NEW BRITAIN - The New Britain softball team extended its winning streak in a big way, scoring early and often en route to an 11-5 victory over Wethersfield.
The Hurricanes took advantage of the open turf at Chesley Park, hitting three home runs, two by Mikaila Masterson and another by Gianna Gonzalez.
Masterson was the main source of the offense, driving in five of the team’s runs and going 2-for-3 in the contest. But for the junior, her main goal was doing her best to help the team win on senior night.
“We knew we had to represent our seniors and we just had to go all out,” Masterson said. “We honestly just wanted to have a lot of fun with it.
The offense as a whole was strong, scoring at least one run in every inning except for the second inning and totally nine hits.
Gonzalez also got the start on the mound, lasting just two innings and struggled to find the strike zone. She gave up two runs, while walking two and hitting a batter. But she did have four strikeouts and New Britain coach Joel Simmone was happy to give the senior the start on the night she was being celebrated, which Gonzalez appreciated.
“This is definitely a bittersweet moment,” Gonzalez said. “But everything I do is for my teammates. It wasn’t our best game but we knew we had to do it for each other.”
Luckily for the Hurricanes, sophomore Josleen Rivera was able to come in relief and hold the game down. Over the final five innings, Rivera gave up three runs and struck out seven batters. According to Simmone, Rivera picked up her 100th strikeout Wednesday against East Hartford, the first time in program history a player reached that milestone in a season.
Zoe Kleeblatt was strong from the leadoff spot for the Eagles. She got on base each of the four times she was up, with three hits including a two-run home run in the fourth inning off Rivera.
Despite what was seemingly an easy win, Simmone was frustrated because the team wasn’t sharp throughout the game. On top of working into jams on the mound, the team made some questionable throws. Simmone thought his players hurt themselves at times due to a lack of concentration.
“Every year, I look forward to [senior night] and I don’t look forward to it because some of the focus is on that and not on the actual game,” Simmone said. “What I want is for us to just have our focus on the game until the end and I just don’t think we did that today.”
With the win, the Hurricanes are now winners of their last eight games and 13-6 overall. Despite the struggles, they look to be playing some of their best situational softball headed into the postseason.
“The one thing I really like about our team right now is that everyone is doing their part,” Simmone said. “Whatever their role is, they’re stepping in and doing it. We’re on this winning streak and we’re just really confident right now.”
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org