
“It’s a new season,” Torrington coach Pat Richardson said. “Anything’s possible.”
Here’s a look at other upcoming notable matchups:
Baseball (play-ins Saturday; first round Tuesday)
In Class LL, Naugatuck, after splitting regular-season games with Torrington, must win a play-in game today for the privilege of meeting Fairfield Prep, the No. 1 seed in Class LL and state polls, on Tuesday.
In Class M, No. 10 Mills might be lucky for losing a draw to No. 9 Seymour. Mills gets Abbott Tech; Seymour hosts Ellington from a tougher league. Northwestern stays in the Berkshire League, hosting Nonnewaug, with which it split in the regular season.
Shepaug, too, stays in the BL, in Class S, opening with No. 32 Terryville. The Kangaroos looked like an all-star team beating Torrington soundly last week, but held its breath for a Class S draw that left it clinging to the final spot while eliminating two teams with the same 7-13 record.
“Terryville is a good team; we don’t take anyone for granted,” said Shepaug’s Werkhoven, in another statement echoing all over the state.
No. 30 Housatonic was part of the same 7-13 draw as Terryville — lucky for now even though it means a game at No. 3 St. Paul Tuesday.
In other Class S games, No. 14 Thomaston hosts No. 19 St. Bernard. No. 27 Gilbert plays at No. 6 Notre Dame-Fairfield.
Softball (play-ins Saturday; first round Tuesday)
In Class M, No. 33 Nonnewaug tries to play in at No. 32 Career today, hoping for another chance at No. 1 Northwestern, 20-0, on Tuesday.
No. 16 Lewis Mills and No. 15 Wolcott Tech earned home games, Mills against No. 17 Oxford, Tech vs. No. 18 Ellington.
No. 4 Wamogo and No. 10 Thomaston play at home in Class S. The Warriors face Immaculate; the Golden Bears have MLC.
No. 30 Terryville and No. 22 Shepaug are on the road, at No. 3 Coventry and No. 11 East Granby respectively.