by MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When it was time to pick the first ever Bristol Observer Female Athlete of the Year, there were several possible choices to choose from this season.
There was a little more balance than usual during the 2011-12 scholastic sport’s season but in the end, only one athlete was chosen.
And, the 2011-12 Bristol Observe Female Athlete of the Year is Bristol Central softball pitching ace Emily Cintorino.
It wasn’t an easy decision to finally choose the gritty Cintorino, but taking a look at the success the Bristol Central has enjoyed over the last four years on the field, the nomination for the award was more than deserving.
Over the years, Central has been known for its pitching prowess and when speaking of the likes of former throwers like Kim Corbin and Breanne Gleason, Cintorino’s name belongs with that duo as some of the best ever pitchers for the Rams.
And along her four year odyssey, she picked up plenty of hardware, awards, and trophies to fill up any trophy case.
Remember, Cintorino came in as a freshman and, very quickly, established herself as one of the premiere pitchers in the Mum City and the CCC South.
Cintorino ended her career for the Rams with an impressive 53 wins and never carried an ERA over 2.00 in any of her four years.
And while Central didn’t have its best season this past year record wise, her leadership skills were on display from day one of the season and she led a very young squad into battle.
Maybe a loss the second round of the states seemed a bit premature for the squad. But losing its final game in the state tournament to Torrington by a 1-0 final, it certainly showed that Central was once again a team to contend with.
A 13-8 final ledger in 2012 was definitely better than good.
And for Bristol Central coach Phil Pirog, when your freshman pitcher carried an ERA of 1.97, you know you have something special on your hands.
Cintorino possessed a couple go-to pitches that were nearly unstoppable and numerous batters simply watched strike three cross the plate without the benefit of a swing time and time again.
During her stint at Central, she only missed a handful of games and with an overall win-loss record of 53-26 for her career, she distinguished herself with the best the Rams have ever offered.
Cintorino is a three-time member of the CCC South All-Conference squad and as a junior, she was a member of the All-State team.
Those awards were just the tip of the iceberg.
As a sophomore, she went 14-7 with a 1.42 ERA while as a junior, Cintorino was simply one of the state’s best as she won 18 of 21 contests, struck out 124 batters and carried a more than impressive 1.66 ERA.
This past year, Cintorino was rated as one of the Top 25 players in the state by both the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Register.
While going 13-8 in 147 innings of work, Cintorino yielded only 62 runs but less than half of those were earned as errors plagued the young Central club.
In all, the crafty pitcher gave up only 27 earned runs and carried an impressive ERA of only 1.29 to go along with 136 strikeouts and allowed only 42 base-on-balls.
Her strikeout-to-walk ratio was a nifty 3.24-to-1 and Cintorino gave up only 0.69 hits per inning worked.
And remember, Cintorino helped Central crawl out of a 0-4 hole the team started the year in.
The Rams went 7-0 from that point as its pitching sensation allowed only 10 runs over the stretch while throwing four shutouts.
In fact, before finally falling to Torrington, Central went 13-3 over the 0-4 start and only loss one game in extra-innings.
The only lowlight of her career was never being able to defeat cross-town rival Bristol Eastern and several other teams carry that same distinction as well over the past four years.
She came awfully close this past season in an 18-inning war that went south for the Rams in the end as Central dropped a hard-fought 6-1 decision in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
However, Cintorino accomplished just about everything she set out to do.
Did I almost forget to mention about her hitting?
Just this past season, Cintorino batted an impressive .333 with 23 hits, two doubles, 10 RBI, two sacrifices while drawing eight walks.
One year earlier, Cintorino carried an average of .324 with three triples and 14 RBI while as a sophomore, she batted .280 and added a team-tying 19 RBI.
In the 2011 state tournament, Cintorino surprised the home crowd and – in the middle of getting intentionally walked by East Hartford – smashed a 2-0 pitch to left field to get on base.
Who else would even think of doing that?
On both ends of the diamond, she’s been a clutch performer and a prime time player.
And this past season in volleyball, Cintorino picked up all conference honors and she’s helped Central in the rebirth of its program over the past few seasons.
She’s a competent server and was one of the Rams’ leaders in digs this past season.
It certainly was a fast four years for Cintorino at Central and it’s amazing her ride for the Rams is finally over.
We might even see her play a little softball in college.
She certainly has the ability to excel at the next level and if, say Michaela Roche and Cintorino ended up at a place like Division III Western Connecticut State University, those players would be building blocks of the program.
Wherever she ends up, Cintorino has certainly left her mark on the Bristol Central softball and volleyball programs and earned the 2012 Female AOTY award.
by MICHAEL LETENDRE