SOUTHINGTON - The Southington softball program is one that has seen a staggering amount of success in its recent history. Over the last five seasons, the team has appeared in four title games, winning three of them.
Because of the all of the success the expectations each year for the team are extremely high.
This year it is no different despite the fact that the Blue Knights are coming off of a year in which they were eliminated in the Class LL semifinals and have many new players taking on bigger roles.
“Every coach wants to win a state championship every season,” head coach Davina Hernandez said. “This team is young and a little bit inexperienced but I think they have the ability to get there.”
In the team’s season opener on Wednesday afternoon against South Windsor, it came out tight and played nervous for the majority of the game, according to Hernandez. Southington still won the game 3-1 against a quality opponent but it wasn’t the team’s best performance and the coaches and players attributed that to a myriad of factors.
Among those factors included the typical opening-day jitters that many players get at almost any level of competition and also the weather. The game was scheduled to start at 3:45 p.m. but it rained heavily earlier in the afternoon and the field was a mess. The team worked on the field for a couple of hours to get it into playable condition and then both teams warmed up before starting nearly an hour after the scheduled start time.
“I just think that we have a really great tradition of softball here at Southington and everyone wants to make sure that we continue the tradition of competitive softball and doing the best that we can,” said Kara Zazzaro who struck out 12 batters en route to earning the win. “Everyone wants to do their absolute best the first time out but I think we took a while to get out on the field.
“It was just a case of first-game nerves and I think everybody really settled down after a couple of innings and I think we will be set.”
While the Blue Knights have high hopes yet again this season, they are making sure to not get ahead of themselves. A characteristic of the program that has aided in this elongated string of success is the team’s ability to not look ahead and that plan remains the same this season.
“The key for us is taking it one game at a time,” Zazzaro said. “We have to make sure to not get too far ahead of ourselves. We have to go in thinking ‘alright what are our goals this game, what are we trying to accomplish’ and trying to get better every time by working on things we think we can improve. That will lead us where we need to go.”
The mindset for Southington is to focus on improving and not so much on the win-loss record so that when tournament time does come, the team will be well equipped to make another title run.
“I think this team could continue to improve every game and eventually make it to something like a state championship,” Hernandez said.
“We stacked our schedule this season. Our non-conference opponents are really strong this season so I could care less if we have five losses because at the end of the day the postseason is really all that matters. We scheduled as many strong opponents as we could knowing that we will face some really good pitching, really good defense and some really good hitters against our pitching and that should lead us to a really good season.”
Michael Woolfson can be reached at 860-801-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @Bigwoolf5