By KEN MORSE
The journey began in earnest three years ago when head coach Scott Marcucio took over the helm of the Lady Blue Devils softball program that went 3-17 the year before. The first order of business was to lay down a solid foundation.
Plainville responded with a 5-15 mark.
Last season was all about taking the next step and learning how to win. The Blue Devils improved to 6-14, missing the post season by just two games. This year the expectations were much higher, but with only two seniors Kaylee Lamothe and Shai Durham to lead the way, the road remained a steep trek.
Plainville had a goal of reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2014. It came down to the final week of the season and the next step took on the appearance of a giant leap.
Needing to win just one more game with two left to play the Blue Devils had their back to the wall. Plainville did one better as they went out and won both games proving that they belonged among the states elite.
“All season long the girls showed that they were going to put up a fight,” said Marcucio. “The last week of the season we had a little bit of pressure on us but the girls put it together and won both of those games and I’m proud of their effort.”
On May 29 the season came to an end when the No. 29 Blue Devils (9-11) went up against the No. 4 Notre Dame Lancers of Fairfield (17-3). Despite the difference in postseason rankings, it was still anyone’s game with Plainville trailing, 3-0, in the fifth inning.
Breanna Brown (no-hits, 19 K’s) was throwing a perfect game at Plainville but the Lancers could not put the game away. Then in the bottom of the fifth Tiff Suporn belted her 9th home run of the season a three run blast that sent Notre Dame on to a 9-0 win.
“I told the girls all the pressure is on them, they are the number four seed,” said Marcucio. “I thought we played well it was only a 3-0 game but we just couldn’t generate any offense against a very good pitcher.”
The first round loss in the Class M state tournament did little to diminish what was accomplished, especially with the season on the line when Plainville won its final two games to reach the post season. The Blue Devils went up against a very tough (13-7) Berlin team on May 20 and Kayla Wisz entered the pitching circle determined to deliver the clinching win for Plainville.
Wisz faced a Redcoats offense that hung 37 runs on the board during a four game win streak and handcuffed Berlin allowing just three runs. It took a little senior leadership to make it happen as senior Shai Durham went 2-for-3 with two runs scored as Plainville escaped the battle earning a 4-3 win.
Wisz went 3-for-4 with a run scored, and she banged out a two run double for the big hit. Mackenzie Alvarado added two doubles going 2-for-4 to help the Blue Devils snap a three game skid and clinch a state tournament spot for the first time in five seasons.
Plainville wasn’t done just yet. Next up was Wethersfield and Alvarado entered the pitching circle and held the Blue Eagles in check scattering seven hits in an 11-7 win.
The game was tied 5-5 in the sixth inning when the Blue Devils went to work and plated six runs to put the game away. Makayla Caron was 2-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI.
Makenzie Caron went 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Samantha Thompson added a double and a run scored to pace the Plainville offense.
Sophomore centerfielder Annie Roux earned All-Conference honors leading the team with 7 doubles, tied for RBI with 19 and a .416 average. Alvarado led the team with 5 home runs, tied with 19 RBI, led in slugging at .716 and put up a .402 average.
Wisz led the team in batting at .428 and an on base percentage of .500 and led the team in hits with 30. Makayla Caron batted .393 and solidified the infield at shortstop with a .943 fielding average making only three errors in 50 chances.
Plainville will graduate Durham and Lamothe but return a solid core of experience with Alvarado and Wisz in the pitching circle looking to make another run at the state tournament.
Left fielder Makenzie Caron along side centerfielder Roux will give the Blue Devils a solid outfield. Kaycee Newberry at third base and Thompson at second base shore up the infield. Catcher Aliana Shover and hitters Grace DiMinno, Emily Savage, Kaylie Hall, Whitney Southall and Sabrina Matthews will give the Blue Devils depth and experience to take the next step in their progress.
“We are already looking forward to next season,” said Marcucio. “We had 8 out of 10 starters back and a good group of experience with a little bit of depth. The girls are excited to go out in the off season and work to get better. We took a big step forward.”