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Junior pitcher Addy Bullis and the Valley Regional softball team dominated for most of the season with a 21-3 overall record. Bullis tallied 33 strikeouts in the Shoreline Conference Tournament along with two shut out wins. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Lexi Ross and the Warriors softball squad were unable to get past the five-time Shoreline Conference champions, North Branford, as they took a 5-3 loss in the tourney final on May 25. Ross had a pair of hits and two runs scored in the defeat. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Freshman Samantha Pierce notched a base hit in the Warriors 5-3 loss against North Branford in the Shoreline Conference Tournament final on May 25. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Valley Regional softball team’s magical 2019 run has come to an end, after proving to be one of the Shoreline Conferences most formidable opponents. The Warriors reached the Shoreline Conference Tournament final by scoring blow-out wins versus Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, before losing to the defending Shoreline Conference champions, North Branford, on May 25. After that, the Warriors headed to the Class M State Tournament as the top seed, but took a narrow 3-2 home defeat against Law in the second round. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, the Warriors had one of their best seasons in recent memory. Valley finished with an overall record of 21-3 on the year with a young squad full of future promise.
Once the Shoreline Conference Tournament came around, Valley Head Coach Allyson Pitney saw her team lock in to accomplish a singular goal.
“In the first two rounds of the tourney, the girls were so hyper-focused on setting out for our goal,” said Pitney. “They wanted to make it to that finals game, and they knew what needed to be done to get there.”
The Warriors scored a 12-0 home win over Old Saybrook in the Shoreline Conference Tournament quarterfinal on May 23. Valley scored a single run in the second inning before adding four more in the bottom of the third. After another run in the fourth and six more runs in the sixth inning, the game was called after five innings via the mercy rule.
Junior pitcher Addy Bullis picked up the shutout win on the mound allowing only one hit and striking out nine batters. At the plate, Bullis supplied two hits, two runs, and two RBI. Sophomore Hannah Jenkins went 3-for-3 on the day, while junior Lauren Allen provided two base hits and two runs scored. Freshman Mercedes Peno went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run, and sophomore Lexi Ross added two hits, a run, and an RBI. Junior Riley Millburne had a hit, a run, and an RBI, while Vivian Paradis knocked a hit and drove in a run.
The next day, the Warriors hosted Old Lyme in the Shoreline semis and scored a 6-0 win against the Wildcats. Valley opened with a three run salvo in the bottom of the first inning, added two more runs in the third, and tacked on another in the fifth. Old Lyme was never able to close the gap.
Bullis pitched another complete game shutout, allowing only three hits, and striking out 13 batters. The junior also went 3-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. Junior Carlee Kirla went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Allen provided a pair of hits and a couple runs, while Ross had a hit and a run. Peno drove in two runs on one hit, and Paradis had a couple of knocks in the game as well.
After securing the Shoreline finals berth, the Warriors tried to keep everything as simple as possible by staying honed in on the present. Valley’s athletes did their best not to get ahead of themselves.
“We just take it one game at a time. Every game is a big game once you hit the playoffs,” said Pitney. “At that point, you win or go home and the girls put everything on the line to keep everything going right.”
On May 25, Valley and North Branford faced off at Old Lyme High School for the championship. Each team threatened in the first inning with runners in scoring position, but none would cross the plate until North Branford scored in the top of the second for a 1-0 advantage. Bullis struck out two batters with the bases loaded to preserve the one-run deficit.
The Thunderbirds would extend their lead in the top of third on a miscue and a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. The Warriors responded in the bottom of the frame when Bullis hit an RBI single to drive in Ross from second base, and Kirla smoked a double to drive in Bullis to cut it to 3-2.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Valley tied the score at 3-3 on a single from Kirla that drove in Ross. Then in the top of the seventh inning, North Branford got a couple of runners on and drove in a pair. Valley was unable to respond in the bottom of the frame, and the Thunderbirds took the title with the 5-3 victory.
Bullis pitched a complete game allowing two earned runs and striking out 11 batters, and she supplied a hit, a run, and an RBI at the plate. Kirla was 2-for-3 with two RBI, and Ross was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Freshman Samantha Pierce and Jenkins each provided a hit apiece.
“It’s tough, I have to say North Branford played the better game. We were all disappointed. We had six errors and North Branford was able to capitalize,” said Pitney. “They’ve been in this situation before, while a lot of our players haven’t been in those types of situations. We’re young and we have a lot of fight, and that was a new stage to be under that much pressure.”
On May 29, top-seeded Valley hosted No. 17 seed Law and took a 3-2 defeat against the Eagles.
The postseason may not have seemed as successful what preceded it, but Coach Pitney and her team know this was a fantastic year for their club. The future looks bright for the Warriors.
“We are full fire and full of intensity, and we’ll be ready next year for sure,” Pitney said. “It’s a huge accomplishment for us to come that far this season. We’re happy to have that experience under our belt.”
From the Sidelines
The Valley Regional softball team’s roster includes seniors Kelli Schaefer and Mackenzie Toler; juniors Lauren Allen, Addy Bullis, Leah Collins, Julie Hartman, Carlee Kirla, and Riley Millburne; sophomores Sierra Innamorato, Hannah Jenkins, Olivia Porcaro, Lexi Ross, and Lauren Weigman; and freshmen Abby Amara, Ryleigh Czenthe-Wickland, Vivian Paradis, Mercedes Peno, Samantha Pierce, Kaitlyn Precourt, Gabrielle Quinn, Madison Sheehan, and Mia Stack.
Allyson Pitney completed her first year as head coach of the Warriors. Her coaching staff includes assistant coaches Rick Ross and Tom Allen.
Valley’s wins this season came against Somers (8-5), Portland (21-0), North Branford (3-2 and 5-0), Morgan (14-2 and 4-3), Haddam-Killingworth (6-0 and 4-0), Coginchaug (4-1), Cromwell (13-2 and 2-1), Old Lyme (10-3 and 6-0), Hale-Ray (6-3), East Hampton (6-2), Law (11-2), Woodstock Academy (6-4), Westbrook (16-0), Suffield (12-2), and Old Saybrook (11-1 and 12-0).
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