By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
TAUNTON, Mass.- The No. 2 seed Taunton Tigers took an early lead against Bishop Feehan Wednesday night at Jack Tripp Field and didn’t look back as they beat the visiting No. 4 seed Shamrocks 9-1 to advance to the Div. 1 South final.
“It feels great,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “It’s been a while since we’ve been [to the South final] and we’re just taking it one game at a time. We treat every game as if it’s the championship.”
On the mound, Taunton freshman starter Kelsey White put up a strong performance, surrendering just one run and six hits, while striking out two in a complete game win.
For Feehan, the loss went to senior Shauna Hamill, who gave up 14 hits, nine runs (six earned) and two walks while striking out two in a complete game performance.
At the plate, the Tigers saw several strong contributions, starting from the leadoff spot. Junior third baseman Jaime Brown went 3-for-3 with three runs and an RBI on two singles, a double and a walk. Senior catcher Kya Enos also impressed at the plate, going 1-for-2 with a pair of both runs and RBI.
For the Shamrocks, the offense was lead by sophomore catcher Gabrielle Comeau, who went 2-for-3 scoring the team’s only run of the evening.
The Tigers wasted little time in getting on the board as a leadoff double by Brown in the bottom of the first put a runner on for the hosts, who would come home off a sacrifice bunt by Enos to make it 1-0.
“That was huge,” Lewry said of the run. “We went suicide squeeze on that. I like to get the first run, I like to put the other team behind and make them push a little bit.”
The Shamrocks would push a little in the top of the second, as a leadoff single up the middle by Comeau turned into the tying run three at-bats later as a simple short hit to shallow left by sophomore designated player Hannah Ramer brought in Comeau from third and quickly drew the action back even.
However, things wouldn’t stay even for long.
The Tigers struck back in the bottom half of the inning, as a single by junior second baseman Alexa White became the go-ahead run off of a base-clearing triple from sophomore first baseman Paige Silvia. Silvia was brought in two at-bats later as a single to left by Brown allowed her to score and make it 3–1 in favor of the home team.
The middle innings were fairly quiet for both offenses, as both pitchers settled in to their grooves, particularly Kelsey White, who went three straight innings with three straight outs.
“She’s incredible,” Lewry said of White. “I’ve grown out of superlatives for her, she is just an incredible pitcher for a ninth grader, for any grade. She throws the spots, she’s got nice stuff, she throws hard and she does not get rattled out there.”
The Taunton offense roared back to life in the bottom of the fifth, as walks to Brown and Enos to start the inning gave the hosts a good scoring chance, but they quickly found themselves down two outs. A shallow infield pop up by freshman shortstop Hanna Aldrich looked likely to end the inning, but the ball bounced off Hamill’s glove, allowing Aldrich to load the bases and Kelsey White to clear them with a deep double just an at-bat later, doubling the Tigers’ lead to 6-1.
Three more runs would follow as the Tigers batted around in the bottom of the sixth. Six straight singles put Taunton in control, with Enos scoring Brown, senior outfielder Mackenzie Handrahan scoring Liana Duarte and Aldrich scoring Enos respectively, making it 9-1.
Comeau lead off the top of the seventh for Feehan with a single, but a comeback wasn’t meant to be for the Shamrocks, as two fielder’s choices and a fly out to right would end both their chances and their season.
Three games now separate the Tigers from a D1 state title, and for players like Handrahan, their desire for the trophy grows stronger every day.
“We’ve never wanted something so much for each other,” said Handrahan. “We’re just so close, this team’s so close… and we have ‘it,’ so we have to bring ‘it.’”
The Tigers will look to bring it on Friday when they face a familiar foe in the South final – Kelley-Rex rival King Philip.
“King Philip’s a great team,” said Lewry. “We had two outstanding games with them this year, both of them one run games, and I expect another one like that.”
