Centaurs season comes to an end
The Woodstock Academy softball team had its chances in their final regular season game.
But, once again, just couldn’t cash in on them.
“That’s been the last few weeks,” Woodstock Academy coach Jay Gerum said. “Everybody has peaks and valleys in their season. We were playing so well for a while and, unfortunately, the valley came at the end of the season.”
The Centaurs lost their sixth straight game, 9-5, Wednesday to Haddam-Killingworth.
The loss meant Woodstock Academy failed to qualify for the Class L state tournament and finished with a 7-13 record.
“It’s really sad and bittersweet at the same time. I’ve played all four years that I’ve been here and it’s just so weird to think that it’s over. On to new chapters,” Woodstock Academy senior Hannah Burgess said.
The Centaurs were bothered by factors beyond their control, namely weather and injuries.
“It’s definitely been a tough season, but we tried our hardest. Some games didn’t go our way but we put everything we could out there,” Burgess said.
Burgess, who will be headed to Colgate University to play softball, did have a single in the game.
It was the 150th hit of her career at Woodstock Academy.
The outcome, according to Gerum, was also influenced by the schedule they played.
“We have a tough schedule. It’s ridiculous. When I look at the schedule every year, I can kind of go, ‘These are the games we should win or have a chance to win; these games will be tough and these will be borderline impossible.’ If I had to pick W’s and L’s, honestly, I was thinking 6-14. We upset Griswold. We’re close. We had a lot of 1-run games. We’re knocking on the door, but we still have a little more to go,” Gerum said.
The Centaurs did honor prior to the game and later said goodbye to the seniors in their program which included Burgess, Hannah Chubbuck, Julianna Nuttall, Heather Converse and Maria Scandalito.
“I’m going to miss everybody. It was like a close family. I’m going to miss the coaches so much too,” Burgess said.
The game against the Cougars was supposed to be played on Monday.
But a sudden downpour ended those hopes and Haddam-Killingworth had to make the hour-plus trek back to Woodstock from Higganum.
The Cougars (13-7) jumped out quickly to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first.
The Centaurs tied it in the bottom of the inning when Nuttall singled, stole second, and Converse knocked her in with a single.
Haddam-Killingworth scored four more runs in the top of the second.
“That was the game, really,” Gerum said. “Both teams played even, back-and-forth, couple runs here or there, but that inning was devastating and we had one of those in each of our last six games.”
The Centaurs chipped away a bit in the fourth.
Mackenzie Leveille singled and both Megan Preston and Hannah Chubbuck walked to load the bases with no one out.
Gabby Barnes, in her first game back since early in the season, pushed a run across with an RBI single. It was all Woodstock Academy could muster as Preston was thrown out attempting to score and Cougars relief pitcher Brooke LaTouche got a strikeout and a fly out to end the threat.
Haddam-Killingworth regained the four run lead with a run in the top of the fifth that was equaled by Woodstock Academy in the bottom of the fifth when Converse drove in her team-leading 25th run of the season with a triple.
Haddam-Killingworth added three more in the top of the sixth to put the contest out of reach.
“It sucks,” Gerum said of having to, once again, say goodbye to those who have contributed to the program in a large way over the last four years. “We have a couple of kids who play high-level softball, a couple who will be playing in college since they are at such a high level. Converse is an unbelievable athlete. Julianna Nuttall is not going to play in college, but has started at catcher for three or four years. She is one of the few catchers whom I have allowed to call her own pitches. We’re losing some great kids.”
But a nucleus will return.
Gerum will have both his pitchers, Leveille and Preston, back next season.
“When you have pitching, you can stay in games. Our starting pitchers are both sophomores, we’re happy about that. Our new kids will, hopefully, come in and take what they saw and take it to another level,” Gerum said.
Week 7 review: Postseason berth still up in the air
The Woodstock Academy Centaurs softball team still hopes to qualify for the postseason.
But the opportunity was slipping away at the end of the week.
“We didn’t play very well,” Woodstock Academy coach Jay Gerum said. “It’s actually on us. We made a lot of errors, a lot of missed plays. There was just a lack of focus (last) week. At the end of the season, you hope to build up and peak, but we’ve been playing great softball all year, and we actually lost a little focus.”
