Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sports

North Branford Softball Looking to Take the Final Step This Spring

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After earning 11 wins on the mound last year, senior captain Sydney Senerchia will once again be relied upon to pitch big games for North Branford softball team this spring. The T-Birds have their sights set on having another big season in 2018. Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound

After earning 11 wins on the mound last year, senior captain Sydney Senerchia will once again be relied upon to pitch big games for North Branford softball team this spring. The T-Birds have their sights set on having another big season in 2018. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Sound)

The North Branford softball team had a dream season in 2017 as the Thunderbirds finished with a record of 22-6, won their third straight Shoreline Conference title, and then reached the championship game of the Class M State Tournament. The only thing North Branford didn’t do was take home a state title, and so Head Coach Nick DeLizio’s club enters the 2018 campaign determined to fulfill that goal.

“That state title run, I think we learned a lot and grew as a team. It helped us understand what it takes to win big games,” Coach DeLizio said. “Not getting the result we wanted in the championship game made us realize what we need to do to get over that hump and win a state championship. That is the ultimate goal here.”

Of course, the T-Birds are also looking to win the Shoreline Conference Tournament for the fourth year in a row. DeLizio feels confident that his veteran squad features the right mix of talent and intangibles to keep the conference trophy in North Branford.

“Our goal is always to win the conference first. That’s what we strive for,” DeLizio said. “The girls have worked hard, and that’s a testament to the girls. They know what it takes to find ways to win. We have to have an attitude that we’re going to come out on top.”

Senior captain pitcher Sydney Senerchia will take the mound for most of North Branford’s games, while junior Kaylee Velez will spot start throughout the year. Last year, Senerchia went 11-4 with a 1.60 earned-run average and 134 strikeouts. She pitched in North Branford’s 10-5 win over Hale-Ray in the Shoreline Conference final, as well as every game in the Class M State Tournament. In the T-Birds’ 2018 season opener, Senerchia tossed a three-hitter with 12 strikeouts to lead her team to a 12-0 home win versus Morgan on April 5.

“She’s pitched in tight situations,” said DeLizio of Senerchia. “Those big games should help her with her confidence. I’m confident that she can pitch in those big games. We’re definitely relying on her, because she’s a big-time player for us.”

North Branford’s regular lineup to start the season will feature Kayla Despres (catcher), senior captain Danielle Ramada (first base), senior captain Olivia Hemstock (second base), sophomore Katy Pedersen (shortstop), and freshman Jada Miconi (third base), in addition to juniors Brianna Raccio, Angelina Ramada, and Velez in the outfield. Other players in the mix include juniors Sam DeAngelo, Amy Raucci, and Ashley Anderson; sophomore Rachel Vitarisi and freshman Sofia Anastasia. Pedersen went 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBI, Hemstock had two hits with two runs scored and two RBI, while Ramada doubled and scored three runs in the season-opening win against Morgan.

“Olivia has played a vital role for our success. She already has over 100 career hits. Katy has a lot of power. She is a game-changer,” DeLizio said. “Angelina is being moved from nine to leadoff, and we need Danielle to hit the ball hard somewhere. Her goal is to barrel something up, because she has a lot of strength.”

Expectations remain high for North Branford, but Coach DeLizio knows that it won’t be easy. The T-Birds will have to continue to work hard and improve if they want to take the final step this spring, and DeLizio believes they are ready to do just that.

“We need to work on X, Y, and Z to stay motivated. I told them in practice that I don’t coach them to win the small games. I coach them to win the big games,” he said. “You want to be leaving practice a better player than when you came in. That’s how I try to keep them motivated. We all have a common goal, and that’s what we’re looking to do.”


PJ Foti covers sports for East Haven and North Branford for Zip06. Email PJ at pj.foti@shorepublishing.com.

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