By Ken Morse, Citizen’s News
TRUMBULL — After the final out was recorded in a 9-0 loss to St. Joseph in the Class L quarterfinals June 4, the Greyhounds collected their belongings and, after a brief speech from head coach Kevin Wesche, headed for the bus and the ride home.
Disappointment can cloud your vision of the path traveled. The loss stung but didn’t take away from a successful season for the Greyhounds (19-5), especially considering there was no season at all last year.
“It is a tremendous accomplishment to not only get a complete season in, plus two postseason tournaments playing six extra games, but to come so close; it’s amazing,” Wesche said.
No. 2 St. Joseph (22-1) scored three runs in the bottom of the second and put the game away with a six-run sixth inning.
No. 10 Naugatuck was held off the bases until Felicia Salvati’s infield hit in the fifth. Lauryn Ramalho followed with a single and Aryn Bomberry nearly tied the game, but her blast to deep left fell just short of the fence.
The Greyhounds got off to a 2-3 start to the season, but then ripped off 13 straight wins to reach the Naugatuck Valley League championship game for the first time since 2008. After a loss to Woodland in the league final, Naugatuck knocked off Waterbury Career and E.O. Smith to reach the state quarterfinals for the third time in 12 years.
“This team played with passion, enthusiasm, excitement and commitment to succeed,” Wesche said. “It gives a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to our five seniors — Alyssa Roberts, Sam Valentine, Alyssa Hovey, Kayshla Diaz and Sara Mancuso.”
Roberts, who will play for AIC in the fall, pitched three years for the Greyhounds. She racked up 45 wins and 440 strikeouts with a tidy 2.13 ERA. At the plate, she had 103 hits and 80 RBI.
“I’m so thankful that I was able to be part of several Greyhounds sports teams,” said Roberts, who also played basketball and volleyball. “Playing sports at Naugatuck is something I will always cherish. Every team was like a family. As I go on to play in college at AIC I will never forget the heart and relentless play that Naugatuck has taught me, and will always be a Greyhound.”
There were a lot of accolades to go around.
Salvati, Kendal Allen and Samantha Mullin earned All-State honors. Allen and Salvati were also named All-NVL. Mullin, Cestari and Roberts earned All-Iron honors.
Roberts was selected to play in the CHSCA Senior All-Star game and Allen was chosen to play in the CHSCA Junior Select College Showcase game.
“The experience gained by the youth of this team is invaluable,” Wesche said. “Obviously with the graduation of Roberts, she will leave a huge void that needs to be filled.”
Ramahlo, Bomberry, Sophia Onofrio and Cadence Hofmann gained varsity experience this year and will play key roles for the Greyhounds, who will look to carry their momentum into next season.
“Only time will tell,” Wesche said. “But they are dedicated to improving their skills during the travel ball season and come back better prepared and even stronger next season.”