Experienced Rams looking for playoff return
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Fri., Mar. 23, 2012
Two years ago, the Rockville High School girls' varsity softball team was comprised mostly of freshmen. That means this year's team is chock full of experienced juniors, who also have playoff experience. Coach Frank Levick said he hopes that experience will carry the team this year (and next) and also fill the void left by standout shortstop Brianna Levick (the coach's daughter), who went on to start for Fairfield University this spring.
Filling Brianna's shoes is junior Laura Skoly – one of seven returning starters and nine returning players. “She's fast,” Levick said. “She can cover a lot of area. I wanted to use her in the outfield, but she's pretty quick in the infield.”
Levick said he expects great pitching from junior Kaitlyn Lajoie, who threw a two-hit shutout in last year's state tournament. Younger up-and-coming players include Skoly's sister Morgan, who Levick said is “real speedy” on the basepaths.
Third-year starting third-baseman Elissa Graf will be the team's cleanup hitter. “She'll be a stand-out this year,” Levick said. “She hit .538 last year, and can really hit the ball.”
Levick said he also has catcher Chrissy Pettingill, fully recovered from an injury, and some solid sophomores.
“We should be pretty strong,” Levick said. “We have almost the same infield, and the same outfield. Hitting's probably going to be a little bit of a challenge, but that's where the bunting game will come it, with all the speed we'll have on the bases.”
Levick said that while working on fundamentals and agility drills in practice, his players have also worked hard in the weight room in the off-season.
“We do a lot of infield and outfield work - a lot of footwork,” he said. “I think the weightlifting really helped the pitchers. They are very strong. They were in there benching 180 pounds, and the football team was looking at them like, 'Wow.'”
Levick said the infield work is mostly about ball control. “We do a lot of soft-hand stuff - getting them to absorb the ball and keep their head down on the ball,” he said. “We tell them it's the basics that win. The team with the fewest mistakes is the one that wins the games.”
Levick said he expects his team to be every bit as competitive as last season. “I'd like to win the conference again,” he said. “Rocky Hill and Tolland will be tough for us. We have a tough schedule, but I like that part, because it makes us better.”
The Rams play their first official game of the season on April 4 at Bristol Eastern, and then host East Hartford on April 9. For a complete schedule, visit www.casciac.org.