NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s Wally Hurd will be keeping a close eye on the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference softball teams this season. The coach of the Norwalk Riptide will be keeping close tabs on players at three FCIAC schools and another at Notre Dame of Fairfield.
Hurd, an assistant coach to Tom Kriz at Trinity Catholic, will go up against some of his current and former players in games against Norwalk and Brien McMahon. It’s an interesting dynamic, especially because Hurd has been coaching many of the girls for five years or more.
“It’s both an advantage and a disadvantage,’’ Hurd said. “I know what their strengths and weaknesses are. They always give you a little smile when you see them coming to bat. It’s funny, they acknowledge you, but they know they shouldn’t acknowledge you until later.”
Hurd’s daughter, Amy, is the No. 1 pitcher at Trinity Catholic. She is joined their by Riptide teammates Katelyn Spielman and Erin Frederick.
Norwalk High players who have been coached by Hurd include Tori Dugan, Leslie Garcia, Mallory Rochefort, Allie Hall, Ali Brown, Nicole Bonnani and Leslie Garcia. McMahon players who played for Hurd are Ryan Lajoie, Tori Rodriguez and Alli Ganim. Becky Stefanatos plays at Notre Dame.
Most of the players will return to Hurd in June for the Riptide, which has been one of the premier fastpitch travel teams in Fairfield County over the past four years. Last year’s Riptide team came within a game of reaching the Babe Ruth 16-and-under World Series.
“I always teased them and said you can use everything I teach during the summer,’’ Hurd said. “But when my team plays against yours, forget everything. But that’s only teasing. Deep down, I'm always rooting for them."
The Riptide teammates practiced together over the winter until they dispersed to their high school teams. A Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rule precludes summer travel teams from practicing during the high school season. Hurd’s Riptide team will not reconvene until June.
Many of Hurd’s girls earned varsity playing time last year as freshmen. Amy Hurd will be one of the key players for the Crusaders, and Lajoie figures to be the top pitcher for Brien McMahon. Trinity hosts the Senators on May 3 and plays at Norwalk on April 12. Both games will undoubtedly feel like a Riptide reunion.
“When they went off to high school, I told all of them I expect you to make varsity,’’ Hurd said. “They all did, and it was because they worked hard. Now they are the center of it all.”
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