By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – This coming Tuesday, the Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern softball and baseball teams will clash to end the regular season in what should be two competitive and unpredictable showdowns.
On the softball diamond, both teams will be looking to improve playoff positioning and in terms of revenge, the Lancers will be looking for a little payback from home.
Back on May 6, Central picked off Eastern 8-4 in a very competitive bout.
Expect more of the same this time around as the teams should be primed and ready for a seven inning war.
On the baseball front, Eastern could have already wrapped up the CCC South title and if the squad can win every game coming into the challenge, the Lancers could be 16-3 by that point.
Eastern has the pitching to overwhelm Central but the Rams have been riding a hot streak as of late and when these two squads square off at Muzzy Field, this contest should be another barnburner.
With so much to prove as the scholastic season comes to a close, here’s what to expect in both city series softball and baseball battles:
Game 20: Bristol Central vs. Bristol Eastern
Location: Muzzy Field, Bristol
Time: 7 p.m.
Records (as of May 17) – Bristol Central: 8-9 overall (6-5 CCC South); Bristol Eastern: 13-3 overall (10-1 CCC South)
The question: Can the Rams’ offense somehow get to the outstanding Eastern pitching staff?
What to expect from Central: There’s a possibly the Rams could be entering the game with a winning record (possibly as good as 10-9), despite that 2-7 start depending on what happened this past week.
Central will have to face an elite pitcher and that will challenge the offense from the start.
And the Rams will have to give its pitching staff some sort of cushion to work with.
Over Central’s recent 4-0 week, Central put 25 runs on the scoreboard and the challenge for the Rams will be to score some runs against Eastern.
Bottom line, no scoring, no chance against the Lancers.
What to expect from Eastern: Figuring in a win against Bulkeley last week – at the very least – all but gets the Lancers the CCC South title; but a win against Central cements those aspirations.
Plus, Eastern is looking for a top five seeding in the Class L bracket.
Defense is the key and if the Lancers don’t make mistakes in the field, Central will be hard pressed to generate runs.
If mistakes and gaffes come Eastern’s way, this could be a war from the start.
But last time around, the Lancers made three mistakes and Central could not capitalize on any of those miscues.
However, if ace Nate Carney is out on the mound, it will be an epic challenge for the Rams at the plate despite any miscues in the field.
Game 20: Bristol Central vs. Bristol Eastern
Location: The softball field at Bristol Eastern high school
Time: 3:45 p.m.
Records (as of May 17) – Bristol Central: 10-6 overall (7-4 CCC South); Bristol Eastern: 8-10 overall (7-5 CCC South)
The question: Can the Lancers get revenge on the Rams this time around?
What to expect from Central: Ali Holden is a tough customer on the mound and yields less than three earned runs per game.
The Lancers were able to get four runs out of her the first time around and the squad needs at least that much if Eastern wants to nab a win.
But Central has been drilling the ball all season and with a .340 batting average, the squad can throw up runs on the scoreboard in a hurry.
And that top five in the batting order (Driscoll, Ali Holden, Martel, Laviero and Lindsey Holden) are – in fact – the top five on the squad in batting average and Eastern is very aware of that.
If the Central bats can stay hot, it could be a long afternoon for Eastern.
What to expect from Eastern: This will be a tough game for Central if the tandem of pitcher Jenifer Tabacco and catcher Mikayla Martin are in sync.
Tabacco has suffered some tough luck losses this past season and the last time the Bristol schools squared off, she gave up eight runs but don’t expect a repeat performance.
The Lancers have a strong top five batters and proved to Central last time that they can come back from a deficit.
Mental mistakes proved costly the first time around for Eastern and if those gaffes can be nullified, the Lancers have a chance in this one.
Eastern has played very well during points of the season and if the Lancers can generate a little of the magic, the season series will be all tied up at 1-1.
Players to watch: Bristol Central— baseball
Jerry LaPenta, Senior, Pitcher/OF, 4-2 overall, 26 strikeouts
Noah Cruz, Junior, INF/P/OF, .280 batting average, 13 RBI
Nick Sassu, Junior, Catcher, .260 batting average, 13 hits
Tony Nicoletti, Senior, Third Base, .244 batting average, 11 hits
Ricky Lemke, Senior, Second Base, .237 batting average, 9 hits
Jacob Hall, Senior, First Base, .236 batting average, 13 hits
Jaeden Rasmus, Junior, INF/P, 2-4 overall, 2.50 ERA
Players to watch: Bristol Eastern—baseball
Nate Carney, Junior, Pitcher, 6-0 record, ERA under 1.40
Tommy Curtin, Senior, Pitcher/1B, 4-2 record
Jake Colello, Senior, Second base, .313 batting average
Jordan Lowery, Senior, Catcher, .457 batting average, 3 HR’s
Zach Marquis, Sophomore, DH/3BP, .313 batting average
“Big” Pete Roche, Senior, Third Base, .245 batting average
Players to watch: Bristol Central— softball
Ali Holder, Sophomore, Pitcher, 10-4 overall, 2.55 ERA; .450 batting
Allie Martel, Junior, Shortstop, .302 batting average; amazing defense
Sam Laviero, Junior, Second Base, .400 batting average, 18 hits, 12 RBI
McKenna Driscoll, Junior, Catcher .488 batting average, 20 hits, 12 RBI, 9 BB’s
Lindsay Holden, Junior, First Base, .316 batting average
Players to watch: Bristol Eastern— softball
Jenifer Tabacco, Junior, Pitcher
Charline Plasczynski, Junior, Shortstop
Mikayla Martin, Sophomore, Catcher
Bailey Wyrebek, Sophomore, Outfielder
Michaelu Sassu, Senior, First Base