Jason Pires thought his softball team would be good defensively but was not sure how it would score runs or replace its pitcher and catcher from last year.
Midway through the season, Berlin is 8-2 and has scored a tons of runs but the defense has been inconsistent. When Berlin hosts Middletown Monday night at Sage Park the Redcoats will also be trying out two new pitchers and a new outfielder for the second half of the season.
Starting pitcher sophomore Makayla Harris and starting senior centerfielder Paige Owens were "involved in an incident and are no longer with the team," according to Pires. "They have the right to appeal the decision but I have not been told that they would appeal so I have no idea. I have to prepare like they are done for the year and they are not coming back and I'm trying to find replacements for them. Some kids have stepped up from the varsity bench and j.v. and done a nice job. We have high expectations and that is not going to change."
Berlin is 8-2 but both losses came in the CCC South to Bristol Central and Maloney.
"Overall I'm happy with where we are," Pires said. "The Central loss was tough to take because we were up 3-0 in the seventh inning and lost it. The Maloney game, they just beat us. They hit a two-run home run in the first inning and we lost 3-1 so it was a good game. They have a good team and they have a good pitcher and they are unbeaten. We played well in both games but it kind of stinks because with Maloney unbeaten we don't have our destiny for the league title in our own hands."
The Redcoats have been led by Yale-bound shortstop Brittany Labbadia, who according to Pires is hitting near .600 with five home runs and almost 40 runs scored.
"She's two-time All-State and will be three-time and she has to be in the conversation for (Gatorade) State Player of the Year," Pires said. "It's hard for a non-pitcher to win the Player of the Year and there are some other good position players out there but she has been amazing."
Pires has been very happy with the play of Mackenzie Freeland, who is back for her senior year after missing most of her sophomore and junior year to injuries. She is hitting close to .400 and has moved from the ninth spot in the batting order to second.
Also hitting well for Berlin has been Erin McKinnon who is close to .500. She has played third base the last two years and has been solid minus one tough game but according to Pires is solid.
Second baseman Sarah Brochu is a four-year starter and has had a solid year. Katherine Burek plays first after being the DH last year. She has a lot of pop in her bat according to Pires. Freeland plays leftfield and senior Kelly Walsh plays rightfield and is a two-year starter. Sophomore Amanda Patterson is the catcher.
Replacing Harris in the circle will be freshman Kaitlin Guild and sophomore Annie Asal.
"It's tough because Makayla had pitched even better than I thought she would," Pires said. "She had done a great job. Now we are throwing a freshman and a sophomore out there."
Guild was the designated hitter before moving to pitch and was on a tear. After moving to pitcher, Guild's offense has tailed off a bit.
"She was one of our best hitters the first part of the year," Pires said. "But she has had a lot thrown at her the last few games. With her added requirements as a pitcher, she hasn't hit quite as well but that's understandable."
Pires said Asal has had just one bad inning when she gave up a grand slam. Other than that one bad inning, she has given up only one run in eight plus innings.
Centerfield is being manned by sophomore Courtney Silvia. She went 2-for-2 against E.O. Smith last game.
"We're not going to change who we are," Pires added. "We need to play better defense because we've been inconsistent so far on defense. I was most concerned about our hitting and we've proven that we can swing the bats. We are doing really well on offense."