Sports Person of the Week
Paradis Shows Plenty of Potential on the Ballfield
Vivian Paradis made an impressive debut on the high school softball scene when she earned the starting center fielder’s job for Valley Regional as a freshman last spring. (Photo courtesy of Vivian Paradis )
Vivian Paradis became an important part of the Valley Regional softball team in a short amount of time. Vivian earned the starting center fielder’s job for the Warriors in her freshman season and was slated to reprise that role as a sophomore this year. Although the spring campaign was called off due to COVID-19, Vivian may still be able to take the diamond with her 16-U travel team, the Shoreline Sting, this summer.
Starting in center field as a freshman may seem like a difficult task, but Vivian’s familiarity with her teammates made the transition a little smoother. A center fielder needs to direct traffic between all of the outfielders. Vivian handled that responsibility well and was looking forward to doing it again this spring.
“It was daunting coming into Valley as a freshman and starting in center field. Controlling the field at such a high level seemed like a lot,” Vivian says. “I’ve been playing with a lot of the girls for so long, so it’s been easy to come into it. I had other people in the outfield who were new that year, too. I wasn’t the only one, which would have been a bit scarier. I felt comfortable with everyone there.”
Vivian is a solid right-handed contact hitter who can fit neatly anywhere in the lineup. Vivian focuses on hitting gap to gap more than cranking one out. Last year, Vivian typically batted at the bottom of Valley’s order, where her versatility proved effective in multiple situations. Vivian posted a .314 batting average with seven RBI and seven runs scored on the campaign.
“I don’t try to hit home runs. I try to get the ball into the gaps and get singles and doubles. I usually hit in the two or three hole for the Sting. At Valley, I usually hit ninth,” says Vivian. “It’s good for me, because I can get people in if they’re on base. When I get on base, I’ll try to steal after that and eventually get home.”
Vivian constantly looks for ways to expand her versatility, and she’s started to learn switch-hitting for that reason. It was strange at first, but she’s beginning to get the hang of it.
“I’ve worked on switch-hitting for a while. It’s weird, but it’s fun. It takes a lot of getting used to,” Vivian says. “It’s weird, because everything is reversed. I feel like I should be running third to first. I don’t really think about it anymore, though. It’s just another thing I have now.”
Even with just one season under her belt, Vivian has already experienced some big moments with the Valley softball squad. Last year, the Warriors posted a record of 21-3 and advanced all the way to the Shoreline Conference Tournament final.
Prior to the final, one of the Valley’s top players was hit by a pitch, and, as a precautionary measure, she only participated in the game at the plate, instead of playing in the field, as well. Vivian ended up moving up in the lineup and also played out of position at third base as a result of the shuffled roster, reinforcing the fact that Head Coach Allyson Pitney has tremendous faith in her.
“I wasn’t expecting to be starting varsity freshman year. That was surprising, and I was excited about that, especially considering how well our team did,” says Vivian, who lives in Chester. “We moved the lineup around a lot. It was a lot of trial and error that year. Most of the coaching staff was new, and we were all figuring it out. We would fill in for people. I came in to play third base for the championship. I never played that position before, and I hit earlier in the batting order.”
Vivian has gained a lot of valuable experience as a result of all the games that she’s played with the Shoreline Sting. Vivian and her teammates travel the East Coast to battle opponents and have even competed in a tournament in Canada. Vivian faces some stiff competition when the Sting takes on 18-U teams and she has to go up against collegiate-level ballplayers.
“We went to Montreal, Canada last summer, and that was a lot of fun. We’re possibly going to Maine this year, and we went to New York this winter. We might even go to North Carolina this summer, but that’s not definite yet. We go to Massachusetts a lot, and there are a lot of tournaments in Connecticut,” Vivian says. “We play some 18-U tournaments, because it gives us more tournaments to play and college opportunities. The 18-U tournaments are usually more competitive than high school. There are some D-I softball commits playing in those. For the 16-U tournaments, it’s right around the level of high school.”
Coach Pitney knew Vivian as a student at Deep River Elementary School and has seen her grow into both a great player and positive person in the subsequent years. Pitney, who completed her first season as Valley’s head coach last year, was certain that Vivian’s skills would come to the forefront in a starting role.
“Vivian is one of the many talented players that joined the team as freshman last season. She was a vocal addition to the outfield and an aggressive bat at the plate. She brought speed and range to the team, along with her encouraging words, and shouted situational cues,” says Pitney. “Many coaches may have hesitated in starting a freshman on a varsity field, but Vivian was a reliable center fielder, despite her lack of high school experience. Vivian also brings versatility to the field. Next year, we’ll have to make some changes to fill gaps left by graduating seniors and, in some scenarios, I can see Viv moving into shortstop to lock down the infield if needed.”
With the spring season canceled, Vivian has been trying her best to stay active and in game shape. Luckily, Vivian’s stepsister, fellow sophomore Abby Amara, also plays for the Warriors, and the two of them have been helping each other stay ready for whenever they can take the field again. Both of them are looking forward to getting that opportunity.
“Abby and I have been friends for years, and we used to play on the same Little League team and at [John Winthrop Middle School]. It was fun to have someone on the team like that. I’ve been throwing with Abby and practicing a lot. I’m just building muscle memory and keeping in shape,” Vivian says. “With the Sting, if we have some tournaments, that will help. Just to have some games to play in will be good. I want to be playing to keep that pressure on. It’s a different situation when you’re in the game and you have to make the play. Softball is mental game. You have to get out of your head to execute the play.”