WRENTHAM, Mass. – King Philip has been without senior forward Avery Snead for the past week, as she recovered from an ankle injury. The Warriors welcomed the two-time league MVP back into the lineup against Attleboro on Tuesday evening at Macktaz Field and the Providence College-commit showed how important she can be over an impressive six-minute stretch of the second half.
Snead scored three goals in quick succession, starting just seconds after the break, to turn a one-goal game into a comfortable 4-0 victory for the hosts, who remain unbeaten on the season.
“When we broke for halftime, I said let’s do a quick strike here, break their spirits, but I didn’t expect three in six minutes,” joked KP coach Gary Pichel. “That was a glorious comeback for [Avery]. It’s a major relief to have her back and healthy again. It’s always nice when you have one of the top players in the league, if not Massachusetts, back in your lineup.”
Inside the first minute of the second half, Snead showed quick feet to slip past the center of the Attleboro defense and she breezed down the middle of the box and coolly slipped a shot inside the post to make it 2-0. Three minutes later, Snead took advantage of a ball from Jenny Montville that bounced past the Attleboro back line for another easy finish.
In the 46th minute, Snead rose highest to get on the end of a pinpoint Makayla Griffin free kick and flicked it past the onrushing keeper for her third of the night and the team’s fourth.
“They’re just two great players and you can only try so much to keep them off the board,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos of Snead and fellow forward Chloe Layne. She had a nice first game back. She was excited. I think after she got one, she got the taste back.”
The first half was dominated by the home team. KP controlled possession and create a host of scoring chances, only to have Attleboro keeper Ashley Macia come through with 11 of her 14 saves before the break.
“It’s the dynamic duo is what it is and they’re back together again this year and it’s been pretty nice,” said Pichel about pairing Snead and Layne up top again. “It puts the other teams back on their heels a little bit.”
Snead and Layne wasted no time in combining for a chance, as Layne, the league’s leading scorer this season, created space on her right foot and forced a diving save after only five minutes. Two minutes later, Layne was set up by Ally Stanton but her left-footed drive was tapped up onto the bar.
KP found its breakthrough in the 12th minute on a set piece. Griffin delivered a perfect free kick from near midfield that landed on the head of Layne, who flicked it past Macia.
A minute later, Griffin picked out Stanton, whose header was saved. Stanton had another good chance in the 22nd minute after Layne drew a crowd and opened shooting space on the edge of the 18 only to have Macia made another strong stop.
“We came in a little bit hesitant,” Santos admitted. “The first 10 minutes after they scored that goal, we settled in a little and created some opportunities but we needed that final ball. We worked the ball out wide and tried to do this switch, but it was a low roller that they took and counterattacked.”
The chances kept coming for the Warriors. Snead opened space for Stanton, but she wasn’t able to make clean contact and the shot was gathered by Macia and then Kiera Lindmark gave Ava Tormey a chance on goal but again the shot was saved.
When asked if he was worried about having only a one-goal cushion heading into the break, Pichel responded, “I wasn’t that nervous because I knew that we carried play pretty well in that first half and it was just a matter of time before we did something here…I just didn’t realize it would be that quick.”
Attleboro struggled to create clearcut chances. After intercepting a throw-in, Gabrielle Lauzier sent an angled cross into the box that was just out of the reach of Ashley Dame and was collected by KP keeper Taylor Butler, who had otherwise been a bystander for most of the half. Attleboro forwards Isabella Salviati and Briley Harnois were largely quiet, forced to drop deep to get onto the ball.
“Their tempo is fast, their decision-making is fast and they’re hungry for the ball and all you can try to do is pack it back and hope the game plan works,” Santos said about defending KP. “I think we came in a little intimidated but it was a good test for us. I told them, if we qualify for tournament this is what you have to be ready for.”
After Snead turned the game on its head in the opening six minutes of the second half, the game settled into mostly a midfield battle with few chances on either side.
Layne played Montville in behind the Attleboro defense in the 55th minute but the shot was saved and Jillian Anderson combined with Makenzie Shandley but Attleboro back-up keeper Alexis Campbell was there to make the stop. Meghan Panzer had a half-volley effort that went close for the best chance for the Bombardiers after the break.
King Philip (8-0, 6-0) will look to continue its unbeaten start at Stoughton on Friday, while Attleboro (3-3-1, 2-3-1) will have a tough trip to face Davenport division-leading Foxboro.
2018 Record: 6-11-1 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Steve Santos
The Bombardiers have made great improvements over the last couple of seasons, jumping from eight goals scored as a team to 26 and then 24 in 2017 and 2018, and now head coach Steve Santos is looking for Attleboro to take the next step and make its first state tournament appearance since joining the Hockomock League. With an experienced corps and several talented newcomers, Santos hopes this will be the year to get a taste of the postseason.
The attack has been led by junior forward Isabella Salviati, who had half of the team’s goals last year and assisted on seven other goals. The forward play flows through her, but the Bombardiers will be hoping to get more contributions from junior Briley Harnois, who had a breakout sophomore campaign, and from midfielder Jessica Gates, who has the vision to find the key pass that will spring one of the forwards. Also helping out through midfield and into the attack with be seniors Ashley Dame and Julia Reyes.
There is also experience in the heart of the Attleboro defense with senior Sophia Salviati paired with classmate Emily Antonik. Junior Vanessa Laguerre makes the move up from JV this season and will be slotted into the back line as well. Goalie has been a position of strength for the Bombardiers for several seasons but this year it is in flux as senior Ashley Macia is slated to be the starter, but she is also capable in defense and saw a lot of time as an outfield player last year. Freshman Alexis Campbell could eventually step in between the posts. Junior Riley Sullivan could contribute right away and is capable of playing multiple positions and sophomore Emily Khang adds another player with ball skills.
“We have a lot of returning players,” said Santos, “and I think we have more depth so we won’t have to rely on the starters for as many minutes. We have a lot of players who can contribute and fill in the pieces. The key this season will be being consistent for 80 minutes and keeping our pace for the whole game.”
2018 Record: 10-3-5 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Tom Geysen
Franklin lost only three games all of last season and had one of the league’s best defensive records, allowing only 10 goals in 18 games. That solidity in the defensive third will be hard to replicate, as the Panthers graduated three of last year’s back four, but there is also hope that the promising young attackers can take some of the pressure off by improving on the team’s 40 goals scored, which was seventh best in the Hock.
Senior Sabrina Addi is the lone returning defender for the Panthers, but she will get help from senior goalie Breanna Atwood to try and organize an inexperienced defense. Freshman Norah Anderson will jump into the center of the defense and looks ready for the physical challenge of Hock play. Senior Sam Powderly will drop back from midfield to help out as well.
Once the Panthers get the ball back, there are plenty of familiar faces to try and get goals. Senior Anna Balkus can play a number of different positions, including in the heart of midfield, the wing, or in the attack. Sophomore Stella Regan is coming off a breakout rookie season and adds even more pace to the center of the pitch, while senior Carly Alston is a solid performer on both sides of the ball. In the attack, juniors Erin Quaile and Sydney St. Marie are looking to make the leap to add more consistent scoring.
“I know the kids with experience won’t back down,” said Franklin coach Tom Geysen, “but I need to see how the younger kids will react to this level. I need to see if they can physically cope with playing where I need them to play.”
2018 Record: 12-5-2 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Gary Pichel
When you bring back players the caliber of seniors Avery Snead and Chloe Layne, the expectations will be very high for the upcoming season. King Philip enters 2019 as the favorite to bring home a league title but also with the goal of matching the run that the Warriors made in 2017, when they won the South title in double overtime and reached the state semifinal.
