By MICHAEL LETENDRE
PLAINVILLE – The Plainville High School softball team made a state tournament appearance in 2013 and one season later, the Blue Devils are hungry for more. Those losing just two players, there’s an impressive array of returning talent coming back to the fold that Plainville will be counting on. Let’s take a quick look at the Blue Devils’ squad this season:
Head Coach: Jen Gombotz (seventh year)
Last season’s Ledger: 9-12 overall, 4-10 CCC South (seventh place)
2013 Tournament: Rated 27th in the Class M fray, the Blue Devils lost in the first round to No. 6 East Haven 9-1 to end its season.
All Conference Performers from 2013: Cheyenne Dalke, Katy Dressel
Key Losses: Cheyenne Dalke (IF); Jacqui Wuchert (P); Katy Dressel (OF).
Strength: Large number of returning athletes
Weakness: Scoring punch
The Line-up: Danielle Angelillo (sr., OF); Alexis Ruscito (sr., C); Rachel Lancaster (jr., SS/3B); Sarah Ercoli (sr., IF); Shayla Beausoleil (sr.); Shyanne Bradley (jr.); Nicole Basile (jr.); Rebecca Crawford (jr); Arielle Lozefski (sr.); Brittany Brown (sr.); Victoria Carroll (jr.); Madison Richardson (so.); Kaylee Roux (so.); Gina D’Amico (so.).
What to expect from the Blue Devils: This team has some talent and Plainville’s infield unit should be pretty solid.
Around the infield, a couple of seniors will make a difference.
Senior Sarah Ercoli always brings the defense to every game and junior Rachel Lancaster is a talent at any and every position.
Lancaster has seemingly been playing for the Blue Devils forever and is another experienced hand on the squad and can shirt over from shortstop to third base with ease if necessary.
Behind the plate, senior Alexis Ruscito might be the best catcher in all the CCC South and the year-round player is certainly one of the Blue Devils’ leaders. Ruscito suffered a knee injury last season but if she keeps her health, she’ll do a little of everything for Plainville.
Danielle Angelillo – a senior who was a tough in the outfield – should do more of the same this year while Shayla Beausoleil is another senior who should have a big season.
Others that should make an impact for the Blue Devils include Arielle Lozefski and Brittany Brown, juniors Shyanne Bradley, Nicole Basile, Rebecca Crawford and Victoria Carroll along with a sophomore contingent of Madison Richardson, Kaylee Roux, and Gina D’Amico.
If this team can match its offense with what should be a superior defensive effort, Plainville will be in good shape in 2014.
For the softball team, the Disney trip has a different meaning for this squad and it’s all about health. Last time Plainville went to Florida in 2012, doom and demise followed the team back home to Connecticut in terms of sickness.
Once the Blue Devils attempted to get back into its regular season flow, illness set the team back for more than a couple weeks.
If Plainville stays healthy off its Florida excursion, it will be a huge plus for the squad.
CCC South Outlook: Bristol Central has brought back most of its 2013 squad and that group won the CCC South title last season.
Expect more of the same this year as it has solid pitching and a defense that might be too tough to top.
Berlin seems to always reload and Maloney may prove to be tough as well this year.
Bristol Eastern is young but has a growing talent base to choose from.
The Plainville girls softball team has been a playoff contender in four of its six seasons under head coach Jen Gombotz. Three out of those four tournament bound squads won 10-plus games. Here’s a quick look: