Entering this season, Sheehan had the same goals and expectations as it has throughout Jocelyn Chang’s tenure as head coach.
“The expectations are always to qualify for the state tournament, and go one game at a time, one inning at a time,” Chang said. “We’ve been kind of living up to that.”
That formula has seemed to work for the Titans, who are 5-0. Sheehan earned a hard-fought 2-1 Southern Connecticut Conference Housatonic Division victory over rival Cheshire (4-1) last Monday.
“It was a really important win for us,” Chang said. “It set the pace for last week. We played the best I’ve seen up until that point. They were heads up the entire game. It was the first division game, and it was nice to get a division win.”
Last season the Titans finished 12-11, but reached the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2006. Sheehan has just one senior (first baseman Alena Gonsalves), but a talented and experienced junior class. There’s potential for the Titans to advance even further this season.
“I think they’re hungry this year,” Chang said.
Five juniors started last season. They are catcher Mikaeyla Daddio, third baseman Rebecca Souza, second baseman Meghan Gavin, center fielder Makayla Ricci, while Missy Pereira has taken over as the team’s starting pitcher. That experience has proved beneficial.
“They don’t have first-time jitters or nerves,” Chang said. “They don’t panic. If we fall behind, they keep fighting.”
Pereira is in the midst of a breakthrough season. Pereira saw action in the circle last season, playing behind Kayla Humphrey, who graduated, but Pereira has improved in all facets of the game.
“She’s doing a great job,” Chang said. “She worked hard in the offseason. She’s throwing well, harder than last season. She definitely put in her work in the offseason, and it’s showing.”
Pereira scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out nine against Cheshire. While Pereira has excelled, Sheehan has the luxury of having two other pitchers who have seen time this season in junior Jordan Molyneux and sophomore Stephanie Letourneau. Pereira and Molyneux combined on a one-hitter against Wilbur Cross. Molyneux struck out five.
Sheehan has games this week against Lyman Hall (today), unbeaten Amity (Tuesday), Shelton (Wednesday) and Guilford (Friday).
Sacred Heart Academy senior pitcher Molly Flowers has been cleared to play after suffering a fracture to her non-throwing left hand in a 6-5 nine-inning loss to Law on April 10.
Flowers was injured in the fifth inning, but finished the game in the circle. Flowers, though, had limited use of her injured hand, and couldn’t receive the return throw from the catcher, who had to walk the ball to Flowers in between pitches.
Although cleared, Pacers coach Ray Ramelli has a tough decision to make whether or not to play Flowers.
“We won’t send her out there if I don’t think she can protect herself,” Ramelli said.
Sacred Heart Academy lost twice without Flowers and is now 1-3. Freshman Emily Drezek replaced Flowers as the team’s starter.
“It hurt us a lot,” Ramelli said. “Emily is raw and learning; Molly is helping her out. We’re doing the best we can to hang in there.”
Ramelli noted that it’s unlikely that Flowers will be able to bat again this year.
Flowers led the Pacers to the Class M title as a freshman. She then missed most of her sophomore season with an elbow injury. The team was 11-10 last season.
Sacred Heart Academy has a brutal slate of games this week, starting today at home against Cheshire. The Pacers host Shelton on Tuesday and then visit Foran (3-1) on Thursday and East Haven (2-2) on Friday.