Wellington High Softball Team Begins Season With Big Wins

The Wellington High School 2024 girls varsity softball team. Photo by Jack Bartlett

This girls softball team from Wellington High School has continued the winning ways of last year’s squad. The 2023 team (20-3-1) advanced to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 7A Final Four, losing 2-1 in extra innings to Tampa’s Plant High School.

This year’s team is focused on returning to the FHSAA’s Class 7A Final Four, set for May 24-25 in Clermont, where the team hopes to win the first girls state softball title in school history.

Eleven players on last year’s team are back this year. Seven are starters, including junior starting pitcher Tori Payne.

To go deep into the postseason will require strong pitching, timely hitting, smart base running and a stifling defense.

According to WHS head coach Mark Boretti, his team is consistently delivering on pitching and defense, but their run production has been somewhat sporadic.

“Our pitching and defense have been awesome,” said Boretti, now in his 15th season as the head coach of Wellington’s softball team. “We need more run support for our pitching staff.”

The ace of the staff is Payne, who was last year’s No. 2 pitcher behind Jordan White.

“Tori has been awesome inside the circle,” Boretti said. “She’s quiet and reserved off the field, but when she steps on the field, she’s a competitor. I call her bulldog.”

To date, Payne’s earned run average is 0.68.

To help stimulate the offense, Boretti is being creative with his lineup and his coaching.

“We’re bunting a little more this year than in the past in an attempt to put runners on base in order to score,” Boretti explained.

After its first 10 games, Wellington is 9-1. The only setback was a 5-2 loss to the Covenant Day School Lions from Matthews, North Carolina, on March 13. The most significant victories were a 6-2 win over reigning Class 7A state champion Spanish River High School on Feb. 28; a 2-0 win against rival Palm Beach Gardens High School on March 1; a 2-1 victory against rival Jupiter High School on March 6; and a 2-0 extra-innings win against Class 3A powerhouse Coral Springs Charter School, ranked as the 14th best overall girls softball team in Florida.

Spanish River was the team that Wellington would have faced in last spring’s Class 7A state championship game if Wellington had defeated Plant last May in the state semifinal game.

Through the first 10 games of this season, WHS has scored 61 runs and has only given up 23.

One of the keys to the success of last year’s team was its senior leadership. Boretti said that he’s looking for that same behavior — in the classroom, in practice, in the dugout and on the diamond during games — from the three seniors on this year’s team, Angelina Mangini, Kelsie Riggan and Ava Matrascia.

Despite it being spring break during the week of March 18-22, Boretti conducted practices to keep his 18 players focused on improving their hitting.

“We held batting practice three times during spring break,” he said.

The Wellington squad will resume its regular season schedule on March 28 against Park Vista High School.