Tigers Hit the Diamond with Eichler
Senior captain Grace Hartmann and the Hand softball squad recently began their first season with program alum Caitlin Eichler as the team’s head coach. Eichler is pleased with the way her club is competing through the first week of the season. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Senior captain Abby Cody and the Hand softball team played a high-scoring game in Branford last week. The Tigers took a 12-10 loss to the Hornets on April 12. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Megan Hart is off to nice start to her junior season while playing the catcher’s position for the Tigers’ softball team. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Freshman Reese Ciecko recently made her high school debut at third base as a member of the Hand softball squad. (Photo by Kelley Fryer/The Source | Buy This Photo)
The Hand softball team is three games into the 2021 season, and the Tigers couldn’t feel more excited about competing after missing all of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Tigers return to the field, they are doing so with a former player as their new head coach.
Hand is welcoming back program alum Caitlin Eichler as its softball coach this spring. Eichler had spent the past 10 seasons as the head coach at Westbrook. Now back at her alma mater, Eichler is looking for her young club to make consistent gains during the course of the campaign.
“This is a predominantly younger team, made up of nine underclassmen and six upperclassmen, so I am expecting the athletes to improve throughout the season and adjust to the faster pace of high school softball,” said Eichler. “I anticipate consistently scoring runs due to the depth of our lineup.”
The Tigers are 0-3 to start their season, taking a pair of two-run defeats in competitive contests. Hand opened its season with a 7-5 loss at Sacred Heart Academy on April 10. Two days later, the Tigers took a 12-10 defeat at Branford in a game that saw Hand bring a 10-7 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Then on April 14, the Tigers lost to Cheshire by a 16-1 score in a home game.
Despite taking a few tough losses, Coach Eichler said that she loves her team’s never-give-up attitude. Eichler feels that attribute will benefit the Tigers as the season unfolds.
“The girls put the ball in play and are solid defensively. They come out strong at the beginning of each game and maintain that intensity throughout all seven innings,” Eichler said. “We like to jump on the board early and build upon those runs every inning. Our goal moving forward is to continue scoring runs and be competitive throughout the season.”
Senior captains Abby Cody and Grace Hartmann have been two of Hand’s top contributors early on this year. Cody is the team’s center fielder and also a pitcher. Hartmann plays shortstop for the Tigers. She had three hits in Hand’s games against Sacred Heart Academy and Branford.
Coach Eichler feels that the Tigers are in good hands with Cody and Hartmann as their captains. Eichler described both of them as “self-motivated leaders on and off the field.”
“Grace is a natural athlete with a high softball IQ. She is able to read the defense and hit or bunt the ball according to how the defense is set up. She is also a middle infielder with a lot of range who consistently makes exceptional plays,” said Eichler. “Abby will split time between center field and the mound. She is extremely competitive and always gives 100 percent.”
Junior right fielder Lilly Perry, junior catcher Megan Hart, and freshman third baseman Reese Ciecko have also been performing well for the Tigers thus far.
Coach Eichler said that Perry is a disciplined hitter who makes solid contact every at-bat, in addition to tracking the ball well defensively. Eichler added that Hart is a well-rounded catcher with a strong arm who blocks the ball well and provides good leadership behind the plate. The Tigers’ coach added that Ciecko has great range with quick hands at third base and will have an impact on the program through the next few years.
Hand’s junior class also includes second baseman Carly Brasky and left fielder Brooke Salutari.
The Tigers’ sophomore class features outfielder Kate Burton, third baseman/outfielder Emma Demetrio, first baseman Lucy Frtizinger, outfielder/first baseman Erin Funk, and first baseman Annie Goodrich.
Hand also has three freshmen on the team in first baseman/outfielder Ella Durso, pitcher Kate Fiorelli, and second baseman Meghan O’Keefe.
As she begins her debut season as the Tigers’ coach, Coach Eichler wants everyone to put safety at the forefront, so that Hand has ample opportunity to improve while playing a complete campaign.
“Our biggest challenge is to ensure the health and safety of our athletes and maintain a playing status. Our goal is to compete in all 18 games and be better than how we started the season,” Eichler said. “We are fortunate enough to allow two fans per Daniel Hand athlete at all home contests, so it has been nice to be able to play in front of our supporters.”