NORWICH– Coach Donny Lawrence and the Norwich Purple Tornado baseball team reflect on the 2022 season. Norwich finished 6-10 on the season with making it to sectionals this year.
Lawrence, coming off his first full season of coaching, was impressed Norwich at least made a sectional appearance. It was their first appearance since 2018 and their first home sectional game since 2014. Norwich suffered a 13-4 loss to the Greene/Oxford Trojans.
“ I was happy throughout the regular season. Overall, the players played well and stuck together,” he said. “Despite the early exit from sectionals, I thought we had a strong season.”
Norwich prepared for sectionals without scrimmaging other teams around the area. Lawrence said it was so “jammed” around the league that instead the team played intersquad games.
“We had JV players come up and throw to our guys and it was great for them to see live pitching. The more live pitching, the better,” he said. “ We also got the players out everyday practicing to get prepared.”
Norwich had strong pitching this season with four players giving their best efforts. The top pitchers were seniors Torin Lawrence and Keegan Franklin, whom Norwich will miss next season.
Franklin led the Tornado with a 2.19 ERA with 40 strikeouts as Torin had a 4.26 ERA with 37 strikeouts. The Norwich offense was led by Nick Ragonese with a .429 batting average with Zack Parker finishing behind him with a .400 average.
“Our two seniors (Torin and Keegan) both had solid seasons and were great role models. It was good for our other pitchers to see them and get a feeling of how it should be on the mound,” Lawrence said.
Zack Parker stepped up as just an eighth grader for Norwich this year. After their starting catcher Logan Ford injured his thumb in the third game of the season, Parker came up from JV and played a huge role on the team, building confidence that should only last for the next few years.
“Some of our pitchers were nervous at first because they were used to having Logan who was also a senior. But, it was quick how they turned that right around and showed confidence in Zack,” Lawrence said. “ Zack showed himself that he deserved to be up at that level.”
Parker also impressed other opponents by showing off his young talent.
“ I even had the opposing coach come up to me and ask what grade he was in and was shocked to hear that he was only an eighth grader,” Lawrence said. “ They were even impressed and said “Wow, he’s going to be good coming through.”
Over the summer, Norwich will be participating in the Pony League against other teams around the area. JT Vinal will be running the program this year where a majority of the modified and JV teams will be enhancing their skills. Lawrence also hopes to get more offseason workouts in the fall before winter ball.
While Norwich loses seven seniors, the team is still expected to be quite talented with several JV players moving up, with its juniors returning for their senior year, and with Zack Parker continuing his varsity career as a freshman next season.