This is an incomplete history of Coginchaug Little League. If you have information, articles or photos to contribute, especially for history prior to 2000, please send them to league historian
so that we can continue to develop a thorough history of the league.
Little League Baseball Introduction
Little League International is the largest youth sports organization in the world. As of 2012, over 2 million boys and over 300,000 girls participated in 7000+ leagues worldwide. At the peak in 1994, Little League had nearly 3 million participants.
In 1938, Carl Stotz of Williamsport, Pennsylvania came up with the idea of a youth baseball league played on a smaller diamond than that used by adults. On June 6, 1939 the first Little League game was played in Williamsport, as Lundy’s Lumber defeated Lycoming Dairy 23-8. In 1947, Hammonton, New Jersey formed the first league outside Pennsylvania, and joined 10 other Pennsylvania leagues as Williamsport hosted the first National Little League tournament that would later become the Little League World Series that year. Hammonton was the first Little League World Series winner outside of Pennsylvania in 1949.
In 1951 a team from British Columbia, Canada became the first league to form outside the United States, and in 1957, Monterrey, Mexico became the first international team to win the Little League World Series.
The Little League World Series was first broadcast on Television in 1953 on ABC. Howard Cosell provided the broadcast coverage. That same year, Middletown Little League’s Joey Jay would become the first Little League alumnus to appear in a Major League Baseball game, beginning a 13-year career with the Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves. The first live coverage was in 1981, and continues each year since on the final Sunday in August on ABC. Presently, ESPN and ABC broadcast all of the 34 LLWS tournament games and regional games are also broadcast annually on ESPN and regional networks. 2020 will be the first year without a LLWS tournament since 1947, due to the effects of the Covid 19 Pandemic.
The Senior League baseball level was formed in 1961 and the Big League baseball level formed in 1968.
In 1974 Little League admitted girls to participate for the first time in its history. The first Little League softball World Series was played that year, and the Senior softball league was started.
In 1979 the Junior baseball level was formed.
In 2013, Little League introduced the Intermediate (50-70) baseball level, including regional and world series tournaments for that age group.
Little League has disbanded the Big League baseball and softball level as of 2017.
Currently, Little League operates 6 age-divisions of play in both baseball and softball. Not every local league offers all levels.
Tee Ball-Instructional level for 4-6 year old players
Minors-Instructional level often comprised of 2 or 3 divisions that can include coach or player pitching for players ages 7-11 (Often called Minors, Farm, A, AA, AAA)
Majors-Competitive and Instructional level for players ages 10-12
Intermediate-Competitive baseball-only level using 70-foot basepaths for players ages 12-13
Junior-Competitive level for players ages 13-14 introducing play with 90 foot basepaths
Senior-Competitive level for players ages 15-16
Currently, Little League International offers a ‘World Series’ tournament in baseball and softball at the Majors, Intermediate (baseball only), Junior, and Senior League levels. All 7 of the Little League Baseball and Softball level tournament World Series finals are televised on ESPN networks. There are also Regional tournaments for the 9-10 year majors level and State Tournaments for the 10-11 year majors level. Each State is divided into Districts, and larger states also have Sections. For a team to advance to a state tournament it must win its District tournament, and then Section tournament if the state has one. Little League uses 8 regions to determine which teams advance to the World Series levels, with variations for Junior, Senior and Big League tournaments based on how many teams Nationwide are participating. Typically half of the teams qualifying for any World Series level come from international teams and half from regional championships in the United States. .
Little League in Connecticut
Connecticut has a long and successful history of participating in Little League. Middletown Little League was the first Little League to form in New England, and the first team from Connecticut to travel to the Little League World Series, making the trip to Williamsport by invitation, on behalf of Connecticut in 1948.
The first state championship was held in 1958. Connecticut has provided 4 of the 56 Little League World Series Champions to date, and 2 other teams played in the championship game. Cranston, Rhode Island lost the 1996 championship to Chinese Taipei as the only other team from the New England region to play in the LLWS finals. Many still consider the 1989 Trumbull win over Kant Tu Little league of Taiwan as the biggest upset in LLWS history.
LLWS Champions from Connecticut
1951 – Stamford Little League
1952 – Norwalk Little League
1965 – Windsor Locks Little League
1989 – Trumbull National Little League
LLWS Runner Up from Connecticut
1950 – Bridgeport Little League
1963 – Original Little League, Stratford, CT
In total, seventeen different leagues from Connecticut have advanced to the Little League World Series. In addition to those listed above, the following towns made the trip to Williamsport at least once:
1948 – Middletown Little League, Middletown
1957 – North End Little League, Bridgeport
1958 – Darien LL, Darien
1974 – Pop Smith Little League, New Haven
1976 – Forestville LL, Forestville
1981 – Stamford Federal LL, Stamford
1983 – Stamford American LL, Stamford
1984 - McCabe-Waters LL, Bristol
2008 – Shelton National LL, Shelton
2010 – Fairfield American, Fairfield
2012 – Fairfield American, Fairfield
2013 – Westport LL
2017 – Fairfield American, Fairfield
Only Chinese Taipei/Taiwan (17), Japan (11), California (7) and Pennsylvania (5) have won more Little League baseball World Series championships than Connecticut. New Jersey also has 4 championships.
Since it became a separate region, Connecticut has won (5) New England Little League baseball Championships. Massachusetts also has (4) New England titles. Rhode Island leads among New England Champs, with (8), having won 5 of the past 6 years (2014-2019).
Salem, New Hampshire represents the only New England team to ever win a Juniors baseball World Series. No New England team has ever won a Senior or Big League baseball World Series. Currently Bangor, Maine is the host site for the Senior League World Series, and as such enters a ‘host’ team into that tournament annually. The Maine host team has never won that tournament. Little League has disbanded the Big league division in 2017.
The Little League Softball World Series was hosted in Kalamazoo, Michigan from 1974-1993, and has since been hosted in Portland, Oregon. For 2020 the site moved to Greenville, North Carolina, but was cancelled due to the Pandemic. The site for 2021 has not be confirmed. No team from Connecticut has ever won the Little League Softball World Series. In 1979, North Providence W Little League became the only team from the New England region ever to win a Softball World Series title.
The following teams from Connecticut have advanced to the Little League Softball World Series since 2000. Records before 2000 are not available. Only 4 teams from the United States advance to that tournament to play 4 teams from other parts of the world.
2005 – Orange Little League, Orange
2007 - Waterford South Little League, Waterford
In 1991 Little League began a Juniors softball World Series hosted in Kirkland, Washington. Connecticut has placed 2 teams in the past 3 seasons into the tournament. In 2012, West Haven LL advanced out of the East Region. Despite a 3-1 record, they did not make the championship game. In 2015, Pawcatuck/Mystic/Westerly represented the East Region, and wend 1-3 in pool play. In 2017, Coginchaut Juniors team reached the East Region final, but ultimately fell to Coventry, RI who represented the East Region in Kirlkand.
While no team has won the tournament, Pawcatuck LL of Pawcatuck, Connecticut has placed teams into the Senior League Softball World Series as representatives of the East region in both 2007 and 2011. .
In 1982 the first Big League softball World Series took place. In 2007 Seymour Connecticut became the only Connecticut team to ever win that event. Portland, Maine was the only other winner from the New England Region, winning back-to-back in 1988 and 1989. Little League has disbanded the Big league division in 2017.
Since 1987, Bristol, CT has served as the Eastern Regional headquarters for Little League International, one of the 5 regional sites in the United States. Breen Field in Bristol hosts the New England and Mid-Atlantic regional baseball tournaments concurrently in early August. Two teams advance each year to Williamsport from these two separate tournaments. Bristol also hosts the 12-year Little League softball East Regional, and until recently, also the Connecticut State 12-year old softball championship. As of 2018, all championship state, section and district levels are hosted by various Connecticut towns in a rotation, with each District selecting the host site when their spot comes up in the rotation. The 1993 Coginchaug LL Softball team is the only team from our towns to ever participate in a series at Breen Field.
Little League District 9 Success
Connecticut District 9, including all towns within Middlesex county as well as Guilford, Madison and Clinton in New Haven County, was started in 1958. For the first time in 2019, after 41 years in existence, Madison Little League became the first 12U Baseball team from District 9 to win the state, defeating Max Sinoway/North Haven for the title, and advance to the East Regional in Bristol. Madison went 2-1 before losing to eventual Region champs Coventry, RI in the semi-finals
There have been 2 state baseball titles in D9 at other levels.
For 12-year baseball, the following teams have reached the state final from District 9:
In 1978 Guilford lost to East Hartford Eastern Little League in the state championship.
In 1987, Connecticut divided into 2 sections. In 1983 Guilford won the Section 2 Title and lost the 3rd game of a best-of-3 state championship series to North Stamford by a score of 10-2.
In 2010, Madison won the Section 2 title, but lost a pair of games to the eventual New England Champion Fairfield American Little League in the state finals. .
In 2013, Coginchaug won the Section 2 title, but lost both games to Westport in the state championship.
In 2015, the state divided into 4 sections. In 2016, Coginchaug again was the Section 3 title winner, and advanced to the final game, but lost to Fairfield American by a score of 6-3.
In 2008-Guilford won the Section 2 and Connecticut State championship for 10-11 Baseball. There is no East Region level tournament for that age group.
In 2015-Coginchaug won the Section 2 and Connecticut State championship for Intermediate Baseball, held at Peckham Park, becoming the only District 9 Baseball team to ever advance to an East Regional tournament.
In 2016-Coginchaug again defeated Fairfield American in the Intermediate state championship, advancing to the East Region tournament in Commack, Long Island for the second straight year.
In 2017-Madison won the State 10U Baseball title, and played in the New England Invitational in Rhode Island.
In 2018-Madison won Section 3 but went 0-2 at the State Final 4.
Other District 9 State baseball title runners-up include 2010 Madison in 10-11 Baseball, 2006 Cromwell in 9-10 Baseball, and 2005 Guilford in 9-10 Baseball.
The only softball teams from District 9 to win a Connecticut state title were Durham Little League 11-12 year olds in 1974, Coginchaug 11-12 softball in 1993, and Coginchaug Seniors in 1995. Middletown were state runners-up in 2005 for 11-12 softball, and 2003 for 9-10 softball. The 2015 Madison/Clinton team also advanced out of Section 2 to the state final, losing to Seymour in 3 games. In 2017 Haddam-Killingworth 10U softball advanced to the state final, losing to Fairfield.
District 9 Participating Towns
Chester, Clinton, Coginchaug (Durham & Middlefield), Cromwell, Deep River, East Hampton, Essex, Guilford, Haddam, Killingworth, Madison, Middletown (Moose and O’Rourke), Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook
Durham Little League
In 1959, just 20 years after the first season of Little League play, a group of Durham residents, led by George Atwell, Larry Pratt, Jake Chilling and Billy Stannard formed the Durham Little League. Games were played on a diamond at the Durham Fairgrounds at the spot where the current midway is setup for the annual fair. In 1968 the league was given a location near the high school to build the fields that are still in use today. Durham majors baseball games are now played on the George Atwell field in honor of his dedication to the development of the league.
