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06/26/2022 12:00 AM

Guilford Softball Enjoys Sensational Season

Sophomore Sophia Meade pitched plenty of great games to help the Guilford softball team finish the 2022 season with a record of 19-4, marking a huge improvement from last year. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier

The Guilford softball team went on an amazing journey as it improved from a 7-win season last year to earn 19 victories during the 2022 campaign. The young Grizzlies’ club put together a 17-game win streak on its way to claiming a division title while securing berths in both the SCC Tournament and the Class L State Tournament this spring. With only three seniors on a small squad, Guilford’s success was nothing less than incredible.

Head Coach Meghan Wiese was looking for her team to make improvements after missing out on states by just one win last season. The Grizzlies started this year by splitting their first four games before rattling off 17 victories in a row. With her team standing at 2-2, Coach Wiese emphasized the importance of taking things on a game-by-game basis to her players.

“In some situations, we would take deep breaths in between innings to regroup and refocus on our game,” Wiese said. “I think the girls learned that such a simple exercise can make a huge difference.”

Learning how to deal with the ups and downs of a season was critical for Guilford this year. Following their .500 start, the Grizzlies never looked back and notched several key victories during the regular season, including impressive wins against East Lyme and Cheshire on back-to-back days in late April.

Guilford’s 8-7 victory versus East Lyme was decided in extra innings after the team rallied to tie the game in seventh. Senior Ava Singleton scored the game-winning run in the eighth inning on a single by sophomore Sophia Meade, who also tossed a complete game for the Grizzlies. Junior Sophia Stanger and sophomore Addie Smith each had 2 RBI in the contest.

Guilford was back on the field to face Cheshire the next day and came away with a 6-5 win that was spurred by a 3-run home run from Smith, who went 3-for-3 with 4 RBI on the day. Meade earned another victory on the mound for Guilford.

Coach Wiese felt that the Grizzlies’ ability to win close games while supporting each other in all circumstances proved crucial to their success throughout the season.

“We had our games of struggling at the plate or making key errors, but we never hung our heads,” said Coach Wiese. “We continued to stay focus, and there was always someone there to pick someone up.”

Guilford wrapped up its regular season by posting a 9-0 shutout over Morgan. The Grizzlies then entered the SCC Tournament and edged out Hand by a 3-2 score in a quarterfinal game. Freshman Ella Munson turned in a big performance by going 2-for-3 with a home run that gave Guilford the lead. Meade struck out 8 batters to pick up the win in the circle.

The Grizzlies went on to take a 1-0 loss to Jonathan Law in the SCC semifinals, after which they lost a 1-0 decision against Fitch in the second round of the Class L bracket to finish at 19-4 overall. Despite those defeats, Coach Wiese feels beyond proud about what Guilford accomplished this season, along with the camaraderie that her team displayed while doing so.

“I am most proud of this team’s chemistry. Everyone played hard, respected one another, and was ready to take on whatever was in front of them,” Wiese said. “To be able to go from 7-13 a year ago to 19-4 is amazing, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with any other team.”

Guilford’s loss to Fitch in the state tourney marked the final game in a Grizzlies’ uniform for senior captain Allie Petonito, Singleton, and fellow senior Maddy Smith. Coach Wiese feels grateful to have had the chance to coach the trio and is eager to see what’s in store for them in the future.

“Allie, Maddy, and Ava all have played an integral role on this team since their freshman year,” said Wiese. “Although these three may not be continuing their softball careers at the next level, all three are going places and will be missed come next season.”

The leadership of Guilford’s three seniors guided the club to its successful run this season. The Grizzlies clinched their first divisional title since 1999 by winning the SCC Hammonasset crown on their way to a regular-season record of 18-2. Guilford’s turnround from last year, highlighted by its 17-game win streak, impressed Coach Wiese beyond measure.

“Going into the season and knowing our schedule, I was confident we would put one or two winning streaks together, but to win 17 games in row was incredible,” Wiese said. “We went six weeks without a loss and, within those six weeks, I think we grew stronger and closer as a team.”

Coach Wiese credits many players for the success of the team this season, and several of those athletes earned recognition within the SCC for their performance. Senior captain shortstop Petonito and sophomore catcher Addie Smith each garnered All-SCC First Team accolades, marking the second year in a row that both players made All-Conference. Sophomore pitcher Meade and freshman first baseman Munson were selected to the All-SCC Second Team.

Coach Wiese is excited for the opportunity to guide Guilford to another solid season next year. There are going to be big shoes to fill with the graduation of the three seniors, but Wiese feels confident the Grizzlies returning core of players will be ready to lead the program to continued success.

“This team is returning several key starters next year. In addition, I am sure a few players will put in the work in the offseason and make an impact in next year’s success,” said Wiese. “This team’s culture and drive will take them places, and they will continue to make an impact in the SCC.”

Looking back at the recent season, Coach Wiese will always remember how the dedication of her players helped Guilford turn the tide and put together a remarkable campaign in 2022.

“This team will always have a special place in my heart, and I couldn’t be more proud of them all,” Wiese said. “They’re resiliency, dedication and, most importantly, support of one another were the driving factors to our team’s success.”

The Guilford Grizzlies’ softball team’s roster for the 2022 season featured senior captain Allie Petonito; seniors Maddy Smith and Ava Singleton; juniors Charlotte Martocci, Sami Green, and Sophia Stanger; sophomores Marley Falcone, Sadie Iozzia, Adrianna Piascik, Sophia Meade, Sofia Cuozzo, and Addie Smith; and freshman Ella Munson.

Senior captain Allie Petonito capped off her Guilford softball career by earning All-SCC First Team honors for a Grizzlies’ squad that claimed a division title in the midst of a 17-game win streak this spring. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier
Sophomore Addie Smith blasted a big 3-run homer to help the Grizzlies make a statement with a 6-5 victory versus Cheshire during the recent spring season. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier
Ava Singleton was one of three seniors who led the Guilford softball squad to a magical campaign on the diamond this year. File photo by Wesley Bunnell/The Courier