Oliver Ames Walks Off With Comeback Win Over W-H

Oliver Ames softball
Oliver Ames’ Katie Aberu (left) celebrates with Kate Mills after her game-winning hit against Whitman-Hanson. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – Just when it looked like Oliver Ames had let a win slip away, the Tigers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a seventh-inning comeback.

Oliver Ames scored five runs over the first five innings, and the combination of senior pitcher Kaya Georgeu and strong defense kept visiting Whitman-Hanson off the board.

But that all changed in the sixth inning when the Panthers plated four runs to get within one and then stunned Oliver Ames with a three-run seventh inning to take its first lead of the game.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

A leadoff double from sophomore Emma Varella in the bottom of the seventh seemed to steal the momentum back for the Tigers, who used four straight hits in the inning to get their first win of the season.

“Emma is clutch, she’s always hungry,” said OA head coach Lindsey Allison. “She’s one of the hungriest players I’ve ever coached. She wants to get it done for her team all the time. She’s a reliable player to have in that situation where you need to put the ball in play.

Varella moved to second when junior Katie Abreu beat out a bunt single to put runners on the corners. Abreu quickly stole second uncontested and sophomore Grace Simone plated Varella with a single the middle; Abreu moved to third and Simone to second on the throw.

Freshman Anna Balestino tied the game with a bloop single just past first base, bringing Abreu home to make it 7-7 with no out and runners on second and third. Allison elected to put the pressure on the Panther’s defense, calling for a suicide squeeze.

Senior Katie Mills pushed a bunt between the third baseman and the pitcher, allowing Simone to scamper home from third for the game-winning run.

“We had just a couple of mental miscues in the last two innings, we got a little nervous,” Allison said. “They got some hits and we seemed to get a little nervous. It was unfortunate because we had played so well for the first five innings and with clean defense.

“They came together and got back on track. We talked about not letting that momentum swing ruin the game. They didn’t let that happen today and that’s something that we’ve been working on, that mental toughness. And I think it’s growing, which is good.”

After nice defensive plays in the top of the second by Georgeu and sophomore right fielder Mollie Crabtree, the Tigers offense came alive. Mills blooped a one-out single into center and moved to second when Georgeu singled up the middle. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt from junior Abbi Holmes.

Mills came in to score on a wild pitch, sophomore Kalei Clark walked, and senior Colleen Larson hit a sharp RBI single to the right side of the infield that had to be knocked down, scoring courtesy runner Elizabeth O’Brien to make it 2-0.

Georgeu (CG, 9H, 8K, 1BB) got back-to-back strikeouts in the top of the third, retiring the side in order. Simone led off the bottom of the third with a single and courtesy runner Caitlin Walsh advanced to second on a wild pitch. A single from Mills put runners on the corners with one out.

Courtesy runner Sarah Dore stole second and Georgeu drew a walk to load the bases. Holmes hit a hard grounder up the middle that looked like it would bring multiple runs in but Whitman-Hanson shortstop Reese Cordero made a terrific diving stop to get the force out at second and limit the Tigers to just one run on the play.

Dore came in to score on a wild pitch and Clark singled to put runners on the corners with two outs. Holmes came in to score on another wild pitch to put OA up 5-0.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Georgeu faced just four batters in the fourth and retired the side in order in the fifth. Whitman-Hanson got back into the game with a pinch-hit leadoff single in the fifth, a bunt, an infield error, and a two-run home run to make it 5-4.

In the top of the seventh, a single and sacrifice put the tying run on third. An RBI single tied the game, an error put the Panthers ahead, and another base hit made it 7-5.

Oliver Ames softball (0-3 Hockomock, 1-4 overall) is back in action on Thursday when it hosts Foxboro.

White, Aldrich Power Taunton Past KP On The Road

Taunton softball Hanna Aldrich
Taunton sophomore Hanna Aldrich takes a swing against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
PLAINVILLE, Mass. – Going on the road and picking up a win against King Philip at the Plainville Athletic League Complex is no easy feat.

In order to accomplish that, the Taunton softball team knew it had to play a complete game.

The Tigers did just that, playing well in all facets of the game to score a 7-0 victory over King Philip in an early-season showdown between two of the top teams in the Hockomock League.

PAL has been a house of horrors for visitors with the Warriors winning 22 contests at home over the past two seasons and a winning streak against league opponents dating back to 2016.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Fittingly, the Tigers were the last team to win a league game at PAL, back in 2016. Taunton was on the verge of a win last season before a seventh inning rally resulted in a walk-off win.

This time, Taunton jumped ahead early, building a 5-0 lead through three innings and that lead was more than enough for sophomore pitcher Kelsey White (CG, 2H, 4K).

“I thought we played a complete game,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “Our pitching was outstanding, Kelsey was really on today. We played good, solid defense, and we hit the ball well, especially early. Hanna [Aldrich] got into a couple, and that’s what you have to do to beat this team. They are solid, they are going to be around come the end of the year.”

Sophomore Hanna Aldrich was the catalyst for the Tiger offense. In her first at-bat, she launched a two-out solo home run over the fence in left field to put the visitors up a run after an inning.

Eighth-grader Ava Venturelli led off the top of the second with a walk for the Tigers and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Alexa White. A double off the wall in right from Paige Silvia put runners on second and third.

Payton Ceglarski brought Venturelli home with a sacrifice fly into right field with Raegan Simeone making a terrific running catch and nearly getting the runner at home with a great throw. Silvia, who moved to third on the sacrifice, came home to score on a passed ball to make it 3-0.

After allowing a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning to KP’s Faith Turinese, Kelsey White retired the side in order in the second, getting a strikeout and two ground balls.

Taunton’s offense was back at it again in the top of the third. Kelsey White reached on a bunt with one out and Aldrich delivered again. This time, Aldrich smashed the second pitch she saw well over the wall in left for a two-run homer and a 5-0 lead on the scoreboard.

“I think it’s every team’s plan, you want to get an early lead and put the pressure on the other team.=,” Lewry said. “For Hanna get that home run in the first inning and give us the lead, and kind of take a little pressure off, that was huge. And then she added another in the third too.”

King Philip’s Grace Kelley reached on an error to start the bottom of the third but White got a pop up to center, erased the lead running with a grounder, and another out to left to prevent any damage.

The sophomore right-hander retired the side in order in the fourth, five, and sixth innings, getting five ground balls for outs.

“That’s the key, you have to play good defense,” Lewry said. “Kelsey was pitching to contact today. She threw a lot of good changes, she got some swings and misses but she got a lot of ground balls which is what we were trying to do in this situation.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Taunton added some insurance in the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore Tayah DeCosta drew a two-out walk, and courtesy runner Kylie Thorpe advanced to third on a single from Rylie Murphy (Abigail McDonough re-entered to run). Senior Jaime Brown knocked both runners in with a double to left field to increase the score to 7-0.

Taunton softball (2-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it visits Foxboro. King Philip (1-2, 1-2) returns to PAL on Tuesday to host Bishop Feehan.

Player of the Week: Jackie Cherry, Franklin Softball

Morse Insurance
 

Jackie Cherry
 
By HockomockSports.com Staff

Franklin senior Jackie Cherry has been selected as the HockomockSports.com Player of the Week, presented by Morse Insurance, for March 31 through April 6. Cherry is the 24th player chosen as Player of the Week for the 2018-19 school year and the first player in the spring season.

Cherry, a senior pitcher, opened the season with a no-hitter against defending division champion King Philip, providing the perfect start for a Panthers squad aiming to get back into postseason contention this spring. Franklin beat the Warriors 2-0 and Cherry was able to shut down one of the most potent lineups in the Hock.

“Jackie had an outstanding outing in our season opener,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon Comeau. “She showed grit and a great command of her pitches in the circle. Ally Shea’s pitch-calling kept Jackie focused and consistent. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Cherry, she’s worked incredibly hard this off-season.”

On Thursday, Cherry allowed no hits and struck out 10 in a complete game win over the Warriors, who reached the Div. 1 South final last season. She only allowed four baserunners all game, three on walks and one who reached on an error, and continued to battle through a pitcher’s duel against KP starter Faith Turinese. Cherry finished last season with a 3.76 ERA and 77 strikeouts.

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.

Morse Insurance

Erti, North Prevail In Pitchers’ Duel Against Stoughton

North Attleboro softball Bella Erti
North Attleboro junior Bella Erti delivers a pitch in the third inning against Stoughton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In a showdown between two of the Hockomock League’s top pitchers, North Attleboro’s Bella Erti and Stoughton’s Nicole Baker both delivered.

Erti, a junior, allowed just one run on four hits and one walk, striking out 13 in the circle for the Rocketeers. Baker, a sophomore, was also strong with just two runs (one earned) allowed on three hits, no walks, and 11 strikeouts, including 10 swinging.

A game with two great pitchers is likely to come down to one or two plays, and that’s exactly what happened.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Stoughton took the lead in the top of the fourth inning, but the Rocketeers answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. And then erased the tying run at the plate in the top of the sixth on a nice defensive play by North Attleboro junior catcher Ashley Cangiano.

“It was nice to respond,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace. “We’re still a young team, we had four girls that it was their first varsity start. Having said that, they know the game. We knew that we’d have to put the ball in play.

“Baker did a really nice job, Bella did a really nice job. It was classic pitcher’s day…the wind blowing in, cold…and both pitchers did exactly what they were supposed to. A game like that comes down to one or two plays, and the bunt and the play are home were the two plays.”

Both pitchers had it going early on. Bella retired the first nine Stoughton batters in order, six by strikeout. Baker allowed just two base runners to start, one on an error in the first and Katie Daby’s leadoff single in the second. But neither runner advances past second and Baker had seven strikeouts through three.

“That was a great game and it really could have gone either way,” said Stoughton head coach Deb Parker. “Nicole had a great day, that’s how she throws every day. She keeps her composure and does what she needs to do. She’s going to keep us in every ball game.”

The offenses for both teams came alive in the fourth inning. Stoughton senior Jordan Lyons sliced a one-out triple over the right fielder’s head. Two batters later, junior Lexi Baptista hit a hard grounder through the right side for a two-out RBI and a 1-0 lead for the visiting Black Knights.

Stoughton’s Bri Ferrandiz followed with a single up the middle to put runners on first and second but Erti bounced back with a three-pitch strikeout to escape further damage.

North Attleboro had an immediate response in the bottom half of the fourth. Cangiano led off with a single up the middle. Annabelle Hebard followed with a bunt up the third base line. The ball was bobbled into foul territory, and Cangiano hustled to an open third base, which allowed Hebard to take second.

Daby hit a soft grounder up the middle but the throw to first was high and both Cangiano and Hebard came home safely. Stoughton freshman Sydney Menz made a terrific catch in right and doubled the runner at second to help the Black Knights keep the deficit at one.

“That’s two juniors and a senior making those plays,” Wallace said of leaning on more experienced players while the younger players gain experience. “We only started the one senior today, we have a handful of juniors. We have to learn as we go. We still made some mistakes but we got through it.”

Stoughton threatened with the tying run at third in the sixth but North Attleboro denied the Black Knights. Karly Estremera led off with a walk and moved to second on a single from Baker. A short grounder allowed Estremera to take third and Baker moved to second.

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Cangiano was able to block the ball down. It looked like it had gotten away from her and Estremera took off for home but Cangiano recovered nicely, grabbed the ball and made a diving play to tag the Black Knight base runner as she slid into home for an out.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“Ashley did a great job on that play,” Wallace said. “I thought she could have had her the play before, the girl got caught leaning a little but I think it surprised Ashley a little bit. But I think that helped because then she was aware and felt like she could have gotten her, and then she did a great job blocking and tagging her.

“I trust our lineup, one through nine we can get it done,” Parker said. “If we’re going to be aggressive and take a chance, I thought that was a chance worth taking. It just didn’t go our way.”

Baker retired the final six batters in order while Erti had a 1-2-3 seventh inning, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it.

North Attleboro softball (1-0 overall, 1-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Monday when it entertains Oliver Ames. Stoughton (1-1, 1-1) has its first home game on Tuesday against Attleboro.

Softball: Ten Players to Watch for 2019

Hockomock Softball Players to Watch
King Philip senior shortstop Meghan Gorman will be one of the players to watch this spring as the softball season kicks off. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

Players are listed alphabetically

Nicole Baker, Sophomore – Stoughton

Stoughton sophomore pitcher Nicole Baker is poised for a big year in the circle for the Black Knights, stepping in to fill the shoes of graduated pitcher Gina Carafa and taking over as the ace this spring. Baker saw some league action as a freshman and head coach Deb Parker said that she has put in the work in the off-season to be a leader for the team, which was demonstrated in the season-opening win against Oliver Ames. She allowed only four hits and struck out eight while picking up the complete game victory. Baker also went 5-for-5 at the plate with a double, a grand slam, and six RBI. It was an impressive debut to the new season and a boost to the Black Knights, who will be hoping for a return to the postseason in 2019.

Mady Bendanillo, Senior – Mansfield

Although 2018 wasn’t the best spring for the Hornets, who missed the playoffs, senior centerfielder Mady Bendanillo remains one of the league’s most dynamic players, both in the field and at the plate. Her speed and athleticism allow her to cover the gaps in the outfield, chasing down hits that others might not get to, but also makes her a threat for extra bases any time she is at the plate. In the middle of an experienced lineup, Bendanillo gives Mansfield a run-producing threat who can also make plays and put pressure on the defense with her legs. She started 2019 well with a pair of hits and her first home run in Mansfield’s win over Foxboro and she will be counted on to get the Hornets back in the hunt for the postseason.

McKenzie Bergdoll, Senior – Attleboro

Attleboro senior McKenzie Bergdoll started her career with the Bombardiers as a freshman pitcher and she may see some time in the circle this spring, but in the past three seasons, she has turned into one of the league’s top power hitters. Bergdoll led the league in hitting last season, batting .522 and was third overall in total hits with 36. She was also tied for the league lead with seven homers, including some mammoth shots that cleared the fence at the Attleboro High field, which takes considerable pop. Tall and with a pure swing, the LeMoyne College-commit is a threat to knock one out of the park every at-bat, as she showed in Attleboro’s season-opening win against Canton with three hits and her first homer of the spring. With Bergdoll in the middle of the lineup, the Bombardiers will be eyeing another playoff berth this season.

Jaime Brown, Senior – Taunton

Taunton senior third baseman Jaime Brown, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, is a five-year starter for the Tigers and has been one of the most consistent hitters in the league for every one of those seasons. Last year, Brown set the table for the Div. 1 state champions, batting .500 in the lead-off spot with 38 hits and 19 RBI. She also drew 19 walks to put runners on base for the heart of that potent Taunton lineup. When she was needed in clutch situations, Brown also came through with big hits, like a bases-clearing triple in the state semifinal against Newton North. She was also a strong fielder, including the final play of the state final against Wachusett. With quick hands, quick feet, and a tremendous eye at the plate, Brown is one of the toughest outs in the league and she will be one of the reasons that Taunton has its sights set on repeating in D1.

Bella Erti, Junior – Taunton

North Attleboro junior pitcher Bella Erti has been dominant in the circle for the past two seasons, leading North into the playoffs each spring, including a surprising run to the 2017 D1 South semifinal as a freshman. Last year, Erti went 15-5 and posted an ERA of 1.58, helping North finish second in the Davenport division. The hardest-throwing pitcher in the league last season, Erti struck out 137 batters and was able to keep the Rocketeers in just about every game. A tough loss to Braintree in the playoffs has the Rocketeers focused on putting together a deeper run this season and with Erti in the circle for the bulk of the innings, North knows that it has a pitcher who gives it a good shot at the program’s first league title since 1990. Erti is also a threat at the plate, batting .357 last spring with three homers. Expectations are as high as ever for North this season and much will rest on Erti’s right arm.

Meghan Gorman, Senior – King Philip

Shortstop has been a position of strength for the Warriors for quite a while and senior Meghan Gorman has been one of King Philip’s best at that position over her three years on varsity. The Central Connecticut State-commit is one of the best defensive shortstops in the state, rarely going through a game in which her jersey doesn’t get dirty from diving after a ball and with a very strong arm. She is also one of the top hitters on KP, batting .493 with 36 hits, 34 RBI, and 33 runs scored. She hit 12 doubles and stole 11 stolen bases. All of those were team highs. Last spring, Gorman recorded the 100th hit of her career while helping the Warriors win another league title, the program’s 11th in the past 12 seasons, and advance to the D1 South final against Taunton. KP always expects to be in the mix for the Kelley-Rex title and this season is no different, especially with Gorman leading the way at short and at the top of the lineup.

Caroline Hughes, Junior – Canton

Canton junior Caroline Hughes has been part of an upswing for the Bulldogs in the past two seasons, helping them jump from one win as a freshman to eight wins last spring and now under new coach Dave Bohane there is hope for even more in 2019. Hughes has played a major role in last year’s success as the team’s ace. She pitched almost every inning last year, helping Canton win twice as many games last spring as in the two previous seasons combined. Her development as a big-game pitcher will be a key to the Bulldogs making a run back at the state tournament in what is a very wide-open Davenport division and using the experience of last season (which ended in a loss to perennial power Dighton-Rehoboth) to maybe push a little further in the playoffs.

Ally Shea, Senior – Franklin

Franklin senior Ally Shea has been a consistent presence in the Panthers lineup since jumping in midway through her freshman season. The lefty batted .344 last season, which was down slightly from an even more prolific sophomore campaign, and finished with 22 hits. Shea has the power to find the gaps and rack up extra bases and defies expectations by being a hitter that likes to take the ball the other way. She loves to hit it through the hole between second and short and use the gap in left-center. The key for the Panthers will be getting more players on base ahead of her to get her up in more run-producing situations and with a strong core returning Franklin will see an opportunity for a return to the playoffs this spring. Shea is also a versatile player who can play catcher, first base and a little outfield when called upon, which makes her a mainstay in the Franklin lineup and allows flexibility for changes as the game goes along.

Morgan Sylvestre, Sophomore – Foxboro

Foxboro sophomore shortstop Morgan Sylvestre made an instant impact as a freshman, stepping right into the Warriors lineup and helping them not only make the postseason but win a pair of playoff games, reaching the D2 South quarterfinal. Sylvestre batted .419 with 26 hits as a rookie, driving in 16 runs for Foxboro. She also played a strong shortstop, showing consistency in the field and jumping into a leadership role on the left side of the infield, which will be important this season as well. Sylvestre’s continued development as a hitter will allow the Warriors to make up for some of the production lost to the graduation of Hannah Davis, while her play in the field will give confidence to senior pitcher Emma Rohan. As the Warriors make another playoff push, Sylvestre will be right in the heart of everything they’re doing.

Kelsey White, Sophomore – Taunton

Taunton sophomore pitcher Kelsey White steps back into the circle this spring after pitching every inning of the Tigers’ run to the Div. 1 state championship. White showed no indication that she was a freshman last season, displaying the composure of a veteran as she worked her way through some of the toughest lineups in the state. She finished with a record of 16-2 and an ERA of just 1.18. She struck out 114 batters in 119 innings, walking only nine. This year, White will have a new battery mate, after the graduation of Kya Enos, but her demeanor gives little indication that will be a problem. White is also a menace at the plate, batting .418 and driving in 24 runs while only striking out seven times in 79 at-bats. Taunton has hopes of repeating as champion and White is a major reason why the Tigers enter the season with confidence.

2019 Hockomock League Softball Preview

2019 Hockomock League Softball Preview
Taunton won the D1 state title last spring and comes back as one of the favorites for a league title as another competitive Hockomock softball season kicks off. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Hockomock Softball Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 9-12
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Mark Homer

After back-to-back playoff appearances, the expectations are high around the Attleboro program this spring. The Bombardiers return eight of nine starters from last year’s team and the lineup should be loaded with good hitters, as well as multiple players who can step into the circle and produce a good start. With the depth on the roster this season, Attleboro will be eyeing another postseason berth.

Senior McKenzie Bergdoll is one of the top power hitters in the league and will be back for another spring in the heart of the Attleboro lineup. She will be joined by classmates Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti as starters. Junior Makenzie Killough will be back at shortstop and also batting cleanup and providing protection for Bergdoll in the order. Sophomore Lora Woyton returns behind the plate, sophomore Autumn O’Connell will be in center and batting second and junior Ashley Macia will be out in left. Sophomore Brenna Morse will be taking over in rightfield. In the circle, Attleboro has plenty of depth with juniors Emily and Jenna Gittle and Bergdoll all able to step in. The Bombardiers will try to take advantage of their overall team speed and head coach Mark Homer said there are a few freshmen who may see playing time right away.

“The bar was set high from last season,” said Homer. “So the girls are onboard to perform well again this season with high hopes of competing in every game they play. They have set some goals to achieve one a\t a time. I am cautiously optimistic with our chances of winning more games this season than we have in the past. Knowing that there are no easy games on our schedule so we have to come to play every night.”

Canton

2018 Record: 8-13
2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Dave Bohane

Canton had quite the turnaround in 2018 under second-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, winning eight games, seven more than in 2017, and making a return to the state tournament. Robillard, last season’s HockomockSports.com Coach of the Year, has moved on to a position at Bentley and football coach Dave Bohane has taken over a team that has seen an influx of young talent and has momentum on its side heading into the spring.

Junior pitcher Caroline Hughes is one of the reasons for optimism in the program, as she is looking to build off a strong sophomore season in which she pitched almost every inning. Hughes was also one of the team’s top hitters and she will be at the heart of the lineup along with sophomore outfielder Liz Bickett, who batted .409 last season. Bickett is just one of several sophomores who the Bulldogs will be counting on, including infielders Olivia Lanci and Sarah Kelly, catchers Steph Trendell and Amanda Vrabel. Junior catcher Jackie Howard and seniors Haley Donovan and Ally Chin will provide leadership for this young group to try and get the Bulldogs right back into the state tournament mix.

“I am very excited to be coaching this team,” said Bohane, who has previously served the program as an assistant coach. “They are extremely hard working and devoted to the program. I think they will set the standard for our future players who come through the program. It’s a very tough league, but we will take it one game at a time and try to improve each game”.

Foxboro

2018 Record: 11-12
2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mark Maguire

Foxboro made a run in the Div. 2 tournament last season, winning a pair of games before being knocked out in the quarterfinals, and the Warriors will hope to build on that exciting finish to 2018 by making a run at the Davenport crown this spring. Even with the loss of catcher Hannah Davis, who was instrumental in the team’s playoff run, Foxboro has a strong returning core and some talented young players stepping in to give head coach Mark Maguire confidence ahead of the new season.

Senior Emma Rohan will be back in the circle for her fourth year as the Foxboro starter and she has the experience of pitching in a number of big games and against the top teams in the league. Senior Cam Willis will play first this season, but can also step in and pitch if needed along with junior Amelia Stowell. The pitchers will have a rookie to throw to, as freshman Allie Willis will be stepping in behind the plate. Sophomore Morgan Sylvestre returns at shortstop after a strong first season on varsity and will be one of the leaders of the infield. Senior Chelsea Gibbons is at third base and freshman Peyton Feldman takes over at second. Sophomore Nicole Theriault will be in centerfield but can play a number of positions, senior Riley Martignetti gives the team pop from the right side of the plate, and senior Jill Finn can play all three outfield positions.

“Preseason is going great as the girls are working very hard to be ready for the season,” said Maguire. “We have a group of girls who work hard. I think team defense should be good with our senior leadership, and the younger players who aggressively look to make plays in the field. I have high expectations for this team, as we look to compete for a Davenport title and gain a state tournament berth.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 9-11
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Kate Fallon

Franklin has consistently been right behind perennial league leaders Taunton and King Philip in the Kelley-Rex division standings but has narrowly missed out on the playoffs by a single win in each of the past two seasons. This year, the Panthers have eight seniors coming back with the goal of getting the team back into the postseason and use a typically tough schedule to prep for a tournament run.

Pitching will be a strength for the Panthers this year with seniors Jackie Cherry and Emily Valentino giving the team depth and different options in the circle. Throwing strikes will be the key for both and limiting opposition base runners. Behind the plate, Franklin has plenty of experience as well with seniors Ally Shea and Maggie Hobby both capable of stepping in and handling the pitchers as well as providing power at the plate. Senior Tara Hartnett will be back at shortstop and provides strong defense up the middle. Junior Anna Balkus will be in centerfield and will set the table for the offense as the lead-off hitter. Junior Maddy White will be at third base and joins Shea and senior Kylie-Jade Bouzan as the team’s primary run producers.

“We are excited to see the Panther players on the field again,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “Overall our tough league and non-league schedule will keep us focused for tournament and we will rely on our solid pitching and defense.”

King Philip

2018 Record: 21-4
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Final
Coach: Norm Beauchemin

Every season King Philip loses important players and every season the Warriors seem to be right back in the mix for the league title. This spring should be no different. KP will have several important players to replace in the lineup, but it expects to challenge for a 12th title in the past 13 seasons and also make another tournament run, following last year’s South final loss to Kelley-Rex rival Taunton.

Meghan Gorman is the player to watch for the Warriors this season, as the senior shortstop is one of the top defensive players in the state and also the spark plug at the top of the lineup. Senior Faith Turinese will move from the outfield into the circle and will split time with classmate Heather Nix as the top pitchers for the Warriors. Turinese also batted over .400 last year and will be an important bat in the middle of the order. Junior Destiny Goyco will step in behind the plate, after overcoming an injury from basketball season, and fellow junior Liliana Rolfe will take over at third. Grace Kelley will be at second base and Anna Bradley will be at first. The outfield will be filled with speed, including Kara McWhinnie in left, sophomore Paige Berdos in center, and either Ryan Stagg or junior Reaegan Simeone in right.

“One to nine, everyone hits the ball,” said KP coach Norm Beauchemin. “I’m looking forward to another solid season. The league overall is going to be very competitive, so it should be fun.”

Mansfield

2018 Record: 7-13
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Lori Letendre

Mansfield is looking to bounce back from a tough 2018 season in which the Hornets struggled in the Hockomock (going 4-12 in league play) and missed the playoffs. This year, Mansfield hopes for a quick turnaround and return to the state tournament with an experienced roster that brings back 11 players, seven starters, and seven seniors from last season.

The battery of senior pitcher Sarah Cahill and senior catcher Caty DeMassi is back and should give the Hornets a good foundation on which to build on this season. Seniors Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo will hold down the left side of the infield and provide pop in the middle of the lineup, while Mady Bendanillo returns in centerfield to give Mansfield a dynamic defensive player and another strong bat. There is an influx of youth as well with two sophomores and a freshman jumping into varsity and having the chance to contribute right away.

“Our goal is to make it back to the tournament this year and with strong leadership from our captains and our seniors, I think we will have a good shot at it!” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre.

Milford

2018 Record: 18-3
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Steve DiVitto

The biggest question for Milford is how do the Hawks move on from a group of 10 seniors that won a combined 79 games, four league titles, and the 2017 state championship? Milford has been the team to beat in the Davenport division for six years and a relatively inexperienced group will have to face a season in which the target for every team in the league is squarely on their backs.

Junior Megan Hart is one of the primary options to replace Kelley Reichert in the circle to start the season, with freshman Olivia Morelli showing potential to step in and contribute innings right away. Senior Lucy Creedon can step in at first or in the outfield. Junior April Swain will jump into the outfield along with classmate Taylor Waldrup, while junior Amanda Wenckus can play either position on the left side of the infield and sophomore Carly Ferreira can play either corner infield spot. Sophomore Elise Fauerbach can play behind the plate or in the outfield, while her classmate Natalie Casilli will take an outfield spot. There are a lot of spots to fill this year, but head coach Steve DiVitto is talking about that as an opportunity for a new group of players to step into.

“We understand that lack of experience is something that we will need to combat with, however the bar will continue to be set high!” DiVitto said. “Each year a new page is turned over, and as always the focus is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season. We’re excited for the challenges of playing in the best league in the state!”

North Attleboro

2018 Record: 16-5
2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round
Coach: Bill Wallace

Two seasons ago, North Attleboro was a young team that made a surprise trip to the South semifinal, but this year the Rocketeers will have much higher expectations. North is now the experienced team in the Davenport division and has aspirations of unseating Milford and winning a first league title since 1990 and adding to the league’s recent history of strong tournament performances with another deep run.

Junior pitcher Bella Erti will be one of the league’s top pitchers again this season, after a 15-5 sophomore season in which she struck out 137 batters. She also hit .357. Junior Ashley Cangiano is also back for her third year as a starter and is one of the top catchers in the league. Abby Gallagher returns to the North outfield after hitting .500 last season as a sophomore and senior Olivia Capobianco will be back in centerfield and the middle of the North lineup. Freshman Mandi Hanewich and sophomores Emma Bailey and Belle Clarkin will compete for the third outfield spot after impressive preseasons. Senior Katie Daby is at first, while sophomore Emily Nardelli moves from shortstop to second base. Junior Alex Moulson takes over at short and her classmate Annabelle Hebard will be at third. Emily Bedard and Mackenzie Nardelli add to North’s infield depth and Alivia Byrne will give Erti a rest in the circle and is another big bat in the lineup.

“We will need to be more multi-dimensional, as late in the year we couldn’t sustain our offensive start to the season,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “This group really wants to make their mark on the league and they know how much work that is going to take.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 3-17
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Lindsey Allison

Last season was a struggle for the Tigers, with only three wins and head coach Lindsey Allison is hoping that a group of younger players can add to the returning core and make a push to get Oliver Ames back into the state tournament. Allison is confident that the offense will get into the swing of things for the Tigers after scoring only 66 runs last season, second-lowest in the league.

Senior Kayla Georgeu will be back in the circle for OA and in the heart of the lineup. The Tigers will count on sophomore Emma Varella to provide some innings at pitcher, as well as playing in the infield. Senior first baseman Katie Mills is a big bat for the Tigers and junior Katie Abreu can step in at either shortstop or centerfield depending on the game to provide vocal leadership. Sophomore Grace Simone will be behind the plate this season.

“Every spot is open for the taking and there are many young players who are hungry to be on the field,” said Allison. “This group of players seem like a team – not just a group of individuals. They compete with one another for positions, but also support each other. They hold each other accountable and communicate. I am excited to see what hard work can accomplish this season.”

Sharon

2018 Record: 0-20
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Heather Poliferno

It was definitely a rough debut season for Sharon coach Heather Poliferno, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get experience at the varsity level. This spring, there is renewed enthusiasm with a crop of underclassmen joining the experienced players to give Poliferno and the Eagles confidence for a much better spring.

Freshman Trinity Payne is the player to watch for the Eagles this season as she takes over as the starting pitcher and has already drawn the attention of coaches in the Davenport division. She will be used at a couple of different positions and gives the Eagles versatility in the lineup. Senior Alli Small will be back at shortstop this season, while classmate Jody Goldenberg is back at first, and senior Rebecca Clayman will be the leader of the outfield group. As the program is growing, Sharon is hoping for much different results this season.

“We are very excited for this season!” said Poliferno. “We have many returning players leading our varsity team, as well as the addition of a very talented freshman class. Though we have only had a handful of practices, one of our clear strengths is our desire to be the best on the field.”

Stoughton

2018 Record: 7-13
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Deb Parker

Stoughton struggled to find a groove in 2018 and ended up missing the playoffs under first-year head coach Deb Parker, who had made the switch from Sharon before last season. This year, the Black Knights bring back starters in key positions and once again have the potential to make a run at a state tournament berth and even challenge for the Davenport title.

Seniors Nikki Coppola (second base) and Jordan Lyons (shortstop) give Stoughton a strong combination up the middle and senior Karly Estremera brings plenty of experience at third base. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Baker will take over full-time in the circle this season and Parker is impressed by the work that she put in during the off-season to get ready. Baker will be throwing to an experienced catcher, as senior Brianna Ferrandiz is back behind the plate for the Black Knights. Junior Lexi Baptista will lead the outfield crew in center and could also be one of Stoughton’s top hitters this season. Freshmen Melody Casna and Sydney Menz will give the Black Knights versatility by playing multiple positions.

“This team has come together so quickly, it is a real tribute to the leadership of our captains,” said Parker. “This team knows what they are playing for this year and we have high expectations going into the season. Softball in the Hockomock League is incredibly competitive but if we continue to work hard, we should have a great season.”

Taunton

2018 Record: 26-2
2018 Finish: Won D1 State Championship
Coach: Dave Lewry

How do you follow up a state championship? For Taunton, it just may be to make a run at a repeat. The Tigers lost the second, third, and fourth hitters in the lineup (including league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Kya Enos), who combined for 88 RBI, but there is a ton of talent coming back from last season, all of whom contributed at one point or another during Taunton’s run to the title.

It starts in the circle where sophomore Kelsey White will be the starter again this season after going 16-2 as a freshman and pitching every inning during the playoff run (not to mention batting .418). Her sister Alexa will also see time at pitcher, along with freshman Olyvia Mendonca, but will also play most of the season in centerfield. The infield will be a strength for the Tigers, with all four players back. Senior Jaime Brown (batted .469) is back for her fifth year at third base and is one of the top hitters in the league, sophomore Hanna Aldrich (.385 average with four homers and 30 RBI) is in her third year at shortstop and was this site’s Underclassman of the Year in 2018, sophomore McKenzie McAloon returns at second base for her third season, and junior Paige Silvia is back at first. Silvia and junior Riley Murphy are also in the running to replace Enos behind the plate, while junior Abbie McDonough takes over in left and eighth-grader Ava Venturelli could start the season in right.

“While we lost three outstanding players to graduation, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “We have a good nucleus of returning players looking to defend our D1 state championship.”