In 1974, Little League first permitted participation by girls. With the leadership of residents Don Annino, Kenny Kulpik, and Walt Kaczynski, the Durham Girls Little League division was formed. Immediately, Durham Little League left their mark on softball history, advancing to the District 9, Connecticut, and New England championships, eventually losing in the Eastern Regional tournament. They will forever be the first softball team to ever win these three tournament titles.
In that first ever State Championship Softball Tournament, Durham Defeated West Haven 8-2, Westport 8-7 and Waterford 21-7. Representing Connecticut, Coginchaug again went 3-0 in the New England Championship with wins of 7-5 over Maine, 5-3 over Vermont, and 2-1 over Massachusetts in the finals. They also opened the New England Regional tournament with wins of 8-1 over Pennsylvania and 10-3 over Delaware before their season ending loss.
1974 Durham Little League Girls All-Star Roster
Coaches – Cathy Devaux, Emily Annino
Durham Little League past presidents
1974- Walt Kaczynski
??? -1988 – Arnie Monday
Middlefield Little League
Middlefield Little League won their only District 9 baseball title, and the first ever for either town in 1973. They were defeated in the opening round of the state tournament by Plainfield by a score of 8-4 to end their season.
Middlefield Little League past presidents
???-1988 – Juan Rodriguez
Coginchaug Little League
Following the 1988 season, in order to form a more competitive league, and with the already existing partnership between the towns in school and other sports programs, Al Herzog and the current Durham and Middlefield Little League presidents Arnie Monday and Juan Rodriguez helped implement a merger between Durham and Middlefield Little Leagues. The new league was chartered and has operated as Coginchaug Little League since. The league has field sites at Allyn Brook Park in Durham and Peckham Park in Middlefield. The current Baseball Minors Field in Durham is named the Al Herzog field in recognition of his role in this merger and his dedication to Coginchaug Little League. The first board of directors for Coginchaug Little League included
President – Al Herzog
Vice President -Don Fuller
Secretary Kathy Poturnicki
Treasurer - Joy Boone
In 1992, Coginchaug Little League brought home their first ever District 9 baseball title. In the Section 2 tournament, they lost an opening round game to East Hartford National 3-0, then in the losers bracket of the double-elimination format went on to defeat Ellington 7-2 and Granby 4-1 to advance to the finals. They needed 2 wins over Groton out of the winners bracket, and won the first game 6-1, but Groton took the Section championship 8-0 in a pair of games played at Pawcatuck.
The 1993 Little League Softball team would become the most successful postseason team in Coginchaug LL history. They won not only the District 9 title, but went on to win the Connecticut State title, and head to Bristol to compete against the state champs of the 5 other New England States, coming out of the losers bracket to win back to back games against Massachusetts, and bringing home the only New England Championship in Coginchaug Little League history
They advanced to the Eastern Regional tournament in Vineland, NJ, falling to Islip Little League from Long Island New York in the title game, and coming up just one game short of a trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan, which at that time hosted the Little League Softball World Series. Our girls ranked as the 8th best 12-year-old softball team in the country that season.
In 1995, now as Juniors, the same group of players again won both the District 9 and the Connecticut State title. They played the New England Regional Tournament in Warwick, Rhode Island, and lost their opening round game 6-5 to Maine. The rebounded with a big 21-4 drubbing of Vermont and a 13-0 travesty of Rhode Island, but lost their second matchup with Maine by a score of 8-5 to end another great tournament run.
1993 11-12 year and 1995 Juniors softball Roster
Assistant Coach Dane Castor, Jason Thody, Ray Calcagni
Manager Ray Arrigoni
Coginchaug Little League Titles 1989-1999
1989 – Softball Juniors – District 9 Champions
1992 – Baseball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
1992 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
1993 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions, Connecticut State Champions, New England Region Champions
1993 – Softball Seniors – District 9 Champions
1994 – Baseball Seniors – District 9 Champions
1994 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
1994 – Softball Seniors – District 9 Champions
1995 – Baseball Seniors – District 9 Champions
1995 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
1995 – Softball Seniors – District 9 Champions, Connecticut State Champions
1997 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
1999 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
2001 was an exceptional year for Coginchaug softball, as all 4 levels won District 9 titles, and two teams placed in the final 4 in the state.
After winning the District 9 title, the 2001 11-12 softball team made an impressive run in the Section 2 tournament held in Franklin. After a tough 10-1 loss in the opener to South Windsor, they put together a string of 4 straight wins over Jewitt City, Simsbury, East Hartford Eastern and Waterford South. Coginchaug advanced to the Section 2 final, falling to Waterford South 11-1 in the rematch.
2001 11-12 Year District 9 Softball Champions Roster
Meg Allen #10
Laurel Clark #11
Gloria Curry #8
Christine Dascanio #14
Jess Embacher #15
Marissa Hewitt #12
Britt Hill #7
Britt Lane #9
Ali Milardo #3
Jess Robison #6
Melissa Sayers #1
Jenn Treiber #4
Kelsey Yoemans #2
Coaches Hewitt, Milardo and Yoemans
The 2001 Coginchaug Juniors softball team followed up their District 9 title with a 3-2 showing in the Section 2 tournament hosted at Windosr. They defeated Windsor, Glastonbury and Mystic-Dolcom and took losses from Plainfield/Moosup and eventual Section 2 winner Torrington. They fell a game short of advancing out of pool play.
Coginchaug LL won the District 9 12 year old baseball title for the 2nd time in 2005. They finished the Section 2 tournament, hosted by Waterford South Little League, with a record of 0-5, with losses to Vernon, Avon, Thompson, Waterford North, and eventual state runner-up Glastonbury National.
The 2001 District champion Coginchaug Senior Softball team advanced to the semifinals of the Connecticut state tournament, but placed 4th after a 7-3 loss to Mystic in the consolation game.
The 2001 Section 2 championship for 9-10, played at New London, was all about Coginchaug and Mystic, as both teams dominated the round-robin games. Coginchaug won 4 games over Tolland, Mystic, Norwich and Rocky Hill by a total score of 66-11. However other than their one loss to Coginchaug, Mystic won their other 3 games by a combined 40-9. Despite being beaten badly by Coginchaug in their first meeting, Mystic held on to defeat Coginchaug 4-3 to take the section title, and advance to the state finals.
The 2002 District 9 11-12 softball champs from Coginchaug again dominated the Section 2 tournament held at Granby. Coginchaug took 4 of 5 games in the round robin, with wins over Wethersfield, Waterford South, Plainfield/Moosup and Simsbury, and a lone 12-4 loss to Manchester. Again it was Waterford South ending the dream Coginchaug season with a 7-1 defeat in the section finals.
The Coginchaug 2002 Senior softball team defeated Norwich 17-1 and Mystic-Dolcom 4-0 in the Section 2 tournament at East Lyme, and advanced to the State finals, losing a pair of 3-0 games to Berlin in the best-of-3 series held in West Haven. The pitching combo of Stephanie Montowski and Lauren Botteon of Berlin allowed just 1 hit from Coginchaug between the two games.
The 2003 Coginchaug 11-12 softball team finished Section 2 play with a 2-3 record, with wins over Simsbury and Rocky Hill, and losses to Mystic, Norwich and South Windsor. While the 13-1 loss to Mystic was a tough game, the eventual 34-1 win Mystic had over South Windsor in the Section 2 final was evidence of how dominant a team they were that year.
The 2005 Coginchaug 11-12 baseball team brought home the 2nd D9 title in league history. They finished 0-5 in Section II play with losses to Vernon, Avon, Thompson, Glastonbury National and Waterford North.
2005 11-12 Year District 9 Baseball Champions Roster
Walter Augur #6
Matt Criscuolo #4
Luke Drenzek #11
Mark Flannery # 8
Andrew Gulian #7
Joe Ianniello #1
Bobby Lane #13
Jeremy Mink #3
Jeremy Newell #5
Michael Quirk #10
Tommy Ryan #2
Ryan Sirois #9
Coaches – Rick Quirk, Joe Ianniello, Coach Ryan Newell
After a 3 year hiatus, Coginchaug again brought home an 11-12 softball District title in 2007. They finished Section 2 play at 3-2 with wins over Tolland, Tri-Town (Litchfield), and a wild 22-17 win over Killingly/Brooklyn, and with losses to the Section finalists Waterford South and Rocky Hill.
2007 11-12 District 9 Champions Softball Roster
Jackie Benson #3
Lauren Esposito #7
Marielle Handley #6
Marissa Holder #1
Nicole Ianiello Cole #5
Sheena Landy #11
Kelsey Pietruska #9
Marissa Puchalski #8
Amanda Rogers #12
Ashley Vanaman #10
Kayla Votto #2
Manager – John Esposito, Coaches - Theresa Holder, Gary Puchalski
The 2007 Juniors team also took the District 9 championship, and then followed with a 2-2 pool play record at the Section 2 tournament hosted by Rocky Hill. They posted wins of 9-2 over Ellington and 6-4 over Plainfield/Moosup, and lost by scores of 8-3 to Pawcatuck and 5-2 to Rocky Hill, both of which advanced to the section final.
2007 Juniors District 9 Champions Softball Roster
Taylor DelVecchio #3
Taylor Dontingey #7
Marisa Doyon #12
Molly Ferrari #26
Julia Giancola # 38
Hannah Malcolm #8
Melissa Ober # 2
Jess Plourde #17
Sierra Quems #6
Liz Sanservo #15
Katie Smith #4
Caitlin Wickham #5
Coach – Dom DelVecchio, Dean Canalia
In fall of 2008, the Coginchaug ‘Red Bulls’ team won their first fall District majors baseball tournament championship, with wins over East Hampton 7-4, Killingworth 17-4, Portland 15-2, Middletown-2 9-8, and Middletown-1 9-8 in the championship.
2008 Majors Fall Ball Champions roster
Coaches – James Brooks, Michael Copeland, Carl Niedmann, John Adams and Joe Marszalek
In 2009, the Coginchaug Juniors softball team defeated Middletown 7-3 for the District 9 title. They finished the tournament 5-0 and outscored their opponents 58-13 over those 5 games. In the state Section 2 tournament at Windsor Locks, Coginchaug opened with a tough 9-1 loss to Rocky Hill, but rebounded with a 10-0 win over Tolland on an 11-strikeout no-hitter thrown by Lauren Esposito, before being eliminated by Waterford in the following game to end their season. .
