By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – Is the Bristol Central softball team going to have a breakthrough season in 2016?
Well, the 13-8 campaign under rookie head coach Monica Hayes was an impressive debut and she expects bigger and better things from her squad this year.
With all conference performers such as McKenna Driscoll and four year players Sam Laviero, and Allie Martel to lead the team, Central has a boatload of senior experience it will turn to throughout the campaign.
With the season already in progress, let’s take a quick look at the Bristol Central softball squad:
Head Coach: Monica Hayes (second year)
Last season’s ledger: 13-8 overall, 9-5 CCC South (tied for third place)
2015 Tournament: Ranked 18th in the Class LL field, the Rams gave everything No. 15 Danbury could handle – and more – before dropping a heartbreaking 8-7 decision on the road in eleven innings.
All Conference Performers from 2015: McKenna Driscoll, Sam Laviero, Allie Martel
Players to Watch: Allie Martel (sr., SS); McKenna Driscoll (sr., C); Brittany Stancavage (sr.); Sam Laviero (sr., INF); Ali Holden (jr., P), Sarah Strilkauskas (jr.), Lindsey Holden (sr., INF); Alexa Caron (sr., OF); Alyssa Pasniewski (jr.); Andreia DeAngelo (so.).
What to expect from the Rams: This squad returns just about every player from last season and is loaded with experience.
It truly helps Central that the experienced battery of junior pitcher Ali Holden (11-5 in 2015, 90 strikeouts, 100 innings pitched, 2.73 ERA) and senior catcher McKenna Driscoll (.403 batting, 25 hits, 13 RBI) are back once again.
Holden is a tough out on the mound while Driscoll is an experience hand behind the plate.
And don’t forget, Holden carries a solid stick, leading the squad with a .478 batting average to go along with 22 hits, eight RBI and, most importantly, a team leading 12 sacrifices.
The group is also led by seniors Allie Martel and Sam Laviero who will man second base and shortstop, respectively.
Martel rebounded for a big season at the plate (.391, 27 hits, 17 RBI, and six home runs) while Laviero didn’t skip a beat either (.375, 24 hits, 13 RBI).
The duo are just as tough at the plate as they are in the infield as defense is their calling card.
Seniors Lindsay Holden (first base, .367, 18 hits, 19 RBI) and Alexa Caron (outfield, .309, 17 hits, eight RBI) also will return to the lineup for the Rams.
Also in the outfield, senior Brittany Stancavage (.241, 14 hits) will be a defensive guru for the squad while juniors Alyssa Pasniewski, and Sarah Strilkauskas (11 hits, 11 RBI, 17 runs) and sophomore Andreia DeAngelo (.333 in four games) also will contribute to the campaign.
A run to the CCC South Blue title is not out of the picture.
CCC South Outlook: Maloney is usually tough but with Newington back in the division, look for the Indians to be contenders while not ruling out Bristol Eastern.
So don’t be surprised if Eastern, Newington, and the Rams are leading the division into the final week of the season.