“This game is really big to us,” said Handrahan. “We want to win so bad”
Taunton (23-2) and King Philip (21-3) will face off Friday at 7 p.m. at Taunton High School’s Jack Tripp Field.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Dartmouth twice had the lead in Monday night’s Div. 1 South quarterfinal at Jack Tripp Field, but twice Taunton was able to erase the lead with one swing of the bat. Senior Kya Enos and freshman Hanna Aldrich both hit solo shots that brought the Tigers back after falling behind.
With the momentum back on its side, Taunton put together a five-run rally in the fifth, all with two outs, to take control of the game. The Tigers would roll to a 9-2 victory that books their first appearance in the South semifinal since 2015.
“Finally,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry about the offensive explosion. “We haven’t been hitting the ball the last two, three weeks like we did earlier in the year. It was good to see us start to string hits together as a team. We needed to do that.”
The Tigers had a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first and a chance to get the early lead. A walk to Jaime Brown and a bunt single by Liana Duarte (3-for-4), who beat the throw, put two on for Enos, but she was unable to make contact against Dartmouth starter Sophia Sousa. An infield hit for Mackenzie Handrahan (3-for-4) loaded the bases, but Sousa got a pop up and a grounder to escape.
Dartmouth grabbed the lead with an unearned run in the third. Rachel Pereira drew a two-out walk and advanced to third on a pair of wild pitches from Kelsey White. After Sousa drew a walk, a bouncing ball to second was misplayed allowing the run to score.
In the bottom half of the inning, Enos crushed a pitch to left that bounced off the top of the fence and into the trees for a solo homer that energized the Tigers bench.
“That’s the type of leader she is and that’s the type of player she is,” said Lewry about Enos, the Hockomock League co-MVP. “You want to see her up in those situations. That really woke us up, really gave us some life. Now we said, okay we can hit this kid.”
Enos added, “Our number one thing we tried to focus on was getting on top and that didn’t really work out, so after my home run everyone was wicked pumped up.”
The senior catcher is the emotional and vocal leader of the team and her energy was infectious. It is a role that she has welcomed since joining the program as an eighth grader.
“It’s wicked important,” she said. “Since eighth grade, I’ve always been wicked emotional…but this is it for me. It’s all or nothing, so I’m trying to go out with a bang.”
The visitors retook the lead in the next inning. Hailey Camire beat out an infield single on a very close call at first and moved to second on a sac bunt. White induced a bouncer back to the circle for the second out, but Sarah Gioiosa lined a single to center to bring in a run. It was one of only two balls that Dartmouth got out of the infield against White.
In the bottom of the fourth, Taunton quickly evened the score. Aldrich led-off with a blast to left that easily cleared the fence and nestled into the trees.
“Did she crush that thing, my god,” Lewry said of Aldrich’s homer. “Two good swings, two runs, we’ll take it. We’ll take the solo home runs to get us back in the ballgame and get things rolling.”
White settled into her start, limiting the Indians to only two infield singles and a walk over the final three innings. She seemed to get stronger as the game wore on.
Lewry explained, “It took a little while to get all her pitches working. She was hitting her spots and I thought she was throwing the ball hard tonight and then she fielded her position as well as anyone.”
It always helps a pitcher to feel more comfortable when the offense provides some runs and that is what Taunton managed to do in the fifth.
After a pair of groundouts to short, Duarte lined a double to left and Enos followed with a four-pitch walk. Handrahan ripped a ball up the middle that Kayleigh Alonso was able to get a glove on but not field cleanly. As the ball bounced a couple feet away, Duarte scampered home with the go-ahead run.
Aldrich showed a good eye to draw a walk and load the bases for Kelsey White and she helped her own cause with a single to left that scored two. Alexa White brought in two more when she followed with a double over the leftfielder’s head for a 7-2 lead.
Enos admitted that it took the Tigers time to adjust to the Dartmouth pitcher, who relied on changing speeds and movement rather than trying to overpower hitters.
“It’s not what I expected,” she said. “It took a little bit. First at-bat I swung a pitch way over my head, I think it was a little anxiousness, but I think everybody finally found it, started clicking and then it all pulled together and it ended up working out good.”
