By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – If the Bristol Central softball team sets a goal to qualify for the postseason, expect the squad to turn that desire into a reality.
But there’s plenty of youth on the squad and if the team can put all the pieces together, then the regular season should be a successful one.
Led by veterans such as Kayla Beaulieu and Jenna Ptak, Central is in good position to be successful in 2018.
Let’s take a look at the Rams:
Head Coach: Monica Hayes (4th year)
Overall Record: 35-28
Last season’s Ledger: 6-14 overall, 5-5 CCC South Blue (third place)
2017 Tournament: Did not qualify.
All Conference Performers from 2017: Jenna Ptak and Kayla Beaulieu
Strength: Returning contributors
Key Losses: Ali Holden (sr., P), Sarah Strilkauskas (sr., 3B, Captain)
Players to Watch: Kayla Beaulieu (jr., 1B); Sierra Reed (sr., OF); Jenna Ptak (jr., 2B); Gianna Annelli (jr., OF); Makenzie Lewis (jr., OF/P); Xia’ian Carrasco (sr., OF/1B); Mia Santilli (so., utility); Morgan Greger (so., UTL); Peyton Greger (so., SS); Gwen Torreso (fr. IF); Brooke Soucy (fr. IF); Kayleigh Dionne (fr. UT); Janessa Bartell (fr, UT); Kayla St. Onge (fr, UT).
What to expect from the Rams: For a such a young team last year, compared to other campaigns by Central, the Rams got the most out of its personnel and extremely came close to playoff qualification.
Central lost three games by three runs or less – including two by a single run – so the Rams making the state tournament was almost a reality.
That should give this season’s squad more than a little hope and a goal to reach for.
a good portion of the line-up has returned and that’s certainly a positive for the program.
And there’s some new, exciting talent on the squad in the form of the freshman class. It’s simply a matter of putting the right mix together.
“The Rams can return to state tournament play if we can find the right combination of youthful talent,” said Hayes. “Effort, talent, and execution can result in wins; it’s a matter of how consistently this young team can do the latter that will essentially determine our fate.”
Youth is the word to describe the squad as only Sierra Reed (outfielder) and Xia’ian Carrasco (outfielder/first base) are the only seniors on the squad.
Several sophomores and even some freshman will have to man key positions on the squad as the season unfolds.
But there’s solid talent and a willingness to get better so matching and exceeding that six-win total from one year ago is probable.
“This young squad is eager to learn so regardless of our end of season record, there will be much improvement within the Bristol Central softball program in 2018,” said Hayes.
Two juniors who will lead the program, Kayla Beaulieu (first base) and Jenna Ptak (second base, .440 batting average), have grown with the team and are looking for a postseason date.
Beaulieu and Ptak are certainly some of the more seasoned players and Hayes expects “consistency and leadership” from the duo.
Others that will provide support for the program includes four sophomores: Mia Santilli (utility), Morgan Greger (utility), Peyton Greger (shortstop), and Mia Santilli (outfield).
And then there’s a hungry freshmen crew, looking to crack the line-up.
You can expect some big things from Gwen Torreso (infielder), Brooke Soucy (infielder), Kayleigh Dionne (utility), Janessa Bartell (utility), and Kayla St. Onge (utility).
This isn’t Hayes’s first rodeo for the team at Bristol Central.
She grew up with the program and with another unique challenge put in front of the squad, state tournament qualification should be in this team’s future if the mix and chemistry is right.
CCC South, Patriot Division Outlook: It’s a three-team race in the CCC South Patriot Division. So who looks good in the division according to Hayes?
“Bristol Eastern’s pitching puts them over the top and makes them the favorite,” said Hayes.
With the current schedule, that means Central will have to battle in 16 CCC crossover games and while some of those opponents will be bigger, stronger or more experienced, the Rams should be able to put up a fight against any team.