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.

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