By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
NAUGATUCK — Having a pitcher and a catcher with All-State honors on their resumes is a luxury few softball teams have at their disposal.
Naugatuck just so happens to be one of those teams.
Senior pitcher Alyssa Roberts, who was named All-State in 2018, and junior catcher Kendall Allen, who earned the honor in 2019, form a dynamic battery for the Greyhounds.
“It’s not very often that you have that kind of talent in your battery, pitcher and catcher, and we are very fortunate to have them set the example for the rest of the girls,” Naugy head coach Kevin Wesche said. “It’s a pleasure to have them, they come from good families and have a great work ethic, and they excel in the classroom. The other girls look up to them and they set a great example.”
As a freshman in 2018, Roberts helped lead the Greyhounds to a 15-9 mark and the Class L quarterfinals. Allen joined the team the following year and hit .494 and drove in 22 runs to earn All-State honors.
Their battery connection dates back before they donned the garnet and gray.
“We started this pitcher-catcher routine when I was in eighth grade and Kendall was in seventh grade,” Roberts said. “I didn’t play with her in Little League because she played baseball.”
The pair also plays together in the summer for the Watertown Rapids.
“I really think we feed off each other. We know what each other is thinking during a game,” Robert said. “Sometimes I’ll talk to myself when I’m out there about what pitch to throw, but in the end I leave it up to Kendall to decide and it works out well. We play all summer together so she knows me well.”
“I tend to call all of the pitches,” Allen said. “Coach Wesche will just give me the look from time to time like, ‘Why did you call that pitch?’ But it has worked out well so far.”
Allen admitted she was little intimidated as a freshman catching for an All-State pitcher.
“Alyssa never cut me any slack,” Allen said. “But I was determined. I always go on runs after games and after practice. My dad (Bob Allen) built me gym in the basement, so I like to go down there and work out for an hour or so every day.”
In 58 career games, Roberts has 30 wins and struck out 307 batters. At the plate, she averages .424 and has 78 hits and 60 RBI. Allen, in 28 career games, has 50 hits, a .476 average and 29 RBI.
The pair plays a key role in the success of the Greyhounds, who have started the season 5-3.
After losses to Wolcott, 5-3, on April 23 and Woodland, 8-6, on April 24, the Greyhounds responded with back-to-back wins.
In a 6-4 win at Torrington on April 26, Roberts went the distance, scattering seven hits and striking out nine. Allen had three hits, including two doubles, with two runs scored and two RBI.
Samantha Mullin had three hits and two runs. Lauryn Ramalho drove in two runs and scored a run, Felicia Salvati had a hit and an RBI, and Alyssa Hovey added a hit and a run scored.
Roberts struck out nine and surrendered three hits in four innings in an 18-1 win over Waterbury Career on April 28. She added three hits and three RBI at the plate.
Kayshla Diaz threw a perfect inning in relief.
Allen had three hits on the day. Salvati had four hits, including a home run, five RBI and two runs scored. Mullin had three hits and three runs.
Roberts and Allen will lead Naugatuck down a busy homestretch of the regular season. The Greyhounds had 11 games scheduled between April 30 and May 20.
This will be the final season for Naugatuck’s dynamic duo.
Roberts has signed to play at American International College in Springfield, Mass., where she plans to study nursing. Allen, who wants to continue playing in college, has one more year to leave her mark.
“It’s kind of sad this being our last year playing high school softball together, but I’m excited for Alyssa. We cheer like crazy for one another. It will be kind of strange not having her around next year, but I will be ready to step up and lead this team.”