In games against Fitch and Hale Ray, who both feature average to below-average high school pitching, the Centaurs could only produce one run in each game.
Woodstock Academy also committed more errors and missed more plays in those two games than it probably had all season, according to Gerum.
Not to make excuses, but there could be a common factor to both the lack of offense and the shoddy defense.
“I think it affects it a lot,” Gerum said. “You want to get reps in, you want to stay sharp and to do that, you have to get out on the field every day together.”
The weather hardly was conducive to that with rain and unseasonably cold temperatures that did not allow fields to dry.
Woodstock Academy was dealt a double whammy because the softball team also was not allowed to practice inside due to a faulty fire alarm system on the North campus.
“We missed a lot of practices,” Gerum said.
The Centaurs finally were able to use their pitching machine on Thursday and practiced both hitting and defense.
“We had a good practice and hadn’t had one in weeks. I think it has a big effect when everyone else is practicing and you’re not, at least, in a gym,” Gerum said.
The Centaurs, however, were dealt another loss on Friday by Montville, 13-2.
The loss to the Indians means the Centaurs (7-12) have one more chance to qualify for the Class L state tournament.
They play host to Haddam-Killingworth (10-6) at 4:30 p.m. on Monday at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
“It makes Monday a lot more interesting that’s for sure,” Gerum said. “Haddam-Killingworth is another team that I’ve scouted and I believe we can beat. We won’t beat them, either, if we play like the past couple of days.”
It’s also Senior Day for the Centaurs.
The game will be broadcast on woodstockacademy.org/live in both television and radio formats.
Amanda Bond drive in both runs for the Centaurs against the Indians.
Megan Preston tripled in the fifth inning and scored when Bond doubled.
Hannah Chubbuck singled and later scored on a fielder’s choice ground out by Bond in the sixth inning.
Woodstock Academy traveled to Moodus on Wednesday night and found Hale Ray to be a tough customer.
The Little Noises bats belied their nickname and Hale Ray rolled to a 10-1 win.
The Centaurs trailed 2-0 early but cut their hosts lead in half in the third inning when Julianna Nuttall reached on an error, and Heather Converse walked. Mackenzie Leveille knocked in Nuttall.
It was to be the only bright spot for Woodstock Academy.
Hale Ray got the run back in the bottom of the inning and scored six more in the fourth to salt away the victory.
“That’s when everyone started to put the young kids in and the score actually got a little crazier. When everything was at full tilt with the starters in, it was really that one inning. We committed three errors and three other ‘mental’ errors, six errors in one inning gave them all those runs. That’s a game changer,” Gerum said.
Hannah Burgess was the only player with more than one hit for the Centaurs.
The shortstop finished 2-for-3 at the plate and continued her strong offensive performance this season. She comes into the final game of the season with a .590 average (36-for-61).
The Centaurs took the early lead against Fitch on Tuesday.
Holding on to it was difficult.
The Falcons scored three runs in the third and two in the fourth and posted a 5-1 win over Woodstock Academy in Groton.
“They got some good hits, got some runners on, we made a couple errors, had a couple things we didn’t get done. That was it. The rest of the game saw some great softball,” Gerum said.
Converse walked in the second inning and later scored on a Preston single to account for the only run for the Centaurs.
Converse, who is the third-leading hitter for Woodstock Academy at .400, had the only other hit in the game.
Week 6 review: Centaurs still in search of postseason berth
There is one goal left to achieve for the Woodstock Academy softball program.
Make the state tournament.
The Centaurs come into the week with four games left to play against Fitch, Hale Ray and Montville this week and Haddam-Killingworth in their final home game next Monday.
They need one more win to qualify for the Class L tournament.
“You start pressing,” Woodstock Academy coach Jason Gerum admitted.
But there are winnable games left.
Gerum thinks the Centaurs (7-9) have a good chance against Haddam-Killingworth and Hale Ray.
“There are teams on our schedule still left that when you look at common opponents and the level of play we’re at and what they’ve done against them and you consider all the factors, we still have a good chance of winning some games,” Gerum said.
But there is a caveat to that.
