Trinity Catholic junior Sarah Jablonsky knew it was bad when she walked in the gym for softball tryouts last Monday, seeing only nine girls.
What Jablonsky feared became official Friday when Trinity Catholic decided to not field a varsity or junior varsity softball team, canceling the 2018 season.
The first day of tryouts, nine players came out for the team. Of those players, four had never played softball before.
“This is really disapointing. I am so upset,” Jablonsky said. “I worked so hard, this is my favorite sport and the sport I have been playing since I was little. Junior year is kind of a special season and now, I’m missing it. But only five girls had previous experience and the other four were freshmen who had never picked up a ball. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I knew we wouldn’t be able to have a team, but I kept hoping until they told us officially.”
Feeling that it could not put a quality team on either the varsity or JV level and fearing having to forfeit games if one player was not available, the decision was made to not have a season.
The decision to put the program on the shelf for the season was not made easily, according to Athletic Director Bob Robustelli.
“It kept me awake at night knowing that girls who live for softball will not be able to play this season,” Robustelli said. “When we only had nine girls come out and four of them had never played we were left with a decision that needed to be made. We absolutely hate not having a program for a year. It does not send a great message, but we wanted to be fair to the FCIAC and to the other teams.”
He said the school plans to address the issue and hopes to have a team back on the field next spring.
“By no means is this the end of the Trinity Catholic softball program,” he said. “The talent level was just not there this year and we did not want to embarrass anyone. At the end of the day, this was a painful decision but I think the best decision.”
Robustelli said while coach Rita Jagodzinski and the players tried to recruit more players from within the school, there was simply not enough varsity-capable players available.
The team had no seniors and three juniors with everyone else being a sophomore or freshmen.
Per CIAC rules, the players from the team will not be able to go play for another school this season.
Jablonsky said she requested to be able to play at Westhill, her home district, but was turned down.
“That is the hardest part that they can’t go play somewhere else,” Robustelli said. “We tried to talk to the FCIAC and the CIAC before we made the decision, to see what could be done, but they have very strict rules about that and those rules are in place for a reason. It’s just very unfortunate for the girls here who want to play.”
The Crusaders were 3-17 a season ago under first-year coach Jagodzinski, who was an assistant coach for the Crusaders for six years prior to taking over.
In its heyday, the Crusaders won eight FCIAC East Division titles from 1991-99, playing in five FCIAC championship games, winning titles in 1992 and 1996.
In that time, Trinity played in four CIAC Class S state championship games (1993, ’94, ’96 and ’99) winning its lone state title in 1996.