Noises shooting for repeat of last season
By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Tue., Mar. 27, 2012
To say that last year was a good year for the Nathan Hale-Ray High School softball team would be an understatement. After winning the Shoreline Conference championship, the Noises went on to take the state Class S championship, finishing the season with an overall record of 24-3, and selection as the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Team of the Year. But after losing six starters to graduation, what does head coach Suzy Miner expect from this year’s team? After some reloading and reshuffling of players, more of the same.
“The expectations for this team are pretty high,” said Miner at a recent team practice. And perhaps more importantly, these expectations are self-imposed, she said. “Their [the players] goals are to maintain the level of excellence this program has become accustomed to,” said Miner.
Miner and the team have reason to be confident heading into the season, despite losing more than half of last year’s starting lineup.
“I was fortunate enough that we had some girls sitting on the bench that most likely would have been varsity starters on any other team in our conference,” said Miner. Those players will fill in some of the open spots, and other players that last year filled part-time positions will take those positions full-time this year.
“Most importantly, our two pitchers are back that won us a state championship last year, and one of our catchers that I used last year. So our battery is intact,” said Miner. Those players are all seniors: pitchers Katelyn Nichisti and Rachel Pease, and catcher Lydia Walter. The team’s only other senior, Ashley Holmgren, will likely take over a full-time infield position this year, said Miner.
The Noises open their season Wednesday, April 4, at Griswold (go to www.casciac.org for a complete schedule), and soon after head to Florida over spring break to have some fun and to play six games against teams from New York. “They’re not official games,” said Miner, not wanting to put pressure on her team when they should be enjoying themselves. “I like them to get the experience of playing really high-level softball in an environment that’s different from their own, and in addition to maybe have some life experiences that they’ve never had before,” she said.
Taking the reigns as head coach in 2008, Miner’s teams have had tremendous success in a relatively short time, winning one state and two conference championships. She credits this success to her mentor, former coach Lou Milardo, who led the Noises for about 30 years. Miner coached with Milardo for seven seasons before his retirement. “I learned from the best,” said Miner. “Not only did I take a lot from him while I was coaching [with him], I still talk to him on a regular basis. He’s the person who deserves all of the credit for putting this program into place.” And there is no reason that success shouldn’t continue this year.
“We certainly aren’t going to talk about repeating or anything like that, but the girls’ expectations are certainly lofty, and we have an expectation of success this season,” said Miner.