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All-state seniors Roth, Bayor hit back-to-back homers to lift Old Lyme softball

Apr. 26—DEEP RIVER — Emma Bayor and Ava Roth, a pair of all-state seniors for Old Lyme, were both grinning at the end of Friday's high school softball game, reminiscing about their distinguished careers together.

Roth brought up seventh-grade basketball.

"It was not good. We need to forget that," Bayor said with a laugh.

The on-the-field persona for the duo is, let's say, a little more intense.

Roth, the No. 2 hitter, and Bayor, No. 3, combined for seven hits and seven RBI in a 13-0, five-inning victory over Valley Regional, which made Old Lyme 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the Shoreline Conference.

Bayor was 4-for-4 with four RBI and also pitched a no-hitter, striking out nine and walking none. Roth and Bayor hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth inning, with Roth drilling a three-run shot to center for her first of the season and Bayor following with a solo home run to left.

In Bayor's previous outing Wednesday, a 13-1 victory over East Hampton in six innings, she pitched a two-hitter with 14 strikeouts. The opponents also had somewhat of a different approach to Bayor at the plate: they walked her intentionally four times.

Bayor was 17-4 last season with a 0.58 earned run average and 261 strikeouts, named the Shoreline Conference Pitcher of the Year and The Day's 2023 All-Area Player of the Year.

Has Bayor, a 5-foot-10 powerful right-hander who will pitch beginning next season at Division I Marist, gotten even better?

"We've had a really good team this year," Bayor said, deflecting any praise. "I feel like that energy that they've had has really inspired me to be my best, just do my best for the team. They're so supportive of me. I want to be supportive of them. I think that's really contributed to this year."

"She threw well today. She had some velocity," Old Lyme coach Tim Gavin said. "The first couple games (of the season), mechanically, she was doing something wrong. Her pitching coach found something she was doing wrong and corrected it and it picked up her velocity significantly."

The third senior leader for the Wildcats is catcher Grace Phaneuf, who added an RBI single in the fourth inning Friday. Gavin revels in the fact he has Phaneuf behind the plate, Bayor on the mound and Roth in center field — all three of whom are currently batting over .500.

"Our middle is great," the coach said. "Emma, Grace and Ava up the middle is really nice. Three great kids. And as good as they are as players, they're better kids. So it's a pleasure to coach them because they're just great kids. They're great leaders of the team. I couldn't ask for more."

Old Lyme's only loss this season came against Norwich Free Academy on April 9, 2-0.

The Wildcats reached the semifinals of the Class S state tournament in 2022 before falling to eventual champion Cromwell 3-1. Last year Old Lyme drew Notre Dame of Fairfield in the second round, losing 10-7.

"It's our last season so we just want to make the most out of it because we've been playing since Little League," Roth said. "It's our last year playing together. I think our underclassmen are getting more comfortable and confident and we're just trying to be there for them and help them and be good role models."

"I don't know if I call it urgency," Gavin said of the seniors' will to win. "They're champing at the bit. We would like to get a Shoreline championship but there's a lot of good teams in the Shoreline. There's a lot of good teams in Class S. You have to have a few things go your way."

The Wildcats started four freshmen Friday, with Gavin using No. 9 hitter Magdalena Tooker as an example of their increasing reliability.

"Our No. 9 hitter, our left fielder, she's a freshman and she led that (third) inning off with a single to right and then (in the fourth), we had a player on third and she hit a sacrifice fly," Gavin said. "She did her job today. We put stuff together."

Gavin joked that having Bayor continues to make him look good as a coach.

"She wants to be on the mound and she wants to hit third and she wants to be up in the big moment," Gavin said.

Said Roth of Bayor: "She's always been good since Little League."

v.fulkerson@theday.com