“Every team left on our schedule, the programs are good. So we could go 4-0 as easy as we could go 0-4. That’s the pressing part. To get it over with, and not have to feel pressure in the last few games, is huge,” Gerum said.
The Centaurs could have erased the question on Saturday but fell just short to Valley Regional, 6-4.
The Warriors have a very good pitcher in Addy Bullis; a key reason why they are now undefeated through their first 15 games.
“She is definitely an All-State pitcher. She is one of the better pitchers we will see all season,” Gerum said.
Bullis held the Centaurs spellbound through the first three innings, not allowing a hit, while her teammates spotted her a 3-0 lead.
But Woodstock Academy reached the Valley pitcher in the bottom of the fourth in the game played at the Bentley Athletic Complex.
Catcher Julliana Nuttall had the first hit of the game for the Centaurs, a single, and Ashley Kaseck was sent in as a courtesy runner.
After a line out, Heather Converse walked.
Mackenzie Leveille put the Centaurs on the board with a single to center. Megan Preston then tied the game with a line drive, two-run double to center field.
But the Warriors got their three-run lead back in the sixth on a pair of doubles and a triple.
The Centaurs got back within two in the bottom of the inning when Nuttall walked, stole second, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a Converse ground out.
Leveille doubled with two outs, but was stranded when Bullis recorded one of her 12 strikeouts.
She set Woodstock Academy down in order in the seventh.
The Centaurs started out the week with one of their better offensive performances of the season when they posted an 18-4 win over Bacon Academy.
Hannah Burgess, who did not play in the Valley Regional game due to graduation exercises for her brother, led off the game in Colchester with a double. Nuttall walked and Hannah Chubbuck reached on an error.
Converse singled home two runs, Preston followed with an RBI single and Converse, on a double steal, stole home to make it 4-0.
But the Bobcats tied the game in the bottom of the inning.
“There was a tight (strike) zone in that game. It was odd. Megan likes to throw inside. She’s not afraid to go in there and we’ve capitalized on that because she jams a lot of players, doesn’t allow them to extend, but we weren’t getting any strikes called inside,” Gerum said.
Preston gave up two walks early, tried to adjust to the strike zone and yielded four straight hits including a double and a triple.
“We came in and regrouped, talked about changing how we were going to throw and we did it. Megan did a great job and we didn’t give up another run, but we pitched a totally different game from innings two through seven,” Gerum said.
But her teammates had her back.
Burgess singled home Maria Scandalito and scored on a wild pitch. Converse had a sacrifice fly and Leveille added an RBI single to make it 8-4 in the top of the second.
Woodstock Academy added another run in the third and three more in the fourth and the one-sided win was in motion.
Burgess led the way with five hits in six trips and is back up to a .667 average this season. Leveille finished with a 4-for-4, two RBI day while Converse had a pair of hits, scored three times and drove in five runs.
Preston also helped herself with two hits and two RBIs.
The Centaurs started well against East Lyme but fell to 0-5 in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference with a 7-1 loss last Wednesday.
Woodstock Academy got on the board first when both Leveille and Preston reached on errors and Leveille scored on a Maia Corrado ground out to make it 1-0 in the second inning.
“Both teams were making plays, there were quick innings and we scored. It looked like it was going to be one of those fast softball games,” Gerum said.
Then along came the bottom of the third inning.
The Vikings strung together six straight hits to start the inning including a two-run double by Anna Bomelli.
“Three of those were on ground balls to our infielders. Their field was really dry and the ball had a lot of spin on it. They were those handcuff grounders where the girls actually made a pretty good play but the ball spun out on two of them,” Gerum said. “It’s the way the ball rolls sometimes.”
After a line out and a sacrifice fly, East Lyme got two more singles and finished with six runs.
The Vikings added another run late to put the win away.
Converse was the only player with two hits for the Centaurs while Burgess, Leveille and Scandalito had the others.
Week 5 review: Tough week ends on positive note
Running the gauntlet.
It’s what the Woodstock Academy softball team did this past week.
Waterford on Monday, Stonington on Tuesday and Norwich Free Academy on Thursday.
Fortunately for the Centaurs, there was a game against Lyman Memorial on Saturday.
