It's a new day for the Raiders softball team. Youth is the rule for the 2018 squad.
TORRINGTON: The familiar names Torrington Raider softball fans knew so well for four years are no longer around.
Not a Dubois to be found, not a Carbone, Rogers or Julian (although the latter three were on hand on the sidelines) in a lineup that was one that competed at the highest level over the past four years, including trips to the Class L title game a season ago and the semi-finals the year before.
Only one full time position player returns this year for head coach Maryanne Musselman, Alyssa Dowd behind the plate.
Their infield consists of a senior (Nina Lestrud) at first, a freshman (Shae Neary) at second, a junior, (Alexa Reynolds) at short and another freshmen (Maddie McLaughlin) at third.
Youth is clearly served in the outfield with three sophomores roaming the complex with Sarah Walton in left, Dana Cisowski in center and Olivia Mooney in right.
On Saturday, the Raiders opened their 2018 campaign with a 15-4 loss in an out of conference matchup against New Milford.
It’s not as much about what went wrong on Saturday, it’s about where the Raiders feel they can grow as a brand-new unit.
There were some terrific signs in their opener that should give Raider fans cause for hope after losing so much talent and experience a year ago.
Dowd assumed the leadoff spot after batting eighth or ninth last year and reached base three times and scored twice after working out walks in the third and fourth innings.
The junior leader also made a great play on a fouled bunt attempt that thwarted a rally at the time.
Cisowski laced a double and single, scored a run and reached in three of her four at bats from the second spot in the lineup.
Reynolds scored a run in the third after reaching on an error, launched a sacrifice fly in the fourth before lacing a double to left center in her final at bat of the day in the sixth.
Mclaughlin, the cleanup hitter, reached safely twice and played well at third where she was peppered with tough shots most of the afternoon.
Walton showed a smooth swing that resulted in a two-hit afternoon and was solid in leftfield.
Junior Julia Fritz assumed the reigns in the circle from DuBois and will be the Raiders number one arm over the next two years, if the softball decides to leave her alone.
Fritz took a hard shot off her midsection on Saturday but stayed in the game and with no other experienced arm anywhere on the Raiders bench, Mussleman can just hope the injury bug stays away from the mound.
New Milford was a tough opening opponent for Fritz who saw limited action a season ago, but the junior got stronger as the game progressed.
Ruling inside the circle is all about confidence and as Fritz gets more in game experience, that should grow.
That young infield played fairly well their first time outside, the Raiders had been practicing inside most of the early pre-season.
“Considering how young we are,” Musselman said. “I saw some things I liked out there today. We have a lot to work on, but I think we will get better as we go along.”
NOTES: The Raiders go on the road next week with games at Derby (Tuesday), Darien (Wednesday) and Seymour (Friday) before returning home to take on Seymour on Monday, April 9.