By MICHAEL LETENDRE
City Series Softball
Who: Bristol Central at Bristol Eastern
Where: From the softball field at Bristol Eastern high school, King Street
Time: Monday, 3:45 p.m.
2017 Records: Bristol Central 6-13; Bristol Eastern 16-2 overall
Head Coach: It’s Monica Hayes for Bristol Central and Scott ‘Redeye’ Redman for Bristol Eastern.
Current Streak: The Lancers have won 10 games-in-a-row and haven’t lost since late April (April 28 in fact when Eastern fell to Middletown 10-2); The Rams have dropped six of eight since blasting Plainville 14-4 on May 3.
Last Eastern victory over BC: Last time at Central, on May 1, Eastern defeated the Rams 3-0 behind a stellar effort by pitcher Erin Girard on the mound.
Who to watch – Central: McKenzie Lewis has taken over the pitching duties for the Rams and has done a tremendous job despite some tough circumstances; Leader Sarah Strilkauskas has been a steadying influence – not just in the infield – but overall for the team; Jenna Ptak has been one of the young, exciting players helping the squad along this year; And both Greger girls – cousins Peyton (shortstop) and Morgan (catcher) both are growing with the program.
Who to watch – Eastern: It starts with freshman Erin Girard on the mound, sophomore Paige McLaughlin behind it at catcher, and seniors Mikayla Martin (third base) and Makenzie Jankowski (centerfield). That group brings an outstanding brand of defense to the field every day.
What to expect: Did we talk about the Eastern defense yet? Well, the Rams better be ready as the Lancers – celebrating senior night – are going to be sharp…The Lancers are winners of 10 straight games and Eastern is looking to make it eleven in-a-row…Of course, a victory over the Rams gives the Lancers the CCC South Blue Division championship outright. It’s a credit to the Eastern program and a credit to the kids who, some that are playing varsity of the first time, put in the work…Has Eastern pitcher Erin Girard just given up two earned runs in the month of May?!? Is that correct? Well, yes it is as the chucker is 16-1 overall this season and will lead the Lancers to a top-5 seed in the upcoming Class LL tournament fray…Eastern has allowed only 12 runs over its last 10 games and, seriously, do we have to talk about the Lancers’ defense again?…With the return of shortstop Jordan Fitzsimons, defense has been the calling card of this unit…Here’s the proof: Over Eastern’s last three games, the program has collected only 13 hits. That’s because the defense has come through and it’s only taken a couple to a few runs to get to the pay window…Offensively, the Lancers have been just okay (if just okay means 101 runs for an average of 10.1 per game during that 10-game streak)…Eastern’s approaches at the plate have been solid and whether it’s been the long ball (Mikayla Martin’s three-run homer versus Rocky Hill was the game-winning tally) or the small-ball combinations the team will also employ. Either one will work…This team has talent everywhere on the field: Taylor Keegan (second base), Jill Maghini (left field), Ali Rivoira (outfield), Lauren Aparo (first base), and Nicole D’Amato (outfield)…This is an Eastern squad that’s ready for prime-time…Central is going through a tough season, nearly a mirror image situation that Eastern had to deal with last year in 2016…After losing its pitcher that started the year, McKenzie Lewis has done a tremendous job picking up the slack… Sarah Strilkauskas has been an excellent leader for this team despite being the only senior left standing…The Rams have played an imposing schedule and the very young squad has taken its lumps for it…Central will miss the state tournament for the first time since the early 1990’s but that’s not the story here…The story is a young team, learning from an excellent mentor (Coach Monica Hayes), and trying to put all the pieces together…Let’s see if the Rams can cook up an upset to drop Eastern in the playoff rankings…Don’t forget, Central hasn’t lost on King Street in a very long time.
And the winner is…This one belongs to the Lancers as the squad wraps up the CCC South Blue Division title behind a 8-0 win.