2009 Juniors District 9 Champion Softball roster
Jackie Benson #22
Andrea Braga #33
Lauren Esposito #7
Marissa Holder #8
Nicole Ianniello #5
Kelsey Pietruska #9
Logan Porter #38
Marissa Puchalski #8
Amanda Rogers #12
Kas Whitaker #3
Coach Theresa Holder
Manager John Esposito
2009 marked another first for a team from Coginchaug, as the 9-10 Baseball team won the first District 9 championship for that level. In the D9 tournament after wins over Chester and Cromwell, they fell to Clinton 5-4 and then beat Middletown 10-1 to finish 3-1 in pool play. In the semi-finals they beat Madison 13-12 and completed the D9 title run with a 10-1 travesty over East Hampton in 4 innings. The team finished 0-5 in section play with losses to Glastonbury, Waterford South, Jewitt City, South Windsor National, and eventual Section 2 winner Torrington American.
2009 9-10 District 9 Champion Baseball roster
Coaches: Jamie Root, Tom Wenchell, Dave Adams
The 2009 Senior Softball team was likely the best single-league team in the state. In the state tournament, hosted at Orange, they cruised over most of the competition, with wins of 17-0 over South Windsor, 7-1 over Waterford, and 4-3 over Wallingford. As the host, District 4 however entered a team composed of Milford/West Haven/Bethany and Orange, and the combined powerhouse was hardly a fair opponent, considering Coginchaug comprised of towns with an 11,000 population while the D4 opponent comprised of towns totaling just over 135,000 people. Coginchaug fell in the opener to the combined District 4 towns 4-0, and then in the best-of-3 state championship lost back-to-back games by scores of 2-0 and 4-2. For more perspective of how well our team competed, consider that just 2 years prior, the 2005 Orange 11-12 softball team (alone) was one of only 2 teams ever from Connecticut to advance to the Little League 11-12 softball world series.
In the fall of 2009, Coginchaug ‘Bombers’ won the league’s first minors fall tournament title. They defeated Westport and Killingworth on the first weekend, and then defeated one of the other 2 Coginchaug teams in extra innings, finishing with a 6-5 victory versus Middletown on their home Romiagelli field for the title.
2009 Minors Fall Ball Champions Roster
Manager: Kenny Vallone
Coaches: Dave Doolittle, Steve Huveldt, Mike Rulnick
Coginchaug Little League Titles 2000-2009
2000 – Softball 9-10 – District 9 Champions
2000 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
2001 – Softball 9-10 – District 9 Champions
2001 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
2001 – Softball Juniors – District 9 Champions
2001 – Softball Seniors – District 9 Champions
2002 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
2002 – Softball Seniors – District 9 Champions
2003 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
2005 – Baseball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
2007 – Softball 11-12 – District 9 Champions
2007 – Softball Juniors – District 9 Champions
2009 – Baseball 9-10 – District 9 Champions
2009 – Softball Juniors – District 9 Champions
2009 – Softball Seniors – District 9 Champions
Coginchaug Little League Fall Ball Tournament Titles 2000-2009
2008 – Baseball Majors – District 9 Champions
2009 – Baseball Minors – District 9 Cromwell Pool Champions
2012 was a very successful postseason for CLL, entering 6 teams into District tournaments. The combined records of these teams were 25-10, and all 6 finished their tournament runs with above 500 records. The 12-year baseball team and 9-10 softball team made it to the District semifinals, and the12 year softball made it to the District championship game, losing to eventual Section 2 runner-up Middletown.
The 2012 Juniors softball team defeated East Hampton/Haddam in the finals of the double elimination District 9 tournament to become 2012 D9 Champions.
2012 Juniors District 9 Softball Champions Roster
Assistant Coaches George Manguilli and Deb Vanylek
Head Coach Helen Larkin
In 2012, the 10-11 year old CLL baseball team set a new standard in postseason play. After going 2-2 in district pool play, they defeated an always-tough Madison team by a score of 14-12, and then 2 nights later on July 14 beat Guilford 7-5, to become District 9 Champions. Both pool play and the D9 final rounds were hosted in Durham. After going 4-1 in section level pool play with wins over Newington, SFC (Sprague, Franklin, Canterbury), Avon and Ellington, just 2 weeks later avenged their opening loss with a win over Mystic by a score of 6-1 at Newington to take the Connecticut Section 2 title. They would eventually fall in 2 games to Fairfield National Little League in the state finals, but now claim the distinction as the first team to make a state championship in Coginchaug baseball history.
2012 10-11 District 9 and Section 2 Champions baseball Roster
Dylan Carlson #6
Jon Jon Jose
AJ Kleczkowski #8
Connor Rulnick #9
Kyle Strang #5
Coaches Scott Genest, Scott Carlson
Manager Kenny Vallone.
In 2012, Coginchaug LL formed their first ever pair of 50-70 level teams to participate in the Fall Ball program. 50-70 (now called Intermediate) was introduced as a pilot program by Little League in 2011, and fully implemented for the 2013 season. The two teams, Connecticut Sign and Jose Dental, participated in the Connecticut Sportsplex league in North Branford. The first victory ever by a CLL 50-70 team tool place on Friday night September 7, 2012 with Connecticut Sign defeating the Branford Blue Claws 5-3.
2012 also marked the introduction of Fall Softball at Coginchaug LL. Coginchaug entered 2 majors and 2 minors teams each in the Guilford league. The first victory by a Coginchaug Fall Softball team tool place on Sunday, September 18, 2013 as minors team Powerhold defeated Guilford Lakes 19-18 on the Majors field in Durham.
The 2013 season began with honoring the 20th anniversary of the 1993 East Region softball championship team. Almost all of the team members, including assistant coach Tony Calcagni and league president (at the time) Al Herzog were there for the on-field ceremony.
In 2013 Coginchaug helped pioneer a spring Intermediate level league. The first game of spring Intermediate baseball was played on May 5, 2013 on the majors field in Durham, with the Coginchaug Americans defeating the Coginchaug Nationals 16-8. Eric DeBrum was the winning pitcher and also hit the first home run in Intermediate spring play at Coginchaug.
Coginchaug was awarded the host site honors for the first ever Connecticut State Intermediate Championship in July of 2013. Like the humble beginnings of each new division introduced by Little League, the 2013 series featured just 2 participating districts. Fairfield National, representing District 2 defeated the Coginchaug representing District 9 in 2 games in the best-of-3 series to advance to the East Regional tournament. .
2013 Intermediate Roster – Inaugural State Championship Runner-up
Coaches – Sal Fazzino, Kelly Geoghagen
Manager – Dan Munro
The 2013 9-10 Softball team recorded the first District 9 title at that level in 12 years. Playing at home in Durham, they went 3-0 to start district play with impressive wins over Madison, Essex and Guilford, before a 13-11 loss to Chester/Deep River to wrap up pool play. Advancing as the top seed into the District semifinal at Snow School in Middletown, they defeated Cromwell/Portland 8-4 and advanced to the District final against Madison, winning 15-5 in a 5-inning mercy. Skye Ryer went 4-0 as a starter, including wins in the semi and championship games. Coginchaug opened Section 2, hosted in Niantic, with an exciting 5-4 win over Windsor, with Ryer picking up the win again, but consecutive losses to Jewett City and Granby ended their season.
2013 9-10 Softball roster
Coaches – Steve DeMartino, Paul Widenmann
Manager – Tom Boothroyd
Coginchaug picked up their second ever 9-10 baseball district banner, sweeping the district tournament hosted entirely at Coginchaug with a 6-0 record. After a 9-4 opening win against rival Madison, they went on to defeat Killingworth 19-0, East Haddam 5-3 and Madison again 14-4. Sitting at 4-0, Coginchaug held on for a 6-5 nail biter against Cromwell in the semifinals to set up a district title game against a tough Old Saybrook team. Coginchaug played a flawless defensive game against Saybrook, and took the District 9 championship 11-3. #1 starter Kolby Pascarelli, who had pitched well throughout the district tournament, struggled in the opening round of section 2 play against Ellington, falling behind 4-1, but helped himself with a 2 RBI triple off the wall to regain the lead and eventually hold on for a 6-4 opening round win. Coginchaug would lose the next 2 games 9-7 to Norwich, and 7-1 to eventual Section 2 champ Newington to wrap up their season. .
2013 9-10 Baseball roster
Coaches – Bill Biro, Scott Penney
Manager – Keith Pascarelli
Expectations were huge for the returning 11 year old State runner-up team entering the District 9 tournament, and Coginchaug didn’t disappoint, going 8-0, including a wins over Madison, Clinton and a pair over Portland in pool play hosted at Coginchaug. They exited pool play having outscored opponents 40-5. Coginchaug defeated Old Saybrook 13-3 in an ugly quarterfinal game on a brutally hot Sunday afternoon at Adams School in Guilford, and then headed to Haddam for the semis and finals. Cromwell proved to be no match, falling 10-0 in 4 innings to put Coginchaug in the finals against Haddam. The Haddam team was a solid hitting team, but fell 10-0 and 10-2 to give Coginchaug the district title. AJ Kleczkowski hit a par of home runs in the games at Haddam, and starters John John Jose and James Salemme simply shut-down Cromwell and Haddam bats. Afterward, a gracious Haddam coach Sean Donlan was quoted as saying ‘if we played them 100 times, they would beat us all 100’.
Coginchaug started off the Section 2 tournament hosted in Harwinton by jumping out to a 5-1 lead over Waterford South in the first game, only to be stunned by an 8 run top of the 6th by their opponent. Now training 9-5, they exploded for 6 runs in the bottom of the inning, capped off by a Kleczkowski walk-off 2 run homer for the win. In game 2, South Windsor American pitcher Zach Donohue faced off against Salemme, and Donohue got the better of him with 2 hit a 1-0 victory. Salemme pitched fabulously, but Robert Williams 5th inning homer was the difference in the game. Now in the losers bracket, Coginchaug held on for a 7-6 win over Waterford South and their ace Dylan Bosco to advance to the Section 2 championship against South Windsor American. This time the bats came to life as TJ Vallone had a spectacular 4 for 5 game 1, with 2 homers and 2 doubles to lead Coginchaug to the 12-3 win and set up the IF game for the championship. Again Coginchaug prevailed over South Windsor American as Connor Rulnick, having thrown just 20 pitches in the tournament to that point, pitched a superb final game, as Jose and Vallone again homered in an 11-4 victory. It was the first Section 2 title ever for Coginchaug 11-12 baseball, and just the 4th in the 55-year history of District 9.
Coginchaug faced the District 2 winner Westport in the state finals at Southington South LL in Plantsville. In game 1, Ryan Genest and John John Jose picked up 1st inning hits to spot Coginchaug a 2-0 lead, and Salemme held Westport at bay through the 3rd inning. In the 4th, a series of errors allowed a big 5 run inning for Westport, and Coginchaug never recovered, falling 8-2 in the opener of the best-of-3 series. Jose pitched game 2, and Westport jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a pair of solo homers in the 1st inning, and never looked back. Rulnick went 3-3 for the game, but Coginchaug picked up just 2 other hits off Westbrook pitcher Harry Azadian, and fell 9-1 to end the fantastic run.