In the sixth, the Tigers tacked on some insurance that essentially put the game away. Brown lined a one-out single to center, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Duarte drove Brown in with her third hit of the night, this one a single to right. Handrahan made it 9-2 two batters later with a sliced double down the left field line.
The final score was one-sided, but the Tigers faced adversity, rallying twice before taking control, and Lewry thinks this will benefit his team going forward.
He said, “Tournament ball is totally different than regular season. There’s a lot of pressure and we had to play under pressure, especially once we fell behind. In the long run, hopefully this game will be a good building block for us.”
Taunton (22-2) will face Bishop Feehan in the semifinal on Wednesday at Jack Tripp Field at 7:00.
TAUNTON, Mass. – After losing the first game of the season series to King Philip on a walkoff home run, it didn’t take long to see how ready the Taunton Tigers were to extract some revenge.
The hosts came out swimming, plating four runs in the bottom of the first inning, highlighted by a three-run home run, and then held off a late surge from the Warriors to earn a 4-3 win.
“I think they definitely ready to play tonight, this was an absolute must win for us when you think about the Hock championship,” said Taunton head coach Dave Lewry. “We came out with four runs in the first but kind of struggled a bit after that. We got some base runners but couldn’t come through with the clutch hit. They are a good team…that shortstop [Meghan Gorman] played a tremendous game for them, just tremendous. We just couldn’t get the base hit when we needed it [for insurance]. But the four runs held up for seven innings so we’ll take that.”
Junior Jaime Brown had a line drive double to lead off the bottom of the first, Kya Enos gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with an RBI single through the left side, Mackenzie Handrahan took first after being hit by a pitch, and freshman Hanna Aldrich blasted a deep shot to center field for a three-run homer, giving Taunton a 4-0 lead.
“It’s a good spot for her,” Lewry said of Aldrich’s spot in the order. “She’s a clutch hitter for us but I don’t want her any further up in the lineup so there isn’t too much pressure on her. And she’s gotten a lot of big hits for us in the five-hole so I think its a real nice spot for her. And none bigger than tonight. When you hit the ball out to center, you crush the ball. It’s 220 out there, and that cleared by a good 20 feet if possible.”
The Tigers had a chance to add to their lead but KP starter Elise Pereira (6 IP, 8 H, 5 K) settled in nicely, only allowing five hits over the next five innings. And even when Taunton did get a hit, or looked like they might, KP shortstop Meghan Gorman had a handful of highlight reel plays to stall Taunton’s attack.
For example, in the second inning, the Tigers had runners on first (Brown via a walk) and second (Alexa White leadoff double) with just one out. But Pereira induced a pop up to center field and then Gorman robbed Enos of a hit with a diving catch at short.
King Philip got on the board in the top of the fourth inning. Pereira helped her own cause with a one-out double to center and courtesy runner Liliana Rolfe came around to score on an RBI single from Jess Bonner to make it 4-1.
The Warriors had a chance to cut into the lead more when Brianna Lacy singled to get runners on first and second but Taunton freshman Alexa White (5.2 IP, 9 H, 3 K) got a strikeout to escape the jam.
It looked like Taunton was going to add to its lead in the bottom of the fourth when Alexa and Kelsey White had had back-to-back singles to begin the inning but Gorman snagged a line drive and got the tag at second for the force out for an unassisted double play.
Sydney Phillips led off with a double in the fifth and made it to third with two outs, but White once again came up with the right pitch, getting a fly ball that senior centerfielder Liana Duarte tracked down and made the catch over her shoulder just before the fence.
“Liana is clearly our best outfielder, this is her fourth year in the outfield for us, Lewry said. “When a ball is hit to her, I don’t have to hold my breath. And Mack is developing into a real solid left fielder, she keeps the ball in front of her and makes the plays. And Alexa is an infielder who’s learning how to play out there and she’s doing a nice job out there. Liana definitely made some nice plays for us today. A couple of those balls, they could have been trouble and been over her heard but she made the plays.”
