Here are five stories to watch this softball season:
1. Who will reign supreme in the SCC?
The SCC is always one of the state’s most competitive leagues. This year is no exception.
Amity is the defending champion and has the talent to repeat, led by senior pitcher Katie Koshes. East Haven returns seven starters, including senior shortstop Allie Luzzi and senior pitchers Laura Anderson and Kara Hanson. The Easties, who won the Class L title last season, just may be the most talented team in the league. Lauralton Hall, also in Class L, returns senior pitcher Ireland Miessau.
Those three teams are favored, but never count out perennial contender Mercy and senior pitcher Bri Sawicki. Despite graduating 11 seniors, including six starters, Cheshire should be in the mix as should its Housatonic Division rival Sheehan.
2. Will Southington’s winning streak continue?
The Blue Knights enter this season on a 70-game winning streak. They are closing in on Seymour’s state-best 78-game winning streak set from 2005-2007.
Southington should be tested early in the season by Torrington (April 18) and Rockville (April 19). Provided the Blue Knights keep winning — and weather permitting — Southington can break the record on April 25 against Class L finalist Fitch.
Senior Brenna Sarantides will be the full-time starter in the pitching circle after going 7-0 last season for the Blue Knights, who have won three straight Class LL titles.
3. Can Newtown defend its title in a competitive SWC?
Newtown defeated Barlow for the league title last season. Led by senior third baseman Katie Laaksonen, Newtown is in position to repeat. Barlow is also expected to contend, along with Brookfield, which returns, 10 seniors.
Immaculate returns senior pitcher Kiley Banks (16 -7 last season), Masuk started several underclassmen last season and that experience should pay off this year.
Former Foran coach Jeff Bevino is now the head man at Notre Dame-Fairfield, which brings back senior shortstop Emily Schofield (.514).
4. Can North Branford be stopped in the Shoreline Conference?
North Branford enters this season as the heavy favorite to repeat as champions in the Shoreline Conference.
Among the many starters returning are senior pitcher Lindsay Golia (21-4, 208 strikeouts), senior catcher Sabrina LeMere (.506, 40 RBIs), senior center fielder Meghan Golia (.400, 24 runs), senior shortstop Haley Basil (.342), junior third baseman Emily Muzyka (.400, 27 RBIs) and sophomore utility Olivia Hemstock (.344, 36 runs, 23 RBIs).
The Thunderbirds split a home-and-away series with Class L champ East Haven last season, and later advanced to the Class M quarterfinals.
Morgan, led by senior pitcher Emily Popp, Coginchaug and its senior pitcher, Gabby Diaz, and Hale-Ray, which advanced to the Class S semifinals last season, will try to spoil North Branford’s bid at a repeat.
5. Can Seymour and Bristol Central keep streaks in tact?
Seymour is in search of its 34th straight trip to the state tournament. With its battery of pitcher Raeanne Geffert and catcher Amanda Harkins both back for their senior season, expect that streak to continue.
Over at Bristol Central, the Rams are playing for their 24th straight appearance in the state tournament. Senior shortstop Allie Martel is closing in on 100 career hits.