Valley Softball Punches State Tourney Ticket
The 2022 season has been all business for the Valley Regional softball team. With their regular-season record finalized at 8-11, the Warriors are eyeing a deep run through the postseason after clinching a berth in the Class M State Tournament last week.
Valley solidified its spot in states with a 10-8 win at Windsor Locks, after which the Warriors took a 7-2 road loss to Somers in their regular-season finale. While her team has seen some ups and downs throughout the season, Head Coach Allyson Pitney feels confident that Valley is well-prepared for the playoffs, where every game is a must win.
“Our season has been a bit of a mixed bag—some really great wins, but also some tough losses in winnable games,” Pitney said. “There’s no looking forward to the next game or next season when it comes to playoffs.”
Coach Pitney has been telling the Warriors to take things game by game all season long, and that message isn’t going to change with the playoffs on the way. Pitney feels pleased with her team’s progression over the course of the campaign and believes that those improvements will be vital for Valley during the team’s postseason appearance.
“It’s been great to see how the team has improved since the beginning of the season, as some of our rematches from the beginning of the season were much more competitive the second time around,” said Pitney. “We definitely hit our stride in the second half of the season as some unsung contributors started to show up more consistently.”
Valley punched its ticket into the Class M State Tournament by earning a 10-8 victory in Windsor Locks on May 16. The game was tied 7-7 entering the top of the sixth inning, where the Warriors plated 3 runs to take the lead.
Senior Abby Amara had a huge day at the plate by going 3-for-3 with 2 doubles, 3 runs scored, and an RBI for Valley Regional. Senior captain Cede Pino went 2-for-2 with a walk, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBI; senior Sammy Pierce was 2-for-3 with a run and 2 RBI; and senior Gabi Quinn went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the victory.
Senior captain Vivian Paradis went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, 3 runs scored, and an RBI for Coach Pitney’s squad. Sophomore Riley Soares went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI; while senior Kenzie Mulé was 1-for-4 with a double and 2 RBI. Mulé also pitched a complete game with 5 strikeouts to notch the win on the mound.
Two days later, Valley was back on the road to face Somers and took a 7-2 defeat in the contest. Senior Madison Sheehan went 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Warriors. Soares also had RBI, while Pierce scored both of the Valley’s runs in the contest.
Although her team wasn’t able to finish its regular season with a victory, Coach Pitney said that she’s been impressed with Valley’s overall improvements on offense from the top to the bottom of the batting order since the start of the year.
“We’re stringing together some hits and keeping rallies going. In early games, we were able to get runners on, but left them stranded,” Pitney said. “The last few games, however, we’re getting some timely hits to score, regardless of where we are in the order.”
While the Warriors were hoping to enter the postseason on a winning streak, the loss to Somers didn’t damper their spirits. Valley was excited to clinch a berth in the Class M State Tournament with its win versus Windsor Locks, and the team has also qualified for the Shoreline Conference Tournament. Now, every contest is essentially a one-game season for the Warriors in the playoffs.
“Of course, there’s always excitement and some nerves heading into the postseason with ‘win-or-go-home’ situations. We will take it one game at a time and leave everything on the field,” said Pitney. “We have to stay 100-percent focused on the current game. If we get distracted from that, it could be the end of our season and time to say good-bye to our senior players.”
Valley’s senior class features the two captains, Paradis and Peno, along with Amara, Mulé, Pierce, Quinn, Sheehan, and Ryleigh Czenthe-Wickland. The group has proved a productive core for Coach Pitney’s club, and she knows that the Warriors wouldn’t be on their way to states with those contributions.
In terms of the junior class, pitcher Anna Benson is enjoying a solid season in the circle and typically gives the team a shot to win every ballgame.
“We’ve enjoyed consistent pitching from Anna Benson and consistent offense as a team, but our defense has been a bit streaky with untimely physical and mental errors,” Pitney said. “Our 8-11 record just doesn’t reflect how great of a season Anna Benson has been having on the mound. She’s really been putting us in positions to win games.”
With a week of preparation and the intensity rising, the Warriors are still taking things on a day-by-day basis as they get ready to dive into the playoff fray. Coach Pitney is emphasizing the importance of staying true to Valley softball and everything that entails. More than anything else, Pitney wants the Warriors to play together as a team and always be there for one another as they pursue their postseason goals.
“We are Valley softball. It’s a team sport, and we have to play that way,” said Pitney. “We struggle together, we succeed together. We win together, we lose together. When one of us commits an error or strikes out, we have to pick each other up and move on.”