Centaur pg 1 5-17-18

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at States
Woodstock Academy softball coach Jay Gerum was concerned about the remainder of the season.
The Centaurs qualified for the state tournament with its eighth win of the season May 7 at Bacon Academy. But the schedule looked pretty daunting from there on.
His fear was realized a bit May 9 when Stonington shutout the Centaurs, 8-0.
“It’s scary how good the Eastern Connecticut Conference is and how tough the schedule is. Our league preps you for the state tournament, and you want competitive non-league games, but you also want the chance to make the tournament. We couldn’t find many non-league games and scheduling Shoreline Conference teams didn’t do us any favors,” said Gerum.
But May 11, Gerum breathed a sigh of relief.
His Centaurs shutout one of those Shoreline foes, Valley Regional, 2-0, in Deep River.
“I’m feeling a little better than I was two weeks ago,” Gerum said.
That’s because the Warriors had beaten Haddam-Killingworth whom the Centaurs (9-7) play May 18.
Add to that, Hale Ray’s 15-0 loss to Griswold - the Centaurs play the Little Noises next week - and the Centaurs might have a good chance to reach double digits in wins.
“If we get to that 10 or 11-win mark, you’re in the upper half of the bracket, playing a lower bracket team. We might even have a chance for a home state tournament game,” Gerum said.
Being in the top half of the bracket and getting a first-round state tournament home game may not seem like big deals, but consider this.
The last time the Centaurs had a Class L state tournament home game was in 2003. They were ranked 14th and downed No. 19 Ledyard, 3-2. It was also the last time the program advanced into the second round of the state tournament where it lost to Lyman Hall, 6-0.
Since that time, the softball team has only made the state tournament seven times, including the last three years in a row, but have never been seeded higher than No. 18 in 2016.
It’s a pretty big deal for the Centaurs.
Gerum said the game against Valley Regional was a “championship-style” game with two dominant pitchers.
“We played perfectly and they blinked once, we didn’t,” Gerum said.
That blink occurred in the fifth inning when the Centaurs scored both their runs.
Winning pitcher Mackenzie Leveille drove a one-out single to left and Hannah Wotton came on as a courtesy runner. Haley Armstrong followed with a bunt that was misplayed and allowed Armstrong to reach safely and go to second while Wotton advanced to third.
Cami Corrado then walked, but a pop out left the bases loaded with two outs.
It brought up catcher Julianna Nuttall.
Nuttall struggled at the plate early in the season, but has found her stroke. She came into the game hitting .341 and Gerum moved his catcher into the second spot in the batting order.
Gerum did so out of necessity as much as Nuttall’s resurgence at the plate.
Naomi Rivard, who had been hitting in the No. 2 slot, is sidelined with a shoulder injury and may be done for the season. Maia Corrado is out for the remainder of the year with an ankle injury.
“Julianna is a tough, smart kid who is dependable and has bounced back offensively this season,” Gerum said.
Nuttall wasn’t fazed by the situation even with a 2-2 count, two outs and the bases loaded. She delivered a line drive to left field that scored both Wotton and Armstrong and gave Leveille all the support she needed.
Leveille had a tough outing against East Lyme so Gerum sat her for the Monday and Wednesday games, but decided to go with the freshman in the non-league game against Valley Regional.
Leveille allowed only three hits and struck out six to raise her record to 4-2.
“She’s a freshman, she’s going to have good days and bad days, but she is a great pitcher. On any given day, she’s ready (for varsity). She was on. That was, by far, her best game this year,” Gerum said.
Marc Allard
Sports Information Director

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