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Formidable Battery
Woodstock junior catcher Madison Martinez, left, and junior pitcher Lexi Thompson will comprise a formidable battery for the Centaurs softball team this season. Photo by Marc Allard.

Woodstock Academy softball coach Jason Gerum is feeling good about his program. So is his team.
“When you have a confident team, it helps the culture. When you’re running a program and the program is up, everyone feels good, everybody wants to come out and play, everybody wants to come back. Having a season like last year, makes this season so much better. The girls were fired up for the first tryout, it was wild,” Gerum said.
Softball is back and so is much of the Centaurs softball team.
It’s coming off an 18-5 season where it captured the ECC North Division championship, finished runners-up in the postseason league tournament and played into the second round of the Class L state tournament.
“We are so excited,” said junior pitcher Lexi Thompson. “We held our tryouts and all the freshmen had a great time. One of them actually came up to me and started talking about how friendly we all are. The culture, itself, is so different from other programs. We’re so lucky to be able to do this. We have the facilities, the culture, we all balance each other out, bring each other up and we’re ready to play.”
It helps when a team has a pitcher like Thompson to start with.
She posted a 10-3 record last season, sharing time on the mound with seniors Mackenzie Leveille and Meg Preston.
In 76 innings, Thompson gave up only 63 hits and struck out 128 to finish with a 2.30 earned run average.
“It’s the name of the game – you can’t do anything in softball without a pitcher,” Gerum said. “We haven’t thrown a lot yet but she looks like she is right where she left off. She works hard in the offseason. I know she is working on another pitch and that always helps as they get older, they try to add things in. We’re definitely going to pick up where we left off which isn’t too shabby.”
Thompson can throw hard enough. She also has someone to throw hard to.
Junior catcher Madison Martinez returns to complete the Centaur battery.
 “Madison is as good as it gets. I would put her up against anyone in the league as far as catching goes. She is an unbelievable catcher,” Gerum said.
And she and Thompson are also good friends.
“We worked together in the winter to prepare for the season and our connection is really good. We’ve grown a lot since last season and I’m really excited to see where it brings us,” Martinez said.
That connection will not only be important in the field, but at the plate.
Thompson hit .500 last season with 13 doubles, three triples and a couple of home runs and knocked in 20.
Martinez hit .343 with 28 runs batted in, three doubles, two triples and a homer.
The Centaurs did lose four seniors: Marissa Mayhew (.458 avg, 16 RBIs); Preston (.316, 19 RBIs); Leveille (.538, 5 HR, 30 RBIs) and Amanda Bond (.318, 7 doubles).

“You can’t replace Mackenzie’s bat, you just can’t. I’ve coached a lot of seasons and had a lot of great players and she’s as good a hitter as I’ve coached. You can’t bank on replacing that, you just have to hope that a couple of other kids step up,” Gerum said.
The Centaurs do return most of the team otherwise.
Sophomore Sarah McArthur (.333, 22 RBIs) is back at short, sophomore Delaney Anderson (.323, 17 RBIs) returns at first; senior Jenna Bankowski (.340); sophomore Mia Pannone (.263); and junior Emily Goodell (.280) all return in the outfield.
 “We may have to manufacture (runs) a bit more this year. Even with the big bats we had last year, I still did some manufacturing. We return all the players who manufactured, those who graduated were all long ball hitters so we will have a backup plan,” Gerum said.
It leaves three holes for Gerum to fill. Second and third base and relief for Thompson in the circle.
“The Achilles’ heel will be who will step up at those two infield positions. Third is as tough as it gets in softball. It might even be the toughest. That’s what (the preseason) will be about, filling in those two spots. We’re in pretty good shape, though, we have good problems,” Gerum said.
The back up pitcher is a work in progress. On the field. Off the field, the Centaurs will have to fill the leadership void left by the seniors who departed.
“We lost some important people but it gives the younger kids a chance to step up and grow,” Thompson said. “The upperclassmen have to step up and take care of the underclassmen and for us to step up, it’s a leadership thing, a confidence thing, a team-bonding thing and we all have to trust each other.”
The Centaurs will also have to deal with some pretty tough competition on the field.
Last year, they played a Northern Division schedule.
This season returns the league to normal with the Centaurs playing in Div. II of the ECC with the likes of Griswold, Ledyard, Killingly and Bacon Academy.
They will also have to play NFA, E. Lyme, Fitch and Waterford from Div. I. Woodstock  will also play in the ECC Div. I tournament.
 “As tough as always,” Gerum said with a shake of his head. “I didn’t get to see Ledyard last year, I know they return some good pitching. We play Stonington, Griswold, NFA, Fitch, East Lyme – they are all good- and Waterford twice. We have our work cut out for us but when you are good, that’s what you want. I don’t want to step on the field and have easy wins, I want to battle teams and we’re going to battle.”
Softball Schedule: Sat., April 2: at Waterford, noon; Tues., Apr. 5: vs. NFA, 4:15; Sat., April 9: vs. E.O. Smith, 11; Mon., April 11:  vs. Parish Hill, 4; Tues. April 12: vs. Montville, 4:15; Thurs., Apr. 14:  vs. Ledyard, 4:15; Sat., Apr. 16: at Griswold, 11; Thurs., Apr. 21: at Killingly, noon; Fri., Apr. 22: vs. Bacon, 11; Tues., Apr. 26:  at Fitch, 4:15; Sat., Apr. 30:  at E. Lyme, 11; Mon., May 2: vs. St. Bernard, 4:15; Tues., May 3 at Stonington, 4; Thurs., May 5: at Ledyard, 4:15; Sat., May 7: vs. Griswold, 11; Tues., May 10: at Bacon, 4:15; Thurs., May 12: vs. Killingly, 3:45; Fri., May 13: at St. Bernard, 4; Tues., May 17: vs. Waterford, 4:15; Mon., May 23: at E. Catholic, 4:15.
Marc Allard
Director of Sports Information
The Woodstock Academy


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