Layne, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year, and Snead, the 2017 HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and two-time league MVP, have been among the league’s leading scorers each of the last three years and will make one more run at a league title. They are joined up top by senior Ally Stanton. The trio was one of the league’s most dynamic attacking groups, combining for 50 goals and 33 assists last season
Senior Jenna Hitchen and juniors Emma Glaser and Jenny Montville will also contribute to pushing the Warriors forward, while freshman Ella Pisani is a newcomer to watch in the attack. A lot of attention will (rightfully) be paid to KP’s attack, but its defense is also experienced. Seniors Makayla Griffin and Olivia Berry and junior Paige Varvarigos return to the back line with a combined eight years on varsity. Junior Taryn Greenberg and freshman Grace Lawler will also contribute in defense in front of junior goalie Taylor Butler.
“I am very excited about the prospects for our team this year,” said KP coach Gary Pichel. “That being said, we will remain laser-focused on not overlooking any team that we play. We will not look ahead but instead, will prepare for each team we have on our schedule with great intensity, one game at a time.
2018 Record: 15-3-4 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Kevin Smith
The Hornets have had an unprecedented level of success over the past three seasons, winning three straight Kelley-Rex division titles, and reaching last year’s Div. 1 South semifinal, but Mansfield enters the fall with an almost entirely new roster and having only one player on the team with more than one year of varsity experience.
Senior Erin Dooling is by far the most experienced player on the roster, but defender Maria Sevastos and midfielder Katie Miller both saw a lot of playing time as freshmen and impressed during their rookie campaigns. Senior midfielder Kerrin Sears and senior defender Megan Krone join Dooling as captains this season and will both need to provide leadership for a team with four freshmen on the roster.
Mansfield coach Kevin Smith said, “We are young and learning each day with an entire new starting lineup, four freshmen on the roster and 18 of 24 players new to the team. Erin is the lone player with more than one year of varsity experience while Maria and Katie earned a lot of minutes last year. All three will be leaned on to share their experience with the team.”
2018 Record: 11-5-3 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Britt Sellmayer
Oliver Ames continues to turn out competitive teams ready to challenge the best teams in the league and put themselves in the state tournament picture. This fall will be no different, as the Tigers have six returning starters and 14 players who saw varsity action last year. While there is still a relative lack of experience, the Tigers remain a team with high expectations.
Defense has also been a strength of the program and this year is no different with seniors Olivia Carroll, Abigail Hodges, and Leah Johnson providing a strong backbone for the team and will be a unit that is hard to break down. Junior goalie Emma O’Donnell is dealing with a preseason injury, so sophomore Emily Meyers will get the start for the season opener. Seniors Erin Holmberg and Abby Evin will lead the forward line, but there were strong rookie seasons from Camryn O’Connor and Allison Evin that give confidence for additional help in the final third.
“For OA to return to the tournament we will need some of our less experienced players to step up,” said Oliver Ames coach Britt Sellmayer.
2018 Record: 3-16 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Joe Rocha
Former Taunton boys soccer coach Joe Rocha takes over the girls program this fall and will continue a rebuilding effort to try and get the Tigers off the foot of the division standings, which is a difficult task in the loaded Kelley-Rex division. Rocha knows it will be a process with a relatively young roster and is looking for improvements over the course of the season.
Senior Grace Pimenta will be back in goal for the Tigers this season, after missing part of last year with an injury. Pimenta will add leadership to the defensive unit that features senior Emma Silvia and sophomore Isabella Anslow in the middle. Keeping things solid in the center will be the key and Taunton will hope that the forwards can stay active and put pressure on the opposing defenses. Seniors Paige Tolan, Allison Calderon, and Kerla Sylvestre, and juniors Emily O’Gara and Morgan Zakrewski will be counted on to step up and improve Taunton’s goal-scoring numbers (after scoring 16 goals as a team last season).
“We are a very young team and will have some growing pains,” Rocha said. “As a first-year coach, my players are learning a new system and once we all get on the same page, I feel that our play will improve.”
Below are the official 2018 Hockomock League Softball All Stars, selected by the coaches in the league.
Hockomock League Co-MVPs
Hannah Davis, Foxboro
Kya Enos, Taunton
Hockomock League All Stars
Mckenzie Bergdoll, Attleboro
Elizabeth Bickett, Canton
Hannah Davis, Foxboro
Anna Balkus, Franklin
Meghan Gorman, King Philip
Elise Pereira, King Philip
Faith Turinese, King Philip
Emily Piergustavo, Milford
Kelley Reichert, Milford
Kate Irwin, Milford
Jess Tomaso, Milford
Maddy Bonvino, Milford
Bella Erti, North Attleboro
Abby Gallagher, North Attleboro
Olivia Capobianco, North Attleboro
Alexis Campbell, Oliver Ames
Gina Carafa, Stoughton
Jaime Brown, Taunton
Kya Enos, Taunton
MacKenzie Handrahan, Taunton
Kelsey White, Taunton
Hannah Aldrich, Taunton
Liana Duarte, Taunton
Makenzie Killough, Attleboro
Evelyn Carrington, Canton
Lexi Buckner, Foxboro
Meg Caron, Franklin
Jessica Bonner, King Philip
Caty DeMassi, Mansfield
Sabrina Haarstick, Milford
Ashley Cangiano, North Attleboro
Katie Mills, Oliver Ames
Rebecca Clayman, Sharon
Jordan Lyons, Stoughton
McKenzie McAloon, Taunton
Attleboro, 2 @ Milford, 3 – Final (8 Inn.) – Milford junior Nick Marcolini earned the win on the mound and scored the game-winning run as the Hawks took down visiting Attleboro in extra innings. Marcolini led off the eighth with a walk, stole second, and advanced to third. He came in to score the winning run on a sacrifice fly from Colby Pires. In a relief appearance, Marcolini tossed three scoreless innings with two strikeouts to get the win. Luke Rosa was the starter for Milford, allowing two runs in five innings with four strikeouts. Matt Swanson added two hits, including a double and a run scored, for the Hawks.
Oliver Ames, 13 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Foxboro held a 4-2 lead after an inning of play but OA chipped away and used five runs in the third inning to seize an 8-4 lead and never looked back. Jack Erlich went 3-for-3 with three runs and two RBI and Mitch Goulet had three hits, including a pair of doubles, and four RBI. Nick Zwerle and Tom Parker combined for 6.1 innings of scoreless relief for the Tigers. Foxboro’s Chad Bearce was 2-for-4 with a triple while Joe Cavaleri and JT Burke each drove in a pair of runs.
Taunton, 7 @ Canton, 0 – Final – Taunton’s Trevor Pietrzyk (two doubles, triple) set the tone, going 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot with an RBI and a run scored as the Tigers notched a win on the road. Jakob Roberts added two hits and two RBI while Ben Joyce drove in a pair of runs. Tyler Medeiros and Jacob Crawford each had a hit, an RBI and two runs scored for the Tigers. Medeiros got the win on the mound, scattering three hits over five innings of work with five strikeouts. Brendan Bignar and Logan Lawrence each tossed a scoreless inning in relief.
Franklin, 14 @ Stoughton, 10 – Final – Franklin scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to break a 9-9 tie and emerge from Stoughton with a win on the road. JB Flores went 4-for-4, including a double and an RBI while scoring a pair of runs. Evan Wendell also had a strong day for Franklin with a pair of doubles, runs scored and four RBI. Jake Macchi added three hits and three RBI for Franklin while both Scott Elliott and Colby Fitzgibbons had two RBI apiece. Ben Guzman got the win in relief, allowing three hits and one run over three innings of work. Stoughton’s Matt Hadley and James Genest both went 3-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored while Geroge Currier and Cian Swierzewski each drove in two runs for the Black Knights.
