King Philip junior Crawford Cantave has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for April 4 through April 10. Cantave is the 18th player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2020-21 school year and fifth in the fall II season.
Cantave scored three times on Friday at Canton to power King Philip to a non-league road win that ended the Warriors’ two-game losing streak. After being shut out the previous two weeks against Milford and Mansfield, KP exploded for 36 points to beat the Bulldogs and move back above .500 on the season.
Stepping into the role of primary back for the run-first KP offense, Cantave has been the Warriors leading scorer this season. He scored on a blocked field goal return and a late rushing touchdown against Attleboro in the second week and then had his breakout game against Canton on Friday. He opened the scoring with a 22-yard touchdown in the first quarter, added an eight-yard score in the second and then put the game away with a 20-yard TD in the third quarter that restored KP’s three-score lead.
The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.
Crawford Cantave The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision. Crawford Cantave The Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, is selected by the HockomockSports.com staff. Nominations can be submitted throughout the week up until Saturday night at midnight. There may be a poll posted on every Sunday with the nominations. The results of the poll influence the selection but do not strictly dictate the decision.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – The King Philip volleyball team is clicking on all cylinders at the right time.
The Warriors, the 2-seed out of the Kelley-Rex division, extended their unbeaten streak to seven straight matches with a convincing 3-0 (25-13, 25-18, 25-18) sweep of the Davenport 3-seed Oliver Ames in the first round of the Hockomock Cup. It’s the sixth straight sweep for King Philip.
King Philip volleyball
Buoyed by the strong serving from Emma Brooks in the first two sets, the powerful swings and blocks at the net from Nicole Coughlan from start to finish, the reliable defense of Lily Carlow, the consistent sets from Lauren Peterson and Stella Bailey, and the timely plays from every other player that stepped onto the court, King Philip was strong in all facets of the game in a match they trailed just once, albeit briefly in the second set.
“They’re working really well as a team right now,” said King Philip head coach Kristen Geuss. “I’ve got a lot of depth on the team so in practice, when we play 6-on-6, it’s very competitive. We’ve got two good groups and at any given time, I have someone I can throw out there and they’ll do a great job. I think that helps us the most. They’re talking a lot more, I think they are just more comfortable being out there. We have half the games so we’ve had half the time to get up to speed.”
It was Brooks’ serving that created the separation for the hosts in each of the first two sets. With the Warriors and Tigers locked in close competition, Brooks stepped to the service line and it resulted in an 8-0 run in both sets, turning a close set into a comfortable lead for the Warriors. She had just one service error in 19 attempts.
“She’s got a good floater,” Geuss said “When it’s moving around like that, it’s tough to [receive] and for them to watch it hit their arms. There’s a lot of movement and she puts a lot of speed on it.”
When Brooks reached the service line in the opening set, KP had just taken an 11-9 lead after a kill from sophomore middle Sami Shore. Brooks had four straight serves that never came back over, including an ace on the fourth attempt. When OA did get it back over, a nice hit from senior Camryn Buckley gave KP a 16-9 lead and forced the visitors into a timeout.
Coughlan smashed a kill out of the timeout to keep the run going and two more strong serves never made it back over; a net violation on KP finally ended the run but the hosts held a 19-9 lead. Carlow (ace) and James (block) put the finishing touches on the set to take a 1-0 lead with a 25-13 decision.
The second set played out similarly, OA getting early points on good serves from sophomore Maddie Homer, a kill from Jordan Bennett, and a nice tip on the second touch from junior setter Hadley Rhodes. KP kept pace with a nice kill off the block from James and another good hit from Coughlan that OA couldn’t get back over.
A serving mistake put Brooks on the line for King Philip with an 11-10 lead and by the time she rotated out, the Warriors turned that small advantage into a 19-10 lead. During that run, Brooks had a pair of aces, Coughlan had a kill and two block kills, and Bailey caught the OA defense with a pass over the net on the second touch.
Coughlan and James both had good swings down the stretch and the Warriors clinched a 2-0 lead on a kill from Buckle to take the second set, 25-18.
“They kind of figured out what we were doing so I give them credit, they came back at us but I think our serving really helped us,” Geuss said. “Our serving was really consistent. Emma had a great run of serves, and when our serves are on, we’re more confident. We’ve been playing well, hopefully we’re on a roll and we’ll continue to play well. The competition is only getting better and better so we just have to rise to the competition but the girls are having fun right now.“
A kill from Coughlan started the final set, Peterson and Carlow each had an ace early, and Shore fooled the defense with a perfectly weighted tip over the block. King Philip led from start to finish in the third set and got some big swings from James down the stretch to ice the win.
King Philip volleyball (10-1) is set to travel to top-seeded Canton, who won yet another Davenport division title this season, on Wednesday at 5:30. Oliver Ames will play in a consolation game on Wednesday.