But an inning later, King Philip’s offense did cash in, pushing across two runs. Jess Bonner singled and moved to second on a groundout. Lacy reached after an infield throwing error, allowing Bonner to come home to make it 4-2. Courtesy runner Majorie Guerrier stole second and came in to score on a two-out single from Nicole Carter.
Sophomore Jaylin Couto came in to relieve White, inducing a pop up behind the plate that Enos made an acrobatic play on to get the third out.
“It’s hard a decision for me to get used to making because I haven’t had that in the past,” Lewry said of using multiple pitchers. “When you have a pitcher out there, she’s throwing a good game, it’s hard to pull her and put someone cold. You just hope they don’t come in and walk three batters in a row. But Jaylin did her job, she does throw hard, she had some nice stuff. The whole key there was to throw quality strikes and she did that.”
Alexa White picked up her third hit of the day, her second double, with two outs but Pereira picked up a strikeout to end the threat in the bottom of the sixth.
KP threatened in the top of the seventh when Hailey McCasland drew a walk but Brown made a phenomenal play at third, grabbing a hard hit line drive and getting the double play at first. Faith Turinese singled with two outs, and Guerrier stole second to get into scoring position, but Couto got a fly ball to center for the final out.
Taunton softball (10-2 Hockomock, 11-2 overall) moves into a first place tie with the Warriors with the win, though KP has a game in hand. The Tigers are scheduled to be back in action on Wednesday when it hosts Oliver Ames. King Philip (10-1, 12-3) will try to bounce back on Tuesday when it hits the road to take on Franklin.
TAUNTON, Mass. – Milford’s offense exploded for six runs in the fifth inning to create a big lead and then held on after a late Taunton rally to open the season with a win.
The Hawks built a five-run lead in the top of the fifth but the Tigers plated four runs over the next two innings to get within one. Milford, the defending D1 State champions, buckled down in the seventh to earn an 8-7 win in the season opener for both teams.
“This group is writing their chapter for 2018,” said Milford head coach Steve DiVitto. “This game wasn’t going to make or break our season…it’s a great test against an outstanding program, extremely well coached. They have some incredible talent and we’re fortunate to battle and come out with a win.”
Milford’s big inning all started with its No. 9 hitter, senior Antonia Bonina. In her first start, Bonina faced 10 pitches in the at-bat, getting enough contact on the final pitch to beat Taunton’s infield, which was pulled in.
“That’s Antonia’s first varsity start, and she’s a tough kid, a tough player,” DiVitto said. “She’s been waiting her turn, she’s had some injuries. I was really happy for her to have a great game today, and that at-bat was huge. It really got the inning going and we really started rolling. I think it gave us some life there.”
Senior Kate Irwin just beat out the throw for a bunt single, and senior Emily Piergsutavo loaded the bases after being hit by a pitch. Senior Jess Tomaso drove one to the outfield to score two runs. Two batters later, senior Shannon Cormier laced one to left field for an RBI single and a 5-3 lead.
Senior Maddy Bonvino reached after an error at second allowed Cormier to beat the fielder’s choice throw to second. On the first pitch of the next at-bat, senior Kelley Reichert belted a deep hit to center for a double, clearing the bases and giving Milford an 8-3 advantage heading to the bottom of the fifth.
“We knew we can swing the bat, that’s definitely no secret that it’s a strength of ours,” DiVitto said. “The girls kept battling, kept putting good at-bats on, and kept communicating with each other, which I think is big. [White] had us off balance there early on but we were able to put some good swings on it in the middle innings and put some runs up.”
Taunton senior Kya Enos started the bottom of the fifth with a leadoff single and took second on a passed ball. A ground out allowed Enos to advance to third and freshman McKenzie McAloon plated Enos with an RBI single.
Tigers sophomore Jaylin Couto, who came in in relief to get the final out of the fifth, picked up two strikeouts in a quick sixth inning.