King Philip, 8 @ Sharon, 4 – Final – King Philip tied the game in the fifth, took the lead in the sixth, and then tacked on three insurance runs in the seventh inning to complete a comeback from at Sharon. KP took a 3-0 lead in the second before Sharon pulled ahead with four runs in the third. Pat Limerick had three hits and one RBI, sophomore Chris Sawyer had two hits and two RBI, and Tyler Nault delivered with an RBI pinch-hit single for the Warriors. Terry Murray earned the win in relief, throwing three scoreless innings with one strikeout.
Mansfield, 3 @ North Attleboro, 1 – Final – Mansfield senior Kevin Dow had a dominating performance on the mound, throwing a complete game with just two hits allowed and no walked and one unearned run allowed to lead the Hornets to a win over previously unbeaten North Attleboro. Dow struck out nine and didn’t issue a walk to get the win. Offensively, Dow went 2-for-4 and had an RBI triple in the third inning that put Mansfield up 2-0. Dow then scored on an RBI single from senior Tyler Dalton. Mansfield took the lead in the top of the second when Cullin Anastasia scored. Zach DeMattio and Brendan McHugh (run) each had a hit for Big Red.
Milford, 12 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Milford plated six runs in the sixth inning to break open what was a two-run game to grab a win on the road. The Hawks took a 5-3 advantage into the sixth before exploding for six runs. Jess Tomaso (2-for-4, three RBI) hit a home run in the sixth for her 100th career hit. Emily Piergustavo added two hits, two runs, and four RBI, Maddy Bonvino went 3-for-4 with a double, triple, and two-run home run and Kate Irwin had three hits, three runs, and an RBI for the Scarlet Hawks. Kelley Reichert got the win in the circle, striking out nine. Attleboro leadoff hitter Jordyn Lako went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and MacKenzie Killough blasted a two-run home run in the third inning.
Canton, 0 @ Taunton, 13 – Final (5 Inn.) – Taunton sophomore Jaylin Couto struck out 10 while allowing just two hits and one walk to help the Tigers notch a win over visiting Canton. Couto improved to 3-0 with five scoreless innings. Offensively, Kelsey White went 3-for-4 with three runs, two RBI, and a stolen base, Kya Enos had two hits including a double, a run scored and an RBI, Abbie McDonough recorded two hits, scored three runs, stole a base, and had an RBI, and freshman McKenzie McAloon drove in three runs for the Tigers.
Foxboro, 4 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – Foxboro senior Mandy Ryan had an RBI single in the top of the seventh to help the Warriors come up with a win on the road. Hannah Davis and Chelsea Gibbons each had two hits while Emma Rohan earned the win in the circle, striking out four. Oliver Ames’ Caroline Mahoney went 2-for-4 with RBI, Katie Mills was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Marissa Guarino had two hits and an RBI, and Alexis Campbell had two hits and a run scored for OA. Freshman Emma Varella pitched a complete game for OA, striking out three.
Stoughton, 2 @ Franklin, 12 – Final
North Attleboro, 7 @ Mansfield, 1 – Final – North Attleboro broke open a two-run game with four runs in the last two innings to make it two wins in two days for the Rocketeers. Bella Erti struck out 11, allowing only four hits and no walks to pick up the win. Abby Warren and Olivia Capobianco paced the North offense with three hits apiece, while Ashley Cangiano and Katie Daby each had two hits. Katherine Munley came through with a couple of nice grabs in the field, according to North coach Bill Wallace, and Cangiano threw out her third runner attempting to steal in two days. Mary Muldoon drove in the lone Mansfield run in the second, singling in Caty DeMassi. Kara Bendanillo went 2-for-3 for the Hornets.
Canton, 11 @ Attleboro, 4 – Final – Canton raced out to a 5-1 lead at half time and never looked back to beat Attleboro. The Bulldogs, who never trailed in the game, had seven different goal scorers including senior Joey Vaughan.
Foxboro, 11 @ Sharon, 5 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Franklin, 20 – Final
King Philip @ Taunton, 3:45
Mansfield, 9 @ Oliver Ames, 12 – Final – OA goalie Nick Gillis had a huge game in the cage and Frankie Ireland netted three goals to help the Tigers score a big win over Mansfield. Eric LeBlanc and Sam Stevens added two goals each in the win.
Milford, 3 @ North Attleboro, 17 – Final – For Milford, Josh Ligor, Andrew Gallagher, and Mike Demko each scored once while Cullen Burns recorded an assist.
Attleboro, 6 @ Canton, 15 – Final – Caroline Tourgee had four goals, Molly Colburn scored three goals and had a pair of assists, and Maggie Connolly had two goals and four assists for the Bulldogs. Leah McClellan and Kaitlyn Goyetch each added two goals and an assist, while Alexa Maffeo scored once and had a pair of helpers. Rachel Beatty scored once for Canton and Vicky Revanche made 12 saves in the Bulldogs net.
Taunton, 2 @ King Philip, 19 – Final – KP used nine different goal scorers to put an end to it two-game losing streak. Alli Meehan (one assist), Caroline Klim, Mackenzie Mazur, and Ali Wilson all recorded hat tricks for the Warriors, while Jess Sullivan scored a pair. Izzy Agricola, Jenna Hitchen (one assist), Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini also scored for KP.
Sharon, 8 @ Foxboro, 19 – Final – Sabrina Robbins and Emma Eberhardt both had hat tricks for Sharon in the loss. Robbins added eight draw controls, while Eberhardt also had two assists and four draw controls. Maxine Gordon and Abbi Solomon scored the other goals for the Eagles and Taylor Kim scooped four ground balls.
Franklin, 15 @ North Andover, 10 – Final
Oliver Ames, 9 @ Mansfield, 19 – Final – The Hornets won for the second time in three days to get back to .500 on the season and move into a third-place tie with OA in the Kelley-Rex division. Mansfield had six different goal scorers in the game, led by Katy Garvin’s six and Maggie Danehy’s four. Hannah Sternburg made six saves in the Mansfield goal.
North Attleboro, 15 @ Milford, 2 – Final – North Attleboro had its passing game working on Wednesday, getting an assist on all 15 of its goals. Freshman Maggie O’Brien notched her first varsity goal in the win and also had four assists on the day. Julia Tolfa chipped in with six draw controls for the Rocketeers.
Milford, 2 @ Attleboro, 3 – Final – Attleboro swept doubles play and picked up one win in singles to get a win over visiting Milford. Jared Cooper won 6-3, 6-1 at third singles while the team of Ryan Gordon and Estrada won 6-1, 6-1 at first doubles and Luis Sandoval and Eli Araujo didn’t lose a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at second doubles. Milford’s Brendan Shaughnessy won 6-3, 6-3 at first singles and classmate Cam Doherty took a 7-5, 6-3 decision at second singles.
Canton, 0 @ Taunton, 5 – Final – Taunton picked up its second straight win by sweeping visiting Sharon, taking all three singles matches in straight sets without dropping a game. Francois Hennaux (first singles), Brett Beaulieu (second singles) and Mike Briggs (third singles) all won 6-0, 6-0. The team of Charlie Fiske and Dylan Kulas won 6-3, 6-2 at first doubles while Kyle Dennehy and Alex Pugh prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 10-1 at second doubles.
Foxboro, 5 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final
Stoughton, 0 @ Franklin, 5 – Final – Franklin’s doubles teams combined to drop just one game total in a sweep over visiting Stoughton. Tony Calderone and Derek Wu won 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles while Shournik Sompally and Saket Gandham won 6-0, 6-1 at second doubles. Rohan Herur won 7-5, 6-3 at first singles, Liam Marr dropped just two games in a 6-0, 6-2 win at second singles, and Tyler DiPalma won 6-0, 6-1 at third singles.