SHARON, Mass. – As his team met in the hallway prior to Monday night’s Hock Cup quarterfinal, first-year Mansfield coach Mark Ledwich had a sense that the players were ready to build on the momentum of four wins in the final six games of the regular season and put in a good performance.
The Hornets did just that, sweeping Sharon 3-0 (25-10, 25-17, 25-18). Mansfield didn’t trail at any point against the Davenport division runners up, earning the impressive road win and booking a spot in the semifinal.
“Going into the game, we knew that if we could serve spots it would lead them in directions that would really help our defense,” Ledwich explained, “and all we did was practice where we needed to sit on defense to make that happen. It was a great game by all the kids to go out there and do their jobs.”
Sharon has not had much experience with a playoff atmosphere, even one with a limited crowd, and the Eagles looked a little tentative out of the gates. Mansfield jumped out to a 10-3 lead, then doubled it to go up 20-6 as the Eagles struggled with unforced errors.
“Someone used the term high-stakes game before the game and I think they were a little bit nervous about that,” said Sharon coach Andrea Lovett. “A lot of people were playing against people they play with in club a lot and their club coach, which also makes them a little nervous. They just didn’t execute the way they needed to. It was all fundamentals.”
Veiking had an early kill followed by back-to-back swings from Olivia McGrath, who also added a block and ace during the first set. Yvette Nau had an ace and Leah Fandel added a kill from her middle position but Ashley Santos followed with a kill to end any chance of the hosts going on a run. Nowakowski and Santos went back-to-back with kills to end the first.
“One of the things we said was that whatever happened we had to play at our energy,” said Ledwich. “Although we have restrictions for fans, our bench brings it and makes it feel like every one of our games is a home game.”
The Eagles tried to regroup between sets, but again the Hornets came out flying. Mansfield scored the first six points of the second, behind McGrath’s strong service game. Three times Sharon would battle back within one, but each time Mansfield grabbed a crucial point to make sure it stayed in front.
After Sharon cut the lead to 11-10, McGrath scored with a well-placed tip and setter Christina Lydon scored with a quick leap and spike. Sara Fandel finally got free for a blast to make it 21-14, but Nowakowski continued to find the right angle on the outside and scored with consecutive swings. Nicole Santos added a kill in the middle and the Hornets were up 2-0 with a chance to seal the match.
Sharon needed to get off to a good start in the third, but it was the Hornets that scored the first three points and got to play from in front yet again.
Lovett said, “I’ve noticed a trend for us in the last few matches that we get down a little bit and then sort of kick in and this wasn’t a team that we could kick in against.”
The Eagles kept battling. Brynne Aidlin-Pearlman had an ace and Fandel a kill, but McGrath was proving tough to stop and Santos had a big block for an 8-5 lead. Like the second set, the Eagles were able to get within a point but couldn’t get over the hump.
“They’re good blockers and I don’t think our hitters took advantage of their knowledge and ability to hit around them, over them, mix things up,” said Lovett. “I was saying in the huddle that you can’t just pound it into their hands, you’ve got to figure something out. We didn’t adapt well.”
Down 16-15, the Eagles saw a shot drop long. It would be as close as they could get. Nowakowski followed with an ace and McGrath fired one off the block for a point. Veiking knocked one off the blockers’ hands and McGrath closed out the match with another ace.
Mansfield (6-5) will now get its third shot at co-champ Franklin in the semifinal on Wednesday. Ledwich said, “We have yet to play Franklin at full strength. We are where we need to be and a full strength Mansfield looks like this and we’re ready to come back at Franklin. Third one’s the charm.”
Sharon (8-3) will host North Attleboro in the consolation round to close out one of its most successful seasons in years.
After having the 2020 college baseball season wiped out by the Covid-19 pandemic, players could be forgiven for taking a few games to get into their strides this spring. That hasn’t been a problem for former North Attleboro star Nick Sinacola, who has been dominant on the hill for the University of Maine.
Sinacola, who helped the Rocketeers win their first state championship as a senior in high school, has won each of his first five starts (including Friday night’s win at NJIT) and has recorded double digit strikeouts in all five games. He has already been named the America East Conference Pitcher of the Week twice and earned national press when College Baseball News added him to their Players of the Week as well.
Before this weekend’s trip to New Jersey, Sinacola spoke about what it means not only to to be off to a strong start but to be able to get on the field at all.
“I think we’re all grateful,” he explained. “We’re just making the most of it, have a good year, and have some fun while we’re out there. That’s the number one thing is just having some fun, trying to win some games.”
Sinacola added, “It was a sense of normalcy that I think everyone is kind of looking for, so whether you’re playing or not playing, even just seeing it on TV or seeing videos of it gives people that sense of normalcy.”
The Black Bears were confident in the fall that the spring season would happen, although the team decided over the winter to pass up its usual season-opening trip to Florida because of the logistical issues that come with traveling during the ongoing pandemic. Maine’s season began on March 6 against Merrimack College with Sinacola getting the call to start.
“It was something special,” he said. “That first pitch, it felt really good to be back in that Maine uniform.” Sinacola struck out 11 in 5-2/3 innings, allowing only three hits and one run to open the year with his first collegiate victory.
As a freshman, two years ago, he made 19 appearances, including three starts. He struck out 35 batters in 35-2/3 innings and tossed five innings of no-hit relief against national power Florida State. He made four starts in the abbreviated 2020 season, losing all four despite striking out 23 batters in 21 innings.
This year, Sinacola has been on a different level. Over his first four starts, Sinacola struck out 11, 16, 15, and 12 batters (his total of 54 was tops in the America East) and had an ERA of just 1.01 (which was 13th in the country and would be the lowest in program history). He led the nation with a strikeout rate of 18.23 per nine innings, his 4.05 hits allowed per nine innings was 11th best in the nation, and he was 20th in WHIP (0.79). He was also halfway to the program’s single-season record for strikeouts (108).
“You spend really a whole year working on everything you can to be ready for when the season comes around,” Sinacola said about his great start, “and I felt like I was in a good spot at the beginning of the year. Having the confidence in myself to make a really good pitch, every single pitch, and confidence in my catcher Ryan Turenne, and trusting everyone behind me, really makes a big difference.”
Does he notice how many strikeouts he is racking up during a game? Can he tell that he is nearing double digits again?
“No, I can’t do that,” Sinacola laughed. “It’s so in the moment, you’re so focused on what you’re doing with this hitter in that specific situation. At the end of the day we’re just trying to get outs, regardless of how we do it.”
Part of Sinacola’s development was the two summers he has pitched with the Brockton Rox, where he had the chance to put into practice the instructions from his Maine coaches, while also being able to try different things to see what fit best.
“You’re off the leash with what you’re doing with the coaches here, so you get the chance to improve yourself and really learn through yourself,” he said. “You get the opportunity to grow on your own.”
Like most pitchers making the jump from a dominant high school career, Sinacola noted that his biggest development came from “learning to pitch, not just throw.” He talked about pitch sequences and planning how to approach to every hitter that he faces depending on circumstances of the game.
His approach at North worked pretty well too. During his senior season, Sinacola won all 10 of his starts, including three in the postseason, posted an ERA of 1.23 and struck out a league-high 71 batters. In the state title game, Beverly struck for three runs in the fifth, but Sinacola settled down to help Big Red lift the state championship trophy.
“Winning is so fun and that winning atmosphere is definitely something you want to be around,” Sinacola said. “It also pushed me to be better because winning the whole thing is something that we’re always chasing. We’re all just trying to win.”
He added, “More than anything, it was a humbling experience because going from being able to win as many games we did that year (18-2 overall) and then going immediately into fall ball here with crazy hitters and other great pitchers it was humbling to see that okay this is a whole other level. You have to adapt and grow your game.”
Sinacola is one of many former Hock baseball players from that season who are making their mark at the collegiate level and he noted that the strength of the league (the Hock sent two teams to the Super 8, had two D2 South finalists, and two state champions) forced him to improve his game.
“The Hock my senior year was one of the best leagues in the state that year,” he recalled. “Playing against good teams, definitely fuels the fire because every night you have to play well to get the win.”
With the America East changing its playoff structure, splitting into two divisions and with only the top two in each division reaching the conference tournament, Sinacola admits it will be a tough test for Maine but that the Black Bears have the talent to be in the mix. Currently, Maine (11-8, 6-5) leads its division by percentage points (UMass Lowell is second at 7-6 in the league) and has a weekend series with the University of Hartford coming up next.
Missing an entire season due to the pandemic adds unique perspective to the challenges and the opportunities the team faces this spring.
“The bus rides don’t get easier up here for us,” he joked, “but it definitely makes you more grateful for the game. The fact that there are other teams and other schools who aren’t able to have the opportunities we have to go out and play definitely adds a different level.
“We think we have the team to make the tournament and that’s the goal. I think it definitely pushes us to be better and we’re excited to play for that this year.”
Taunton, 0 @ King Philip, 3 – Final – King Philip clinched a share of the Kelley-Rex division title with a 3-0 (25-11, 25-8, 25-11) sweep at home over visiting Taunton. Emma Brooks (14 digs, four aces) and Lily Carlow (eight digs, five aces) both played well defensively and at the service line while Nicole Coughlan (seven kills, two aces, two blocks) and Ahunna James (five kills) had strong games at the net.