“I give my kids a lot of credit,” said Taunton head coach Dave Lewry. “We kind of had a nightmare inning there in the fifth and things unraveled on us and we fell behind by five, yet there was no quit in them. They felt like we could come back and win, and they showed it. We made a nice comeback and had a shot there, just had a couple of opportunities to score some runs and we couldn’t get the hit.”
Taunton was able to rally with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. Junior Jaime Brown (2-for-3, two runs) connected for a single, took second on a passed ball, and senior Liana Duarte walked to put two runners on. Enos (2-for-4, three runs) then delivered with a hard line drive home run over the fence in left center field to cut the deficit to one, 8-7.
“She’s a five-year starter on this team, she wants to lead,” Lewry said of Enos. “She’s been a leader for the last three years. That’s the kind of hitter she is. She had kind of a rough day at first, hadn’t made great contact and then she turned on that pitch with great contact and got us right back into this game.”
Couto (2.2 IP, 7 K) struck out the side in the top of the seventh to give Taunton some momentum heading into the final half inning.
“She did a heck of a job,” Lewry said of Couto. “I thought [starting pitcher] Kelsey [White] (4.2 IP, 7 ER, 6 K) pitched real well too. But she was getting tired, she was starting to leave the pitches up. Jaylin came in and struck out seven batters. She can pitch, she has a lot of nice movement on her pitches and she throws hard. She threw strikes today which is a big thing for her.”
Freshman Hanna Aldrich led off with a single but Reichert (7 IP, 6 ER, 4 K) notched a strikeout and got a force out at second on a fielder’s choice. Reichert then ended the game by inducing a ground ball right back to herself.
“Kelley’s an outstanding pitcher, now she has the opportunity to really take the team and throw them on her back,” DiVitto said. “She hit a bit of a wall there in the middle innings but she dug deep and she did a great job of continuing to battle and finding a way to win.”
The Hawks opened the scoring in the top of the first behind an RBI single from Cormier that played Piergustavo.
Taunton responded right away in the bottom half of the inning. Brown (walk) and Duarte (error) both reached but Brown was forced out at third on Enos’ fielder’s choice. Senior Mackenzie Handrahan (2-for-4, three RBI) hit a grounder through the left side to bring Duarte home, and in the next at-bat, Aldrich connected to bring Enos home to make it 2-1.
Milford knotted the game in the top of the third behind a one-out double from Tomaso. A single from Emily Hartman moved Tomaso to third, and the senior scored on a sacrifice fly from Cormier.
Taunton took the lead back in the bottom of the third, sparked by back-to-back singles from Brown and Duarte. Handrahan drove a one-out shot to left for an RBI single to make it 3-2. DiVitto elected to intentionally walk Aldrich to load the bases and the plan worked as Reichert induced consecutive groundouts to escape without further damage.
“I told the kids, [Milford] is the defending state champs, that’s the team a lot of people are picking to repeat,” Lewry said. “I think they have eight senior starts, they are still one heck of a team. To be able to play with them the way we did today, I think we can play with anybody. We just have a few things to iron out and we’ll be good to go.”
Taunton (0-1, 0-1) will look to bounce back on the same day when it hosts Mansfield.
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.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace knew he had the game plan to beat Taunton, it was just a matter of execution.
All 12th-seeded North Attleboro had to do was play perfect.
Big Red was nearly flawless on the defensive end, came up with timely hitting and walked away from Jack Tripp Field with a 4-1 upset win over fifth-seeded Taunton.
“We played nearly flawless tonight – and that’s how you have to play to beat a team like Taunton,” Wallace said. “You have to play as sound as possible. We got a few breaks and that’s what we needed.”
Freshman Bella Erti pitched a complete game for the Rocketeers, scattering eight hits and one walk and struck out won to earn her second straight postseason win.
“Bella pitched great tonight,” Wallace added. “The good thing was that they didn’t see her the first time around (an 8-1 win by Taunton). That was a new wrinkle coming in. Especially when you draw someone from you own league, you usually see a pitcher you’ve seen before. She made two big plays in the field too.”