Sharon, 3 @ King Philip, 2 – Final – King Philip pushed Sharon to the edge but the Eagles prevailed, keeping their lengthy league win streak alive. Senior Andre Olivei won 6-2, 0-6, 6-4 at first singles and sophomore Alberto Olivei recorded a 6-2, 6-3 win at third singles. Sharon’s third win came from Ashwin Sreevatsa and Arie Chinnappan, who won 6-4, 6-2 at second doubles. King Philip’s Nick Putney won 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (4) at second singles and the team of Sean Desrochers and Nate Ihley picked up a 6-3, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) win at first doubles.
North Attleboro, 4 @ Mansfield, 1 – Final – North Attleboro swept singles play in straight sets and took another win in doubles play to record a win on the road at Mansfield. Richard Bermudez won 6-1, 6-1 at first singles, Christian Bermudez notched a 6-2, 6-0 win at second singles and freshman Jonah Manso took care of business with a 6-1, 6-0 win at third singles. North’s second doubles teams of Alex Pfeffer and Sam Gallagher won 6-4, 6-4 at second doubles. Mansfield’s Jalaj Singh and Sethu Odayappan won 6-3, 7-5 at first doubles.
Taunton, 3 @ Canton, 2 – Final – Taunton’s first doubles pairing of McKenzie Lucie and Samantha Martin overcame a one-set deficit to record the third and final point to help the Tigers beat Canton. Lucie and Martin won 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 while Taunton’s second doubles team of Amanda Pugh and Brianna Fevrier won 6-0, 6-3 at second doubles. Freshman Jocelyn Pagliuca won 6-4, 6-3 at third singles for Taunton. Canton freshman Natalie Keppler won 6-1, 6-0 at first singles and classmate Rachel Kupferman didn’t lose a game in a 6-0, 6-0 win at second singles.
Attleboro, 4 @ Milford, 1 – Final
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Foxboro, 5 – Final – Foxboro’s Sophia Prinos and Pamela Nelson won their singles matches in straight sets to help the Warriors earn a victory. Prinos won 6-1, 6-0 at first singles, Nelson notched a 6-0, 6-0 win at second singles, and Kayla Prag emerged with a 6-2, 4-6, 10-4 win at third singles. The Warriors’ team of Sarah Prag and Julia Muise won 6-1, 5-7, 11-9 while Olivia Dantona and Kendall Millender recorded a 6-1, 6-4 win at second doubles.
Franklin, 4 @ Stoughton, 1 – Final
King Philip, 1 @ Sharon, 4 – Final – Sharon picked up a pair of wins in singles play and two more in doubles to get a win over King Philip. Nupur Shukla won 6-0, 6-1 at first singles while Lulu Yuan emerged with a 6-1, 6-2 win at second singles. Katie Merport and Emily Wen won 6-2, 6-1 at first singles and Sophia Fein and Rithika Neti recorded a 6-4, 6-3 win at second doubles.
Mansfield, 1 @ North Attleboro, 4 – Final – North Attleboro swept singles play, taking all three matches in straight sets, to defend home court against Mansfield. Jordan Willis won 6-1, 6-1 at first singles, Emily Chiasson took a 6-4, 6-0 decision at second singles, and Azka Siddiq didn’t lose a game in a win at third singles. North’s team of Leah Marceau and Tara Nair won 6-2, 6-1 at second doubles. Mansfield’s first doubles team of Tessa Garufi and Hannah Podolske won 5-7, 6-4, 10-7 for the Hornets.
Milford, 3 @ St. John’s Shrewsbury, 1 – Final
Taunton, 3 @ New Bedford, 0 – Final – Taunton went on the road and returned with a 3-0 (25-13, 25-17, 25-17) win over New Bedford. Lens Esquil notched 11 kills and four blocks, Collin Hunter added five kills and four blocks, Malik Charles chipped in with four kills and a pair of blocks, and Alex Tavares notched four kills and a block. Freshman Tyler Stewart recorded his first two career kills in the win.
2017 Record: 9-10 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro made a return to the state tournament last spring thanks to a no-hitter from McKenzie Bergdoll in the final game of the regular season and now the Bombardiers, who lost only three players from last year’s roster, are looking to build on that success to make another run at the postseason this year. Bergdoll, a junior, will be back in the circle again this season as well as one of the big bats that Attleboro will rely on to make it back-to-back playoff appearances.
Senior rightfielder Casey Whelan will add experience to a relatively young outfield unit and fellow seniors Vanessa Dancer and Adrianna Elel will provide leadership. Juniors Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti are back to contribute to the Bombardiers playoff challenge and there are high expectations for a talented group of sophomores that includes Makenzie Killough, Ashley Macia, and twin sisters Emma and Jenna Gittle.
“With the loss of only three seniors last year, our season has several impact returning veterans along with some new freshman that will fill the holes quite nicely,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “This season’s early player roster looks very promising but it will be the leadership of the team that will determine our direction and state the facts at the end of the season.”
2017 Record: 1-19 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Canton is coming off a difficult 2017, after winning one game under first-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, but both the coaches and players have a year of experience to build on and an infusion of young talent, with five freshmen being added to the varsity roster, has the Bulldogs looking at 2018 as a year to get the program heading in the right direction.
Sophomore Caroline Hughes will be the starting pitcher and will bat third this season and the coaches are confident that she can provide a lift to the team. Senior Hannah Jerrier will also be back in the middle of the order, after missing almost all of last season after breaking her hand during basketball, and should give the Bulldogs some added pop in the lineup. Senior Katie Halloran will be back in the middle of the infield and senior Evelyn Carrington returns in center. Unfortunately, injuries have struck again with sophomore Jackie Howard lost for the season, but Robillard believes that several of the new faces can come in and contribute right away.
“As a first-year varsity coach, last year was a learning experience for both myself and the girls,” Robillard said. “I am confident that we will make great strides towards success this season.”
2017 Record: 5-16 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Maguire
Foxboro earned a playoff berth through the Sullivan Rule a season ago, despite 15 losses in the regular season, but the Warriors were much better than their overall record and No. 20 seed may have suggested. Out of the 16 games that Foxboro lost in 2017, six were by two runs or less, including a 2-0 loss to Ursuline Academy in the tournament, and those close games are what head coach Mark Maguire is hoping his team can turn into wins this year to make a run at the playoffs.
The Warriors will be looking to senior catcher Hannah Davis to provide the offensive punch, as the perennial league all-star has been among the Hockomock’s best hitters for the past three seasons. Classmate Lexi Buckner will also add some offense in the middle of the order and the lefty will be moving from second base to first this year. Senior Kelly McCarthy will be back in center and at the top of the order, while Chelsea Gibbons will be at third and Camryn Willis will be back at shortstop. Foxboro also has experience in the circle as third-year starter Emma Rohan will get the ball again for the Warriors.
“We have good senior leadership,” said Maguire about the team’s strengths. “Right down the center of the field we have vocal leaders to help the defense. We’re a good hitting team and I think fielding and pitching should be even better this year.”
2017 Record: 10-12 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Kate Fallon
Franklin missed the playoffs a season ago and have a relatively young roster this season, with just one senior in the squad, so the Panthers are flying under the radar as the season gets underway, but they don’t mind if teams overlook them at the start of the season as they try to get back into the postseason.
While there are a number of new faces for Franklin this season, the battery of junior pitcher Jackie Cherry and junior catcher Ally Shea are back, which gives the Panthers a strong foundation on which to build. Junior shortstop Tara Hartnett is also back to give Franklin strong middle of the infield defense and sophomore Anna Balkus will be in center. Senior Meg Caron, the lone upperclassman on the team, will add versatility playing at third and some outfield this season.
“We’re looking to make it back to the tournament this season,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon. “Ally Shea and Meg Caron will provide excellent leadership for our up and coming athletes and no doubt in my mind they will be an integral part of our successes this season!”
Despite a lot of turnover in the lineup last spring, King Philip followed up its 2016 state championship by winning the Kelley-Rex division title and reaching the quarterfinal of the Div. 1 South sectional. With 10 returning players this season, KP has typically high expectations and one of the state’s perennial powers seems poised to make another run at a league title, which would be its 11th in the past 12 seasons, and to go deep in the state tournament.
