Stratford Brakettes open 70th season Saturday

Pitching will be a strong suit for the Stratford Brakettes women’s fast pitch softball team as they begin their 70th season of competition Saturday at 7 p.m. in a doubleheader against the Lyons, PA, Spirit.

The teams will also play Sunday morning at Frank DeLuca Hall of Fame Field. Gates open at 6 p.m. Saturday. Season passes will be on sale throughout the weekend.

Manager John Stratton begins his 24th season at the helm of the Brakettes, after leading them to a 44-6 record and the team’s 34th national championship (28 ASA crowns and six straight Women’s Major Softball National titles).

Five of the six losses came against the Canadian Olympic team. The Brakettes finished the year with a 25-game win streak.

Brandice Balschmiter(18-2,0.32 ERA) enters her 10th year with the Brakettes.

She is sixth all-time with a 153-11 record, trailing only National ASA Hall of Famers Barbara Reinalda, Joan Joyce, Kathy Arendsen, the late Bertha Tickey and Donna LoPiano.

Over 100 former Brakettes are expected to attend Reunion Weekend July 8-10.

Joining Balschmiter in the circle will be Tatum Buckley, the former Masuk High standout who went 6-0 for Sun Belt Conference champion Florida Atlantic, which is coached by Joyce.

Buckley probably will see a lot of action early in the year, until touted recruits Megan Good (32-3) of James Madison University and Sydney Smith (13-3) of LSU report.

Good has school duties to complete before bringing her strong right arm and powerful bat to town.

She hit three home runs in the Super Regionals last weekend.

Smith, who beat the Dukes in the middle game of the series, will see action this weekend in the College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Norwalk’s Patti Sciglimpaglia completes the talented pitching corps.

She is the twin sister of catcher Mary Sciglimpaglia, who hit .346 with 12 RBIs last year.

Central Connecticut catcher Hannah Cooper is the other newcomer, while veteran Mandy Fishback returns after taking off last year.

Fishback will play shortstop and third base. Buckley will play second base and first base as well, while veteran Amber Radomski, second-year shortstop Emily Lochten (.354, 39 RBIs and seven home runs) and third baseman Jordan Whitley (.329) of Rutgers are the other infielders.

All-time home run leader Denise Denis (.376, 58 RBIs) heads the list of talented outfielders, which include 2015 batting champion Val Suto (.465, 72 hits) and Shelton’s Brittany Lampert (.413).

Ex-Foran standout Danni Kemp of Stony Brook and Florida Atlantic’s Sarah Bencivenga (.392, 38 RBIs) complete the outfield talent.

Assisting Stratton will be Associate Head Coach Kristine ‘Botto’ Drust, and assistant coaches Pat Sanders and Radomski.

Drust scored the winning run in the 2004 championship win over the So. Cal Hurricanes.

She is also the head coach of 23-0 Cheshire High School’s top-ranked Class LL softball team.

Brakette notebook

In addition to participating in the St. Louis Classic Invitational (June 11-12), the Brakettes will play in the July 4th tourney in Lyons, PA, the Brakettes Invitational, and the City of Pekin Invitational, which is part of a 10-day, 16-game road trip in July.

All Brakettes games will be video webcast. Go to Brakettes.com for the link/

Reunion weekend will feature an all-time Brakettes’ Home Run Derby on July 8 and an Old-Timer’s game on July 9.

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