STRATFORD—Gary Quiricone’s homecoming hasn’t been easy.
But the Bunnell High softball team has been getting better in his first year at the helm, something that has especially shown over the last two games.
The Bulldogs have posted 29 hits over the last two days, including Friday afternoon’s 20-4 over the Bassick Lions.
“We’ve been working on contact hitting and that’s coming around,” said Quiricone, whose team had 20 hits on Friday after having nine in a 19-3 loss to New Fairfield the day before. “We’re starting to hit the ball pretty well.”
After spending 22 years coaching at Fairfield Warde, Quiricone—a graduate of Bunnell High—returned home to take over the Bulldogs this spring. Friday’s victory was his first win at home this season.
“One of the questions I had for him was why Bunnell, why now?” Bunnell athletic director Wayne Thrall said. “He had an established program. It was pretty successful. I appreciated he wanted to come back to his roots, to where he graduated from. That fact he’s a Stratford guy, we were fortunate to get him.”
Thrall knew Quiricone taking over a young team wouldn’t be easy, but he’s been impressed with how far the team has come in a short time.
“He’s demonstrated patience,” Thrall said. “As an educator, he’s a clear communicator. He knows the skills the players have to develop, and he’s made great strides in the few weeks he’s already been with them.”
The players always felt they worked hard for the softball program, but Quiricone has brought in new teaching measures and methods that the team is adapting to.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a tough adjustment,” senior Sofia Santiago said. “We’ve always been working hard and doing what we can but adding him to the mix has helped our team. He’s putting in new ways to help us find ways to win games.”
The team is buying in and that’s paying off, Quiricone said.
“We’re playing much better than we did early on,” he said. “They’re buying into what we’re trying to do with the program. It’s finally clicking.”
It was clicking against Bassick as Bunnell ran its record to 2-6 on the season with the win.
Junior shortstop Kelly Bavolacco went 4-for-4 with 2 triples, a double, a single and 5 RBIs against the Lions. Amanda Wallace went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run, as well.
Cloe Hanscome had three more hits, including a double.
Wallace’s home-run staked Bunnell to a 2-0 advantage en route to a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
The Bulldogs added four more runs in the second inning to take a 7-2 advantage into the third inning, with Bavolacco’s triple being the big blow.
In the third, Bunnell blew the game open, putting up 13 runs—which is more than the total number of runs (10) the Bulldogs had scored in its previous six games.
Winning pitcher Mikayla Bonilla, a freshman, struck out 12, holding Bassick to just four hits.
“We are so much better,” said Julianna Santiago, who along with her twin sister Sofia represent the only two seniors on Bunnell’s roster. “I feel like there is a lot of momentum building.”
The Bulldogs will host Notre Dame-Fairfield on Monday.