The biggest change for the Warriors this season will be in the circle where senior Elise Pereira takes over as the primary starter after the graduation of Jenn Hutnyan. Pereira saw plenty of action last year too, but will have to shoulder the majority of the innings this season, backed up by Faith Turnese. Brianna Lacy will be behind the dish, returning as one of the league’s top defensive catchers. Senior Hailey McCasland returns at second base and junior Meghan Gorman is back at shortstop after a breakout sophomore season. Jess Bonner returns at third and senior Sydney Phillips will once again be in centerfield.
It is a loaded lineup with a ton of speed and a strong defensive unit, according to KP head coach Norm Beauchemin. He added, “This is a very hungry team that should compete for the Kelly-Rex and make a strong run in the playoffs.”
2017 Record: 13-9 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lori Letendre
After booking a return to the state tournament last spring, Mansfield returns 10 players, including five starters, to try and make it four playoff appearances in a row. The Hornets are relatively young with only three seniors on the roster and have some holes to fill, including two-thirds of the outfield, but there is a lot of confidence that the program will be able to compete with the best in the league.
Sarah Cahill took over as the starter during the season last year and she will be back in the circle again this spring trying to build on an impressive debut. Cahill will be throwing to her battery mate, as Caty DeMassi is back behind the plate. While the corner infield spots are open this year, Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo are back to fill the other infield spots and give the Hornets strength up the middle. Junior Mady Bendanillo is also back to patrol centerfield and fill one of the middle of the order spots, as one of the league’s most dangerous hitters. Freshman Elle Veheggen joins the team this spring as a newcomer to keep an eye on.
“We are a young team,” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre. “The girls have been working hard in the off-season and came into tryouts well-prepared.”
2017 Record: 25-1 2017 Finish: Won D1 State Championship Coach: Steve DiVitto
The defending Div. 1 state champions look loaded for another run at the title with nine returning players, including six starters, back from last season’s tournament run. Kelley Reichert will take over for Ali Atherton in the circle after seeing time as a reliever and starter in each of the past three seasons. The lineup looks just as potent as last year with senior shortstop Emily Piergustavo back after being named HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and league MVP.
Senior first baseman Jess Tomaso is back to add power in the heart of the order and senior Kate Irwin, fresh off reaching 1,000 points in her Milford basketball career, will return to set the table as the lead-off hitter and emotional spark plug. Senior second baseman Maddy Bonvino, senior rightfielder Shannon Cormier and junior catcher Emily Hartman will add depth to a fearsome lineup that features lots of power and speed.
“This year’s team is focused on the here and now and not the past,” said Milford coach Steve DiVitto. “Each year a new page is turned over, and the focus this year is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season.”
2017 Record: 14-7 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Bill Wallace
The Rocketeers had a young squad last season but managed to surprise a few people by reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal, including an upset of league rival Taunton, and after that year of experience North Attleboro is expecting to be competitive again this spring. Sophomore pitcher Bella Erti is back in the circle after a strong freshman campaign and will be throwing to classmate Ashley Cangiano with the hope of improving on her breakout season.
Olivia Capobianco is back in centerfield after turning in a strong season and she will also be one of the table-setters for the lineup. Abby Gallagher and Katherine Munley will join Capobianco in an experienced outfield for the Rocketeers. Annabelle Hebard, Katy Daby and Abby Warren will play the corner infield positions, while Andrea Miceli is back at second base after a strong year at the plate and in the field. Stephanie Inglese and freshman Emily Nardelli will compete for the shortstop position.
North Attleboro coach Bill Wallace said, “If we want to repeat the success of last year we will need to find some power in the middle of the lineup lost to graduation last year.”
Oliver Ames will have plenty of experience this spring as it makes a run at a return to the state tournament. The Tigers have 10 players back from last year’s roster, including six seniors, highlighted by junior pitcher Kayla Georgeu, who will take the ball as the primary starter again this spring and who head coach Lindsey Allison thinks is ready to “come into her own” both in the circle and at the plate.
The strong senior class includes infielder Alexis Campbell, who will also chip in as a pitcher this year, outfielders Sarah Tetrault and Marissa Guarino, infielders Caroline Mahoney and Rachel Han, and catcher Antonia Peretti. Sophomore Katie Abreu had a strong rookie campaign and is expected to have an even better second season with the Tigers.
“The best thing about this team is their heart and determination – they show up to practice excited to work together and work hard every day,” Allison said. “They are coachable and strive to get better at every opportunity.”
There is a change at the top for Sharon this spring and Heather Poliferno takes over for the Eagles, replacing Deb Parker after her move to league rival Stoughton, and the new staff is confident that the experienced players on the roster will set the tone for the team and give the Eagles a chance at booking a place in the state tournament.
Seniors Jamie Kessler and Jenika Patel and junior Rebecca Clayman are the captains this season and will provide leadership that Poliferno called “key to our success this season.” Junior Alli Small and freshman Julia Earley are players to keep an eye on this season for the Eagles as they could be big contributors in the field and at the plate. Junior outfielder Courtney Sollis brings an accurate arm and consistent contact at the plate.
“Our passion for the game and drive to compete is why we will be a strong contender in the Hock this year,” Poliferno said.
2017 Record: 10-11 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Deb Parker
After back-to-back playoff appearances, Stoughton welcomes a new coach this spring to take over a roster filled with experience and talent. Deb Parker has made the move across the Davenport from Sharon to take over the Black Knights with an eye at another run at the postseason and with senior pitcher Gina Carafa back in the circle and the middle of the order there is plenty of optimism for a strong spring.
Joining Carafa in the Stoughton lineup is junior Jordan Lyons, who Parker called a “standout” third baseman. Lyons is one of a group of talented juniors that Stoughton will be counting on this season, including second baseman Nikki Coppola, shortstop Karly Estremera, and catcher Brianna Ferrandiz. Sophomore Lexi Baptista will add versatility to the lineup and Parker is excited about the freshmen class and expects that they will be able to contribute as well.
“The energy of this team is infectious!” said Parker. “ I am looking forward to this season and have very high expectations about what this team will be able to accomplish.”
2017 Record: 17-5 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Dave Lewry
Even with a host of underclassmen in the lineup, this is an experienced Taunton roster that will be trying to put together a run not only at a league title but also at a deep tournament run, after seeing the last couple of seasons end earlier than expected. With 10 returning varsity players, including seven starters, the Tigers will have high expectations and the key to reaching those goals will be replacing pitcher Courtney Fisher, as freshman Kelsey White and sophomore Jaylin Couto will step into the circle as regular starters this season. Junior Alexa White will also see time at pitcher.
The lineup is loaded again this spring, starting with senior catcher Kya Enos, who added power to her game last year. Junior Jaime Brown is in her fourth year on varsity and is coming off a season in which she was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Freshmen Hanna Aldrich and McKenzie McAloon stepped right in at the middle infield positions last year and will be building on that experience this year. Senior Lianna Duarte is back in center and senior left-fielder MacKenzie Handrahan will bring power to the middle of the lineup as well.
“I think we should have a solid infield defense,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “Offensively we have the capability of putting runs on the board with a deep and experienced lineup.”
2016 Record: 2-18 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled through a difficult 2016, the first season under new head coach Mark Homer, winning only two games while giving up a league high 177 runs and scoring a league-low 46. Heading into this spring, the Bombardiers will be counting on a group of young players to try and turn things around and it seems to be working so far, as Attleboro has played two games and already matched last year’s win total.
One of the true bright spots from last season was freshman pitcher McKenzie Bergdoll, who showed flashes of the potential to be an ace for Attleboro, and this season she will be counted on to keep the Bombardiers in games and to provide big hits from the three-spot. Julia Woyton will be behind the plate this year while senior Ilea Caverley and junior Casey Whelan (outfield) and Jordyn Lako (second base) are the few returning players on the roster.
