Jewett City, Preston softball teams earn district LL championships

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Region - posted Mon., Jul. 15, 2013
Southpaw Maya Waldron pitched for Preston-Jewett City in the team's final match against Pawcatuck. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Southpaw Maya Waldron pitched for Preston-Jewett City in the team's final match against Pawcatuck. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

It’s a big year for Little League softball in Jewett City, as All-Star girls’ teams from both the age 9-10 and 11-12 divisions won their District 11 championships. The combined Preston-Jewett City 11-to-12-year-old All-Stars made a valiant run for the state championship, going 7-1 in Section 2 tournament play before dropping their pivotal July 12 qualifier 2-1 against Pawcatuck, a team they defeated the previous night by a score of 4-2.

“Keep your heads up, girls. They had to earn it,” shouted Kathy Burdick, whose daughter, Alexandria Blake, played center field in Friday’s deciding game.

Glenn LaBossiere, who coached the All-Star team along with Preston coach Antonio Farinha, echoed the sentiment. “I’m proud of the way you guys played,” he told his team during their emotional post-game huddle, before they lined up along the base lines to receive their commemorative pins. Competing for the Section 2 championship “is like being in the Final Four of the entire state,” he said.

The teams were evenly matched, playing three scoreless innings before Pawcatuck brought in a run at the top of the fourth. A bobbled catch cost the Preston-Jewett City team another run in the top of the next inning, but they responded in the bottom of the fifth with two doubles of their own, bringing in their sole run.

“A couple of hits here and there, and it might have been a different game,” said LaBossiere. “But nobody came close to beating them in district play.” This is the first year Preston, which won the District 10 championship, and Jewett City have a combined All-Star tournament team, he said. “It was out of necessity for us. Jewett City has only five 12-year-olds in the league,” he said. In addition, Preston has just one regular-season team in this age bracket, he said.

Meanwhile, the 9-to-10-year-old All Star team from Jewett City also won its District 11 championship with a 10-1 victory over Preston-Norwich, a team they had previously bested in the tournament by a 12-3 score.

Nichole Janca manages the age 9-10 team, which includes her daughter Julie on the pitcher’s mound. “I’m so proud of them. The girls did this on their own,” she said. She said that the squad racked up 47 runs in the course of its four-game tournament run, keeping them in the winners’ bracket as undefeated.

They’ve been on hiatus from play for the past two weeks, but not from practice, said Janca. “They’ve been practicing hard, five days a week,” she said. “They worked extremely hard from the very first practice, and they got so much better. I think their hard work really paid off.”

The Jewett City squad was slated to play begin tournament play for the Section 2 title on July 18, in East Lyme. The team’s opponent was not yet known at press time.

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