Lindsay Wheeler returns to coach Shelton softball

Kaylee Gura and Rachel Kiman are team captains.

Kaylee Gura and Rachel Kiman are team captains.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

“This was my life’s goal,” Lindsay Wheeler, a 1996 Shelton graduate said of heading up the softball team. “My mentor was Tony Piccolo. He promised me before he passed (in 2014) that he would come back and be my assistant whenever I began coaching at Shelton. We promised each other. His daughter Michele is my assistant, so we went full circle, I guess.”

Wheeler, who was a head coach at Ansonia, wants to return Shelton to the standard set by Piccolo, who won three conference championship and was twice named Coach of the Year during his 1980-90 time with the team.

“We did offseason condition. We were in the weight room. We want to build things back up,” Wheeler said. “We have the potential this year to go far, but it is going to be a learning experience. I brought in a new way. I’m big on communicating. I’m big on the small game (advancing runners, testing defenses) at times. I want the girls to have a positive year.”

Wheeler has been at Shelton as a physical education and health teacher for nine years.

“I know these girls as students and some as volleyball players but not as softball players,” she said. “My first two weeks was them getting to know me as a coach and me getting to know them as players. We’ve figured each other out. We had our first scrimmage against Seymour, and they hit the heck out of the ball as always. We didn’t, which was okay because that was the first time for us against live pitching. We had kinks to work out.”

Kaylee Gura and Rachel Timan are captains.

“Kaylee is my only senior and will play second base,” Wheeler said. “Rachel is one of my nine juniors and will be in the outfield.”

Julia Krijgsman will do the pitching.

“Julia works her spins. She gets ahead in the count. When she gives up a walk or a hit, Julia is mentally solid and lets her defense do its job,” Wheeler said. “She gets them to pop up and hit grounders. Bria Hayden is a freshman and our jayvee pitcher.”

Batting in the power slots in the batting order are year-round players.

Wheeler said: “Anna Leone, Julia and Alexis Resto are can hit the ball deep and produce runs. Anna is our catcher and fantastic behind the plate. I could literally play her anywhere on the field. Alexis is at first base. She has a good bat and on defense she makes all the infielders look good because she can stop anything.”

Lisa Kiman (shortstop) and Jackie Jenco (third base) fill out the infield.

Taylor Silva, Rachel Kiman, Sarah Broad and Maddy Cyr will play the outfield, with Kylie Chiesa bring speed off the bench as a courtesy runner.

“I’m keeping a solid 10 with varsity and we have 16 on jayvee that I can pull up as I need. Want to keep them at JV to get time in and gain experience,” said Wheeler, who will also be assisted by Ed Piccirillo.

North Haven, Foran and Branford are next on the schedule.

“We have cobwebs that come with being away but once we kick them off we should be a solid squad. Fingers crossed we stay healthy and work on getting back that year we lost,” Wheeler said.

Diamond notes: Alex Resto had three hits and six RBIs while Anna Leone plated five runs and had two hits when Shelton defeated Hillhouse 20-2 in its season opener in New Haven. “Alexis had a grand slam homer and a double,” said coach Wheeler, “Anna hit a home run and had a double.” Shelton scored 11 runs in its first at bat and 9 more in the second. Julia Krijgsman pitched two innings of no-run ball and Bria Hayden pitched the final two frames. Twitter: @blox354