The Bombardiers are going to turn to youth this spring with freshman MacKenzie Killough taking over at shortstop. Freshmen twins Emma and Jenna Gittle will add depth to the Attleboro pitching staff and classmate Ashley Macia will take over in centerfield. Homer also said that there were underclassmen who would provide speed off the bench.
“The expectations are to play hard, be committed and get excited with every game and practice that they take part in,” said Homer. “With the added depth in each position this year, the girls hope to gain advantages from the previous year and reach their set goals for the season.”
2016 Record: 3-17 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Former King Philip and Sacred Heart University shortstop Jennifer Robillard takes over the Canton program this spring with the hope of bringing some of the success that she enjoyed playing for two state champions and a Division I college to the Bulldogs, who are coming off a three-win season.
The Bulldogs will be looking to their experienced players to help turn things around in 2017, including seniors Molly Loughran, Taylor Carrington, and Julia Ezepik and junior Hannah Jerrier, who are all captains this spring. Jerrier and Ezepik will start the season injured, but Robillard is hoping that other players can step up until they return. Canton will have depth in the circle, as both junior Caitlyn Cahill and freshman Caroline Hughes will see action at pitcher.
Lillian Carrington and Samantha Keefe are two other players that will be counted on to contribute and both provided home runs in a loss to Mansfield in the second game of the season. Robillard is excited about the opportunity to get back into the Hockomock League and she sees a team that “wants to learn.”
“This team has a lot of potential. If we can tap into this potential, I truly believe that we are going to take teams by surprise,” Robillard said. “I am here to share my passion for and knowledge of the game I love with these girls. It is important to me that these girls learn how to be strong, independent and respectful young women.”
2016 Record: 9-13 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Mark Maguire
In 2016, Foxboro finished 6-10 in the Hockomock League but got its chance to play in the postseason and took advantage with a preliminary round win over Westwood and a near-upset of Abington in a nine-inning classic. The Warriors will hope to build on that experience this spring with a number of key players returning.
League all-star Hannah Davis is back behind the plate for the Warriors and will be one of the top hitters in the Hockomock. Davis will likely be in the three-spot in the lineup and right behind her will be senior Kelly Fisher, who head coach Mark Maguire called one of the best first basemen in the league. Kelly McCarthy will try to set the table for the power hitters in the lead-off spot.
Sophomore pitcher Emma Rohan is back in the circle and Maguire expects that she will compete every game and build on her rookie campaign. Behind Rohan, Cam Willis will moved from second base to short and Chelsea Gibbons will provide good ‘D’ and a solid bat at third. Lefty Lexi Buckner could grab the second base spot and senior Jamie Gorham could provide an unexpected boost as a first-year player in the outfield. Mandy Ryan and Kayla Wheatley are two of the players coming up from JV that Maguire is hoping will step in to provide depth.
“They’re all working hard and they’re ready to build together as a team,” said Maguire. “The expectations are really to compete every game.”
2016 Record: 12-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Kate Fallon
Once the rains go away for a few days, Franklin will be able to open its new field and make official its move back to the high school after a couple seasons playing at Dean College. The Panthers are excited about the new facility and about the team’s potential for success this spring with seven returning starters from last year.
Leading the way is third baseman, and four-year starter, Olivia DiGiacomo, who has been a mainstay at the hot corner and provides leadership for the infield. To her left is shortstop Alyssa DaSilva, a three-year starter with two years of experience at short. Sophomore Allie Shea is back at first base and senior Clara DeCarvalho is back behind the plate and poised for a “breakout season,” according to head coach Kate Fallon. The outfield is also filled with veterans, including seniors Rachel Cousineau in left and Olivia Haba in center.
The seventh starter is senior Alex Niss, who started as a pinch hitter last season before taking over the DP role and turning into one of the top power hitters in the Hockomock League. The Panthers should be solid defensively and at the plate and Fallon is hoping that sophomore pitchers Jackie Cherry (who carried a shutout into the seventh in the season opening loss to North Attleboro) and Emily Valentino can make an instant impact in the circle.
“Win 11 games and make the tournament again,” said Fallon when asked about the expectations for the team this season. “I expect the seniors to provide leadership and be role models for the underclassmen. It’s always a dogfight in this league…but I think we are a good team.”
2016 Record: 24-4 2016 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship Coach: Norm Beauchemin
King Philip comes into 2017 on the back of its third state title in the past six years and, while expectations remain high for one of the region’s top programs, there are key pieces from last year’s team that need to be replaced in order for the Warriors to get back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and in the state.
The biggest absence this season is, of course, pitcher Kali Magane, who is now in the circle for Boston University and who was dominant during KP’s playoff run a year ago. Senior Jenn Hutnyan will step in to be the team’s starting pitcher after several starts and relief appearances in the past two seasons. Hutnyan will also be an important bat in the lineup. Junior Brie Lacy will be back behind the plate to help Hutnyan and head coach Norm Beauchemin noted that junior Jessica Bonner will be a solid defensive third baseman.
KP rarely rebuilds and almost always reloads for another title push. This year should be no different with a lineup that features several familiar names from last season’s title run, including sophomore Meghan Gorman and juniors Brooke Taute, Elise Pereira, and Hailey McCasland. Each of those players had important roles last season and will be ready to step up for the Warriors this spring as KP tries to regain the league title after Taunton ended its nine year run in 2016.
“Though it’s hard to replace last year’s seniors,” said Beauchemin, “we have a solid core of returning players ready to represent King Philip and its proud softball legacy.”
2016 Record: 13-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is coming off a 13-win season that included a tournament win against Notre Dame Academy, but after four years of being able to count on Maddie Letendre in the circle the Hornets will be handing the ball over to a new pitcher this spring, although as it turns out only the first name will be changing.
Megan Letendre, who played shortstop as a freshman, will take over in the circle for the Hornets and her development as the No. 1 pitcher will go a long way to determining if Mansfield can repeat last year’s success. Pitcher is not the only position that needs to be replaces, as the Hornets will have a new catcher and three new infielders. Still, with nine returning players, there is plenty of experience on the roster.
Kara Bendanillo will move from third base to second, according to head coach Lori Letendre, and Megan Letendre will sometimes see time at second when not pitching. Liz Mackin will take over at first base, while Marissa Staffier and Amanda Giambanco will take the corner outfield positions. Mady Bendanillo will be back in center after an impressive first season for the Hornets.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have had at Mansfield and they have been putting in a lot of effort to get ready for the season,” said Coach Letendre.
2016 Record: 17-5 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford has been the class of the Davenport division for the past four seasons and the Hawks come into 2017 with the expectations of being heavy favorites for another league title, but, with three seniors and nine juniors on the roster and eight starters returning, head coach Steve DiVitto is hopeful that the talent will translate to a deep run in the state tournament.
The Hawks are one of the few contenders to return not just one but two starting pitchers from last season. Senior Ali Atherton is back to be the primary option in the circle and the Southern New Hampshire-commit has been dominant at times in her career. If Atherton gets into trouble or needs a rest, junior Kelley Reichert has demonstrated that she is more than just a fill-in but can also shut down opponents. They will be pitching to sophomore Emily Hartman, who will step into the starting lineup this season.
There are very few question marks in this year’s lineup with junior Emily Piergustavo moving from second to short to replace Jill Powers, which is Piergustavo’s natural position and one she has played several times in the past year. Junior Jess Tomaso is back at first base and in the heart of the lineup where she will be joined by senior outfielder Maggie Farrell and senior third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua. Junior Kate Irwin will try to be the table-setter at the top of the order and juniors Maddy Bonvino (second base) and Shannon Cormier (outfield) will also be contributors.
