Spring season has officially begun and for area teams, a strong start goes a long way in setting the tone for the rest of the year. Both New Britain’s Paola Bronner and Plainville’s Jordan Bishop helped their respective team do just that over the first week of the season with some impressive individual results to boot.
New Britain softball is a team that is still growing and having a second baseman and lead-off hitter like Bronner could go a long way toward building the program.
Just through the first week of the season, she was strong at the plate for the Hurricanes. In New Britain’s games against Bristol Central and Platt, Bronner went 5-for-7 at the plate with three home runs, a double, a single and three stolen bases. Two of the home runs came in last Monday’s 9-2 loss to Bristol Central.
“She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever had,” New Britain Joel Simmone said. “Look how small she is and she had two home runs [Monday]. She’s one heck of a player.”
In addition to providing all of the Hurricanes’ offense against the Rams, Bronner’s two hits were half of New Britain’s in the game. The pair of home runs was also a personal best for Bronner.
“This is really great for me because I haven’t hit two home runs in one game ever,” she said with a big smile. “I’m over the moon right now.”
Now in her senior season, Bronner has really come into the potential that Simmone and the New Britain coaches saw early on.
“When Paola came in as a freshman, she was a right-handed batter. We moved her to the left side because we knew we could work her into being a slap hitter,” Simmone said. “That girl today, there’s no doubt she’s going to be All-State [and] All-Academic All-State.”
After falling to Bristol Central, New Britain blew out Platt to pull back to .500 and Bronner and the Hurricanes are feeling optimistic.
“This is a great team,” Bronner said. “The fact that we were this close with [Bristol Central] - it was just that one inning - I’m very hopeful for the rest of our season.”
The Plainville baseball team is off to a 2-1 start this season. The Blue Devils dropped their first game but have since recovered by winning their last two. The first win of the season came in the home opener against Bristol Eastern last week and Bishop was the winning pitcher in that game.
The junior went five innings and allowed six hits and three runs, all of which were unearned. The defense let Bishop down early in the game but came back to help him out in the later stages to aid in the 4-3 victory.
“Having those guys out there makes it so that I don’t have to be perfect on every pitch,” said Bishop about having three solid outfielders. “It’s good to try for perfection but it’s also good to know that I have three seniors back there who cover a lot of ground.”
Bishop wasn’t particularly dominant in the outing against Bristol Eastern’s hitters, as he only struck out one batter, but he also didn’t walk a single hitter and made the Lancers have to earn their way on base. His mix of pitches induced weak contact and lazy fly balls which helped him conserve his pitch count.
“We ask our pitchers to go out there and pound the zone,” Plainville head coach Lou Mandeville said. “Jordan did a good job of that [against Bristol Eastern]. When you don’t walk anyone, you always give yourself a better chance to win.”
While Bishop was the winning pitcher, he also made an impact at the plate. Batting fifth, the right hander went 1-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored. His RBI single in the first was a big hit to get the Blue Devils going and he scored the game-winning run in the fourth inning after drawing a walk.
“We just went into that game looking to smash fastballs,” Bishop said. “We got a few good ones to hit and we did a good job with them.”