Both Section 2 final games and Game 2 against Westbrook were broadcast on CPTV Sports, With Bob Joyce, WTIC sportscaster and the voice of UConn womens basketball doing the play-by-play, marking the first time a Coginchaug LL team had ever been televised.
Westport went on to sweep the New England championship at Bristol, winning a tight 1-0 final game against Lincoln, Rhode Island to advance to the 2013 Little League World Series. They started the series 2-0 before falling to Chula Vista, California in Game 3 in a game in which they held a late lead. They survived a high scoring US Semifinal against Washington, but were beaten handily by California in the US Final. Coginchaug can feel some comfort in knowing that the opponent that knocked them out of the state finals was still playing on the final Sunday in August, as Westport lost the LLWS Consolation game to Mexico that day, just prior to Japan defeating California to win the 2013 LLWS. Six Coginchaug LL families made the trip to Williamsport to root on the Westport team that ended their season.
Coginchaug is the 2nd smallest community in Connecticut (Durham & Middlefield pop 11.837, 2010) to ever win an 11-12 Section title and play in a state championship. The 2000 state champion Lyme/Old Lyme (pop 10,008, 2010) being the smallest.
2013 11-12 Baseball roster
Dylan Carlson #14
Ryan Cross #4
Ryan Genest #1
John John Jose #9
Derek Labasi #6
AJ Kleczkowski #5
Cole Niedmann #3
Hayden Rovelli #7
Connor Rulnick #8
Griffin Saks #11
James Salemme #12
Kyle Strang #10
TJ Vallone #2
Coaches – Scott Genest, Scott Strang,
Manager – Kenny Vallone
In the fall of 2013, Coginchaug entered 3 teams into the 16 team fall majors league, and at the end-of-season league tournament, with just 3 games remaining, all 3 teams were still standing. In the first semifinal Coginchaug’s Around the Clock Heating team defeated the Portland Rockets 10-1 to advance to the finals. In the other semifinal, in a rematch of a 7 inning 3-3 tie just 2 weeks earlier, Coginchaug Lyons defeated Coginchaug Forrester Dental by a score of 3-0 to also advance in a game that was a pitchers dual between Kolby Pascarelli of Lyons and Hugh Barrett of Forrester. In the championship, Lyons held off Around the Clock by a score of 6-2 for the title.
2013 Majors fall ball championship roster
Manager – Bill Biro
Coaches – Keith Pascarelli, Scott Penney
2014 was the 40th anniversary of Little League Softball, and also the 25th anniversary of the merging of Durham and Middlefield leagues in 1989. Fittingly, the league recognized the 1974 Durham Little League state championship softball team during Opening Day ceremonies. 3 of the members of the team were a part of the ceremony. Linda Ruth Tosetti, the only surviving grandchild of Babe Ruth, and a Durham resident, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
For the second time in the past 3 years, Coginchaug won the10-11 year District 9 Championship in 2014. After opening the double-elimination format district tournament with a pair of dominant wins over Old Saybrook and Cromwell, a 7-4 loss to Madison put Coginchaug into the losers bracket. They rallied with a 13-7 win over Cromwell to get a chance to try to defeat Madison twice in the district finals. In an unusual circumstance, a Wednesday night Game 1 was postponed in the top of the 4th inning due to rain, and continued from that point 3 days later on Saturday. Coginchaug led at the intermission and held on for an 11-5 victory. Then just 2 hours later brought home the title on their home field with a 6-4 win in the final. In the Section 2 tournament, they defeated East Lyme 14-11, but fell twice to a very strong Newington team to end their season.
2014 10-11 Baseball roster
Coaches – Bill Biro, Scott Penney
Manager – Keith Pascarelli
2014 brought some more history for Coginchaug. The league would host their first ever televised game on July 6, as Mark Robbins of News Channel 8 and longtime sportscaster Glenn Conticello joined us in the Atcheson Building PA Booth to broadcast the Section 2 11-12 softball championship game on CPTV Sports. Mystic-Groton (District 10) would break a scoreless tie in the top of the 6th against Columbia-Norwich-Preston (District 11) and go on to win the game 2-0 to advance to the Connecticut State championship. Allison Georgetti of Mystic-Groton threw a complete game shutout for the win.
The Coginchaug Intermediate program would make great strides in 2014, playing a 23 game regular season against teams from 6 different Connecticut districts. The season including a few firsts for the league. On Sunday, April 27, The Coginchaug Donlan-Law team would split a doubleheader at Fairfield National Little League, and in doing so would pick up the first ever victory by a Coginchaug baseball team against a Section 1 opponent. Then on Sunday, May 4 a team from Auburn, Massachusetts visited Durham, marking the first ever Coginchaug baseball game versus an out-of-state team. Auburn won that matchup 15-6, but on June 22, Coginchaug avenged the loss, with a doubleheader sweep at Auburn’s turf field complex, with wins of 18-1 and 12-7 over the 2013 and eventual 2014 Massachusetts 50-70 state champs. These games were the first games played out-of-state by one of our baseball teams. For the second straight year, Coginchaug hosted the 50-70 state tournament, this time at Peckham Majors field in Middlefield. This year Coginchaug was competitive, even leading into the 7th inning in their opening game against Fairfield American, but would go on to lose both games to remain winless in 8 tries in state baseball final games at all age levels.
Coginchaug teams were dominant in the 2014 fall baseball majors level. The Forrester Dental and Durham Dental teams both finished a 10-5 regular season, while coach Rick Mach’s Lyons.com ended an undefeated 12-0 regular season in the 11-team league. The majors end-of-season tournament was again hosted at Durham, and for the first time would be a double-elimination format. The losers bracket featured some exciting games, including a Middletown-Red win over Cromwell that saw 6 lead changes, and also a Middletown-Blue 6th inning come-from behind win over Old Saybrook with the final out on a ground-out in a downpour as they desperately tried to finish the game before conditions became unplayable. As they had in 2013, Coginchaug teams again made up 3 of the final 4 teams, with an impressive Haddam 1 team overcoming a 2 run. 6th inning deficit in the semifinal against Durham Dental, to advance to the finals against Lyons. Lyons won the championship game 7-0 behind lights-out pitching from Michael Garofalo and Alex Mach. Lyons finished the tournament 5-0 to complete their perfect fall season, ourscoring opponents 194-65 during the campaign.
2014 Majors fall ball championship roster
Manager – Rick Mach
Coaches – Lou Garofalo, Mike Lecza, Scott Penney
2015 was another season of first for the league. On the Friday night before Memorial Day, Coginchaug hosted the CRHS varsity softball team for the first time ever in a game under the lights on the Atwell field. CPTV sports broadcast the game, after a relentless campaign by CLL and the high school to get votes cast to CPTV to be the winner of their ‘You Choose’ Memorial Day weekend broadcast. On Senior night, Courtney Votto hit a solo homer, and Destiny Helmedach blasted a 5th inning grand slam in support of Coginchaug pitcher Gabby Diaz, for a 6-4 win over Berlin in a non-conference Class M contest. The crowd in attendance was one of the largest ever at Atwell field.
In early June, Coach Keith Pascarelli and a team of 12 year old CLL baseball players traveled to Aberdeen, Maryland to participate in a tournament at the Cal Ripken complex. Then, in August, thirteen Intermediate level players traveled to Ottawa, to participate in the Canada-Capitol Cup tournament, hosted by Kanata Little League (West Ottawa). This would be the first time that a CLL team had ever competed against a team outside the USA. Despite outscoring their opponents 51-14, the team went 2-2 in the tournament, including a 4-3 loss to Ottawa West in pool play, and a 9-8 loss to the Tri-City (Kitchener) Giants in the semifinals.
In 2015, Coginchaug continued to compete well in District tournament play, but were unable to capture any District titles. The 11-12 baseball team went 4-0 in pool play, with 4 shutouts, but lost a semifinal game to Cromwell to end their chances at a 3rd straight D9 title. The 9-10 and 11-12 softball teams both advanced to the district finals. The 9-10 team went 4-0 in pool play, then defeated OS/WB/DR combined team 12-1 in the semifinals, before falling to Cromwell 4-0 in the District Championship held at Atwell field. The 11-12 team defeated Middletown 1-0 in a thrilling semifinal game shutout thrown by Kelly Boothroyd, but lost the District title game 13-4 to Madison.
The big story for CLL in 2015 was their 50-70 tournament team. Having gone 0-4 in the 2013 and 2014 state tournaments, Coginchaug felt that with the core of their 11-12 all-star team together again this season, would give them a real chance to compete for the state title. 6 districts participated, resulting in Coginchaug hosting the Section II tournament as well as the State championship, both held at Peckham Park. Coginchaug opened Section II play with a 13-9 loss to Coventry, in a game they had led 6-5 in the bottom of the 5th, and it looked like things might not go well again this year. They would play East Hartford in the losers bracket game. Coginchaug won 11-1 to advance to the finals, where they would need to beat Coventry twice. With wins of 9-2 and 16-1, Coginchaug captured their 3rd Section 2 baseball title in the past 3 years. Their state tournament opponent would again be Fairfield American, who had also come from the losers bracket to defeat Thomaston in Section 1 play.
In the best-of-3 state final, Hugh Barrett was the Game 1 starter, and after allowing a 2 run homer in the bottom of the 1st, pitched brilliantly the rest of the way, allowing just 1 run in 5-2/3 innings work, and ending 1 batter short of a 7 inning complete game to record the win. Nico Kulpik, and Ben Mariani each homered in the11-3 win.
Nick DeMartino pitched in game 2, and like Barrett, it took an inning to find his best stuff. He allowed a pair of runs in the top of the first, but was flawless the rest of the way, going the distance in the 5 inning 12-2 mercy shortened game. DJ Arnold hit a pair of home runs, and Richard Godbout homered for Coginchaug. Barrett also threw 3 runners out stealing. .
Coginchaug had been 0-8 in all previous state level baseball tournament games, and 0-7 against the always daunting District 2 opponents. For the first time in the 56 year history of Durham and Middlefield Little League, we had a state baseball champion.
On Friday, July 24th, the twelve members of the Coginchaug Intermediate team and their coaches participated in the Opening Ceremonies of the Little League East Regional tournament in East Northport, Long Island. That would be the start of a week of baseball like nothing Coginchaug Little League had ever been a part of before. This was the first baseball team from the league to ever play in an East Region event. Coginchaug Softball teams participated in East Regional tournaments in 1974 (Durham LL), 1993 and 1995.
Coginchaug got a first day bye, so following the ceremonies, the team got a look at the competition, with 4 other games played that afternoon. Some of it looked awfully good, especially the New Hampshire and Commack NY teams that were in their pool.
They opened play Saturday against Lincoln-Sudbury, MA. Chris Onofrio put Coginchaug up early with a 2 run homer in the top of the first. Nico Kulpik and Carmine Andranovich had hits in the top of the 3rd, and both scored to give Coginchaug their second lead at 4-3, Mass chipped away over the next 4 innings, and Coginchaug failed to find enough offense, as they fell in the opening game 7-4. Hugh Barrett and CJ Sokol pitched for Coginchaug in the loss.
Game 2 on Sunday was against a 2-0 Manchester West Side-New Hampshire team that came in pretty confident, and awfully loud. New Hampshire took a 5-0 lead after 3 innings, with 3 early home runs, but DJ Arnold returned the favor in the bottom of the 3rd with a solo homer, and one inning later Kulpik singled to plate Sokol to make it 5-2. New Hampshire would strike back with 4 runs in the top of the 5th, and Coginchaug made a late 7th inning rally on an Onofrio double that would score Kyle Kupec, Arnold and Barrett. The rally fell short and New Hampshire won 11-5. Onofrio, Kulpik and Holden Starr pitched in Game 2 for Coginchaug.
On Monday, Coginchuag would face an 0-3 Warwick Continental-RI, and showed up ready to pick up the first Connecticut win in the 3 year history of the Intermediate level East Region tournament. Coginchaug scored 7 runs before there were 2 outs in the top of the first, including 2 RBI hits by Kulpik and Andranovich. Coginchaug would add more in the Top of the 5th on a solo homer by Ben Mariani. CJ Sokol threw a complete game as the Connecticut team beat Rhode Island 12-4.
Day 4 would be a rough outing as Coginchaug faced the eventual tournament champion Commack North/District 34. This was the host team, composed of players from around the area Little League district, and they were too much for Coginchaug, or any of the other 9 teams at the event. Commack defeated Coginchaug 20-0, allowing just one hit by Andranovich in the 5th inning of the mercy-shortened game. They went on to also win 4 of their other 5 games by 10 run-rule mercys as well. Commack advanced to represent the East Region at the Intermediate World Series in Livermore, California, and made it all the way to the US Final, eventually losing 4-3 to Wellington, Florida. West Seoul Korea then defeated Florida in the World Series final. It was the second time in the last 3 years that a Coginchaug team had ended their season with a loss to a team that later made it to the US championship, a tremendous accomplishment for a small league in central Connecticut. It was also the first District 9 baseball team at any level, to ever participate in an East Region tournament, and the first since the 1948 Middletown team was invited to Williamsport, to play beyond state level play.
The boys had an amazing week. From go-kart racing, to an afternoon at Jones Beach, along with hotel pool time, and a few great team dinners, it was an experience that they and their families will not soon forget.
2015 Section II, Connecticut State 50-70 championship roster
Manager – Steve DeMartino
Coaches – Dana Arnold, John Kulpik
District 9 held a fall 50-70 league for the second time, and this time 5 other teams joined two Coginchaug teams to form a 7 team league. Coach Rick Mach’s Century 21 team finished the regular season with the top seed entering the playoffs, with Coach Pascarelli’s Fuel & Service team as the #2 seed. Coginchaug had gone undefeated in league play against league opponents, although both teams faced stiffer competition in non-league games against Bridgeport and Fairfield during the season, as well as a loss by Century 21 in a non-league contest at Killingworth. Both teams advanced to meet in the championship game. Pascarelli’s team took an early 2 run lead in the top of the first, with back-to-back homers by Kolby Pascarelli and Michael Garofalo. They would add 3 more in the 3rd off a string of hits including a double by Zach Cooney, singles by Pascarelli and Garofalo, and another double by Francesco Marotta. Noah Kleczkowski entered in relief for Century 21, and held them scoreless the remaining 4 innings. Coach Mach’s team battled back for a run in the 6th off an RBI line drive by Alex Mach, and then added 3 more in the bottom of the 7th. Chris Racki and Edward Fournier had big one-out singles off Pascarelli in the comeback, which fell short when Jadel Astle grounded back to pitcher Pascarelli to end the game and secure the 5-4 win for Fuel and Service
2015 Guilford Fall League Baseball champion roster – Fuel and Service
Manager – Keith Pascarelli
Coaches – Jeff Rovelli, Ralph Albanese
For the first time, Coginchaug placed a fall softball team in the Shoreline Sting fall league, a league hosted entirely on the Parmelee and JV Softball fields in Durham. They were in the B Level Middle School league. The team went 9-1-2 during the regular season, and defeated the Pumas by a 7-3 score in the semifinal, and then the Eliminators 5-2 in the title game.
2015 Shoreline Sting Fall League Softball champion roster
Manager – Steve DeMartino
Coaches – Tim Burt, Curtis Ryer, Paul Wiedemann
Arguably, 2016 would rival 2013 as the most successful tournament play season in the history of Coginchaug Little League, collectively finishing with a record of 28-16, and with 3 of the 6 all-star teams making deep runs into their various Little League International tournaments. In the end, it would include a 50-70 State title, 12U Baseball state runner-up District 9 and Section 3 title, and a District 9 softball championship. 2016 was the second time in league history that Coginchaug won both the baseball and softball 12U District 9 titles, the last one 24 years before in 1992.
Coginchaug has been the dominant league in District 9 softball since the District formed, but recent success has been sparse. While Coginchaug won 10 straight district titles prior to 2003, they had won only one of the prior 12 titles entering 2016, the last being nearly a decade ago in 2007. The team entered the District 9, 10-12 Year Softball tournament, held at Atwell in Durham, expecting to play well, and compete to reach the championship round for the 3rd straight year, but ultimately the general sentiment was that Middletown and their ace pitcher Alexa Boone would be too much for anyone to handle. For much of the tournament that seemed to be the case. Coginchaug rolled over East Hampton and Chester/Deep River in pool play by scores of 22-0 and 17-0 respectively, and also successfully defeated respectable opponents Old Saybrook 7-1 and Cromwell 5-3. Meanwhile Middletown tore through the pool play rounds, outscoring opponents 42-1, including a 10-0 rout of Coginchaug in 5 innings. Pitcher Amalia DeMartino managed the only hit of that game, a soft grounder to shortstop to reach on a close play. With the come-from-behind win over Cromwell in game 4, Coginchaug would still advance to take on Middletown in the best-of-3 final series, with a feeling that only perfect play would get the job done against the bigger and older team with their shut-down ace pitcher.
Game 1 went about as planned for Middletown. Erin Donlan got the start for Coginchaug, and despite pitching well, allowed 6 runs, while her team again was held to a single base hit, a bunt single from Donlan, that ultimately resulted in their lone score of the game, as Middletown won easily 6-1. For Coginchaug, at least they had found that it was possible to score a run off of Boone.
Because of LL pitch inning rules, Middletown rested Boone and Coginchaug struggled early off Middletown starter Nicole Saraceno, falling behind 2-0. DeMartino pitched a very solid game, striking out 13 of the Middletown hitters, and holding them to just 1 earned run. Coginchaug battled back in the 4th inning, taking advantage of 4 straight walks by Saraceno, and an eventual 3 run blast by Donlan into left field. Leading 5-2, Amanda Case reached on a liner to right field in the 5th that led to another insurance run to make the score 6-2. Despite a few errors in the top of the 6th, Middletown picked up just 2 runs, and DeMartino and Coginchaug held on for a 6-4 win and a split of the first 2 games.
The teams returned for the deciding Game 3 the following night, and it was again DeMartino versus Boone in a rematch of the pool play game that went 10-0 in favor of Middletown. DeMartino opened the game with strikeouts of the powerful top 3 for Middletown, Tessa Wills, Boone and Ella McGlynn, and set the tone that this would not be a repeat of the pool play effort. Coginchaug still struggled to reach base on Boone. DeMartino reached in the 4th as she was hit in the left hand by a pitch, and Alex Fitzpatrick laid down a crafty bunt single, but that was all Coginchaug could muster through the first 5 innings off of Boone. Middletown fared no better, picking up their first hit of DeMartino, a single to center field by Boone, in the top of the 6th. She was promptly erased by the catcher Donlan while trying to steal 3rd to end the possible rally. In the bottom of the 6th, Allison Strang hit a one-out double off of Boone for Coginchaug’s second base hit, but pinch runner Audrey Labasi was left stranded at second, sending the game to extra innings.
Middletown picked up solid singles off of DeMartino in the 7th, but again Donlan put out the fire, as she threw out both girls stealing second, including an acrobatic high helmet tag by shortstop Ava Marenna to secure the third out. Middletown got one more two-out single in the top of the 8th, but first baseman Alex Fitzpatrick scooped a low throw from Grace Hughes-Conway on a ground ball to secure the third out and end that threat. A shoestring catch by Rhea Patel in left field also played no small part in holding the game scoreless.
In the bottom of the 8th, with a 3-2 count, Patel managed a one-out walk to get on base. Labasi, again inserted as a pinch runner for Patel stole second, which was just the first attempt at a steal by Coginchaug all afternoon. The thrown by catcher McGlynn went off the glove of the shortstop Wills and was enough to get Labasi to third on the error. Fitzpatrick, now with a 1-2 count, laid down an unexpected bunt to reach, as Boone had to hold the speedy Labasi at third, as she represented the winning run. Allison Strang then hit a hard grounder to second base on the first pitch of her at-bat, and the throw home was a little high, and just enough for Labasi to slide in under McGlynn’s tag for the walk-off District 9 Championship. This was the 29th district softball title for Coginchaug, and the first 10-12 year title since 2007. They would go 1-2 in Section 3 play, defeating East Hartford 9-2, but falling to Waterford by scores of 8-0 and 13-3 to end the Cinderella run.
2016 10-12 Softball District 9 Champion Roster
Grace Hughes Conway
Coaches-John Kelly, Roger Conway
Coginchaug 10-12 Baseball secured the first District 9 title in 3 years and 5th time ever, beginning with a 4-0 sweep in pool play held at Killingworth. That included a 1-0 rain-shortened victory over host Killingworth, a 6-0 win over Haddam, and a pair of consecutive 13-0 and 14-5 wins over East Hampton. Mike Garofalo, Chris Carofeno and Francesco Marotta threw complete game shutouts in the first 3 games. They then entered the double-elimination format District 9 finals as # 2 seed overall. Their opening game was a 9-8 win in an exciting back and forth game against a terrific opponent in Guilford, Alex Mach, Garofalo, and Carafeno (2) all homered, and Edward Fournier hit a 6th inning double to the left-center field gap, scoring Colin Murphy for the walk-off win. Coginchaug then defeated defending champion and overall number one seed Madison 11-8. Coginchaug jumped out to a 10-2 lead and never was threatened by Madison. Mach, Garofalo (2), and Jeremy Mangiameli all homered in the win.
Guilford defeated Madison in the losers bracket game to setup a rematch with Coginchaug in the Championship game. Coginchaug jumped all over Guilford early, opening a five run first inning lead, highlighted by Gage Rovelli’s two out, bases loaded single to score Murphy and Marotta. Starter Michael Garofalo would record ten of the team’s twelve outs by strikeout. After a 2nd inning rain delay, Coginchaug went on to mercy Guilford 12-2 to take the District title.
Section 3 play opened, again hosted at Killingworth, with a loss 5-4 loss to District 10 champ Mystic. This was the Mystic team that had lost just 1 game the past 2 years as an all-star team. Coginchaug was quickly up against elimination as they faced Mayor-Mike LL of Hartford in game 2. Hartford took a quick 3-0 lead in the first against starter Francesco Marotta, but Coach Fournier stuck with his starter, and that trust paid off, as Marotta pitched 5-2/3 innings, allowing no further runs, and coming one batter short of the complete game, as Coginchaug won 7-3 to get a rematch with Mystic for the Section 3 title. For the undefeated Mystic team, this would not go like any other of their postseason. Coginchaug jumped on Mystic early and often. Starter Garofalo struck out 9 through 3-2/3 innings, and batted 3-3 with a pair of walks, a 3 run home run and solo homer as Coginchaug cruised to a 17-7 section title win. Carofeno batted 2 for 3, also with a 3 run homer, and scored 4 runs. Alex Mach also blasted a 2 run homer to deep centerfield in the win. Coach Fournier afterward said that despite the lopsided score, that was the best team they had faced and that everything went right against a tremendously tough opponent.
Coginchaug baseball was 0-2 in previous 12U state finals. This year the format was a 4 team tournament, and Coginchaug opened against Section 4 champion Brooklyn-Pomfret, which coasted through their district and section tournaments. In what felt like 2 separate games. Coginchaug took a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning on a bases-loaded walk, representing the only run in the first 4 frames. Brooklyn-Pomfret tried to save all their pitchers at 20 pitches, and Coginchaug feasted on their late inning hurlers. Chris Carofeno, who was also the starter, hit 5th and 6th inning home runs, Colin Murphy hit a 6th inning Grand Slam, as Coginchaug routed Brooklyn-Pomfret 19-2.
In Game 2, Coginchaug would struggle offensively, and suffered from some poor luck with weather, falling to Fairfield 6-2. Fairfield took advantage of a moderate rain that gave Coginchaug pitcher Mike Garofalo some trouble with grip, and then the rain cleared out when Fairfield took the mound the following inning. Coach Fournier’s team would have to again defeat Brooklyn-Pomfret to make the state final the following night.
After offensive struggles with Fairfield, the juice was back, as Coginchaug broke out to a 13-0 lead before eventually closing out Brooklyn-Pomfret 13-2. Coginchaug jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on Brooklyn-Pomfret starting pitcher Isaac Dilorio. Colin Murphy started with a one out walk, and Mike Garafolo singled to left. Chris Carofeno hit a high fly ball that carried over the left field fence for the first 3 RBIs of the night. Jeremy Mangiameli got the start, and after a Zack Stolarek single with one out, the combo of Carofeno, Murphy and Garofalo struck again, this time on defense, with a 5-4-3 double play to quickly end the inning. In the 2nd inning, Edward Fournier, Connor Willett and Murphy led off with 3 straight singles, the last scoring Fournier. Willett scored two pitches later on a wild pitch to make it 5-0, and Garofalo hit a no-doubt blast to make it 7-0. Alex Mach, Francesco Marrotta and Gage Rovelli all followed with RBI hits to make it 10-0 as Coginchaug took over.
Likewise in the top of the 3rd, Garofalo and Carofeno singles, followed by a Mangiamelli double added another run. Marotta plated Caorfeno on a ground out, and Garofalo scored on another wild pitch to bring it to 13-0 after 2-1/2 innings. Mangiameli departed after 2 innings at 35 pitches, and Brooklyn-Pomfret had some life against new pitcher Connor Willett. They opened the 3rd with singles by three of their first 4 hitters. An Alex Levesque base hit broke up the shutout, but Willett, and reliever Marotta were able to get a pair of fielders choices to hold Brooklyn-Pomfret to just 1 run.
After scoring 30 runs in the past 5 innings of play against Brooklyn-Pomfret, Coginchaug would go scoreless in the top of the 4th. In the bottom of the inning, Jack Sharpe hit a solo home run to cut the score to 13-2, and threaten to extend the game another inning if Brooklyn-Pomfret could find another run. But Marotta would have none of it, closing out with a pair of strikeouts to wrap the mercy run-rule win and save precious pitching for Fairfield the next night.
Coginchaug took an early 1-0 lead against Fairfield in the 1st inning of the State Final, but struggled to get the big hit the rest of the game, while Fairfield hit one solo blast and dropped in a series of bloop hits that fell into shallow centerfield, to put together a 6-3 win to eliminate Coginchaug and their hopes to go to Bristol for the East Region Tournament. They finished the postseason 11-3 (0.785 pct), outscoring opponents 131-54.
2016 10-12 Baseball District 9 and Section 3 Champion Roster
Manager – Joe Fournier
Coaches – Jeff Rovelli, Bruce Willett
For the 4th time in the 4 years since Little League debuted an Intermediate World Series Tournament, Coginchaug would host the Connecticut Championship, and have a team playing in the final series. And for the first time ever, Coginchaug would enter a State baseball tournament as the returning champions. However before that could all happen, Coach Pascarelli’s team would need to win the Section 3-4 title, which included taking on Coventry and Mansfield out of Districts 11 and 12. Coginchaug rolled easily through the section tournament, beating Mansfield 13-5 and host Coventry 13-0 in their first 2 games, then closing out Coventry 19-0 in the Section final. For the 3rd time in a row, Fairfield American, who defeated East Haven for the Section 1 final, would be the opponent in the best-of-3 state championship.
Coginchaug would take the opener 14-4. Winning pitcher Kolby Pascarelli struck out 10 Fairfield batters, and hit a pair of home runs to support his own cause. Blake Courschesne also homered, and TJ Isleib’s 5th inning 3 run homer put Coginchaug up by 10 runs to take the game in a mercy-rule win, and put them one win away from the East Region tournament.
Fairfield threatened to extend the series early in game 2, as Chris Domizio doubled and Jake Bermudez homered to take a 4-0 lead after the first inning. Griffin Biro hit a 2 run homer in the second and Coginchaug closed to 4-3. In the 3rd, Owen Clancy led off with a single, starting pitcher John Vumback doubled, and a Christian Sawka RBI single gave Coginchaug their first lead at 5-4. TJ Isleib hit a 4th inning blast to lift the lead to 7-4 and Coginchaug held Fairfield scoreless the rest of the way. Vumback settled in after the rough first inning, and finished with 10 strikeouts before Griffin Biro closed out the game in relief for the 9-4 win and State Championship.
Coginchaug would head to Commack for the East Regional, with an opening game against Bridgewater, Mass. Pascarelli started, but was a little wild and was lifted after 20 pitches for Vumback, who led Coginchaug to a 13-2 win to move them into the winners bracket where they would face North-South Vineland, the state champs from New Jersey.
Pascarelli pitched fantastic, against Vineland, starting with a 1-2-3 inning, striking out the side in the first. Vineland pitcher Chase Petty matched Pascarelli all game long, and despite a rally in the top of the 7th, Coginchaug eventually fell 3-2 to move to the losers bracket. In their elimination Game 3 against Smyrna-Clayton, Delaware, Coginchaug took a 5-0 early lead behind starter TJ Isleib, but Delaware jumped on the relief pitching and won 10-5 to finish the season. Vineland would go on to win the East Region and head to Livermore, California to the Intermediate World Series, leaving most to wonder if they could have pulled off the win against Vineland that Sunday, maybe it would have been the Connecticut team that could have made the trip to California.
2016 Intermediate Section 3 and Connecticut State Champion Roster
Manager – Keith Pascarelli
Coaches – Nick Faiella, Scott Penney
2017 would be another unique and exciting year for Coginchaug in the post season All-Stars. For the first time ever, we would put 2 different teams into East Regional Tournaments, as 50-70 and Juniors Softball both made runs at our first ever LLWS appearance.
The 2017 All-Star season opened with Coginchaug 11-12 softball looking to defend their district title, and win back-to-back crowns for the first time since 2003. Coach Kelly’s team entered the tournament as favorite, but it quickly became apparent that it was a 2 team race between CLL and Cromwell. Coginchaug rolled through their pool play games, with double-digit wins over H-K-Guilford, East Hampton and Saybrook-Clinton-Essex, and a fairly routine 10-5 win over Deep River. Cromwell faired similarly in pool play, but chose to hold back their ace pitcher Malena Signorello in their pool game versus Coginchaug, and fell 9-2. Coginchaug carried a 78-15 run differential into the finals, where they would again face Cromwell, in the best-of-3 championship round.
Jackie Kelly had 3 clutch RBIs between the 2 games, Ava Marenna hit a 2 RBI triple in Game 2, and Erin Donlan struck out 17 over her 12 innings of superb pitching, as Coginchaug won by scores of 6-5 and 5-1.
In Game 1, Cromwell got off to the early start. In the top of the 2nd, Cromwell starter Signorello singled to lead off, and eventually scored on a wild pitch to make it 1-0. In the 3rd, Stephanie Esposito would walk, steal second and third, then make it 2-0, scoring on a wild pitch. Meanwhile 7 of the first 9 Coginchaug batters would strikeout the first time through the order. In the top of the 4th, Signorello would strike again, as she hit a liner to right centerfield that reached the wall. The throw in came slowly, and Signorello made it all the way around to build the lead to 3-0.
Sami Smith followed with another single up the middle, but then the weather turned. After a 30-minute delay for lightning, the skies opened up with 45 minutes of hard rain, and the game was postponed until 7PM on Saturday. Manager John Kelly demanded higher energy from his team heading into Saturday, and Coginchaug returned loud, confident and refocused. Donlan would strike out the side in the 4th after play resumed, leaving Smith at 2nd base. Then Sam Mancini led off the bottom of the 4th for Coginchaug with a bunt single, Donlan was hit by a pitch, Ava Marenna reached on an infield error, scoring Mancini, but Donlan got thrown out at home on the play. Grace Hughes-Conway would drive Marenna in on a fielders choice, and suddenly Coginchaug would be back in it, trailing 3-2.
Cromwell would get those 2 runs back in the 5th, on a pair of infield errors and 3 walks, and open the lead back up to 5-2. Coginchaug went down quietly in the bottom of the 5th with a pair of strikeouts and a pop-out. Cromwell would do likewise in the top of the 6th. Esposito would be hit by a pitch, but then picked off by the catcher Marenna throwing down to first base, all of which was sandwiched between a pair of strikeouts.
Signorello would struggle as the bottom of the 6th started. She walked both Donlan and Marenna, and Jackie Kelly drove both in with a line drive to right field on an 0-1 fastball. Amanda Case would reach on a fielders choice and Kelly scored shortly after on a passed ball to tie the game. Mia Poturnicki walked and with Case representing the winning run on 3B, Allison Sambor dropped down a beautiful bunt that was fielded by 3rd baseman Madison Tessmer. Tessmer faked the throw to first base, and then turned to try to catch Case at third. Her throw back to the base went off Case’s helmet, and rolled just a few feet behind the base. Case took off for home, and left fielder Alyssa DeLucco’s throw home was too high and Case slid in for the walk off win. The scene was strikingly similar to the sequence in the 8th inning of the 2016 District 9 championship that propelled Coginchaug over Middletown a year before.
Cromwell returned on Sunday for game 2, but never seemed to fully recover from the turnaround the night before. In the top of the second inning, Amanda Case led off with the first hit of the game, and stole 2nd base, but was thrown out trying to steal 3rd. Emma Ufferfilge lined out to short, and with 2 outs, Tatum Hultgren reached on a throwing error by the Cromwell 3rd baseman. Allison Strang hit a fly ball to right field that was dropped, and with 2 on and 2 out, Natalie Ness singled in Hultgren, Donlan reached on another error scoring Strang, and Marenna drove both Ness and Donlan in with a bases clearing triple to make it 4-0. Kelly would single in Marenna, and suddenly Coginchaug led 5-0.
Tessmer opened the bottom of the 1st for Cromwell with a double, but was thrown out by Marenna to Donlan covering, trying to steal home on a wild pitch. Cromwell got runners to third base again in the 2nd inning, but could not score. Donlan retired the next 6 in order, and entering the bottom of the 5th, the score was still 5-0. With 1 out, Esposito reached on an infield error, and Tessmer walked. Jamie Anderson then bunted to load the bases. Kiyah Skeene hit a fly ball that was high and fairly deep right down the first base line. Strang caught it on the run for the out, but her throw in to Donlan was quick enough to hold Esposito at 3rd base without a tag-up, and the score remained 5-0. Esposito would score on a walk to Signorello, but that would be all Cromwell would get, going scoreless in the 6th as they fell 5-1.
Coginchaug would drop both games in Section 2 play, hosted at Waterford. Despite Donlan’s struggles with command in Game 1, the girls battled into extra innings eventually falling 13-12 to Newington. In Game 2 they held off the powerful Waterford team for 2 innings, but Waterford bats took over in the 3rd and they powered to an 11-1 mercy. That Waterford team would go all the way to the semifinals of the East Region in Bristol, just 2 games from a trip to Portland Oregon and the Softball World Series.
2017 10-12 Softball District 9 Champions roster
Manager - John Kelly
Coaches - Mike Donlan, Scott Strang
Coginchaug took their first District 9 banner ever in 50-70 with a pair of blowout wins of 13-3 and 18-0 victory against overmatched Cromwell. For the 5th year straight, Peckham Park would be the host site for the state championship, which for the first time ever did not include a team from Fairfield.
Coginchaug would take the opener 11-3 against Coventry out of District 11, and then follow-up with a 9-2 win over D12 opponent Killingly to move to the finals. Coventry returned for the final with a win over Killingly, but would have to beat Coginchaug 2 in a row if they wanted to prevent the 3-peat for CLL Intermediate in the state finals.
Coginchaug would take advantage of miscues for a big 5 run 4th inning, and hold off Coventry 9-6 to capture the 2017 Connecticut Intermediate 50-70 Little League state championship, and a trip to Long Island for the 50-70 East Regional.
Alex Mach struck out 10 in 5 innings of work, and Tyler Garretson closed it out with 6 strikeouts of the final 7 Coventry batters. Seb Manning, Garretson and Mach each doubled for Coginchjaug. CJ Nolan's double leading off the bottom of the 1st was the only extra base hit for Coventry. Coventry's Seth Hood pitched a complete game in the loss, allowing just 4 earned runs, striking out 9 and allowing 10 hits.
Coginchaug was the visiting team for the game, and went down quietly with just a single by Gage Rovelli in the top of the first. In the bottom of the inning, Coventry jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the Nolan double, an Austin Jonas single, and a one out error on a hard hit ball past third base. Coginchaug responded in the next frame. Ethan Kupec, Seb Manning and Dylan Quincy all hit hard liners to right field, with a base hit by Kevin Ryan, and RBI ground out by Edward Fournier mixed in, as Coginchaug quickly regained the lead 3-0.
In the bottom of the inning, Steven Hassett singled for Coventry and reached second on a steal, but when Nolan hit a liner past Fournier at 3rd, Hassett rounded the base and was caught in no-mans land on the thrown in from left fielder Manning to Fournier to MacKenzie catching, and MacKenzie ran him down near third to end that threat. Mach would lead off the top of the 3rd with a double and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by MacKenzie to make it 4-2. Coventry battled back with a run on 3 singles in the bottom of the inning by Jonas, Matt LaFountain and Jakeb DeLuca, but Mach was able to get the next 2 batters to strike out to limit the damage at 4-3.
Things fell apart for Coventry in the top of the 4th. Kevin Ryan reached on a fly ball to centerfield that was dropped, and then with 2 outs and Ryan on 3rd, Sam Hutchins grounded to the pitcher, who tried to throw home, instead of the easy out at first, and the quick Ryan was in before the tag was made to make it 5-1. Next was another pair of outfield drops on balls hit by Rovelli and Mach, and singles by Garretson and MacKenzie, and suddenly Coginchaug had opened up a 9-3 lead, all unearned runs, all scored with 2 outs. Coventry still showed some life in the bottom of the 4th, scoring 3 runs on singles by Hassett and LaFountain along with 2 walks and an error to cut the lead to 9-6. From that point the pitchers took over.
Hood retired 9 straight after that, allowing only a Garretson double in the top of the 7th. He was erased on a lineout double play two batters later. Mach also settled in for the bottom of the 5th, striking out 3 straight. Garretson replaced Mach in the 6th, and was fantastic, allowing only a base hit by Hood in the 6th, and striking out the other 6 batters he faced in the final 2 frames.
Coach Mach’s team would face a miserable draw in the East Region, falling to the always brutal host Commack Host District 34 team by a score of 22-2, then a day later face Keystone, PA (Yes the same powerful league that were both East Region 12U runner up in Bristol and the East Region 50-70 state champs just 1 year before) to fall 14-4 to end their run.
2017 Intermediate 50-70 District 9 and Connecticut State Champions roster
Manager - Rick Mach
Coaches - Jeff Rovelli, Matt Garretson
For the first time in 5 years, Coginchaug put a Juniors Softball team on the field, this time combining with 1 Madison and 2 Guilford girls to form the team. They went undefeated in regular season play 12-0, with a combined 177-33 run differential for the season. The state tournament was supposed to be 4 teams, but when Colchester and Seymour dropped out, and the East Regional host CT-D4 was unable to put a team into that tournament, they invited both Fairfield and Coginchaug to fill the 2 spots as Connecticut East and West participants. The state tournament would be based on the outcome of their pool game at Orange during the Regional.
Coach DeMartino’s team, disappointed by the lack of a state tourney, vowed to have his team focused and ready to play well in the regionals. They would have to, as they opened against defending 2016 Junior LLWS runner up Warwick, RI. Despite taking an early lead, Warwick showed their experience, and a big 3rd and 4th inning resulted in a 15-5 mercy win in the opener. Coginchaug needed to win out pool play to get a chance to make the semifinals, and win out they did, starting with a 25-5 thumping of Fairfield, to capture the CT State title. They then rattled off wins of 13-3 over Cob/Schwartz/Ash of Worcester, Mass, 11-1 over Westbrook, Maine. Kelly Boothroyd provided the bulk of the pitching, while Carina Mancini had several memorable home runs, Ava Pittruzello delivered several big 2 out hits, and Skye Ryer and Amalia Demartino were outstanding at Short and 3rd throughout.
The quarterfinal and semifinal games were crossover contests with Mid-Atlantic pool teams, and many wondered if once out of the New England pool, would Coginchaug be able to compete. They tallied a pair of 5-1 wins over softball powerhouse Havestraw, NY and again against Clifton, NJ to reach the finals. The girls got great press coverage on radio and webcast by WELI out of New Haven, and even got to the point that they were being setup for the flight to Portland, since the winner would leave directly from the Regional and head to the Jr Softball LL World Series. Warwick put an end to the fun with a pair of 10-0 mercy wins in 6 innings to punch their ticket to Portland, and end a run that hadn’t been seen by Coginchug since the 1993 majors softball team.
2017 Juniors Softball Connecticut State Champions and East Region runner-up roster
Combined Team - Coginchaug-Guilford-Madison
Mary Evans (Guilford)
Caroline O'Connor (Madison)
Eva Ott-Hill (Guilford)
Manager - Steve DeMartino
Coaches - Tom Boothroyd, Curtis Ryer
2018 would bring just a single title to Coginchaug All-Stars. Coach Grant’s 12U Baseball went 3-1 in pool play, and made it to the District semifinals before falling to D9 Runner-up Killingworth, who were defeated by Madison in the finals. With the new age rules, 50-70 struggled to put a team together and defend our 3 consecutive state titles, but then Coach Penny’s ragtag group gave Trumbull a real scare in the state finals as they came back from a 6 run deficit to tie Game 1 before eventually falling 12-11, and then forced a game 3 with a 4-1 win the next night. Trumbull prevailed in the rubber match Game 3 and became the first team not named Coginchaug or Fairfield to head to Long Island for the 50-70 east regional in the 6 years since the Intermediate level began.
The real story in 2018 was going to be if Coginchaug 10-12 year softball could pull out the first 3-peat since we won 5 straight 11-12 district titles from 1999-2003.
After opening with a convincing 14-4 win in Durham against Guilford, Coach Mancini’s squad would head to Cromwell for the balance of the double elimination tournament. They would easily take down East Hampton 19-1, but then were nearly upset by a surprising Haddam-Killingworth team that has shutout Middletown and East Haddam in their first two games. Coginchaug pulled out a 1-0 win to head to the D9 finals. H-K pitcher Bella Richwine would again blank Guilford 10-0 in the losers bracket semifinal to setup the rematch, with H-K needing a pair of wins to upset Coginchaug.
In the first District final game, Coginchaug could not get their bats going, and for the first time since the preseason, CLL pitcher Mia Poturnicki was hit well by an opponent. H-K took the game, and the momentum, with a 7-2 upset, setting up a winner-take-all final the next day.
Both pitchers were at their best in the final game, that had some resemblance to the District final between Coginchaug and Middletown 2 years earlier. Neither team could push anything across, and baserunners were hard to find all evening.
Coginchaug won the toss and were home team, and aside from an intentional walk to H-Ks top hitter Amanda Belanger, Poturnicki was untouched in the top of the first. Richwine matched her with a 1-2-3 ground out and 2 pop outs in the bottom of the frame. Coginchaug would go in order, with 4 Ks through the 2nd and 3rd inning. H-K would fare just a little better. Richwine would single to lead off the 2nd, and 2 more runners would reach on a base hit and walk, but a soft grounder and pop up to Ava Alfano at first would end the threat with no damage. Belanger was intentionally walked again in the top of the 3rd,, and got as far as 3rd, but 2 ground outs ended any chance of her advancing. Poturnicki picked up her 2nd and 3rd strikeouts in the top of the 4th in her first 1-2-3 inning.
In the bottom of the 4th, Natalie Ness led off with the 1st hit of the night for Coginchaug. Sam Mancini hit into a fielders choice, and Poturnicki singled past the Shortstop to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Tatum Hultgren would hit a line drive over the second baseman to drive in Mancini and take a 1-0 lead. It would be the last hit of the game, as Coginchaug would go down in order in the 5th, but Poturnicki was simply shut-down the rest of the way as well. She fanned 4 of the final 7 batters she faced, again intentionally walking the dangerous Belanger one more time along the way. Both teams finished with just 2 hits, but on 2 out ground ball fielded by Ness with the throw to Alfano and Coginchaug had their 3rd straight title. After a shaky 4 run start in the opener against Guilford, Poturnicki had allowed just 3 runs in the remaining 4 games in district play. Richwine had allowed just 4 total in the 6 games she pitched, but a pair of 1-0 wins gave Coginchaug just enough to take the title.
The girls headed to Vicino Field in Rocky Hill for the Section 3 tournament, and fared about as well as their prior 2 year counterparts, falling 7-1 to Mystic-Groton out of District 10, and 12-2 to Newington from D7. Groton-Mystic would go on to win Section 3, and advance to the CT final before losing to Fairfield.
2018 10-12 Softball District 9 Championship Roster
Manager – Mike Mancini
Coaches – Darin Overton, Adam Poturnicki
The 2019 Spring season saw no district or state titles for the first time in 8 years. Coach Poturnicki's 12U Baseball went 2-2 and advanced to the District playoffs, only to fall in game 1 to a Madison club that would go all the way to the East Region semifinals. Coach Costa's 10U Softball went 4-1 in pool play, but lost a tough 6-5 semifinal to Middletown, who then easily defeated East Haddam 22-5 in the finals. Coach Strang's Junior softball team finished 3rd out of 6 at the state finals, battling through 2 doubleheaders in 2 days of 95 degree weather, but eventually falling to Mystic/Groton in the semis. Coach Smolley's 12U Softball team had the most success, going 3-1 and facing 4-0 Haddam-Killingworth in the best-of-3 final series. Coginchaug took game 1, but H-K dominated games 2 and 3 and won the District title.
What Coginchaug did a lot of in 2019 was host all star games. 53 of them to be exact. We hosted both 10U Softball and 12U Softball complete D9 tournaments, along with the 10U Section games (won by Waterford), and the 12U State Finals, which saw Milford shock the perennial powerhouse Waterford in the finals, to capture the State championship, and head to Bristol for the Regional. We also covered the entire 6 team 50-70 State Tournament, which for the first time sinc inception in 2013, did not have a team from Coginchaug playing. Mystic/New London, the first team ever to play 50-70 out of District 10, overwhelmed their opponents en route to a State title and trip to Commack Long Island for the East Regional. For the 3rd straight year, Coginchaug hosted a Strong School regular season night game as well as the 4th straight year hosting Senior night for the Coginchaug High School softball team. Strong fell 4-2 to H-K and CRHS defeated Middletown 5-4.
The fall season saw EEE virus dominate the news, and force the cancellation of practically all night games after the Durham Fair. Still, The 50-70 Fall team from Coginchaug managed to get in a 9-0 regular season, then defeated H-K in the league playoff semis 6-2 and topple Cromwell 15-5 to finish an undefeated season and with a D9 fall Intermediate title.
2019 Intermediate 50/70 Baseball Fall Championship Roster
Manager – Adam Poturnicki
Coaches – Chris Champagne, Bruce Willett
Coginchaug Little League Titles 2010-2019
2010 – Softball Seniors – District 9 Champions
2012 – Baseball 10-11 – District 9 Champions, Section 2 Champions
2012 – Softball Juniors – District 9 Champions
2013 – Softball 9-10 – District 9 Champions
2013 – Baseball 9-10 – District 9 Champions
2013 – Baseball 11-12 – District 9 Champions, Section 2 Champions
2014 – Baseball 9-10 – District 9 Champions
2015 – Baseball Intermediate – Section 2 Champions, Connecticut State Champions
2016 – Softball 10-12 – District 9 Champions
2016 – Baseball 10-12 – District 9 Champions, Section 3 Champions
2016 – Baseball Intermediate – Section 3 Champions, Connecticut State Champions
2017 – Softball 10-12 – District 9 Champions
2017 – Baseball Intermediate – District 9 Champions, Connecticut State Champions
2017 – Softball Juniors – Connecticut State Champions, East Region Runner Up
2018 – Softball 10-12 – District 9 Champions
Coginchaug Little League Fall Ball Tournament Titles 2010-Present
2010 – Baseball Minors – District 9 Cromwell Pool Champions
2010 – Baseball Majors – District 9 Cromwell Pool Champions
2013 – Baseball Majors – District 9 Cromwell Pool Champions
2014 – Baseball Majors – District 9 Cromwell Pool Champions
2015 – Baseball Intermediate 50/70 – District 9 Guilford League Champions
2015 – Softball Middle School – Shoreline Sting Fall League B Division Champions
2019 - Baseball Intermediate 50/70 - District 9 Champions
The 2020 season of Little League, like everything else, was thrown a major curveball during the Covid 19 pandemic, as Little League pushed the season back to begin in early July, and held limited All-Star tournament play. Coginchaug did not field a T-Ball or Farm program, and played regular seasons of only Majors and Intermediate baseball and Minors, Majors and Juniors Softball. All-Stars began in late August, and Coginchaug only field teams in 10U and 12U softball. Opening Day ceremonies were never held, and concessions never opened. Many leagues around the state and nation went through similar experiences. While 10 and 11 year All-Stars were District level tournaments only, the state did operate District, Section and State tournaments for 12U baseball and softball.
One thing that did not change, was for the 5th time in 7 years, Coginchaug would host the D9 12U Softball tournament. We also hosted the Section 2 tournament that followed. The 15 softball games, all held at Atwell Field, was a huge drop from the 50+ of the prior year, but despite the fall weather, the games were no less exciting.
Coginchaug 12U Softball, who combined this year with 2 players from Haddam-Killingworth Little League, had won their pool play meeting against East Hampton 6-1, but lost 4-1 in the first district final game, to force a deciding game in the double elimination format. In the pool play game, East Hampton had lots of scoring chances, but stranded 13 on base and also had 3 players thrown out on steals by Coginchaug catcher Ashley Tarquino. In the first title game, East Hampton got a dominant game from starter Lily Jahne, limiting Coginchaug to just 2 hits.
Cailyn Smolley’s go-ahead RBI triple in the 7th inning, and a pair of RBI hits by Grace LaConte and Elizabeth Gargano in the 2nd, backed by a 6 hit, 4 strikeout complete game from Addison Costa, lifted Coginchaug over East Hampton 5-4 to take the District 9 Little League 10-12 year old softball championship at Atwell Field.
The final game initially looked like a pitchers dual was forming. Visiting Coginchaug took a Smolley walk to open the top of the first, but was doubled off on a steal due to a pop-up out by Tarquino. Likewise, Costa set down East Hampton 1-2-3 in the first.
In the top of the 2nd Natalia Smith and Ava Ekblade both reached on errors, and with 2 outs and 3-2 count, Grace LaConte (HK) doubled both runners in to take a 2-0 lead. Elizabeth Gargano then singled home LaConte to boost the lead to 3-0. In the top of the 3rd, Caley Napletano (HK) took a 9 pitch walk, promptly stole 2nd and 3rd on the next two pitches, and then took off for home on a passed ball with 2 outs. Napletano got into a rundown, and an errant throw by the East Hampton catcher was all she needed to score the 4th run for Coginchaug.
East Hampton went down in order in the 2nd, but in the bottom of the third got one back with a leadoff single by Lauren Palma and an RBI base hit by Jahne to cut the lead to 4-1. Despite 2 more walks from Costa, East Hampton was unable to add any more runs, helped out by an unusual out call on a headfirst slide at 3rd on a wild pitch play, and a big strikeout of Sage Svalested to end the inning. Costa walked 2 more in the bottom of the 4th, but East Hampton could not turn them into runs as Costa fanned Kendall Jump to close out the inning.
The bottom of the 5th would not go so well for Coginchaug. With 2 outs, East Hampton’s Neha Sidana tripled, and Svalasted reached on an Error that scored Sidana. Costa walked Jackie Goetz and MacKayla Greenwood to load the bases and Allison Hebb doubled to tie the game, before Allison Jacobson flew out to Bella DeRenzo in right to end the threat.
Reeling a bit, Coginchaug went down easily in the top of the 6th, with Jahne retiring all 3 batters on 5 pitches, and 3 soft hits to infielders. Costa recovered brilliantly in the bottom of the inning, getting 2 infield pop-ups and a liner back to the pitcher, also on 5 pitches, to force the game into extra innings.
In the top of the 7th, DeRenzo singled to lead off, but was called out on runners interference on a foul pop-up right near the 1s base by Grace LaConte. LaConte grounded out to third and suddenly what looked like an early threat had turned into 2 outs and no baserunners. Elizabeth Gargano singled to keep the inning alive, and Smolley hit an 0-2 pitch deep to bring in Gargano and give Coginchaug-HK the 5-4 lead.
In the top of the 7th, Costa got Sidana to ground out to Smolley unassisted at first base, and Svalested grounded-out to Smith at third for the second out. Goetz then hit a first pitch liner to left field that tailed away from LaConte toward the foul line. Goetz tried to stretch it to a double. The cut throw from LaConte to Napletano to Ekblade was perfect, nailing Goetz at 2nd to secure the District title.
This was the 4th district title in Majors Softball for Coginchaug in the past 5 years. Section II play, also being held at Durham, will begin Saturday, September 19, as Coginchaug will open against Waterford out of District 10, in the double elimination tournament. Game time is 7 PM.
2018 10-12 Softball District 9 Championship Roster
Grace LaConte (HK)
Caley Napletano (HK)
Manager – Mark Smolley
Coaches – Chris Costa, Jeff Tarquino
Coginchaug Little League Titles 2020-Present
2020 – Softball 10-12 – District 9 Champions