“This has been a focused and driven group ever since the end of last season,” said DiVitto. “They have worked hard in the off-season and that was very apparent in the early stages of the season. We are excited to compete in the best league in the state, which will hopefully prepare us for a long run into June.”
2016 Record: 11-10 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro returned to the postseason in 2016 and for the Rocketeers to get back to the tournament this spring it will be the younger players that will lead the way. Head coach Bill Wallace knows that his team will be “green” (with only four seniors on the roster), but he is excited about North’s athleticism and versatility.
Pitching may be North’s biggest strength this season with five players in the rotation, led by freshman Bella Erti, who won her first career start, and last year’s starter Amelia Murphy. Juniors Olivia DesRoches, Jaclyn Buckley and Abby Warren could also step into the circle to help out. Senior Sam Courtemanche will be behind the plate to help the pitchers.
Senior Liz Morehouse returns at first base and Andrea Miceli will be at second. Megan Barlow moves in from the outfield to take over at short (and provided the walk-off hit in North’s season opening win), while Murphy will see time at third when she’s not pitching. Olivia Capobianco will play center with Katherine Munley and Kristina Murphy in left and right with freshmen Ashley Cangiano and Abby Gallagher getting playing time.
“With only four seniors on the roster, I am hoping the learning curve will be brief!” said Wallace. “This may be the year we see a lot of pinch hitting and pinch running! For a young team, they are very focused between the lines!”
Oliver Ames finished in second in the league in 2016 and qualified for the postseason, but that will be an even tougher task now that the Tigers have made the move to the Kelley-Rex division. Even with facing the likes of defending state champion King Philip twice this spring, head coach Lindsey Allison is optimistic that the 10 returning players have the experience to get back into the playoffs.
Senior Victoria Ziner will be the spark on offense for the Tigers this season, but OA also has a number of juniors that Allison said can “do some damage at the plate.” Among those players is Caroline Mahoney, whose bat “is still as dangerous as ever,” according to Allison. Freshman Katie Abreu will be a newcomer to watch for the Tigers as her versatility will make her a valuable member of the lineup.
The Tigers will bring back sophomore Kayla Georgeu in the circle and will be hoping that she continues to develop and keep OA competitive against the league’s top teams. Junior Alexis Campbell will be a second pitcher and also help out at second base.
“We have a solid 10 players returning from last year’s roster,” said Allison, “and we are looking to fill holes behind the plate, in the outfield and at first base this year. Definitely hoping to use some of the speed we have on our team to our advantage this year.”
2016 Record: 4-16 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Deb Parker
Sharon is coming off a four-win season in 2016 but head coach Deb Parker believes that the Eagles have the potential to be a contender in the Davenport division this spring as long as the players continue to develop over the course of the season.
Although the Eagles are a relatively young team, Parker is counting on senior captains Clara Cook and Sam Marglous to provide the leadership needed to keep the team on the right track. Cook will be back in the circle for Sharon, while Marglous will be back behind the plate. Parker said, “Both have been solid contributors for their entire high school careers.”
Sophomore centerfielder Rebecca Clayman and shortstop Ally Small, who Parker referred to as “standouts,” will be the anchors of the defense. Freshman Shoshanna Lowe will step in to play third base and should have a positive impact in the lineup as well.
“I believe we have the right combination of experience, talent and drive to be a contender in the Hock,” said Parker. “This is a team that works hard every day to be better than they were the day before. They have great chemistry and our captains have done an excellent job leading them into the season.”
2016 Record: 10-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Tim Norton
The Black Knights made a return to the state tournament in head coach Tim Norton’s first season in charge, and nearly pulled out a win against Braintree, and Stoughton will be counting on last year’s freshmen to continue developing and keep the program heading in the right direction.
One of the sophomores that the team will be leaning on is third baseman Jordan Lyons, who brings a strong bat to the hot corner and her leadership skills had her named a captain for this spring. Brianna Ferrandiz will take over behind the plate for Sam Tullis and Karly Estremera will move into the infield and continue to be the table-setter as the leadoff hitter.
Norton is excited to have depth in the circle with Shannon Flaherty and Gina Carafa both capable of racking up innings and “setting great examples on and off the field.” Stoughton will also have depth in the outfield with first-year starters Krista Michienzi, Val Whalen and Alessandra Loffredo.
“We were extremely fortunate in Stoughton last year to have such a strong freshman class with great senior leadership,” Norton explained. “This year that sophomore class is going to have to come into their own. While this team is young they got a taste of the post season last year and are hungry for more.”
2016 Record: 22-2 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Lewry
Last season, Taunton won its first outright league title, ending King Philip’s nine-year reign atop the Hockomock. It was a fitting coda to the impressive careers of Taunton’s senior class, but this spring the Tigers will now have to move forward with six new faces in the starting lineup, including at pitcher and the middle infield positions. Taunton typically reloads quickly and head coach Dave Lewry believes this year’s team has a plenty of potential.
Senior Courtney Fisher will step into the circle hoping to make a seamless transition from 2016 Player of the Year Aimee Kistner. Fisher tossed three shutout innings and had three hits in the season opener and got several opportunities to pitch in the past two seasons. She will be pitching to junior captain Kya Enos, who is making the move back to catcher after two seasons in the outfield. Other starters coming back include first baseman Katie VanZandt, junior outfielder Liana Duarte, and sophomore Jaime Brown, who is in her third year at third base.
The Tigers have always found young players who can step right in an make an impact at the varsity level and this year could be a breakout season for eighth grader Hannah Aldrich, who will take over from Jordan Wade at short. Sophomore Alexa White looks ready to step in at second, while senior Rebekah Lajoie and junior Hailey Medeiros are in line to start in the corner outfield places. Taunton could also get contributions at pitcher from eighth grader Kelsey White and freshman Jaylin Couto.
“While we lost six starters from last season, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Lewry. “I expect there will be some growing pains with six new starters in the lineup, but with some seasoned veterans and good young talent we are optimistic that we’ll be competitive this season.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – In the bottom of the fourth inning, Oliver Ames senior first baseman Jamie Gottwald stood at the plate with two outs and two runners in scoring position with the Tigers trailing by two. Foxboro freshman Emma Rohan caught Gottwald looking with a nasty pitch on the inside corner to end the jam.
When Gottwald came up in the sixth with two outs and two runners on and the Warriors still out in front 4-2, OA coach Lindsey Allison expected the outcome to be very different.
“She’s just a kid that steps up,” said Allison. “I kind of had a feeling, two outs, runners on, and she’s a contagious hitter and an under pressure hitter.”
Gottwald came through, driving a pitch well over the leftfield fence for a three-run, go-ahead homer. Freshman Kayla Georgeu made it stand up with a perfect seventh and OA pulled out a 5-4 victory in a game that Allison described as a “must-win.”
“I’m not sure we were ready for what Foxboro was bringing today,” said Allison about one of OA’s top challengers for second place in the Davenport division. “Past history, we’ve always won against Foxboro and they had some really great hitters, pitcher pitched a great game. Fortunately, we were able to shut the door.”
Foxboro loaded the bases in the first inning against OA starter Alexis Campbell, but a grounder to Rachel Han cut down the lead runner at the plate and Katie Pursley turned it into a double play with a quick relay to first. Campbell escaped the jam by getting Ryann McGowan to bounce to third.
The Tigers jumped out to a lead in the bottom half of the inning. Campbell walked with one out and Victoria Ziner, who missed almost all of last spring with an illness, lined a hit to left. Gottwald and Pursley followed with hard-hit line drives that skipped off gloves in the infield and brought in a pair of runs for a 2-0 advantage.
The lead was short-lived, as Foxboro put up a four-spot in the second. Chelsea Gibbons led-off with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Camryn Willis singled to put runners at the corners and Kelli McCarthy had a bunt single that loaded the bases.