It took Taunton just three batters to take the lead in the bottom of the first. Sophomore Jaime Brown led off with a single, advanced to second on a sac bunt from junior Liane Duarte and scored on an RBI double from junior Kya Enos to put the Tigers ahead early.
The Tigers had at least one runner on base in every inning after that except for the sixth and had a runner reach third in three of those innings but couldn’t get another run in.
“[North Attleboro] played a great game,” said Taunton head coach Dave Lewry. “I told Coach Wallace after the game that they executed everything the way it should be executed. And he said that’s the only way to beat you – to be perfect. And they were damn near perfect tonight. They played a real solid game defensively, they got key hits when they had to and they took advantage of our mistakes. That usually turns the tide, especially in tournament time.”
Big Red took a couple of innings to get its offense in gear. The Rocketeers went down in order in both the first and second inning and had just one hit in the third – an Andrea Miceli single – and just a two-out single from Erti in the fourth.
North finally broke through in the fifth inning. Sam Courtemanche reached after a throwing error to first and took second on the same play. Freshman Ashley Cangiano laid down a bunt and beat the throw to put runners on the corners for Big Red.
With both the infield and the outfield playing in, Abby Gallagher laced a hard grounder up the middle, the ball hitting the edge of the outfield grass and hopping over Taunton’s center fielder. Both runs came in to score and Gallagher took third on the play.
Meg Barlow delivered a single in the next at-bat to plate Gallagher and give North Attleboro a 3-1 lead.
“This place has been a house of horrors for us over the years,” Wallace said. “One reason is that Taunton has had such a great program over the years and the other is that when you get to the state tournament and in the semifinals and finals, you play great teams. This is a great memory for the girls to get the win here.”
Taunton was close to coming up with a big response in the bottom of the fifth. Enos reached on an infield error and went to third on a one-out double to right field from MacKenzie Handrahan. A line drive to center was snagged by Olivia Capobianco and she fired a strike home to get the runner on the tag up, ending the threat.
“That was the play of the game,” Wallace said of Capobianco’s throw.
North Attleboro pushed an insurance run across in the top of the seventh. Gallagher reached on Taunton’s sixth error of the day and moved to second on a sac bunt from Capobianco. Barlow just just a piece of the ball, putting it in the dirt right in front and the throw from first hit both Barlow and Taunton’s first baseman, allowing Gallagher to score.
“They executed better than we did and they deserved to win the game,” Lewry said. “We hit the ball pretty well most of the night, made good solid contact. But they made the plays, that’s the difference in the game”
Taunton threatened once again in the bottom of the seventh inning with Duarte (error) and Enos (walk) reaching with two outs, but Erti got a line drive to Cangiano in left field for the final out.
North Attleboro softball (13-6) advances to the D1 South Quarterfinals and will take on the winner of #4 Marshfield (15-3) and #20 Mansfield (13-8) on a date and time to be announced. Taunton finishes at 17-5.
TAUNTON, Mass. – One of the biggest challenges that all teams have faced so far this Spring has simply been getting outside and playing on an actual softball field.
Taunton entered Friday’s showdown with top-ranked Milford with two games under its belt. Meanwhile, this was the Hawks first game of the season.
That experience paid off the Tigers, overcoming a one-run deficit with four unanswered runs between the fifth and sixth innings to beat the Scarlet Hawks, 4-1.
“I’m proud of my team,” said Taunton head coach Dave Lewry. “We’ve got a lot of new starters this year and they haven’t played in any pressure games yet, and this was the first one. They didn’t get down on themselves [after Milford scored], we hadn’t done anything for the first four innings but they stayed focused and started coming through. We played a very solid game against a real good team.”
The Scarlet Hawks were the home team despite playing at Jack Tripp Field on the campus of Taunton High School. After senior Ali Atherton retired the side in order in the top half of the first, Milford’s offense looked like it was going to get off to a big start in its first at-bats of the season.
