SOUTHINGTON - When the final out was made Wednesday afternoon, the hand shakes over, there was an air of sadness surrounding the New Britain softball team.
Their season, the Hurricanes believed, had come to an end too soon. There was supposed to be more games to play. But after a long five innings and a 19-1 loss to No. 1 Southington it was not to be.
“At the end of the day it’s a game,” New Britain head coach Joel Simmone said. “But [Southington] is a great team; great hitting, great pitching, great defense and I hope they go far.”
This season as a whole was one of both ups and downs for New Britain. Its biggest high was in the very beginning when the Hurricanes beat Newington in their second game of the season, which ended an 11-game losing streak against the Indians.
“We never beat Newington ever, then we beat them again [later in the season],” Simmone said. “We had the opportunity to play for a conference title. But we had a lot of surprises this season.”
It was a season that saw New Britain start the season 5-1, go on a five-game losing streak and lose All-CCC senior shortstop Gabby Roy to a season-ending knee injury when she tore her ACL.
Yet it was also a season that saw the Hurricanes respond by going on an eight-game winning streak and their first Class LL tournament win in nine years. The last time New Britain had made it to the second round of the state tournament was 2009.
“No matter how bad things got we always picked each other up,” senior shortstop Gianna Gonzalez said. “We kept it going.”
In other words, this Hurricanes team always found a way to be resilient no matter the circumstances.
“When our best player got hurt we still came to practice every day to be better,” senior catcher CoCo Velazquez. “We wanted to be better for her and for ourselves. We always found a purpose and with that purpose we got it done.”
Much of that had to do with the willingness of the players to accepting new responsibilities and doing what it took to produce the results on the field.
Gonzalez, who has been the go-to pitcher for New Britain the past two seasons, accepted her new role as as one of the team’s primary infielders, while newcomer, sophomore Joseleen Rivera, took over the pitching circle.
“[Rivera] came in and did one hell of a job pitching,” Simmone said. “Gianna, she accepted her role as a first basemen, moved to shortstop when Gabby got injured. Every game was a high. It was a pleasure to come and watch these girls play and just watch them develop.”
This senior class is also particularly special to Simmone, who has been coaching them since they were freshmen. The difference from when they first donned the maroon and gold to now has been striking. And that’s what made the ending the season, no matter the accomplishments, difficult.
“Me, my coaches, other people at the high school, they have all helped,” Simmone said. “They turned these girls into scholars, good students who are going to college. They’re going to get good jobs and they’re going to be successful at whatever they do.
“But the biggest thing about this season was how they picked each other up when other players were injured and just coming together, that’s what being a team is all about. It’s just love. We’re a family and we’ll always be one.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org