Bears christen new softball field with a win, good wishes from faraway alumni

Stonington High School softball coach Ann-Marie Houle, who conducts an alumni game each year, sent questionnaires to many of the program's former players, asking them for their recollections.

She received more than 50 responses and posts a quote of the day at the field for her players to read when they come to practice.

Houle spoke of those former players and coaches as part of her remarks Saturday when the Bears played for the first time on their new softball field, part of an overall $2.7 million renovation of the high school's fields, including an artificial turf football field.

Stonington (1-1) followed with a 13-3 victory over Chariho.

"Our motto this year has been 'New field, strong tradition,'" Houle said. "So while there has been new dirt added ... what is still the same is the work ethic of players, their determination and their focus and pride in their school and community.

"Every day when we step onto this field, we are reminded of those alumni and know that we are playing for the players of the past, present and future."

Houle said the good wishes for the Bears that traveled the farthest came from Julie Wood Lemley, a member of Stonington's 1995 state championship team who is living in Japan. Wood sent a YouTube video greeting to the Bears.

Houle said the messages have resonated with her players.

"It's important to understand who came before you," said Houle, herself an alumna of the program. "Once you leave here, you're always welcome back."

Said Houle, whose team is the defending Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division champion: "The tee-ballers at Little League deserve to play on this field someday."

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