Seymour: softball's premier program
Seymour wins the NVL Tournament with a thrilling 2-1 win over Torrington. It is the Raiders first loss of the year after 21 straight wins.
They bring their latest pitching phenom with them, in this case a cold-as-ice sophomore Raeanne Geffert. They bring their big bats and big talent. But maybe most telling and most frustrating for the opposition is that the Seymour High softball team always brings its program with it.
The program brings with it as much as the fastballs that come off of the mound and the hits that come off the bats. The names change, the name on the uniform doesn’t and it is worth its weight in championships.
The Wildcats were an underdog in Friday’s NVL championship game against Torrington. Not a big one because after all they are Seymour. Yet, Torrington had beaten the Wildcats in last year’s title game and again in the only meeting this season between the two teams, 6-1.
The Raiders had ripped off 22 wins in a row this season with the brilliant Sydney Matzko, the greatest pitcher in school history and one of the top hurlers in the state, on the mound. Even Seymour coach Ken Pereiras had given the edge to Torrington.
“I thought they were the better team,” he said after hoisting up another championship trophy. “They had won 22 in a row, they had beaten us earlier in the season. I told the kids that we could compete with them but we had to be perfect to win and Raeanne had to be on point.’
But, championships are part of the Seymour pedigree. Eight state titles to start with. In 15 NVL tournaments, one of the teams has always been named Seymour. A total of 12 times the winner has answered to the name Seymour.
This is a program that owns the state record for consecutive victories with 78 between 2005-2007. This is a program that owns the Connecticut record for most wins in a season, going 28-0 in 2004.
Not invincible, Torrington, Naugatuck and Woodland have had their day against the Wildcats. But not very often.
In a game where Torrington appeared to have the edge there was still the pervading feeling that Torrington had to beat Seymour and not the other way around. These are the Wildcats and they bring that with them, the program speaks so darn loudly and screams, you want it come and get it.
Pereiras echoed the idea in both the tournament semifinals and finals that to be the best you have beat the best a justified compliment to Torrington. But maybe it comes down to this – to be the program you have to beat the program.
And that is Seymour. A herculean task that doesn’t happen with any regularity.
Seymour got some help on this day. A five-minute or so scenario from Matzko that was almost mind-boggling because she is so good, so dominant. An error and two hit batters. But not every team can take advantage.
And that is an ingredient to what makes Seymour, well, Seymour. Freshman Shari Minalga puts down the perfect bunt, 1-0. Geffert grounds to second base for the second run. Do what you have to. Make the play. The Seymour way.
Geffert gave you a lot more of Seymour. After Brittany Anderson had come through with an RBI single in the sixth to cut the lead to 2-1, Geffert left her on second base by coaxing Nikiki Jamieson to fly out and sitting Matzko down on strikes.
Then there was the 7th inning. Torrington hardly bowed its head in this one. Singles from Sam Pelow and Alexis Tyrell along with a walk to Sara Heath loaded the bases with one out.
With the Woodland High field bleeding with drama, Geffert did what Seymour does – she came up big. She sat down the dangerous Potter with some high heat. Then blitzed Brittany Young with some big-time smoke.
Torrington coach Maryanne Musselman beat herself up a bit for not bunting Potter to get the tying run in. It is a play so often used in softball and successful probably 80 percent of the time.
But Musselman may be second guessing herself too much here. First of all, Potter had hammered the ball in her previous at-bat. The bases were loaded which meant it was just a force play at the plate and not a tag play. And if Potter doesn’t get the bunt down you could be risking the double play.
Geffert just came up very big. Another Seymour big shot on the mound with gas and guts. If you could have seen the ugly blood blister she had on her thumb after getting hit fouling a ball off in the fourth inning you would have been even more impressed.
And when all was said and done, Matzko may said more than she realized about the day’s transpirings.
“Seymour got some runners on when they shouldn’t have and took advantage. We had runners on and didn’t take advantage,” she said.
That’s the Seymour program way. Sure they have been years the Wildcats have pounded teams to death. But it has never been all or nothing. They have the uncanny knack of taking what is given and making you pay.
There was disappointment on the Torrington side. Heck there should have been. They are champions and this one hurt. Matzko fired a three-hitter with 15 strikeouts. Seymour’s runs came home without the benefit of a hit.
But somewhere in all that is the idea that this is not about what Torrington didn’t do but what Seymour did do. It is a program that knows how to win and can seek out and find ways to score more runs that the other team.
It’s always been about talent with the Wildcats. They can play. They breed quality pitchers with frustrating and disbelieving regularity if you are the opposition. Every year. But it is equally about the program and what the name brings on to the field and into all these never ending succession of championship games.
Seymour found a way Friday. It is a way that started years ago, long before the first practice this year. It is a way that started with Shelby Slie, Alyssa Downs, Danielle Liska and all the brilliance that has overwhelmed the opposition over the years.
You always the feeling that you have to beat Seymour not that they have to beat you. Why? Because they are Seymour. And so very few do. You play the team, you play the program.
There is no more difficult task in area softball. Check the Wildcats’ trophy case.