Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Heaphy Shines for the Easties on the Softball Field


Tori Heaphy had a breakout season for the East Haven softball team last year, putting up big numbers for the Yellowjackets both on the mound and at the dish. A junior, Tori still has one more season remaining to compete with the Easties. Photo courtesy of Tori Heaphy

Tori Heaphy had a breakout season for the East Haven softball team last year, putting up big numbers for the Yellowjackets both on the mound and at the dish. A junior, Tori still has one more season remaining to compete with the Easties. (Photo courtesy of Tori Heaphy )

The East Haven softball team was gearing up for a showdown against top-seeded St. Joseph heading into the second round of the 2019 Class L State Tournament. The Cadets had been dominating their competition all year and were sporting a record of 23-0 entering the game. On the mound for the Yellowjackets was sophomore Tori Heaphy.

Tori allowed a leadoff single to St. Joseph’s first batter of the game. After that, Tori didn’t give up another hit for the rest of the contest, ultimately tossing a one-hit shutout to lead East Haven to a 2-0 victory and a place in the state quarterfinals.

“Coming into the game and afterward, I had such incredible emotions going through me. Throughout the game, I had to keep my mentality sharp and strong. After every single pitch, I would say to myself, ‘I can do this,” says Tori, now a junior. “No one expected the victory for us coming in, but I knew that we had a chance. I told myself before the game that this wasn’t going to be where our season ended, and for sure our season didn’t end there. It was an incredible feeling. It was a crazy, crazy event.”

After upsetting the Cadets, East Haven notched two more victories to advance to the championship game of the Class L State Tournament. Tori started all of East Haven’s games in the tourney, allowing just two runs versus Barlow in the quarterfinals, pitching a shutout against Brookfield in the semis, and giving up just two runs to Masuk in a 2-0 loss in the final.

Tori finished the year with a record of 11-5 and a 2.49 earned-run average with 126 strikeouts in 116 innings pitched. She was named East Haven’s Most Valuable Player, earned All-SCC First Team honors, and was also selected to the New Haven Register’s All-Area Team.

Tori’s interest in pitching came when she was eight years old. Tori had been playing tee-ball since she was four and then started playing pee wee softball at age six. When she turned eight, the athletes on the field began pitching, instead of the coaches.

Tori went to her dad, who was her coach at the time, and asked him if she could try pitching. She first took the mound during a fall Little League tournament in Wallingford. Since then, Tori’s love for softball has continued to grow as she’s improved her skills in the circle.

“Instantly, I fell in love with it, and now I’ve come so far. There’s so much more to it now than there was before. I’m in control of the game. I set the tone for the game,” Tori says about pitching. “It’s so much fun, even throwing out in the backyard with my dad. I feel relaxed when I pitch, and it brings me happiness every single time I throw. I think of pitching as an art. I work on my craft very much. There’s always something you can be improving. The possibilities are endless with pitching.”

While Tori made a name for herself as a pitcher last year, she was also producing for East Haven at the plate. Tori posted a .473 batting average with seven doubles, two triples, and four home runs as a sophomore. In her 93 at-bats, she struck out just four times.

When East Haven played Masuk in the state final, Tori recorded her 44th hit of the year, tying Allie Luzzi for the most hits by a Yellowjacket in a single season, a mark that Luzzi had set in 2015.

“I didn’t even know I was remotely close to breaking that record. I had gotten off the field after getting the hit, in the state championship game no less, and Coach [Jenna] Gaudioso told me I had the record,” Tori says. “I was so happy. I was so proud of myself. It’s just an amazing thing, and to go leave my legacy in East Haven softball, it’s just something I’m so grateful and proud of.”

When she isn’t pitching, Tori plays shortstop for East Haven. It’s important for Tori that she’s able to play multiple positions and excel at them. As she looks toward her senior year, Tori wants to continue using her versatility to the Yellowjackets’ benefit, while preparing herself to compete in college.

Ed Crisafi has been East Haven’s head coach since 1994. Crisafi says that he’s rarely seen someone with Tori’s wide variety of abilities on the field during his tenure with the Easties.

“Tori is one of, if not the best two-way player, that I’ve had in 26 years of coaching. She does it all,” says Crisafi. “She doesn’t mind playing shortstop. She’s not one of those players that needs to pitch every game. She has just as much confidence at shortstop as she does pitching. She is looking at colleges already, and she wants to hit and play shortstop when she’s not pitching.”

Tori met Coach Crisafi when she was in 3rd grade, taking part in his softball camps through the 7th grade. Tori looked up to all the high school players and describes them as role models that she still admires.

Now, Tori has become the type of player that she once looked up to. Tori credits coaches Ed Crisafi and Jeff Crisafi, as well as her family, for helping her become the softball player that she is today.

Although she was unable to take the field in her junior year, Tori says that when she wears the blue and yellow as a senior, she will be doing so in honor of all the athletes who lost their final season of high school sports.

“Our team had a lot of excitement and determination for this season. We wanted to be back and better than ever, returning to the state championship,” says Tori. “For next season, I want to keep that same energy going like there was no pause. I hope to channel the emotions of the seniors who had to miss this season. Next year, I want to play for them.”

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