NORTH STONINGTON — Wheeler High’s softball program hasn’t made many state tournament trips in the past 30 seasons, but the Lions have never gone into one seeded higher than this year’s squad.
Wheeler is seeded sixth out of 28 schools by virtue of a 14-4 regular-season record — the school’s best in the three-decade span and possibly its best ever.
The Lions will make its debut on Monday at home against No. 27 Trinity Catholic (9-11). First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
The Crusaders are making their ninth state tournament appearance this century. They have not gotten past the second round since losing in the 2002 Class S semifinals.
Wheeler and the Stamford school of 187 girls have one thing in common — they are young, at least in terms of years in high school. Nine of the 14 players on Trinity’s roster are sophomores or freshmen. Wheeler has eight of 13 in that boat.
If Wheeler wins it will remain home to host No. 11 Kolby Cathedral (13-7) or No. 22 Canton (10-10) on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
No. 3 Coventry (17-3) would likely be waiting in the wings for the survivor. Holy Family (17-2) and Thomaston (16-2) are ahead of Coventry in the seedings.
The quarterfinals are June 5, the semifinals are June 9 or 10, and the finals are June 13 or 14.
Wheeler is making its third straight Class S appearance. The Lions were seeded 23rd last year and 16th the year before.
Bears host Nonnewaug
STONINGTON — Stonington hosts No. 20 Nonnewaug (Woodbury) on Monday at 4 p.m.
The Bears (15-5) are seeded 13th out of the 30 Class M teams that qualified by winning at least 40 percent of their regular-season games.
Stonington, Waterford, Holy Cross and Granby Memorial all finished 15-5 and they were seeded in that order by lot.
If the Bears win they will either travel to No. 4 Rocky Hill (18-2) or host 29th-seeded Plainville (8-12) on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
After that, Stonington would likely run into old foe Waterford in the quarterfinals on June 5. The 12th-seeded Lancers host No. 21 Wilcox Tech (12-8) Monday and would face No. 5 Platt Tech (18-2) or No. 28 Killingly (8-12) in the second round.
Waterford won the Class M title last season.
Seymour, Northwestern and St. Joseph all finished 19-1 and were seeded one through three by lot.
The semifinals are June 9 or 10, and the finals are June 13 or 14.
Saints coming to town
STONINGTON — Stonington will begin Class S play against a familiar face. The Bears are hosting St. Bernard on Monday at 3 p.m.
Twenty-one schools qualified for the tournament by winning at least half of their regular-season matches. Two schools — Wilcox Tech and Classical Magnet went 9-1 but chose not to participate.
Stonington finished 11-3 to earn the No. 8 seed. St. Bernard is ninth with a 12-4 record.
Stonington has beaten St. Bernard 15 straight times since losing to the Saints, 4-3 on April 12, 2006. The Bears and Saints shared the ECC Small Division title that season. They have played at least once a season since.
If Stonington makes it 16 in a row it likely will run into No. 1 Westbrook (18-0) in the quarterfinals on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Westbrook will play the winner of a preliminary round match today between No. 16 Northwestern (9-7) and No. 17 Old Saybrook (10-8).
Thomaston (16-0), Northwest Catholic (16-1), Woodland (16-1) and Valley Regional (16-2) are seeded two through five. Litchfield (14-2) and St. Paul (14-3) are sixth and seventh in front of Stonington.
The semifinals are Wednesday at the site of the higher seed. The finals are Thursday at 3 p.m. at a site to be announced.