It’s been pointed out more than once to Waterford High School head softball coach Liz Sutman that her team has done quite well this season.
Logically, Sutman knows that’s true. There's just one problem — things are different when you play softball for Waterford as success has been measured by league and state championships.
“And that’s the thing,” said Sutman. “People say, ‘Um, you did finish 15-5. It’s not like you’ve barely made the state tournament.’ My husband (Heston) has reminded me of that.
“I hold them to a higher standard. I do, and they do live up to it, but I’ve probably been harder on them than I need to be.”
The Lancers are also the reigning CIAC Class M champs, and they begin their defense today when they play host to Wilcox Tech (4 p.m.)
Should you be a superstitious sort that believes in omens and so forth, Waterford is seeded 12th, the same seed it during last year's tourney when it went on its surprising run to the title. It was its third state title since 2009, which, by the way, is as many as the rest of the Eastern Connecticut Conference has won this millennium.
Waterford enjoyed far more good than bad during the regular season, including wins over NFA (5-3), ECC Medium Division champion Griswold (13-4), and Rockville (20-3), the latter which is seeded seventh in Class L.
The losses have stuck with Sutman, though. It didn’t help that the Lancers lost three of their first four games, either
“They’re great kids, and I still like going to practice with them every day,” Sutman said. “They’re also well aware that they’re driving me nuts. We’re not keeping it a secret.
“I tell the girls right from the beginning that they’re being held to a different level on-and-off the field. They have to do the right thing off the field, and winning ball games is still very important as well. They’re expected to do that. I think the girls this year have expected to win, but didn’t realize that they’d have to face adversity and not give up. That’s been one of the big things, that when we’re down or in an adverse situation, we have to dig down deeper instead of just rolling over.”
Sutman still recognizes all the good that her team has done on the field, though.
“(Senior) Elaina Sullivan has been hands-down awesome,” Sutman said. “She just made All-State. She’s caught a couple of young pitchers. She’s been the varsity catcher since her freshman year. She’s hitting around .500 and has kept us in games by throwing runners out, keeping them off base, and keeping the pitchers in check. I can say without hesitation that she’s one that I know comes every game and does her best.
“(Junior) Sarah Pacheco, our first baseman, has had a great season for us offensively and defensively. She’s been a really steady player for us, and our leftfielder, (senior) Megan Elphick, too.”
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