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Junior pitcher Addy Bullis and the Valley Regional softball team finished the 2019 season with a record of 21-3, as well an appearance in the Shoreline Conference Tournament championship. Bullis went 21-2 with a 0.75 ERA and 290 strikeouts to earn the Shoreline Conference Pitcher of the Year Award. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior Lexi Ross posted a .645 batting average on her way to garnering All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors for the Warriors’ softball squad in the 2019 season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
Junior catcher Carlee Kirla was presented with Valley Regional’s Defensive Player of the Year Award and also earned All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention this spring. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)
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The Valley Regional softball team posted one of its best seasons in recent memory this year, going 19-1 during the regular season before giving a strong showing in the postseason, as well. The Warriors made their way to the Shoreline Conference Tournament final by scoring blow-out wins versus Old Saybrook and Old Lyme, but then lost to the five-time Shoreline Conference champions, North Branford. Valley also earned to top seed in the Class M State Tournament, but lost to Law in the second round by a close 3-2 margin. The Warriors finished with an overall record of 21-3 on the year with a mostly young team that only graduates two seniors before next season.
Looking back at her first season at the helm of Valley softball, Head Coach Allyson Pitney thought the Warriors’ campaign was a great success. Of course, Pitney would have loved to see a different result in the Shoreline Conference Tournament final, but her team showed heart and won often with little high-leverage experience under its belt.
“Overall, I think the season was fantastic. Unfortunately, the season came to an abrupt end. After you go 19-1 during the regular season, it’s tough to have those few losses come in the playoffs,” said Coach Pitney. “But, everyone who watches Valley softball sees this season as a positive and as a successful season altogether.”
Pitney believes that one stretch during the regular season showed her coaching staff and the Warriors that they had a special season on their hands. That stretch came at the beginning of the season when Valley had to face North Branford in its third contest of the year. After earning a 3-2 win over the Thunderbirds, the Warriors picked up another big 4-1 win over Coginchaug just a couple of games later and they were off to the races.
“After winning against North Branford and then coming out on top against Coginchaug when we played at Coginchaug, that was the point that the girls realized that we could really achieve our goals this season,” said Pitney. “That’s when we knew that we really had the potential, and that the sky was the limit.”
One of the biggest contributors to that unlimited potential was junior pitcher Addy Bullis, who went 21-2 on the season with a 0.75 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Bullis was also impressive at the plate with a .672 batting average, 28 RBI, and two homeruns. The junior garnered plenty of honors this season earning Shoreline Conference Pitcher of the Year, All-Shoreline Conference First Team, All-State, and Valley’s Most Valuable Player. Pitney believes that Bullis’s no-nonsense attitude on the field contributed to her success.
“I think something that sets Addy aside from other players is her intensity and ferocity. She is 100-percent business 100 percent of the time in the game,” said Pitney. “She has a bubbly personality, but come game time, she puts her game face on.”
Behind the plate catching for Bullis was junior Carlee Kirla. She had a big impact at the plate with a .423 average and 28 RBI. Kirla was a steady hand behind the plate and earned Valley’s Defensive Player of the year award on top of All-Shoreline Conference Honorable Mention.
“We knew we could trust Carlee behind the plate to catch Addy,” said Pitney. “She had great vision looking out at the rest of the field, and we named her our Defensive Player of the Year.
Bullis and Kirla both led the team in RBI, and they ended up driving in third baseman Lexi Ross and shortstop Lauren Allen a great deal of the time. Ross batted lead off for the Warriors and had a .645 average with 39 runs scored, 14 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. Ross earned the Warriors’ Offensive Player of the Year Award and All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors. Allen had a .430 average, 30 runs, and 17 RBI, and she also earned the Warriors’ Coaches’ Award.
“Lexi’s a slap hitter, and she’s a versatile hitter. When it comes down to it we can rely on her to get on base, and that’s why she was our lead-off hitter,” said Pitney. “I think Lauren is someone who doesn’t get enough credit. We have players like Addy and Lexi who gt a lot of attention. Lauren is a quiet presence, and looking at our stats she has the third highest RBI total and second-most runs.”
It wasn’t all juniors making an impact for the Warriors, though. Freshman centerfielder Vivian Paradis earned the Warriors’ Rookie of the Year with a .314 batting average that included some hits during big moments for Valley.
“Even as a freshman, Vivian was one of the most vocal players on the field, and she would always call out where players needed to be,” Pitney said. “Her offensive efforts didn’t go unnoticed either. She had some clutch hits in our closer games this season.”
Attitude is everything, and one of the players that brought a never-quit demeanor was senior Kelli Schaefer, who earned Valley’s Warrior Award. Schaefer had to sit out a season, but came back this year willing to do whatever it took for the Warriors.
“Kelli didn’t play last year, and when she came back this season, she brought positivity and versatility,” Pitney said. “She would play anywhere with no notice. She used her athleticism to fill in any position.
She always took initiative.” Getting Valley’s Most Improved Player Award was freshman Mia Stack. Stack played a mix of varsity and JV games, but she made the postseason roster for her baserunning ability.
“Over the season Mia improved an incredible amount. She pitched quite a bit for the JV team,” said Pitney. “She was courtesy running for Addy toward the end of the season, and she improved on her baserunning so much.”
As for the future, Coach Pitney knows that her team will come back with purpose next year. That coupled with the added experience of a Shoreline final should make the Warriors even more formidable in 2020.
“I just think it has been an incredible experience so far in my first season. To have such a successful season and to have such a bright future ahead is definitely exciting,” Pitney said. “There’s definitely a bright future for softball, and a lot of our girls are playing in the offseason right now. Next year, I think we’ll be able to go into the higher pressure games with the experience of being there before. It will help in the Shoreline tournament and at states.”
From the Sidelines
The Valley Regional softball team’s roster this year featured 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 campaign 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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