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    Thursday, June 13, 2024

    Oh, the places you’ll go: St. Bernard softball captures ECC DII softball title, just in time for graduation

    The sixth-seeded St. Bernard High School softball team capture the ECC Division II tournament championship Friday, topping No. 4 Montville 7-2. The game was postponed Thursday due to rain, necessitating that St. Bernard’s two seniors, Angelica Tompkins and Sunshine Rangel, head from the game to graduation. (Gavin Keefe/The Day)
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    Griswold — Angelica Tompkins hustled after a fly ball to shallow center field like the St. Bernard senior had somewhere to go on Friday afternoon.

    Actually, she did.

    About three hours later, Tompkins would trade her softball uniform for a cap and gown to attend her high school graduation.

    But first Tompkins was determined to help St. Bernard win the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II softball championship. She caught the ball on the run and alertly threw to second base to catch a Montville runner for a double play to end the game and secure a 7-2 victory at Griswold High School.

    “It’s crazy,” said Tompkins about winning an ECC tournament title and graduating the same day. “A lot of emotions, a lot of feelings. But I’m glad we got out here with this team and got the win.”

    Tompkins delivered on the championship stage, making a couple sparkling defensive plays in center field and driving in her team’s first two runs with a booming triple. Her extra-base hit highlighted a four-run third inning that sent the Saints in front for good.

    Sophomore Anabelle Wenzel played a starring role at the plate and on the mound. She went 4-for-4 and had two RBI, including driving in the go-ahead run in the third, and pitched a complete game, scattering seven hits.

    “It’s really amazing,” Wenzel said about the title win. “This team has come so far. From the beginning of the season, we’ve improved so much. And I’m really proud of everybody and all their accomplishments and how much they did on the field today.”

    For her terrific all-around championship game performance, Wenzel was named the Most Valuable Player.

    “Anabelle is one of those kids who is never rattled by anything,” St. Bernard coach Ray O’Donnell said. “She’ll walk a batter and then she’ll come back and strike out the next batter. She’s very stoic, very to the point. … She’s a really tough kid and a great kid.”

    Fourth-seeded Montville (13-10) got the early jump, scoring two runs in the second inning for a 2-0 advantage.

    Senior Amanda Corrice’s two-out single scored freshman Peyton Jones, who also singled, and an error allowed a second run to cross the plate.

    St. Bernard (12-10), the No. 6 seed, took control from there, scoring seven straight runs.

    Wenzel worked out of a couple of tough jams, including retiring the side after the first two batters singled to open the fifth inning with the Saints clinging to a 5-2 lead. She received help from her teammates in the field.

    “I just trusted my team,” Wenzel said.

    Junior third baseman Alyssa Hernandez came up with a gem with a runner on third with one out in the third. She moved in to stab a ground ball, faked a throw to first, turned and fired to shortstop Aubree Nygaard, who tagged out the runner at third.

    “This is her first year playing softball,” O’Donnell said. “I taught her that play like three weeks ago. I usually call it. I didn’t call it. She did it on her own. She has a huge IQ for a kid that hasn’t played softball before.’

    Wenzel’s RBI single pushed the lead to 5-2 in the fourth and the Saints put the game away with two runs in the seventh on junior Madison Scribner’s RBI double and Nygaard’s run-scoring single. Nygaard reached base three times with two singles and a walk and Tompkins finished with two hits.

    After Corrice’s lead off double, Wenzel closed out the championship win, getting the last two outs on Tompkins’ hustle play that started a double play.

    Seven different players combined to produce 13 hits overall for the Saints.

    Corrice had a team-best two hits for the Wolves and senior Taryn Feragne added a triple.

    “They had legit hits,” Montville coach Baylee Brackett said. “They kept their energy up the whole game. They deserved to win. They had a great run throughout this whole tournament.”

    After the game, the Saints received the ECC championship plaque, posed for pictures and then Tompkins and Sunshine Rangel, the only other senior on the team, left to prepare for graduation, which started at 6 p.m. at St. Patrick Cathedral in Norwich.

    The softball program has come a long way from earlier in the season when the Saints struggled.

    “It took awhile for us to jell,” O’Donnell said. “We continued to jell and get better. This is a great group of kids. The two seniors were here four years when we won one game. I told the kids, ‘Let’s go do this for the seniors.’ ”

    “... It just shows what these kids are made of.”

    g.keefe@theday.com

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