It helped the Centaurs’ spirits a bit as they handed the Bulldogs an 8-5 loss.
“I think it’s good to get back on track,” Woodstock Academy coach Jason Gerum said. “We had one of those weeks where you just happen to play some of the top teams all in a row.”
The Centaurs were certainly in the game against the Bears, losing in Stonington 8-7 on a walk-off home run.
The other two games – not so much.
The Lancers handed the Centaurs a 16-6 loss on Monday and the Wildcats showed no mercy in a 28-2 win on Thursday.
Those losses dropped Woodstock Academy to 6-7 and 0-4 in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
“It wasn’t as bad as you think but we had a three-game win streak and then you’re on a three-game skid. Regardless of the level Lyman (2-11) is at, a win got us back on track and you play better and feel better when you’re gaining confidence. It’s more of a confidence thing,” Gerum added.
The Centaurs wasted no time against Lyman.
Heather Converse scored Julianna Nuttall with a sacrifice fly to give the Centaurs a 1-0 first inning lead.
Woodstock Academy made it 5-0 in the second inning when Megan Preston singled, Cami Corrado walked and Hannah Burgess, who came into the game hitting .658, knocked in a run with her fifth double of the season.
Nuttall followed with a two-run single and Converse drove in her team-best 17th run of the season with a single to make it 5-0.
The Centaurs went up by a half-dozen when Maria Scandalito singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitched and scored on a double steal.
Woodstock Academy finished off its scoring when Converse (2-for-2) singled and scored on a Mackenzie Leveille homer in the fifth.
The Centaurs did have to weather a bit of a storm in the bottom of the fifth inning when Lyman put up a five-spot.
The bumps and bruises had mounted earlier in the week.
“We’re really beat up,” Gerum said. “Mackenzie was out for three weeks, Gabby (Barnes) is still out. There is your starting pitcher and starting left fielder. Maria has an arm problem. If she throws too much, she can’t play for a day or two and we’re always walking on eggshells with that.”
The Centaurs only other pitcher, Preston, pulled herself out of the game against Waterford because of arm soreness.
Woodstock Academy, at the time, was only trailing the Lancers, 10-6, going into the top of the seventh.
Waterford scored six runs off Converse who was pressed into service in the circle.
Converse had a good day at the plate for the Centaurs, knocking in three runs against Waterford with her second triple of the season.
Nuttall, who now has 11 RBIs, drove in a pair and Burgess went 2-for-2 at the plate.
The game with Stonington was a pitcher’s duel through the first 5 ½ innings.
Two RBI singles by Nuttall and a Converse sacrifice fly had the Woodstock Academy up, 3-2, going into the bottom of the sixth.
That’s when all heck broke loose.
The Bears put three runs up on the board in their half of the sixth.
The Centaurs responded with four in the top of the seventh on an RBI double by Maia Corrado, a run-scoring triple by Scandalito and an Amanda Bond sacrifice fly.
The 7-5 lead did not hold up as Stonington drew a walk which was followed by a single and Maddy Stepski had the game-winning, inside-the-park, three-run homer.
The Centaurs just ran out of pitching against NFA and the Wildcats, one of the best offensive teams in the state, took advantage.
“We can find a way to move kids around and we have kids who can step in and cover some spots. We have a little depth as far as fielding. You can’t replace pitching. Pitching dominates the sport,” Gerum said. “When one is down and the other is pulling herself out of the game, now you’re like, ‘What the heck?’ We gave (Preston) the break with pitching against NFA. We had to go with one of our JV pitchers who doesn’t even pitch a lot on JV but has some experience pitching. You have to pick-and-choose where you can give the breaks,” Gerum said.
In total, it leaves the Centaurs two wins shy of the state tournament.
“It’s crazy when you look at our record, (four) losses by one run and all of those games, except the Fitch game, were during the injuries,” Gerum said. “We haven’t really had a full team and we were in those games with a chance to win them. Three of those games, we had the lead going into the seventh inning and just ran out of gas. I want to get healthy before it’s too late. We have three weeks left. Everybody is walking around. They are out of their braces and walking boots. We’re getting there. We’re close. I just hope it’s not too late because I would really like to play some of these teams when we’re at full (strength).”