After a fly ball to center for the second out, Foxboro catcher Hannah Davis drove over the head of centerfielder Missy Krim for a double that brought in two, while confusion in the infield on a rundown allowed McCarthy to score as well. Kelly Fisher followed with the first of her two hits to plate Davis and make it 4-2.
In the third, Allison turned to Georgeu. The freshman struggled at first, walking three of the first four batters she faced to load the bases, but came back to strike out McCarthy for the second out and then got a foul pop to Gottwald at first to end the threat.
“I kind of went out and said to her, where’s my confident little freshman?” Allison explained. “Just take a deep breath, walk around, talk to your people and…throw a strike. She throws one in and then I think she struck a girl out right after that and she looks at me and gives me a ‘finger gun’ and I was like, oh there you are.”
The Warriors also had a pair of runners on in the fourth inning, but Davis was caught stealing on a great catch and tag by Ziner and Georgeu managed to work her way out of the jam.
“It’s just timely hitting and we just didn’t get it today,” said Foxboro coach Mark Maguire, “and the girl from OA hit a nice shot there. I don’t think it was a game that we gave back; they made some plays too.”
Meanwhile OA continued to get base runners against Rohan, but the Foxboro freshman seemed to come through with the big pitch when she needed and the Warriors made plays behind her, including Davis catching Pursely leaning at third for an important first out in the bottom of the fifth.
“She’s been like that all year long,” said Maguire of Rohan’s ability to keep battling. “She’s a freshman and she’s still learning. She’s fighting every inning.”
In the sixth, Rohan was one strike from getting through the inning clean, but Campbell worked a two-out walk and Ziner followed with a slap single to left, which set the table for Gottwald’s heroics.
Georgeu had settled down after a shaky start to her relief outing and in the seventh she got some help from her defense. Marylou Long led-off with a deep drive to center that Krim tracked all the way and snagged just before falling into the fence. McGowan grounded to third and Han’s throw was high but Gottwald managed to leap and snare it and then come down on the bag for the second out.
Georgeu then got a pop up to retire her 10th straight hitter and seal the win.
Maguire said, “I don’t know if our girls got a little too anxious at the plate but instead of just driving the ball through the infield, maybe they wanted to go long ball and maybe should have dialed back their swings a little.”
Allison knows that her team needs to cash in with runners on base, but she credited the Tigers for making plays to pick each other up and working as a team to get the win.
She said, “Jamie launches herself out and makes the catch [in the seventh]. Maybe Kayla left it hanging over the plate, but Missy Krim picks her up in the outfield. They play well as a team.”
Oliver Ames (5-4, 4-3) will travel to Mansfield on Monday, while Foxboro (4-5, 3-4) will be on the road at North Attleboro.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
Canton reached the postseason two seasons ago, despite only recording four wins, and this year’s crop of Bulldogs will be hoping to replicate that experience by getting the program back to the postseason. With senior lefty Sarah Reissfelder back in the circle, Canton has an experienced pitcher to rely on this spring and a power bat in the middle of the order.
Senior captains Gabby Matthews, Colleen Phelan, and Kaitlin McCarthy will also provide some pop, while sophomore Hannah Jerrier is hoping to carry over her success from the basketball court to the softball diamond. Taylor Carrington (third base) and Lillian Carrington (centerfield) will also be players to watch as the Bulldogs fight for a spot in the Div. 2 tournament under head coach Tracy Andrews.
2015 Record: 9-12
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South preliminary round
Coach: Mark Maguire
Despite being below .500 again last season, Foxboro continued to improve its win total from the year before, going from six to seven to nine over the past three years, and clinching its fourth straight trip to the state tournament. Head coach Mark Maguire expects that a fifth trip will be in the cards for the Warriors again this spring but he is also setting his sights on challenging Oliver Ames and Milford at the top of the league standings.
Senior Jenna Weinstein is back in the circle for the Warriors and will be the primary starting pitcher, but Foxboro also has depth at pitching and that can make a big difference over the course of the season. Freshmen Camyrn Willis and Emma Rohan will be developed as pitchers of the future.
Weinstein will also be one of the Warriors’ top bats this season along with sophomore Hannah Davis, who is moving behind the plate to replace league all-star Bri Stern after a season at shortstop. Mary Lou Long will take over at short and Kelly Fisher will be at first base and batting cleanup, while senior Carolynn Will continues in center and has been a three-sport captain (soccer and basketball).
“We expect to compete for the Davenport division as long as our pitching comes along,” said Maguire. “We expect to make the playoffs and challenge for the league…and the girls are ready to go.”
2015 Record: 19-4
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South quarterfinal
Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford enters the season with the potential to win a fourth straight league title and challenging the top teams in the Div. 1 South. Senior shortstop Jill Powers and catcher Meg Jacques will provide leadership for an experienced and still young roster that features sophomore infielder Emily Piergustavo, who is already getting Div. I college interest.
In the circle, junior Ali Atherton returns for a third year and she showed last year that she can compete with the best, as evidenced by her regular season win over South champ Silver Lake. Junior Maggie Farrell will add a lot of pop to the lineup and sophomore Jess Tomasso has transferred in from Hopedale and could make an instant impact in the middle of the order. Sophomore Kate Irwin will step in to fill an outfield role and freshman Emily Hartman will be used at multiple positions this year.
Milford coach Steve DiVitto said, “They are motivated to continue to exceed others expectations and truly believe they can compete with the best of the Hock and state. They have set the bar high-and have worked tirelessly in the off-season to strive and reach those goals.”
2015 Record: 11-11
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South first round
Coach: Lindsey Allison
Oliver Ames finished behind Milford in the Davenport last year, but pulled an upset over league rival Mansfield to advance to the first round of the state tournament to face eventual South champ Silver Lake. The Tigers will be hoping to challenge the Hawks again this spring and make a run at the league title.
Spearheading the offensive attack for OA will be senior Jamie Gottwald, who led the Tigers with a .449 battling average and three homers last year. Classmate Katie Pursley will also be back after hitting .389 last year and fellow senior Missy Krim will bring experience to the outfield. Caroline Mahoney hit .352 last season and the sophomore return at third base, while junior Victoria Ziner has been off to a strong start at shortstop this preseason.
One of the biggest changes for the Tigers will be in the circle where freshman Kayla Georgeu will be the starter with sophomore Alexis Campbell will help out as a pitcher and second baseman. Head coach Lindsey Allison said, “There are still some puzzle pieces we are working on to finalize positions being filled from graduating seven last year…We are definitely looking to play .500 ball and make tournament again this year.”
Sharon will look to build on last season and while the Eagles may not be challenging for the league title this season they will be hoping that the mix of experienced starters and talented underclassmen can make a push towards the postseason.
Sharon will be aided by experienced pitching, as junior Clara Cook will be the starter for the third season in a row and her battery-mate is senior Rachel Ulsen, a two-time Hockomock all-star. Senior Jenna Kranseler will be back at first base and junior Sam Marglous will be at shortstop. Head coach Deb Parker will also be counting on versatile freshmen Allison Small and Rebecca Clayman.
Parker said, “Both play a variety of positions so we will spend the next few days figuring out where they will help us the most.”
After many years in charge of Stoughton softball, Janet Sullivan has stepped down and first-year head coach Tim Norton has taken over. Norton inherits a team that has lost nine seniors from last year and has as many as eight starters playing new positions this season.
Sam Tullis will be behind the plate this year and the Black Knights will also return seniors Courtney Campbell, Nicole Bodette and Shannon Flaherty. Freshman Karly Estramera will be a player to watch, according to Norton, and may be the starting centerfielder.
Norton said, “Even with the high degree of turnover this year I think the tournament isn’t out of the question.We have a very solid core of young talented players and if they play up to their potential it could propel us back into the tournament.”