Greenwich High softball back with a vengeance

GHS senior Bailey Robben stretches out to make the play during Monday’s practice. — John Ferris Robben photo

GHS senior Bailey Robben stretches out to make the play during Monday’s practice. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School head coach Mary Beth Fratello has every reason to have a big smile on her face while watching her softball team during practice this season.

Last season, Big Red had one of the most successful softball teams in nearly a decade. Although they finished the season 16-7, they became one of the top teams in class LL.

“It’s a great experience being on this team,” GHS senior captain Rebecca Decarlo said. “We have a great group of girls here and it’s exciting to be a part of the team’s success. We definitely are going to build on what we did last year. We made it to States and FCIACs last year and we are looking to do that again this year, but this time go deeper in the tournaments.”

They qualified for the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference tournament for the first time and also hosted a home playoff game in the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference class LL tournament, beating Norwich Free Academy 2-1.

Greenwich High School senior captain Rebecca Decarlo fires the ball to first base during Monday’s practice. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High School senior captain Rebecca Decarlo fires the ball to first base during Monday’s practice. — John Ferris Robben photo

Playing 24 hours after its first round victory against NFA, Greenwich hit the road and competed against No. 8 seed Glastonbury High School in a scorching heat. The Cards ended their season to a hard-fought Tomahawks team, 2-0.

“A lot of people were upset after the game today, but I told them that they shouldn’t be upset,” said Fratello immediately after her team’s loss to Glastonbury last year. “We haven’t qualified for the FCIAC tournament since 2004 and we made the state tournament for the second year in a row and made it to the second round. They could be proud of themselves. The record we have is the best we’ve had in years. What they’ve done is something this program hasn’t done in a while.”

With seven players from the starting lineup last year returning for this season, Fratello and the rest of the Lady Cardinals don’t plan on letting their feet off the gas and are planning a return to the postseason.

“We have high expectations because of how we made it to FCIACs for the first time in years and made it to the second round,” said Fratello during a chilly Monday afternoon practice at the GHS softball field. “Our goal has always been to go further and further. We have a lot of experience and a lot of seniors. We have the experience. Beating a team like Norwich Free Academy is huge because those team from around there are really good.”

This season, Big Red will be led by seniors Rebecca Decarlo and Erin Ferguson.

“This is really exciting because I have been playing with these girls since I was little,” Decarlo said. “It’s nice to be playing in my last season at GHS with the girls that are on this softball team.”

Ferguson will be the team’s catcher, while Decarlo will return to the shortstop position.

“Rebecca and I have played together for a long time, so being captains together is amazing,” Ferguson said. “It’s an honor. It means a lot to be a captain on this team. I am glad I am able to be a leader here and hopefully help this team go far this year.”

Greenwich High pitcher Jessie Schelz fires the ball to the plate. — John Ferris Robben photo

Greenwich High pitcher Jessie Schelz fires the ball to the plate. — John Ferris Robben photo

“They have been starting on the varsity team since their sophomore years,” Fratello said. “Their leadership and experience and dedication to the sport is great. They play out of season and will both be playing in college. We are going to look for their experience and leadership in games this year. Both want to win and both go hard. They are determined and want to go out with a championship.”

On the mound, Greenwich will have to fill some big shoes, as overpowering pitcher and strikeout expert Alison Kach was lost to graduation last year. Senior Jessie Schelz and junior Katie Piro will occupy the hill this season for Big Red.

“Alison pitched nearly every game for us and will really be missed,” Fratello said. “Jessie’s senior leadership will be key for us. Both have several different pitches, but right now we are working on movement and moving the pitches around. We are not going to dominate like last year, but we are going to need to locate our pitches.”

A nice luxury for Fratello is that the team will be returning its entire outfield back from last year. Erin White will be in left field, while Madison Burhans will patrol center field. At right will be Jenn Ambrogio.

“They all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Fratello said. “They are all coming back and have all played together since sophomore and junior year. I need them to charge balls and not be afraid. They need to dive for balls and go all out.”

In addition to Decarlo at short and Ferguson behind the plate, Colleen Bennett will take up second base and Kaitlyn Gowans will play the hot corner.

“Our hitting is a really good strength of this team because we know how to hit the ball in clutch situations,” Decarlo said. “Our defense will have all but one returning player in the infield and the entire outfield is back. We are going to be really strong and we don’t have that many gaps to fill.”

Newcomer at first base is Dakota Sarcone, who played both catcher and the outfield for Big Red last year when needed.

“We bring everybody in the infield back and Dakota has experience,” Fratello said. “We have seniors and juniors throughout the infield and all know what to do to limit mistakes and turn big plays.”

Last year Big Red was strong with its bats. They beat Trumbull in extra innings 6-4, Wilton High School 13-1, Stamford High School 7-5, Bassick 27-0, Ridgefield 15-7 and Westhill High School 11-9. With nearly everybody back, Greenwich has those same high expectations offensively.

“We will miss Ebba and Alison, but we have people stepping into the lineup like Dakota and Jessie,” Fratello said. “Everybody is capable of getting that big hit. There’s not really a weak spot. We are going try a little bit of everything on the bases because we got a lot of speed, good situational hitting and a lot of power. I think we are going to keep each team on its toes because they are not going to know what to expect from us.”

Ambrogio, Sarcone, and Bennett will be leading the team when it comes to its speed and quickness around the bases and running out hard-fought singles. When it comes to power, Greenwich will have Ferguson, Decarlo, White and Burhans ready to tee up the ball.

“I love this team,” Ferguson said. “We have been so close for the past couple of years. This team has a lot of returning people and it’s great because we are really close. It’s like a family here. We expect nothing less than what we did last year. I think we are as strong as last year’s team, but we have to back up our pitcher a lot. We have to get those clutch hits.”

Although Greenwich has a plethora of experience on its roster, the team is going to have to get used to the fact that they won’t be taking its opposition by surprise this season. That is fine with Fratello.

“This year I know teams will come after us because we started to turn the corner as a program recently,” Fratello said. “Last year was big because I think we made a mark. It used to be that the FCIAC would see Greenwich and the top teams wouldn’t take us seriously. People will be going after us this year, that’s for sure.”

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress