CIAC SOFTBALL: Verrilli came back to the Blue Knights, and then she really returned

CIAC SOFTBALL: Verrilli came back to the Blue Knights, and then she really returned

SOUTHINGTON — After playing for the team her freshman year and then taking two years off to compete in track, Lauren Verrilli is back with Southington softball.

While welcomed with open arms, the senior still had to earn her keep. Verrilli has, as a third baseman and a table-setter in the batting order, and she’s been a key piece in Southington’s run to the Class LL state championship game.

“Lauren did not start the season as a starter,” coach Davina Hernandez noted after Verrilli and the top-seeded Lady Knights routed No. 5 Hall 8-0 in Tuesday’s semifinals at DeLuca Field. “We were happy to have her back, but knew it would not be fair to just give her a starting job.

“But she indeed earned it. Whenever she stepped to the plate or took her spot at third base, she became a threat to make a play, and we decided as a staff to put her in the field and high up in the batting order for every game.”

Verrilli’s insertion into the two-spot of the Southington lineup has paid dividends on both sides of the ball, especially during the CIAC tournament run. She has reached base safely and scored at least one run in each of the three tournament games to date while also playing tremendous defense.

The highlight game so far came in the second round against New Milford. At the plate, Verrilli reached base twice on a single and an error. In the field, she recorded eight assists and a putout from third base.

Verrilli’s lightning-quick reflexes and strong arm at the hot corner helped hold New Milford to two hits in that 5-0 victory and also kept Glastonbury and Hall in check in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

Nothing has seemed to get past her in this recent stretch.

“We as a team have been playing well and that has definitely factored into how I have been playing,” Verrilli said. “At the end of the day, it is a team sport and it is up to everyone on the team to make a difference to win these games.”

Verrilli knows a bit about winning from her other sports. She was part of Southington’s soccer powerhouse teams — the 2019 team that reached the Class LL state final and the 2020 squad that went unbeaten and was ranked No. 2 in New England by the New England Soccer Journal.

As a runner, Verrilli was part of the 4x800 indoor relay team that set a school record of 9:36.72 in the winter of 2019-2020 and qualified for the New Balance Nationals.

Still, the pull of softball remained. Southington’s is an elite program, the holder of a peerless 18 state titles. This weekend, the Lady Knights will go for their 19th in 24 tries.

“I knew the whole time I was gone that I missed playing on this team,” said Verrilli. “I am so happy to be back.”

Verrilli and the Lady Knights will face the winner of No. 2 Fairfield Ludlowe and No. 14 Trumbull, whose semifinal was rained out Tuesday and played Wednesday night. The date, time and location of the final will be announced.

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