NEW BRITAIN - Pitching in softball can often win a team games. But sometimes, so too can an offense.
New Britain looks to be a serious competitor heading into the state tournament, due in large part to a strong group of seniors and an ability to out-hit anyone at any-given time.
The offense has been unstoppable this season. The Hurricanes have played 19 games so far, with the team scoring eight or more runs in 10 of those games. In all, New Britain is averaging an even nine runs an outing to go along with a 13-6 record.
“They’re going up to the plate with a plan,” Hurricanes head coach Joel Simmone said of his players. “They’re working hard in batting practice and it rolls over to when they’re at the plate.”
For senior Gianna Gonzalez, her approach is simple.
“If there is someone on, it’s my job to get them in,” Gonzalez said. “I just try to stay back, attack the ball and get the runners in.”
Perhaps the most notable part of the offensive streak is that they have continued to produce without senior shortstop Gabby Roy. She injured her knee in early May and will be out the rest of the season. Roy was the unspoken leader of the team, but Simmone believes that her presence, even just on the bench, is crucial, especially for the younger, more inexperienced players.
“I have a group chat with the team, and the name of it is ‘Gabby’s Family,’” Simmone said. “And we call her ‘Mom’ in that. That right there shows you what she means to us. “
Along with Roy, the Hurricanes have five other seniors - Gonzalez, Nariely Andujar, Cristina Velazquez, Chasity Sanchez and Jada Lawson - who have each played a crucial role in the team’s success.
“This is the best senior class I’ve ever had,” Simmone said. “They’re smart. They’re cheerful. I’d take any one of them into my family if I could. They’re all tremendous girls.”
Gonzalez, meanwhile, has assumed the role as the heart and soul of the team in Roy’s absence.
“I know I have a big role on this team,” Gonzalez said. “I just want to make sure everybody comes to play every single day. If someone is not having a good day, it’s my job to pick them up. I just want to be the best teammate I can be. I think a lot of the girls look up to me so I think I’ve done a good job.”
Junior Mikaila Masterson is a newcomer, having just transferred to New Britain High School. She said the team as a whole, especially the seniors, welcomed her with open arms and “really made me feel like I was a part of it.”
The Hurricanes close up the regular season Monday against Rocky Hill, with the state tournament right after. With a solidified group of veterans and a powerful lineup, New Britain has a great shot to make a deep postseason run.
Tyler Roaix can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org