Softball: Jacqui Sheftz’ Lady Eagles became true believers
It wasn’t a rags to riches story, but Trumbull High’s ride from unranked team to the No. 1 ranked team in the state was difficult to predict when the Class LL state tournament began on May 30.
Coach Jacqui Sheftz’s Lady Eagles upended 17-time state champion Southington High, 4-3, on Saturday, June 10, at West Haven’s Frank Biondi Field.
“Trumbull High School has such a rich tradition in athletics, I am just so unbelievably honored to be part of the program that brought the school it's first state championship in the sport of softball,” said Sheftz, who won three titles at Masuk High and compiled a record of 286-101 after two seasons at Staples High and fourteen at Masuk.
“I'm so proud of our girls for the way they played this post-season. This was the team I always knew we had these past two years. But to see them put it all together in such a short period of time is simply amazing. For our girls to reach the pinnacle of success, the number one team in Hartford Courant's final high school softball poll, is incredibly rewarding.”
Trumbull was seeded ninth and and advanced to the quarterfinals with wins over Shelton High 12-5 and Lyman Hall of Wallingford 5-1. The Lady Eagles then knocked off top-seeded Norwich Free Academy 9-5, and fifth-seeded Stamford High 3-0 to advance to the finals opposite No. 6 Southington.
Trumbull (21-4) finished second to Class M champion Seymour High (23-2) in the GameTimeCT/Register Top 10 Poll. Southington (22-2) placed third in both polls.
“Our team goals each year are always to win a conference and state championship,” said Sheftz, who is assisted on the varsity by Erica Christopher, Marylu Matott and Kelley Larsen. “The team believed in me, in our recipe for success and in the values that we were trying to instill.
“They trusted in the process and that's a huge reason why we were able to have so much success this season. Not only did the kids believe in themselves, but more importantly they believed in each other.”
After leading Masuk High to the Class L championship in 2013, Sheftz stepped aside before taking over at Trumbull in 2015.
“I was only coming out of retirement for one job and that was Trumbull,” she said. “I've always felt that this program was full of untapped potential. It was just a matter of getting each individual to max out on their ability.
“The parents of our program have been wonderful and have been a tremendous support system for our program. I also cannot say enough about my athletic director, Mike King who is a coach's AD. He allows his coaches to just focus on their teams and makes sure no external factors interfere with our ability to get our jobs done to the best of our abilities.
“The quarterfinal FCIAC loss to St. Joseph (11-0) on our home field was a complete embarrassment. I know that lit a fire under us. As a team we saved our best for last. They believed, they maintained their composure throughout and they were an absolutely joy to watch perform against the highest level of softball in our state — the Class LL tournament.”