This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published April 29, 2019
The Valley Regional softball team just keeps chugging along this spring. After picking up recent wins over Hale-Ray and East Hampton, the Warriors remained undefeated and improved their record to 10-0 on the season. First-year Head Coach Allyson Pitney’s squad has already qualified for the Class M State Tournament and has a victory versus four-time defending Shoreline Conference champion North Branford under its belt. As the Warriors head into the second half of their campaign, they are looking to keep on rolling right into the playoffs.
Now that Valley has announced its presence with authority, Coach Pitney wants her athletes to continue focusing on what’s made them successful thus far.
“I think being ‘the team to beat’ is a new concept for these players. I’m not sure it has completely sunk in yet, but staying undefeated is now probably a lot of pressure, whether they acknowledge it or not,” said Pitney. “To help prepare our athletes, our emphasis is focusing on the things they have control of: their attitude, their concentration, and their effort. We remind them each game to play pitch by pitch, one play at a time.”
On April 24, Valley hosted Hale-Ray and notched a 6-3 victory against the Noises. Sophomore Lexi Ross went 2-for-4 with a triple, an RBI, and scored two runs in the win. Junior pitcher Addy Bullis turned in a complete game effort by pitching seven innings while allowing only one earned run to go with 11 strikeouts. Bullis also helped her cause at the plate with a 3-for-4 showing that included an RBI and a run scored. Freshman Mercedes Peno had a big two-run single in the fifth inning and a total of three RBI on the day. Senior Kelli Schaefer worked three walks and scored two runs.
Coach Pitney has been impressed with the way her team continues finding ways to win games this year. Even when the odds are against the Warriors, they’ve received contributions from players up and down their roster who are spurring the team to victory.
“This season has been a true team effort. Literally everyone is contributing to our success, and this past week is a perfect example,” Pitney said. “We played games against Hale-Ray and East Hampton with nearly half of our players unable to play—either away for a band and chorus trip to Chicago or out due to illnesses—but the remaining players stepped up and did what it took to get the wins for their team.”
The day after defeating Hale-Ray, the Warriors traveled to East Hampton and notched a 6-2 win against the Bellringers. Bullis gave another great effort on the mound by tossing all seven innings with one earned run allowed and 14 strikeouts. She also went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Bullis is playing a huge role in Valley’s success this season, sporting a record of 10-0 with a 0.95 earned-run average to go with a .625 batting average and 11 RBI. With Bullis thriving on the mound, she’s also receiving plenty of support from the defense behind her.
“While Addy’s pitching has been important to our success, the strong defense has been just as valuable. Our infield and outfield work like a well-oiled machine. The players know what to do situationally, both with the ball and where coverage needs to be,” Pitney said. “The players’ anticipation has been great. As a result of our preparation in practice, we’ve been able to minimize mental mistakes, which have limited any big innings. Clutch hitting and heads-up base running have also helped spark our own big innings.”
Junior Carlee Kirla went 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored, four RBI, and a stolen base in Valley’s win over East Hampton. Sophomore Lexi Ross hit a double and scored two runs, while Peno had two hits, including a double, with an RBI.
Kirla, who is playing catcher after having moved from first base, has a .516 batting average with nine runs and 15 RBI on the season. Third baseman Ross is hitting .618 with 18 runs scored and nine RBI. Junior shortstop Lauren Allen has a .459 batting average with 13 runs and 12 RBI. Senior Kelli Schaefer, who can play multiple positions, is hitting at a .417 clip.
Pitney attributes much of this year’s success to all the hard work that her athletes put in during the offseason. Pitney feels pleased that the Warriors’ desire to hone their craft is yielding such outstanding results on the diamond.
“Something that has definitely contributed to our success is the dedication of many of the athletes on the team. The majority of the girls play in the offseason, improving their skills,” said Pitney. “They understand that very successful teams have players that commit to playing year-round. Based on their nonstop effort, it’s clear they want to be a great team.”
Coach Pitney believes that Valley is fielding a special team in 2019. She said that her athletes are committed to winning and are doing so while having tons of fun in the process.
“This team has been remarkable in their willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Many of them have been playing year-round, and they also want to stay after practice for more reps in the cage or more fielding practice,” Pitney said. “There’s an intensity about them that is infectious, and they do it all with a smile.”
From the Sidelines
The Valley Regional softball team’s roster includes seniors Kelli Schaefer and Mackenzie Toler; juniors Lauren Allen, Addy Bullis, Leah Collins, Julie Hartman, Carlee Kirla, and Riley Millburne; sophomores Sierra Innamorato, Hannah Jenkins, Olivia Porcaro, Lexi Ross, and Lauren Weigman; and freshmen Abby Amara, Ryleigh Czenthe-Wickland, Vivian Paradis, Mercedes Peno, Samantha Pierce, Kaitlyn Precourt, Gabrielle Quinn, Madison Sheehan, and Mia Stack.
Allyson Pitney is in her first year as head coach of the Warriors. Her coaching staff includes assistant coaches Rick Ross and Tom Allen.
For the rest of the season, Valley has home contests versus Morgan, Coginchaug, and Old Saybrook on its schedule. The Warriors also have road games against North Branford, Haddam-Killingworth, Law, Cromwell, Woodstock Academy, Westbrook, and Suffield.