Wellington High School Girls Softball Enjoying Thrill Of Victory

Pitching ace Tori Payne at bat for the Wolverines.

The Wellington High School girls varsity softball team is continuing its winning ways, largely due to the team’s strong overall attitude and the pitching prowess of junior hurler Tori Payne, who is having a banner season inside the circle this spring.

“This year’s team is filled with great teammates, everybody gets along, they are fun to watch, and it’s a very tight group,” said head coach Mark Boretti, now in his 15th year leading Wellington High School’s softball team. “We seem to have a new hero in every game.”

After Wellington’s first 16 games, the Wolverines have posted a 14-2 record. In those 14 victories, Payne has been the winning pitcher in 11 of them. Her record is 11-1.

Payne’s pitching statistics this year are impressive. Her earned run average is a stingy 1.34. To date, she has pitched 83 and 2/3 innings, recorded 108 strikeouts, and allowed just 16 earned runs.

According to Boretti, Payne had a strong season last year, but she is a better and more dominant pitcher this year.

“At the beginning of the season, we knew we were going to be a tough team to beat with Tori on the mound,” Boretti said. “Tori has been awesome inside the circle. She’s kind of quiet and reserved off the field, but when she steps on the field, she’s a competitor. I call her bulldog.”

One of the keys to Payne’s success is command of many types of pitches.

“Tori can throw four or five different types of pitches,” Boretti said. “When she has control of her change-up, it can be very effective.”

When Payne is not pitching, Yanaira Andrade has established herself as the main No. 2 pitcher. Meanwhile, Payne can play elsewhere.

“Tori can play anywhere on the field,” Boretti noted.

Not only is Payne leading by example as her team’s top pitcher, but she is also helping her team score runs. Statistically, she is tied for the team lead with 11 RBIs, and she is second on the team in doubles with four.

In addition to Payne’s presence on the mound, another key to Wellington’s success has been the play of the three seniors — Angelina Mangini, Kelsie Riggan and Ava Matrascia.

“My three seniors have great attitudes and lead by example in practices and in games,” Boretti said.

According to Boretti, these seniors always do what is necessary for the team to succeed.

For instance, junior Kaylee Riles, the team’s starting catcher, was just recently injured, so Boretti asked Matrascia to play catcher until Riles returns from her injury.

“Ava has done a great job playing catcher,” Boretti said. “Our team didn’t miss a beat.”

Of the girls who are regulars in the starting lineup, Mangini is the team’s leading hitter with a .400 average. She also has the best on-base percentage at .529.

Riggan, meanwhile, is the team’s top outfielder. She patrols centerfield with speed and confidence. She has also slugged two home runs and has stolen four bases so far this season.

One of the contributing newcomers to the team this year is freshman Gabi de los Reyes.

“When Gabi gets an opportunity to contribute to the team’s success, she has taken advantage of it throughout the season,” Boretti said.

Wellington’s key statistical leaders include Riles, who is the team’s home run leader with three. Mangini is Wellington’s hits leader with 16, while sophomore D’Yami Meredith has the most stolen bases with six and the most runs scored with 16.

Eleven players on last year’s team are back on this year’s team, and seven of them are starters.

Wellington concludes its regular season on Friday, April 26, when Wellington hosts longtime softball powerhouse Doral Academy in a game scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

“That will be a great way to end the regular season with a game against one of the top teams in Florida,” Boretti said.

This year’s team is focused on returning to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 7A Final Four in Clermont on May 24-25, where the team hopes to win the first state softball title in school history.