'The Captain' holding things steady as Fitch softball captures ECC Large
Groton — When Jackie Lewis is announced for a plate appearance by Washington Park public address announcer Leo Facchini, her name is always preceded by "the captain."
If her modest demeanor and reserved leadership don't generate enough respect for Lewis, there's always her batting average. In what is thus far Fitch's second straight unbeaten regular season, Lewis, the team's all-state senior shortstop, is hitting around .600 with six home runs and 35 runs batted in.
The second-ranked Falcons made it 43 straight regular-season victories Wednesday with a 6-0 win over Norwich Free Academy, clinching Fitch's second consecutive Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division title.
"I just try to stay calm and make contact," said Lewis, who was 2-for-3 with a run scored and started the Falcons' six-run rally in the third inning with a one-out single. "I know everybody else will hit me in. Everyone's so talented; they make it easy to be a senior. They don't make me nervous."
Translation: Lewis makes herself nervous, but her teammates — mainly sophomores and juniors — do not.
"She's tougher on herself than she is anybody else on the team," Fitch coach Kate Prpich said. "She's a great leader. She's a four-year starter. She knows how things work. ... She's not going to swing for the fences, but she has a ridiculous amount of home runs. The swing's the same, but the power's there."
It was the 12th shutout of the year for Fitch (16-0 9-0). Pitcher Caroline Taber (14-0) allowed five NFA hits, striking out seven and walking one. She gave up a leadoff triple to Brittani Majcher in the seventh inning, but retired the side on a strikeout and two popups to prevent the run from scoring.
Fitch sent 10 batters to the plate in the third, getting an RBI single by Taylor Wolfgang to score Lewis, a two-run double down the left-field line by Jayden Delaporta, an RBI groundout by Rylee MacMillan and an RBI bunt by Haley Flax. Nalissa Amar was 3-for-3 with a double for the Falcons.
NFA lost second baseman Sophia Formiglio during the game when she tweaked an already torn ACL while sprinting after a foul ball. Coach Bryan Burdick said the Wildcats (11-4, 5-4) were shaken by that development. Also, NFA, as has been the case recently, couldn't get timely hits to fall.
"We're not putting balls in the gaps," Burdick said. "It's like we've been snakebit by it. It's like in our loss to Woodstock, we outhit them 9-3 but lost 4-3. We aren't stringing hits together."
As for Fitch's Lewis, she will play softball next season at Eastern Connecticut State University, an NCAA participant in Division III this season. That's also the alma mater of Fitch assistant coach Arielle Cooper, who was an All-American at Eastern in 2013 before taking over as Fitch's interim head coach for a season, in which the Falcons captured the Class L state championship.
Lewis said several times in her career that she has tried to emulate Cooper.
"She's done more than help me," Lewis said. "... I look up to her. I remember seeing her play (at Fitch). I don't even know what to say about her."
"She's seeing the ball so well," Prpich said of Lewis. "I pitched (batting practice) and I have Caroline standing next to me and we try to trick her. ... She's got our number."
Stories that may interest you
The New London softball team won its first game of the season, beating Wheeler 12-0 on Monday.
The Old Lyme boys' tennis team picked up its ninth straight win, beating Cromwell 6-1 on Monday in a Shoreline Conference match.