Pictured: Softball player Grace DeRita, with her parents and Blue Dragons coach Sal Morello. (Photo submitted by Middletown High).
Middletown High seniors Grace DeRita and Rose Cunningham earlier this month signed letters of commitment to continue their athletic careers at the University of Bridgeport and Bryant University, respectively.
DeRita will be joining Bridgeport’s NCAA Division II softball program. She has been one of Blue Dragons coach Sal Morello’s top players on defense and at the plate in recent seasons.
“Grace is one of the best athletes to come through the program,” Morello said. “She can run, she can bunt, she catches, she plays center field, she steals bases, she has power. She’s just a really, really good athlete. She’ll do well at Bridgeport. I’m very happy for her.”
Morello intends to keep DeRita in the leadoff spot for the 2020 season.
“We’re looking for a big year out of her, for sure,” he said. “The plan is to have her in center field. She can get to balls in the gaps and gives no thought to laying out. She’s a competitor. I love coaching her. She wants to do well and expects to do well and she has a great work ethic.”
Cunningham will join Bryant, a Division I program in the Northeast Conference, after competing for four years at Middletown.
“Rose has been a phenomenal asset to the program,” Blue Dragons coach Trevor Charles said. “Although she primarily has been a diver for us, we have used her talents as a swimmer regularly as well. She works incredibly hard, is dedicated to the team and pushes herself to do what is best for the team.”
Cunningham, a team captain, earned All-Central Connecticut Conference distinction this year with performances of 190 points in six dives and 334 points in 11 dives. Her 11-dive total was the second-highest score for an MHS diver in championship meet history, Charles said.
“She has seen incredible improvement over these past four years on the board,” he said. “We will miss her dearly on the board and in our program. We wish her a great deal of luck at Bryant.”