Foran, Law aiming to further success this postseason

Foran and Jonathan Law catchers and captains Kendall LaMorte and Nicolina Salanto have high hopes for their softball teams.

Foran and Jonathan Law catchers and captains Kendall LaMorte and Nicolina Salanto have high hopes for their softball teams.

Bill Bloxsom / Hearst Connecticut Media

No one is in better position to view the ups and downs that happen on a softball field than the catcher. Foran All-Stater Kendall LaMorte and Jonathan Law standout Nicolina Salanto helped their teams advance to the state quarterfinals a year ago. They see no reason not to further those finishes.

Law is 7-1 and seeded second in Class L behind 8-1 Masuk. Foran at 7-2 is the No. 6 seed.

“We wanted a good start. We did that last season and we also ended strong. Getting to the quarterfinals gave us confidence,” said Central Connecticut commit LaMorte. “This team is strong. We want to get in states and then do our best.”

Foran was seeded 25th in Class L when it knocked off No. 8 Wethersfield and No. 9 Woodstock Academy. It lost to No. 1 Masuk, the eventual champs. LaMorte batted .605 with 42 hits, 26 RBIs and four home runs. Coach Julie Johnson’s club returned LaMorte and three-year starting pitcher Morgan Viesselman.

“Morgan can always hit her spots. We go through things in warmups and adjust with different batters during a game,” LaMorte said. “Her knuckleball is nasty. It’s like a changeup but with no spin whatsoever. Sometimes I have her throw it first pitch. They swing or miss, get a weak groundball. Now we can catch them more off guard when we throw a rise ball inside. We throw the knuckleball at times to keep them confused. Morgan is a strikeout pitcher with her drop curve. To get them out 1,2,3 can really change the momentum.”

Law was the 13th seed in 2021. It defeated Lewis Mills and No. 4 Haddam-Killingworth before it lost to runner-up North Branford.

Nicolina began her career as a pitcher, alongside sophomore teammate and sister Tahlia and freshman Mady Bull.

She said: “We’ve been playing softball together since we were 7, 8 and 9. They were very good pitching. I wasn’t. My dad found me another position. I love catching for them. The more I understood each of them as pitchers it really came together. Mady’s pitches comes in fast. Tal’s pitches have more spin. No matter where we are in the lineup, I have faith we can put pressure on. Each hitter can get done what’s needed to be done.”

Law coach Melanie Blude said: “We are very fortunate to have two varsity-level pitchers. Mady has stepped up big being prepared every day. She is a huge strength at the top of our order. She hits balls out and bunts for base hits. Mady has tons of speeds. She is a threat no matter where she is playing (pitcher, shortstop). She has the softball IQ of a senior. She is not a regular freshman. She plays bigger than that. To have her for the next four years is going to be huge for the program.”

Johnson is similarly impressed with her squad.

“I thought the bottom third of our lineup would decide how good we would be. We’ve had games where they’ve picked us up. We’re working on more consistency from top to bottom of the order,” Johnson said. “Morgan and Kendall have been great. Chloe Nittoly and Mary Rodrigues are having great seasons. One of our biggest goals is to make contact with two strikes. In one game we had five strikeouts looking. We want to be more aggressive at the plate. Morgan is much more dominant. Kendall is doing everything. We want to give her help to take some of the pressure off.”

Pleased with current events, each team has bigger plans.

Salanto said: “Personally, making it to the quarterfinals was huge for us. In SCC and states we didn’t end with our best games. We want to play better. We want to make a name for ourselves. We’ve beaten or competed with the best. We want to finish at the top. We bring respect to each game. We take that seriously.”

“We’ve had some difficult games,” Salanto said. “Going into the second half of the season, we have big games. Foran is a rival. Amity knocked us out of SCCs last year. Sheehan we were down and came back to win 7-5. The girls understand how motivated we are to set us up for the postseason. There is some thing to be said being an underdog. But being a better seed can lead to better matchups.”

Blude knows more tests are waiting.

“Coming up we have Amity, Foran and Sheehan. We still have North Haven and West Haven, so we have a long stretch of tough games coming up,” Blude said. “This is where we’ll be tested. This is where we preach to our girls to be better today than they were yesterday. If they continue to work with that goal in mind, by the end of the season, they will be right where they should be.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354