By BRIAN JENNINGS
After finishing last year with an overall record of 3-17, the Lady Devil softball team missed the Class M tournament for the second-straight year and hasn’t been back to the postseason since 2014. Jennifer Delorenzo has since stepped down as the head coach of the varsity team, bringing in Scott Marcucio.
Marcucio came to Plainville with 24 years of head coaching experience in high school softball, holding positions at Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, and Derby High School. Wamogo was winless the two season prior to Marcucio arriving there, producing only about 15 to 10 girls each season.
However, in his eight-year tenure with Wamogo, the Warriors qualified for the state tournament in four of his last six years there. Marcucio had built a program before he left.
“We struggled with numbers there, but you just learn to work and teach basic skills,” said Marcucio. “You learn certain facts about how you want to build a program. I built a successful program at Wamogo, and I’m trying to bring that same type of experience to Plainville.”
Coming into this season, the Devils lost six starters from last year’s team to graduation, and Marcucio didn’t know what to expect for the spring of 2017. The one thing he had hoped for was to keep the number of girls in the program up in the 20s, and he got his wish.
Just three seniors, two juniors, and six sophomores returned to the team, but 13 freshmen joined, making a total of 24 girls in the program. Those same 24 girls have stuck with it since the beginning of the season.
“It bodes well for the future if we keep working at it,” the coach said. “We’re making a lot of progress this year, so who knows how much progress we’re going to make in the next couple of years if they keep working and progressing the way we should.”
The main goal for Marcucio and his Devils is simple: to get better from where the team started in March to where the team is at the end of the season. After starting the season with a 1-5 record, the Devils have managed to slowly get better as the season progressed, coming away with a win every week.
This past week, there were two wins. The Devils came off their most successful stint of the regular season thus far, splitting the week with a pair of wins and two losses.
“Overall, I have to say that I’m happy with how the team’s working,” said Marcucio. “When you lose six starters from a year ago, it’s a rebuilding process right now. We’re really young.”
Although they are behind in the wins column, garnering a losing record doesn’t stop the Devils from competing with a championship attitude on the diamond either.
“That’s what we talk a lot about to the kids,” said Marcucio. “They just come in everyday with a positive mindset, ready to work hard and get better. We’re getting better every day, and a lot of that is contributed to the attitude and work ethic of the girls.”
At the plate, Marcucio hopes to eventually develop a mixture of traditional softball with small ball. But whether it’s swinging away for base hits or bunting and slap hitting to move runners, it’s still a work in progress for this young team.
“I’m in the process of teaching some players how to slap a little bit,” the coach said. “We have a big learning curve here, and some of the girls are learning how to slap for the first time. We haven’t tried it in a game yet, but we’re getting there.”
Senior co-captain and pitcher Kiya Broughton is a four-year starter and the only player in the program with any substantial experience playing at the varsity level.
“She brings a lot of experience and leadership, offensively and defensively to the team,” said Marcucio. “The girls respond very well to her. She’s shown a lot of patience and strong leadership skills, and is really positive with them.”
Co-captain Caitlin Bradley is one of only two juniors that returned to this year’s team. Sophomores Kaylee Lamothe and Alyssa Roy are the other two returning starters from last year’s team as well.
“They bring a little bit of experience and leadership too,” the coach said. “Caitlin Bradley has shown a tremendous amount of leadership and very strong work ethic that the girls can model.”
Key contributions have also come from junior Hannah Barger and freshmen Mackenzie Alvarado, Makayla Caron, Mikayla Doucette, and Kaycee Newberry.
Other players in the program include seniors Allison LaFleur and Nichole Page; sophomores Francesca Chambrello, Victoria Corriveau, Shai-yonna Durham, and Joanna Salmon; and freshmen Bridget Arena, Makenzie Caron, Grace DiMinno, Phoebe Gediman, Kaylie Hall, Cassidy Norman, Kelly Russell, Teagan Russell, and Emily Savage.
With only five games remaining in the regular season, the Devils are currently sitting at 5-10 overall and need three more wins to clinch a playoff berth. They will look to qualify for the state tournament this week with games against East Hartford (4-12), Wethersfield (5-8), and New Britain (9-6).
To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.