By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – When the postseason starts for the Bristol Eastern softball team, a valuable member of the squad won’t be partaking in the postseason.
Freshman Zoe Lowe, who has made a huge impact on the program, broke her thumb in practice last week and is out.
And when asked about her status, Eastern coach Score Redman didn’t sugarcoat it.
“She broke her thumb,” said Redman of Lowe. “She’s done for the year.”
Lowe has been outstanding in the outfield for the Lancers, considering her strength in Little League was as an infielder.
She adapted to the high school game well on both sides of the ball and quickly became the team leader in home runs.
But just like the Boston Celtics have dealt with this season, injured players means other had to change their game and step up.
“It’s disappointing but you’ve got to make adjustments,” said Redman. “You’ve got to adjust on the fly. Next girl up,” said Redman. We’ve stepped up. We haven’t missed a beat the last week without her. You can’t think about those things.”
“Injuries happen and that’s why you don’t play with nine (batters).”
And this team, which finished 14-4 this season and has won five straight games, is more than ready for the Class LL challenge.
Last season, the Lancers exited the first round as No. 4 Eastern was shocked by No. 29 Wilton, which came in and defeated the Lancers 5-1 from Bristol.
Tough lessons were learned that day and several of those players are ready for another crack at it in the Class LL fray.
“We still have a young team…but there’s a lot of kids back from last year,” said Redman. “They definitely remember it. Hopefully, this will be a very sharp week of practice getting ready for whomever we end up playing. This is the fun. This is can you get hot and make a run?”
“We’ve got a good core so we’ll see what happens.”
Eastern’s battery of Erin Girard and Paige McLaughlin had a great campaign while Taylor Keegan and company are looking forward to a long playoff run.
Currently, the Lancers were ranked eighth in the Class LL tournament fray.
Bristol Central, meanwhile, is back in the Class L playoff mix and at 9-11, the squad will be a tough out – ranked around No. 20 or so.
And once the Rams qualified for the postseason in an 8-4 win over Manchester on May 11, Central was still treating every game like it was a tournament qualifying contest.
And it paid off, even in losses.
Central fell to Newington on May 16 by just a 6-5 push while the Rams were 3-0 losers to Eastern last Monday though the squad from the school on the hill played very well in defeat.
“Once we qualified early last week, I tried to get them prepared and today [against Eastern], I thought they played at a really high level for a long time,” said Central coach Monica Hayes. “We just got to get a hit with somebody on base.”
And speaking of batteries, Central’s twosome of Peyton and Morgan Greger are legit and might have flown a bit under the radar this year.
Throw in players like Jenna Ptak, Kayla Beaulieu, and Gwen Torreso and this squad is looking to score a playoff upset…or two.
“I’m a lot more confident after playing this [Eastern] game going into the state tournament than I was after the Newington game,” said Hayes. “I’m been trying to put them in a mental frame of mind where every game is a tournament game.”