NEWINGTON - Kat Lagace is in the middle of an excellent season for the Newington softball team.
The senior right-hander is putting up gaudy numbers, helping lead the team to a 12-2 record more than halfway through the season.
Lagace deserves a lot of credit for the work she has done this season but she hasn’t done it alone. One of the things that stands out the most when watching the Indians play is their athleticism on the field which, in turn, leads to some top-notch defense. And the star pitcher has certainly benefited from that defense so far.
A great example of that came in Wednesday night’s loss to E.O. Smith. Lagace wasn’t at her best and had runners all over the bases all game. But instead of tightening up in the tough situation, she remained calm and knew that if she threw strikes her teammates would have her back.
“When [E.O. Smith] got the bases loaded I wasn’t even breaking a sweat, I wasn’t shaking because I knew that if they got it on the ground we were going to make the play,” Lagace said. “Cyan [Gonzalez] is a great shortstop and everyone else in the infield I know that they got it. In the outfield, I know that they don’t really make errors so I trust everyone behind me.”
Not only does having a good defense help because it doesn’t give opponents extra outs, but it also helps Lagace out mentally. She knows that she doesn’t have to be too perfect with her pitches and because of that, she is able to throw more strikes.
Against E.O. Smith Lagace walked three batters and hit one but that has been atypical of her so far this season.
“She knows that there may be a couple of kids in each lineup that can really hit her hard so we ask her to attack the zone,” head coach Steve Markie said. “The girls behind her make most of the plays and usually, they make it look pretty easy.”
Like any team, Newington has made its share of errors in the field this season but Markie says that even those can sometimes look spectacular.
“Our shortstop Cyan has made a few errors this season but it’s usually on balls that most other people don’t even get to,” Markie said. “Her range is outstanding and she is a huge factor at shortstop.”
Even Lagace helps her own cause with her glove-work.
“She does a great job of fielding bunts and the few errors that she has made this season have been on things like strikeouts that get past the catcher or things like that,” Markie said. “I would say as a whole defense has been a big strength for us.”
Throughout the season, if you just look at the results, it would seem as though Newington is anchored by its offense. The team has put up some impressive numbers so far this season, but when it plays the upper echelon teams, like E.O. Smith, it will need pitching and defense to be its strength and it appears as though the team is prepared to make that happen.
“I feel good about this team,” Markie said. “I got a kid like Kat on the mound which is always a great start. We do play good defense and we do have some girls that can hit the ball. I think, especially our top four, five kids, they can provide enough offense to supplement our other strengths.”
Newington entered the game against E.O. Smith on a 12-game winning streak, but it ran into a buzz saw in Hailey Golembiewski on the mound. But that loss actually might have come at the perfect time.
Previously, the Indians had been routing weaker opponents but now know what the competition level will be when they get into tournament time and move further along. Newington was in the game the whole way against the Panthers and now has the rest of the regular season to prepare for that level of competition consistently. The players and coaching staff believe this team has what it takes to up their level and compete with the top teams when it matters most.
“All teams are going to throw their best pitcher and they will have their best stuff in the tournament,” Lagace said. “It’s not going to be an easy run from here on out especially when we get into the third, fourth or fifth game in the tournament so as long as we get enough offense we should be good.
“I think we are a great team honestly. Last year we were a good team too, but this year they give me so much more confidence with the infield and making plays. Everyone works really hard in practice and I know I work really hard so I think we have everything a good team needs. They make me feel so much better about being on the mound especially when we get into tough situations so I think we should do well for the rest of the year.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @bigwoolf5