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Junior Sarah Lombardi garnered All-Conference distinction with the North Haven softball squad this spring, while helping the Indians claim their first SCC Tournament title in program history. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Lombardi )
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Junior Sarah Lombardi had an outstanding season at the plate for the North Haven softball team this spring. Sarah’s offensive success helped the Indians have a historic year in which they went 19-5, won their second straight Oronoque Division title, and then captured their first SCC Tournament crown with a 12-8 victory versus Amity in the final.
Sarah had a big day in the championship game by going 3-for-3 with a double, a walk, and three RBI. She received the SCC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award that’s named in honor of Danielle “Danni” Kemp, a former softball player at Foran High School who passed away last year. Sarah was also an All-SCC selection for the 2018 season.
“These were my first awards. It means a lot, especially the tournament award, because it’s named after Danni Kemp,” says Sarah. “It meant a lot, because I was held to a high standard and able to do it.”
Sarah worked her way up to the third spot in North Haven’s batting order and finished the year with a .492 batting average to go with a .542 on-base percentage and a .975 slugging percentage. She had 35 hits, 22 runs, 22 RBI, four doubles, three triples, and seven home runs.
“When I step up to the plate, I need to stay focused. I know I’m going to get a hit. I need to have a mindset where I know what I have to do to get a hit,” Sarah says. “I stay calm and let myself do the work. I know how to do it. I just have to let it happen.”
As a sophomore last year, Sarah played designated hitter and clubbed three home runs for the Indians. She put in a good amount of work during the offseason and saw a natural progression at the dish this spring.
“I wouldn’t say power is a main thing, but it just came with training. It just came to me this year when I came up to bat,” she says. “In the offseason, I go every week to my batting coach and we hit, do certain drills, and go over what you do in certain situations. Going into the batter’s box during a game, because of the extra training—whether it’s a 3-1 count, bases loaded, or nobody on—having that is nice because it almost relaxes me because I trained for that.”
Indians’ Coach Karen Castagnola knows how prepared Sarah is when she steps into the batter’s box. That’s why Castagnola always has a smile on her face when it’s Sarah’s turn to take her at-bat.
“She has great mechanics, great eye for the ball, and is very disciplined at the plate,” Castagnola says. “I have all the confidence that she’s going to get the job done and, most of the time, she comes through.”
Sarah also took over as North Haven’s full-time second baseman this season. Even though that was her primary spot on the field, Sarah still considers herself a versatile player for the Indians.
“I’m usually a utility player, which means I can play infield or outfield. Really, wherever I’m needed. [Second base] has been my primary spot this year, but last year I mostly played DH for the team, so I didn’t play in the field. This year, with more openings, I worked hard and kind of claimed the second base spot,” says Sarah. “It’s very important to be versatile. In our first game, I had to play right field because we were missing some players. A few games in, our shortstop got hurt, so I played there, too. I think it’s important to play where I’m needed.”
With one year of softball still to go at North Haven, Sarah looks back at her junior season with great pride. The Indians’ SCC Tournament run was special for Sarah and her teammates, especially since it marked the first conference title in program history.
“It was actually really amazing. All the girls work so hard and all coaches had so much confidence in us, so it was really nice to be a part of,” Sarah says. “It was a really good feeling to take it home.”
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