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05/02/2022 12:00 AM

Branford Softball Gaining Pivotal Experience

Senior captain Marzia Johnson is leading a young Branford softball squad that’s gaining pivotal experience on the diamond this year. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

The Branford softball team entered this season with plenty of youth after graduating six seniors from last year’s squad. As the Hornets play through their campaign, Head Coach Tori Ramada wants to see the club’s younger players keep getting better while learning from the veterans as they try to rebuild the program.

Branford played four home games last week and took defeats in all four contests to move to 1-10 on the season. The Hornets dropped decisions against Guilford, East Haven, Lyman Hall, and Amity in recent play.

Branford took a 13-0 loss to Guilford on April 25. Junior Jade Bocciarelli and sophomore Cheyenne Rose had the Hornets’ 2 hits in the game.

The next day, Branford hosted East Haven and lost the game by a 13-1 score. Rose knocked home Branford’s run in the contest. Juniors Paige Kelly and Caroline Johnson each had a hit. Senior Marzia Johnson pitched the first 4 innings for the Hornets, allowing 2 earned runs and striking out 6.

The Hornets went on to take an 18-7 loss to Lyman Hall the following afternoon. Branford got on the board first, grabbing a 1-0 lead after the first inning. The game remained close with the Hornets trailing 5-4 after the third, but Lyman Hall used a 6-run fourth inning to widen its lead and went on to get the victory.

Sophomore Madigan Lawler had 2 hits with 3 RBI and a run scored, while Johnson had 2 hits, 2 scored, and an RBI for the Hornets. Bocciarelli scored 3 runs for Branford. Johnson struck out 13 batters in the game.

Branford finished the week by taking a 17-0 defeat to Amity on April 29. Kelly, Caroline Johnson, and freshman Ava Holyst had the Hornets’ 3 hits in the contest.

Although Branford was on the receiving end of four losses last week, Coach Ramada was impressed with the fight and composure that the Hornets displayed while taking on some difficult opponents.

“I’m really proud of their positivity,” said Ramada. “The team meshed well against four really tough teams this week.”

Marzia Johnson is serving as the lone senior captain for Branford this season. Johnson has been with the program for four years and is Hornets’ primary starting pitcher. Coach Ramada said that Johnson has shown strong leadership qualities since her freshman year and turned herself into a critical member of the Branford softball program.

“Marzia is an outstanding athlete and leader. Her knowledge of the game and willingness to help the younger players is what makes her such a great captain,” Ramada said. “Marzia shows an exemplary skill set in both the game and building team morale. She has shown those qualities since she was a freshman.”

Coach Ramada said that Johnson is doing a phenomenal job in her role as the Hornets’ starting pitcher, saying that the senior captain has great placement on her pitches. Lawler, who learned some new pitches in the offseason, is also member of Branford’s staff. Ramada said that Lawler has been looking sharp and is using what she learned during the offseason to her benefit in the circle.

When Johnson or Lawler is pitching, they are being caught by either sophomore Veronica Holyst or freshman Ava Holyst. The two also split time as the Hornets’ starting left fielder. Around the infield, Caroline Johnson plays first base for Branford, while Bocciarelli is at second. Kelly plays shortstop, and Lawler patrols the hot corner at third. In the outfield, Rose plays center field for the Hornets, and freshman Italia Bruno is in right field.

Along with her work on the mound, Marzia Johnson is also counted on as a top power hitter in Branford’s lineup. Lawler is the Hornets’ cleanup hitter and has proved a crucial source of RBI. Coach Ramada said that Kelly has been a force on the basepaths for the Hornets, while Rose and Caroline Johnson are coming up clutch in the batter’s box.

Whether it’s the pitching staff or the batting order, there is no doubt that the Hornets have a young club. Ramada said the team’s underclass athletes understand that this year is all about growth. As those up-and-comers look to improve, Coach Ramada said that Branford’s older players are doing a great job of leading the way.

“We have a very young team this year, and we are working towards adding more knowledge of the game to their prior experience,” said Ramada. “Our upperclassmen have really taken the underclassmen under their wings and helped improve the team as a whole.”

While this may be a rebuilding year for the Hornets, Coach Ramada is happy that everyone on this year’s team has bought into her vision for the program. Ramada feels pleased that her players always come to the field ready to work and do everything they can to improve every aspect of the Branford softball squad going forward.

“We’re in a rebuilding season where the younger girls are gaining the knowledge of being on a varsity team,” Ramada said. “We’re really proud of their hard work and dedication to learning and working hard to achieve their goals.”

The Branford softball team’s roster features senior captain Marzia Johnson; seniors Carley Ortiz and Hailey Seay; juniors Jade Bocciarelli, Caroline Johnson, and Paige Kelly; sophomores Lyra Clifford, Cheyenne Rose, Veronica Holyst, and Madigan Lawler; and freshmen Shelby Burnham, Ava Holyst, Meredith Rebmann, and Italia Bruno.

Junior Paige Kelly is patrolling the shortstop position for the Hornets’ softball team during the 2022 spring campaign. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound