Rocky Hill-Cromwell Summer Softball Team: Coach Brian Dillon, Brandon McFarlin, Mike Dudis, and players Megan Khanna, Erica Dewey, Monica Dewey, Madison Dillon, Erin Slavin, Jaime Anderson, Grace McFarlin, Amanda McFarlin, Christina DeNovellis, Emily Killoran, Annie Ensign, Alyssa Carron, Samantha Smith, Tia Sheathelm, Faith Torello, Malena Signorello, Lauren Collasacco, Bridget Garrahy
The towns of Rocky Hill and Cromwell joined forces on the diamond this summer, creating a powerhouse in the Northern Connecticut Girls Softball League.
The two-town mash-up produced a team won 11 regular season games (tied for a league high) and made a lot of memories along the way.
Head coach Brian Dillon was joined in the dugout by fellow coaches Brandon McFarlin and Mike Dudis, guiding the high schoolers to the league’s second-best overall record.
“The team is a group of Rocky Hill and Cromwell kids that have known each other for a long time, and they’ve come together to play quite well. They’ve known each other from playing against each other in little league and high school, and now they’re playing together. They’re all friends and it’s worked out really well,” said Dillon.
Dillon previously coached Rocky Hill’s little league softball team and McFarlin coached Cromwell’s little leaguers.
Because of the size of the towns it was natural for the teams to merge for the summer softball season.
“We’ve coached this group of kids since they were seven years old in little league,” recalled Dillon.
“Our teams have been playing softball against each other, so we decided to bring the kids together. The numbers predict that we need to combine to play in the summer league,” added McFarlin, “For a while when they were younger they kind of disliked each other but now that they’ve been playing together for the past three or four years, they’ve become friends.”
Following a successful regular season, the team earned a dramatic 3-2 walk off win over Hebron in the weekend tournament.
Down 2-0, Tia Sheathelm blasted a two-run double to deep, tying and extending the game.
Faith Torello then scored the game-winner, crossing home plate all the way from first following a bunt from Megan Khanna.
Torello, Khanna, and Madison Dillon earned all-star recognition for their exceptional work this summer.
Excellent pitching and defense highlighted the team’s success, surrendering a league-low 39 runs during the regular season.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of really good pitchers,” recalled McFarlin.
Cromwell twins Erica and Monica Dewey received glowing reviews from coaches and spectators for their work in the field and from the plate.
From the top of the lineup to the bottom of the lineup, everyone contributed.
“It’s a good group of kids that like playing together. They love to play softball and that’s half the battle,” stated Dillon.
The players will now go their separate ways until they meet again this spring.
But this time they’ll again be separated into two dugouts when Rocky Hill and Cromwell begin a new annual rivalry during the high school softball season.
“There’s always that big rivalry between Rocky Hill and Cromwell and now they’ve come together and they’re friends. It’s going to be fun to watch them play against each other in high school now,” Dillon said with a smile.
Sunday Brunch Drinks at Brizo F.I.S.H. located at 945 Cromwell Avenue in Rocky Hill
Local resident and veteran restauranteur Francis DelMastro saw a need for a fine dining establishment with a friendly feel, so last October he opened the doors to Brizo F.I.S.H. (Fresh Innovative Seafood Here) located at 945 Cromwell Avenue in Rocky Hill.
“I’m from the area. I’ve lived in Wethersfield for most of my life and I worked at this package store when I was 18,” said DelMastro, pointing towards Century Wines & Liquors, which neighbors Brizo, “Being in the industry as long as I’ve been and knowing the area I thought it was time to do something on the level of what we’ve done. The trend at the time in 2018 was Mediterranean but I didn’t want to pigeon toe myself, so we decided on Mediterranean to Louisianan and everything in between. This way we have influence from Spain, Greece, Italy, Americana, Deep South. We’re literally mixing it up here.”
DelMastro’s latest masterpiece is an exceptional ocean to table experience for lunch and dinner, as well as an upscale bunch on Sundays. Happy Hour is also available Tuesday through Sunday.
The atmosphere inside the beautifully renovated restaurant is both classy and casual, offering a welcome vibe with high-end culinary creations.
“We wanted to have that neighborhood feel. We’re seeing regulars two or three days a week and that was the objective,” added DelMastro.
Executive Chef Aaron Hall has created a diverse menu with something for everyone, including state of the art seafood cuisine, top of the line meats and cheeses, and vegetarian options.
“He’s an accredited chef with an abundance of creativity. It shows through the menu and the accolades that we’ve received so far,” DelMastro said of Hall.
A beautifully designed bar is at the center of the establishment, offering a wide selection of beer and wine, as well as mixing up some of the most imaginative drinks around (Tip: The Rose Colored Glasses is a must-try).
“The front of the house in today’s times is no different from the back of the house. Your mixologist are artists just as much as your chefs are in the kitchen. We wanted to put together a craft cocktail list that matched to the concept and the menu itself. The head mixologist and the chef work hand in hand to match and complement each other.”
The menu, which always features the freshest and highest quality ingredients, is ever-changing to fit the time of the year.
“Soon you’ll see a whole new fall lineup on the menu. You’ll also see a whole new fall lineup from our craft cocktail list, and the wines will be swapped out as well for the season.”
The seasons may have change but the charming characteristics and overall quality of Brizo remains uncompromised, and this October will mark a year since DelMastro introduced this new and innovative dining experience to the area.
“We want people to be comfortable. It’s a casual, neighborhood family feel and that’s what we set out to be.”
For more information visit brizofish.com or check out their latest culinary creations on Instagram.
Wethersfield High School student-athlete Taylor Pitchell received a full ride scholarship from Central Michigan University to compete on the Chippewas gymnastics team at the Mount Pleasant-based college.
Pitchell has been involved in gymnastics for 15 years and has been training at Gymnastics Express in Glastonbury under head coach Maureen Chagnon. The 2019 graduate reached level 10 and has competed around the United States in Arizona, Louisiana, Texas, and Indiana, as well as in New England and across the East Coast.
In 2016, Pitchell was a level 9 state and regional champion in the vault, and in 2017 was a JO National Qualifier at level 10.
During this past year at the level 10 regionals she earned second place in the floor routine and a fifth place on the vault.
During her time at WHS, Pitchell was an honor student while taking high-level and challenging courses such as AP psychology, AP art, and AP/ECE statistics. She also volunteers her time at Saint George’s Greek Orthodox Church in Hartford
She will be a Biology major at CMU. In 2016 Taylor was a level 9 state and regional champion in the vault and in 2017 was a JO National Qualifier at level 10. During this past year at the level 10 regionals Taylor earned second place in the floor routine and a fifth place on the vault.
*Photo and information provided by Wethersfield Athletic Director Mike Maltese*
RCP 17U Jr American Legion Middletown Jr Legion
RCP rallied to defeat Middletown 6-5 in extra innings in the opening round of the 17U State Regionals at Mckenna Field in East Hartford.
Elias Deleon ended the marathon battle in the bottom on the 10th with a bases loaded single, driving in Alex Inglis for the game-winner.
RCP, led by head coach Lou Thomas, needed three runs in the bottom of the seventh to send it into extras.
Down to their final out, Tino Gagliardi, Zach Zajac, and Jesse Frazer each had hits in the inning, and Frazer’s was a double, which drove in Nick Soignoli for the game-tying run.
The comeback was also aided by the relief pitching of Gagliardi and Nick Aderhold, who combined to pitch four scoreless innings.
To reach the regionals, each team had to win their Regional POD. Middletown had to beat Newington and avenged a loss to Willimantic to survive POD A, and RCP easily swept through POD D.
The loss to RCP ended a great season for Middletown, who won 16 of 22 games in the regular season, thanks to a strong pitching staff led by Alex Mach and Tiernan Powers.
First baseman Ryan Michard and catcher Payton Frohlich steadied the team from the plate.
Following the elimination of Middletown, RCP went on to the defeat Northeast 5-1 before falling to Tri-County (1-0) in the State Championship game in Meriden on August 4.
Wethersfield graduate Michael Messina will play football for Southern Connecticut State University. Pictured at his signing with father (Lou), sister (Emily), and mother (Liz Enright) / Wethersfield graduate Bobby Balesano is headed to Florida to play football for St. Thomas University. Pictured at his signing with his mother, Lisa, and his father, Bob
Many of the 2019 high school graduates are prepping for the start of college later this month, but life-after-high school has already begun for those participating in fall athletics at a collegiate level.
Wethersfield High School graduates and football standouts Michael Messina and Bobby Balesano are two of those athletes that are continuing both their academic and athletic careers in college.
Messina is staying in the Nutmeg State, heading to Southern Connecticut State University where he will be a student-athlete for the Owls football team. He was a four-year member of the WHS football team, earning varsity letters the past two seasons for his consistent and steady work as a kicker. During his senior season in high school he also mentored some of the freshman players on the Eagles football team.
Messina was also a four-year member of the boys’ track team and was an honor roll student in the classroom. He also volunteered his time as an ALS Aide, as well as working with special needs students.
Outside of school, Messina has volunteered at the South Park Inn shelter in Hartford though his church.
He will major in Athletic Training at SCSU.
Balesano is headed further south, where be playing football at St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. He will be joining a football program during their inaugural season in the Sunshine State, as the Bobcats will be making their debut on the gridiron this fall.
During his time on the field at WHS, Balesano played all four years and earned a reputation as a disruptor on defense, terrorizing quarterbacks and causing turnovers. He was also a member of the outdoor track team.
Balesano also participated in the Yearbook Club and volunteered with the Keane Foundation, as well as Corpus Christi Church. Over the past few years, he was involved with youth sports in town as he was an umpire for the Wethersfield Little League, volunteered with the Mini Kickers program through the Ritchie Soccer Club, and has been a lifeguard for the Wethersfield Parks and Rec Department.
In addition to athletics, Balesano also participated in numerous school trips and has traveled to Italy, France, Spain, and Belize.
He plans to major in Sports Management at St. Thomas.
(Information and photos provided by Wethersfield AD Mike Maltese and the WHS Athletic Department)
RCP's Tyler Baldwin throws his final pitch, a strike, polishing off a complete-game, one-hitter in a 2-0 shutout of Berlin last Wednesday.
Rocky Hill-Cromwell-Portland 19U baseball had another solid CT American Legion season, coming up just short of a trip to the Super Regionals.
After finishing the regular season as Zone 3 champs with a record of 14-8, the team had to overcome an opening round loss to Berlin in the double elimination Northern Division Sectional Tournament.
As fate would have it, RCP won their next game (2-0 over Niantic) to set up a rematch with Berlin in the third round.
Tyler Baldwin pitched a complete-game masterpiece in the rematch, allowing only one hit as RCP eliminated their rivals (2-0) at Fran Monnes Field in Cromwell.
“I don’t think we had any nerves. We have a great group of guys here, so we knew what we had to do, beat Niantic and then come back here and beat them,” Baldwin recalled of the team’s mindset after the loss to Berlin, “The first game, personally I think we should have had that game. Losing that just made us want to win even more, especially because it was these guys. We wanted to come here and give it right back to them after they beat us here.”
Baldwin was lights out in his final start, which was indicative of his entire season. As the season progressed, the flame-throwing righty became the ace on a unit loaded with talent.
RCP’s pitching staff allowed a state-low 1.9 run per game during the regular season and, for his part, Baldwin didn’t allow a run in over 40 innings of work on the mound.
It was a season that not even the confident Baldwin could have anticipated.
“Honestly no, if you told me I was going to come in this summer and pitch for the first time for RCP and go this many innings scoreless and come here in an elimination game in the playoffs and almost throw a perfect game. But I’m glad, it’s been awesome.”
The night following the elimination of Berlin, RCP suffered their own season-ending loss, a 3-2 heartbreaker to Southington in the sectional finals. RCP needed to beat Southington twice to move on to the Super Regionals but never got to the second game, losing the first contest on a seventh inning walk-off.
It was an emotional end for a team that accomplished a great deal under head coach Paul Francis, who wrapped up his first season as the head coach for the 19U team.
Francis started coaching RCP baseball in 2011 as an assistant for the 17U team and then worked his way through the ranks, including as an assistant on the 19U team that won the World Series in 2016.
Over the past couple of seasons, the skipper formed a special bond with the current group, especially the five Cromwell-based players that will be moving on.
Francis posted this touching message on social media following the loss to Southington.
“I was a 20 year old trying to figure out my life. You guys were 14 year old freshmen trying to find your place at Cromwell High School. Together we grew up, together we won, and together we lost. But the bond us five have will last forever, and that’s more important than what happens between the lines.
You played at Henderson and Lindquist, you played at CMS, your played for Coach Pappariella, and you played RCP. Just like me. Besides the fact all five of you were better than me.
Usually the coach is supposed to be the teacher. But you guys taught me everything. Without you guys, I’m not who I am today, and I don’t get to coach where I grew up. You guys have helped my life a hell of a lot more than I’ve helped yours.
I couldn’t be more proud of a young group of young men in my life, young men who are going to grow into amazing adults. No matter what you guys do in life you’re going to succeed, because you’re winners. This hurts now, but one day we’ll be sitting around a table talking about all the memories we’ve had together, and those memories last forever.
Cade Palladino, Austin Roy, David Dewey, Zach Lombardo, and Jared Valentin, thank you. Thank you for taking a chance on me, believing in me, and giving me everything you had for 6 years. Hopefully I returned the favor.
Don’t forget your small town ball coach. It will always be nothing but love.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin