Lewry Retires After Two Decades of Success at Taunton

Dave Lewry
Dave Lewry has announced his retirement after two decades, four state titles, and more than 400 wins as the head coach of Taunton softball. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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In the spring of 2000, there was a new, albeit familiar, face on the bench for the Taunton softball program. Former freshman coach Dave Lewry was promoted to take over from legendary coach Jack Tripp, who the field is now named after, with a mandate to keep the Tigers among the best teams in the state. “Jack Tripp handed me one of the very best programs in the state,” Lewry explained. “I said to him, ‘Jack I’m going to do everything I can to keep the program at the level that you just handed it over to me,’ and his words were, I’ll never forget them, ‘You better.’”

Lewry lived up to that promise and then some, becoming a Taunton legend in his own right.

He announced late last week that he was stepping down after 20 seasons as head coach. Over those two decades, his teams made the playoffs every year, won 407 games, winning more than 80 percent of the games over that span, brought home a dozen league titles (including three in seven years in the Hockomock League), and won four state titles (the most recent coming in 2018).

“I think maybe that’s what I’m most proud of is that the program maintained this level from when I took it over from a legendary coach and kept things moving,” he explained. “There wasn’t one year that we weren’t considered at least who could win the states. Maybe not the favorite or in the top two or three, but we always had enough talent to compete in the tournament and potentially win it if we played our best.”

The decision on whether or not to retire is one that Lewry makes after every season. In the months since the Tigers had their run at back-to-back state titles ended by Bishop Feehan in the Div. 1 South semifinal, he considered family responsibilities as well as his desire to travel with his wife of nearly 49 years. In the end, Lewry, who turned 70 this year, felt now was the best time to step away.

Only Taunton athletic director Mark Ottavianelli and long-time assistant coach Paul Dominico knew how seriously Lewry was thinking about retirement. While he trusts that he is making the right decision, Lewry was overcome by emotion when he had to tell the team.

“All of the emotional aspects of it hit you when you sit and talk to the kids,” he said. “That’s when it gets tough. That’s where I was at the other day. I was a mess.

 

“I’m going to miss being with the kids every day. That was a big part of my enjoyment. I’m certainly going to miss the competition and the adrenaline rush that comes with that and just the excitement of being around the sport.”

Lewry knows that there will be a pang of regret when the season gets underway in a few months, although maybe not as much during those first few weeks of the spring season. “In the middle, end of March I’ll probably be pretty happy because it’s 26 degrees and you’re outside at practice,” he joked, “but maybe mid-, late-April it will start to hit me.”

Looking back on 20 years with the Tigers, Lewry has seen a number of changes in the sport and with the program. Early in his tenure, the mound was moved back from 40 feet to 43 feet, altering the way that pitchers, including Taunton star Erin Wade, approached the game. “Pitchers couldn’t just throw hard,” he said, “now they had to pitch. Now you need the breaking balls, you need the spins, the ball to move as well as being able to command.”

Club softball has also grown during his time on the bench, becoming a year-round pursuit that has developed the skills of players coming into the program but also has impacted the mentality of some players. He said, “Kids are being taught that sports are all about the individual and not about playing as a team, playing for your school, for your friends, your community. It’s too much of that idea of you showcasing your talents for the college coaches sitting in the standings watching.”

The third major change for Taunton was its move into the Hock. Since 2013, the Tigers have won the Kelley-Rex division title three times, including twice outright. Last year, Taunton edged Franklin by a game and Lewry insisted that level of competition has added more motivation for the program to improve. “That was a great thing for us,” he said of the move from the Old Colony League to the Hock. “It came at exactly the right time, and I think it’s really pushed us to go a little bit harder.”

Taunton was hardly a mystery to Hock teams when the Tigers joined the league. Many had squared off with Taunton in the playoffs and had a healthy respect for the program and for Lewry. North Attleboro coach Bill Wallace, who earned his 200th career win this past spring, first met Lewry in the South semifinals in 2003. The Rocketeers had the Tigers on the schedule for three years before becoming league rivals.

“His kids were so well-coached that if he called for a squeeze, hit and run, or double steal they always knew what to do,” Wallace said. “After games, win or lose, Dave always had something nice to say about your team and this was sincere as we had some grinders with them!”

Former Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau, who will take over at King Philip this spring, has become close to Lewry during his time in the league, calling him a mentor and a friend. She praised the consistency of the program and the way Taunton teams were always prepared for the challenges that the Panthers, and other teams, presented.

“They were always the toughest team in the league to face, year after year, didn’t matter how many had graduated, there was always another fundamentally sound player to step into a vacancy,” she explained.

Fallon-Comeau added, “The game doesn’t know how old you are or what grade you are in, nor does it care and neither did Dave. He played the best 9-10 players, some being only eighth graders, and they became some of the best players the game has seen.”

Next year’s team promises to be just as talented. Taunton returns starting pitcher Kelsey White, the 2019 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year, and starting shortstop Hanna Aldrich, the 2019 Underclassman of the Year, among a host of other top players.

When asked about leaving while the team still has the potential to make a run at another state title, Lewry replied, “I’d rather leave under these circumstances knowing that the cupboard isn’t bare by any means. I’d much rather do that than wait until everyone graduated and it was a rebuilding year.”

He laughed when it was pointed out that Taunton rarely has to rebuild, adding, “That’s the great thing about coaching at Taunton, there’s always that next stud player coming through. I feel so, so fortunate to have the level of talent that we’ve had.”

The talent at Taunton remains but it will now be up to someone new to put it all together. Twenty years ago, Dave Lewry stepped into a legend’s shoes and kept the Tigers among the state’s best and now it will be someone else’s turn to do the same.

Franklin Announces Holbrook as New Softball Coach

Franklin softball
Franklin announced Katie Holbrook as its new softball coach this week, replacing Kate Fallon-Comeau after her move to King Philip. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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Franklin High athletic director Tom Angelo announced last week that Katie Holbrook had been hired to fill the softball coaching vacancy created by Kate Fallon-Comeau’s move to rival King Philip. Holbrook is the owner of Brand New Ballgame, a baseball and softball training facility in Wrentham, and has coached club and showcase softball teams for more than a decade.

Holbrook was familiar with the Franklin program, community, and players from her role at Brand New Ballgame, and was excited about making the Panthers her first high school coaching role.

“Between them coming in for team practices or working in private practice or clinics with some of the kids, I’ve gotten a chance to really know them over the last six or seven years,” Holbrook said in a phone call this week. “I had a tie to Franklin and when Kate moved over I thought it’s a good, strong program, there’s a desire for strong leadership and I have a good tie to the community. It was the right place.”

She also noted that the familiarity with the players could make the transition easier. She said, “They know who I am at least by reputation, so I think that’s helpful. They know I care about Franklin, that I know about softball, and that I do this day-in, day-out. So, I think the buy-in period may be a little shorter for me than maybe someone else who was new to things.”

Holbrook played varsity softball for four years at Brockton High and also played several years in college at Bridgewater State. In addition to running her Wrentham facility, she has run and coached the BNB Hornets club program. The Hornets merged this year with the Hockomock Rox to create the BNB Rox. Also coaching in that program are Franklin JV coach Jenna Dicruttalo and Sharon head coach Heather Poliferno.

“In the club environment, you get them year round but you only get them maybe once or twice a week,” Holbrook explained. “We definitely make gains within that but I always felt within a high school season having them for a condensed period of time, but for a lot of time during that period, that a lot of growth can be made.”

The Panthers finished second in the Kelley-Rex division last season, just one game behind Taunton, and reached the D1 South quarterfinal before losing to Bishop Feehan by a run. Holbrook is excited about the challenge of coaching in the Hockomock League.

 

“There’s definitely some strong competition and we’ll have to be on top of our game,” she said. “I always said as an athlete, to be the best you have to play and train with the best, so I think when you have tough competition it makes you a better player and when you have success it makes it all the more sweet because you really had to work for it.”

Fallon-Comeau Takes Charge Of King Philip Softball

Kate Fallon-Comeau King Philip softball
Kate Fallon-Comeau was hired as the new King Philip softball coach after nine seasons with Franklin. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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PLAINVILLE, Mass. – Kate Fallon-Comeau is trading in her Franklin blue for the King Philip green and gold.

Fallon-Comeau, the Panthers’ softball head coach for the past nine seasons, was officially hired in the same capacity for the Warriors this week. King Philip was one of the most successful programs over the past decade, winning state championships in 2010, 2011, and 2016.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but there was an opportunity and I went for it,” Fallon-Comeau said. “I loved every minute of my time at Franklin but I’m really excited to work with the girls at King Philip. There is a great feeder program in place, they have solid softball players every year. Like Franklin, they have a community that is passionate about softball. It just seemed like a good fit and the timing was right.”

Fallon-Comeau, the 2019 HockomockSports.com Coach of the Year, is plenty familiar with the Hockomock League. She was a star pitcher as a member of the Class of 2001 at Mansfield High. After a successful career as a catcher at Curry College, she took over the reins of the Panthers’ program in 2011. Under her guidance, Franklin went 112-86 and made the state tournament in all but two seasons. In the two seasons the Panthers didn’t make it, they had 10 and nine wins, respectively.

“Franklin will always hold a special place in my heart, it was really difficult to say goodbye to the returning players,” Fallon-Comeau said. “I can’t wait to get started with King Philip though, I’m really excited for the upcoming season and beyond.

“I want to thank athletic director Gary Brown and all of the administration at King Philip for the opportunity.”

In her tenure with the Panthers, Fallon-Comeau helped Franklin win 10 playoff games and earned back-to-back trips to the D1 South Sectional Semifinals in 2013 and 2014. This past season, Franklin pushed D1 South Finalist Bishop Feehan to the limit in a 1-0 walkoff win. King Philip went 13-9 this past season before losing to league rival Taunton in the tournament. The Warriors have won 11 league titles in the past 13 seasons.

 

2019 Hockomock League Softball All Stars

Below are the official 2019 Hockomock League Softball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.

Hockomock League MVP

Kelsey White, Taunton

Hockomock League All Stars

Mckenzie Bergdoll, Attleboro
Makenzie Killough, Attleboro
Lora Woyton, Attleboro
Liz Bickett, Canton
Morgan Sylvestre, Foxboro
Jackie Cherry, Franklin
Ally Shea, Franklin
Anna Balkus, Franklin
Meghan Gorman, King Philip
Faith Turinese, King Philip
Mady Bendanillo, Mansfield
Lucy Creedon, Milford
Ashley Cangiano, North Attleboro
Abby Gallagher, North Attleboro
Bella Erti, North Attleboro
Katie Daby, North Attleboro
Karly Estremera, Stoughton
Alexia Baptista, Stoughton
Nicole Baker, Stoughton
Hanna Aldrich, Taunton
Jaime Brown, Taunton
Alexa White, Taunton
Kelsey White, Taunton

Tigers Can’t Cash In Against Feehan In South Semifinal

Taunton softball Kelsey White
Taunton sophomore Kelsey White delivers a pitch in the first inning against Bishop Feehan. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
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TAUNTON, Mass. – Sophomore Kelsey White and the Taunton softball team didn’t give third-seeded Bishop Feehan many chances, but the Shamrocks took advantage of the little opportunities they had.

Meanwhile, the Tigers had a handful of opportunities, putting at least one runner in scoring position in five innings, and a runner on base in six of the seven innings, but an uncharacteristic performance from second-seeded Taunton put an end to its season.

Bishop Feehan scored single runs in the first, sixth, and seventh innings while Taunton was limited to just one run, leaving six runners on base in scoring position as the Shamrocks earned a 3-1 win a D1 South Semifinal contest.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We had many chances,” said Taunton head coach Dave Lewry. “It comes down to a game of execution. You have to execute at the plate, in the field, and on the bases, and we picked the wrong game not to execute. It wasn’t a good game for us all around. We didn’t execute. We took too many called strike threes. We played well all year, but the wrong game to play poorly.”

The Shamrocks got off to an ideal start with leadoff hitter Jessica Levesque clubbing a triple to right center field. White (7IP, 6H, 1BB, 3R, 1ER, 3K) induced a ground ball to shortstop and the runner originally held, but after a brief bobble a throwing error allowed Levesque to score and the Feehan runner to get to second.

After a walk, McKenzie McAloon started a double play to get two outs and White got a fly ball to center to strand a runner at third and minimize the damage to just one run.

 

Taunton had a bevy of chances to tie the game and even take a lead, but couldn’t find the timely hit necessary.

“We had timely hitting,” said Feehan coach Bill Milot. “We did not play a flawless game but fortunately [Taunton] wasn’t able to capitalize on our mistakes and we were able to capitalize on theirs.”

In the bottom of the first, sophomore Hanna Aldrich ripped a two-out double but Feehan pitcher Brooke Scorzinski (7IP, 4H, 4BB, 1ER, 9K) got a pop up in foul territory behind the plate for the third out.

Heads up base running allowed White to get to second on an error in the second with one out, and quickly moved to third on a ground out. But the Tigers couldn’t get the run in as Scorzinski got one of her nine strikeouts to end the frame.

Jaime Brown doubled with one out in the third inning, Alexa White walked, and both advanced on a passed ball to put runners in scoring position with one out. But again Scorzinski got a big strikeout (looking) for the second out. McAloon was hit by the pitch to load the bases but Taunton couldn’t manufacture anything as Scorzinski got a soft line drive back to the circle.

A walk and an error put Kelsey White and Paige Silvia on first and second with no outs but neither runner would advance any further as the Tigers failed on a sac bunt attempt and had three straight fly ball outs.

“I would definitely say it was uncharacteristic,” Lewry said. “Defensively we had a couple of silly little plays, not being aware of the base runners…not being able to get down bunts, that was critical. We tried three or four times and we didn’t get one down. We talked about executing bunts all year, we’ve practiced it all year, we just didn’t do it tonight.

Meanwhile, Kelsey White was cruising on the mound. She retired the side in order in each the second and fourth innings and didn’t let a one-out single past first in the second. A two-out single from Sierra Basara went nowhere in the fifth went nowhere when White got a big strikeout.

“Kelsey had to really battle tonight,” Lewry said. “Some of her pitches weren’t working the way they normally do so we had to go a different way and I thought she did a heck of a job. We could have been out of there allowing one run if we made a couple of plays, it came down to execution and we didn’t get it done.”

The Shamrocks added to their lead with a run in the top of the sixth inning as Caroline Deem blooped a one-out single and took second on a ground ball. Scorzinski sliced a single to right field that Abbie McDonough fielded, firing a throw home but it wasn’t handled at the plate and the runner from second came across.

Taunton finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth but again left runners in scoring position. Silvia had a one-out single and moved to second on a two-out walk from Rylie Murphy. Brown sliced an RBI double to left field to bring a one run in and make it 2-1. With runners on second and third, Scorzinski got the third out with a strikeout.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Feehan tacked on a big insurance run in the top of the seventh inning. Haley Coupal had a one-out single and moved to third on a soft grounder in front of the plate. With two outs, Levesque was able to reach when her grounder was bobbled at first, and Coupal ran all the way from second to home before the Tigers could fire a throw home.

The Tigers brought the heart of their lineup for the seventh inning but Scorzinski retired the side in order for the first time all game.

Taunton softball finishes the season at 22-3 while Bishop Feehan will play Bridgewater-Raynham in the D1 South Final on Sunday.

Taunton Starts Title Defense with Shutout of KP

Taunton softball
Taunton senior Jaime Brown makes a play on a KP bunt in the opening round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

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TAUNTON, Mass. – Defending state champion Taunton kicked off its title defense on Monday night at Jack Tripp Field against a familiar foe. It is never easy to play a team three times in a season, especially when it is a league rival and annual competitor for the league title.

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The Tigers made it a clean sweep against King Philip and earned their third shutout of the Warriors this season, earning a 4-0 victory and getting started on the road to a potential repeat.

“First game of the tournament is always tough,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry about facing an atypical No. 15 seed in the opening round. “We’ve been there before but all the kids were saying they had the butterflies and were a little nervous early on, so get this out of the way and we can move onto tomorrow.”

Senior outfielder Alexa White added, “It’s definitely a relief to have the first one in the books. We have a young team, so we made sure to talk to them yesterday at practice to be prepared that the atmosphere is different, everything’s different, so you need to keep the energy up and you need to relax, at the plate or in the field.”

King Philip (13-9) had been outscored 19-0 in two regular season meetings with Taunton, but the Warriors came into Monday confident that they could pull the upset and had an early chance to get on the board. Raegan Simeone bunted for a hit with one out in the first and then stole second. After a strikeout, Liliana Rolfe walked to put two on base, but Taunton starter Kelsey White snagged a comebacker by her opposite number, Faith Turinese, to end the inning.

The Warriors wouldn’t have another base runner until a one-out single by Rolfe in the fourth. Rolfe was controversially called out on a steal attempt and a pop up to first baseman Tayah DaCosta ended the threat.

 

“It’s been a struggle against most quality pitchers,” Beauchemin said about the lack of offense. “You’ve got to get that key hit, but we didn’t have many hits to begin with.”

Taunton wasted no time jumping in front. JJaime Brown led off the bottom frame with a double to right center. Abigail McDonough dropped down a bunt to move Brown to third and a wild pitch allowed her to come home with what would turn out to be the game-winning run.

Beauchemin said, “You can’t make any mistakes against this team. They’re as strong as they were last year, if not stronger.”

It stayed 1-0 until the third inning. With one out Brown drew a walk and again McDonough dropped down a bunt to move her into scoring position. Hanna Aldrich, who was robbed of a single in the first by KP shortstop Meghan Gorman, lined a base hit to left to double the lead.

Lewry said, “I just had a feeling it was going to be one of those games, so we want to get runs any way we can, chip away one at a time if we have to and it seemed to work out.”

In the fourth Taunton gave itself a cushion with a two-out rally. Turinese got a pair of fly balls, including one to deep center by Kelsey White, and seemed to be cruising through another inning, but Paige Silvia took a pitch off her thigh. Alexa White followed with a triple that was crushed into the gap in left center. White scored on a double by eighth grader Ava Venturelli.

“It brings the confidence in the next batter up to keep it going and it definitely gets the girls pumped,” said Alexa White about the importance of two-out rallies.

There was one more threat by the Warriors in the seventh, as they tried to keep their season alive. Rolfe was hit by a pitch with one out, reaching base for the third straight time, and Turinese hustled to beat out an infield single. Taunton’s defense made the plays it needed to with Aldrich and Brown grabbing grounders and getting the outs to seal the win.

“I think the kids gave a very good representation today, we played hard,” said Beauchemin. “We’re not young, but we’re inexperienced and I think next year we’re going to be a very formidable team.”

Lewry praised the Warriors and was happy to get through a third meeting with KP. He said, “I think they’re a much better team than they were at the beginning of the season and I thought they played an excellent game tonight. Their defense was good, their pitching was real good, and they just had some trouble hitting Kelsey, which is good for us.”

When asked if things felt any different entering the playoffs defending last year’s title, White said that the Tigers were just trying to focus on the moment rather than the ultimate destination.

“We’ve got a tough road ahead, we know that, but I think we have the talent to do it,” she said. “It’s about pulling everything together with clutch hits and keeping those rallies going. We have the mentality to take every game one step at a time. Just focus on the game you’re playing.”

Taunton (21-2) will host No. 10 seed Marshfield on Tuesday night at Jack Tripp Field.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.