By MICHAEL LETENDRE
City Series Softball
Who: Bristol Eastern at Bristol Central
Where: From the softball field at Bristol Central high school
Time: 3:45 p.m.
Records: Bristol Eastern 6-2 overall; Bristol Central 3-5
Recent History: It’s been all Central recently as no one from the current Eastern team was on the squad the last time the Lancers defeated the Rams at the varsity level. In fact, Central is a clean 8-0 against Eastern over its last eight contests.
The Streak: During that 8-0 streak by the Rams, Central scored at least five runs in every win over Eastern. Last season, the Rams outscored the Lancers 36-4 in two games. However, it will be much closer this time around.
Last Eastern victory over BC: You have to go back to May 22, 2012. In an epic 18-inning challenge, the Lancers survived in the end to take a 6-1 victory from Central in a wild and wooly affair.
Who to watch – Central: Ali Holden is a quality arm for the program while Jenna Ptak is a powerful hitter that can blast the ball all over the field. Sarah Strilkauskas also brings it at third base and at the plate. Central is a young team that has numerous exciting pieces.
Who to watch – Eastern: The squad has bats all over the line-up with the likes of Mikayla Martin, Jordan Fitzsimons, and Taylor Keegan. Throw in first year chucker Erin Girard and the Lancers have something brewing on King Street.
What to expect: Eastern will be tested defensively and that’s a place where the Lancers have be proficient from all season long…Eastern has only made eight miscues this year, averaging one a game and whether it’s Mikayla Martin at third base or Paige McLaughlin behind the plate, that defensive effort must come as a team…Everyone hits for BE as the squad averages 9.8 runs-per-game, taking advantage of several mismatched opponents to open the year…That line-up is tough from top to bottom…For instance, Jordan Fitzsimons – who started the year hitting 10-of-12 from the plate – is averaging an amazing .677 (21-for-31) and is just one of many high-average batters for the Lancers…Makenzie Jankowski has hit safely in seven of eight games and has a dozen hits to her name this year while Taylor Keegan, Martin, Alyssa Hackling, and Girard all have shined at the plate this year…Give credit to McLaughlin, the jack-of-all-trades athlete, as she’s an extremely talented two-way player for the program as well, doing a nice job from behind the plate…And then on the mound, we all know what Girard can do, throwing a perfect game against an overwhelmed Avon squad last week and the freshman, like Central pitcher Ali Holden, is very familiar with those players across town…Ali Rivoira can also get on the mound if needed and can and will throw strikes…The Lancers lost at Windsor (6-2) and versus Middletown (10-2) this season – programs with a combined record of 13-2 – and each of the Bristol squads is 2-1 in games that were decided by four runs are less…But don’t be fooled by the records, this one could be a nail-bitter down to the bitter end…This game starts a stretch of five straight road games for the Lancers…Central has done a good job, getting over a five-game losing streak earlier in the year and recovering from a 1-5 start (though the five teams the Rams have fallen to have a combined record of 29-6 entering today)…Central allows 6.0 runs-per-game but have not yielded a run since losing to Glastonbury 11-4 on April 24…Central has notched a total of 32 runs this season but has the firepower to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard…Sarah Strilkauskas and Jenna Ptak have home run power and those two have been getting it done at the plate all season long and Girard will have to pitch around those foes…Holden is a veteran pitcher who throws the ball over the plate and knows all these Eastern players’ tendencies…Holden struck out 16 in overwhelming East Catholic and then one-hit Wethersfield over Central’s past two showdowns as she has all three of the squad’s wins this season….This is a big game, the first real pressure filled contest for a number of Central’s younger players at the varsity level. It should be interesting to see if those butterflies come to the surface during game play.
And the winner is…Time for the Lancers to finally break through against the Rams, zipping up a 5-4 win on the road and getting to the pay window against Central.