Bristol Eastern softball has share of division title with potential for more

Bristol Eastern head coach Scott Redman talks strategy with Alyssa Hackling (3) and Jill Maghini (6) during Thursday’s Newington game.

Bristol Eastern softball has taken quite a journey this season.
From the uncertainty of the preseason to a share of the CCC South Blue Division title, the Lancers have realized some of their potential. Eastern head coach Scott Redman thinks they have even more in them.
“It’s a team that’s got a ton of potential, but could also lose to anybody on any given night,” Redman said following his team’s 3-0 home win over Newington on Thursday.
That’s not meant as a slight to the team. Redman believes this team doesn’t realize how good it could be.
“They’re resilient,” Redman said of his bunch. “We still haven’t played a flawless game in my opinion.”
The team had goals, but there were questions. Four freshmen were starting, and key player Nicole D’Amato was hurt early in the season. D’Amato is back, but Eastern also lost Jordan Fitzsimons for five games. Fitzsimons is back in the lineup.

Center fielder Makenzie Jankowski camps under a fly ball
as teammate Taylor Keegan looks on.

Eastern needed the long ball to win on Monday against Rocky Hill. On Thursday, the Lancers played small ball, a required trait against the better teams in softball in the state.
The game was scoreless in the bottom of the second inning before Eastern broke through. Alyssa Hackling singled with one out, then Lauren Aparo pinch ran for her. Erin Girard couldn’t get a bunt down twice, but perseverance paid off and she sacrificed Aparo to second on the third attempt. With two outs, Paige McLaughlin ripped a double into the gap in left center to score Aparo and put the Lancers ahead 1-0.
Eastern picked up its other two runs in the sixth inning. Mikayla Martin led off with a walk. Pinch runner Emily Marquis stole second base, then Jill Maghini singled to center field to drive in Marquis for a 2-0 lead. Maghini provided heads up baserunning, taking two bases on a wild pitch. Hackling, more known for hitting, laid down a perfect squeeze bunt, and Maghini scored for a 3-0 advantage.
“I think they did a great job of adjusting,” Redman said.
Eastern also made Newington pitcher Katerina Lagace work as she totaled 131 pitches. Lagace did strike out nine batters, but she had to battle to do so. The Lancers drew six walks off of Lagace.

Erin Girard had her defense behind her to help out during Thursday’s game.

The three runs were all Girard needed. She didn’t strike out a ton of batters — five to go along with one walk and one hit batter — but her defense was there for her. There was just one error by the Lancer defense.
“They put the ball in play,” Redman said of the Newington hitters. “They made us make plays.”
Eastern’s defense was up to the task, whether it was bunts toward Martin at third and Girard in the circle, or balls in the air to outfielders like center fielder Makenzie Jankowski and right fielder Nicole D’Amato.
Eastern was fifth in the Class LL playoff standings entering Thursday’s game. Not only was the division title on the line against Newington, but state tournament position was as well. The Indians were just two spots behind in Class LL.
Eastern’s win created some separation, and it kept aspirations for a higher seed alive. The Lancers realized some potential with a share of the division title, but there’s more out there.

PHOTOS: Click here for images from the game.