“I don’t want MacKenzie’s been a surprise, we knew about her from previous seasons but so far, she’s hitting the ball well,” Lewry said. “We were hoping should get make a step up for us this year and so far she’s exceeded my expectations with the way she’s hitting the ball. She’s absolutely crushing it.”
A passed ball pushed both runners up a base and on the next pitch, Rebekah Lajoie hit a fly ball to right field. White came in to score on the sac fly and Van Zandt moved to third, but the throw to home to try and get white got past the catcher and out of play, allowing Van Zandt to come home to give Taunton a 2-1 lead.
Fisher capitalized on the momentum, retiring the Hawks in order in the bottom of the fifth.
“That’s a pretty typical Courtney game,” Lewry said. “She’s not going to ‘wow’ you with a lot of strikeouts but she just keeps throwing that drop, and the changeup and hitting her corners. She gets the job done, I thought she threw an excellent game today.”
Taunton’s bats continued to produce in the top of the sixth. Sophomore Jaime Brown, in her third year starting at third for the Tigers, roped a 0-1 pitch into left field. Brown originally stopped at third as the ball sat at the base of the fence, causing the umps to halt play. But after a quick check, the ball was deemed to have cleared the fence, giving Brown her first ever home run – at any level of softball.
Liana Duarte followed with a four pitch walk and two batters later, Handrahan doubled in the run to give Taunton a 4-1 lead.
Fisher retired the order in both the sixth and seventh to finish the game. Eighth grader Hannah Aldrich made an impressive back handed play at short to get the first out in the sixth.
“I was pretty impressed with our defense, I thought we played great,” Lewry said. “Our eighth grader there at shortstop [Hannah Aldrich] played like a seasoned pro. She made that backhand play in the hole in the sixth inning to get that first out, that was a huge play. I’m pleased with the way the kids are playing at this point.”
For Milford, expectations are still high for a club with plenty of experience. The fact is, the Hawks still have an entire season to go.
“First game, tough opponent, tough place to play, they’re a great team that’s well coached,” said head coach Steve DiVitto. “It was a battle of the pitchers early on. Atherton and Fisher were spectacular early. We were able to go up on that home run and it almost seemed to wake them up a little bit. We had some opportunities early in the game, especially in the first inning. As the year goes on you hope you’re going to capitalize on those. But its the first game, you’re not going to win anything game one, you’re not going to lose anything game one.
“You learn from your mistakes and hopefully if we see them down the road, we’ll be better off. We just hope to get better every game. When we get back to practice on Sunday, we want to be better than we were today. And then we’ll get ready to go for Stoughton in the Davenport opener on Monday.”
Taunton softball (3-0, 3-0) will travel to Mansfield on Monday to open up its Kelley-Rex schedule while Milford (0-1, 0-1) will host Stoughton in both teams’ Davenport opener.
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.”
TAUNTON, Mass. – Taunton won both meetings with King Philip during the regular season (by the same 2-0 score line) and ended the Warriors’ nine-year run as Hockomock League champions.
The Tigers held bragging rights on their division rivals…right up until Monday night.
The third time proved to be the charm for the Warriors. Kali Magane struck out 11 and allowed only three hits and fellow senior Ashley Hession blasted a three-run homer in the second inning to lift KP to a 3-0 victory in the Div. 1 South quarterfinal at Jack Tripp Field.
“Oh gosh. We wanted to leave everything on the field,” said Hession about how the Warriors felt coming into Monday’s game. “I got up there and I just…we had to do it for the team, you couldn’t think about yourself, and we did.”
The defining inning began with a leadoff walk by Brooke Taute and a single by Caeli Bench that put two on with no outs.
Taunton pitcher Aimee Kistner got a line out to left and another line drive right back to the circle to give her a chance of escaping the jam, but her two-strike rise ball to Hession caught too much of the plate and the St. Joseph’s commit deposited the pitch over the left field fence.
“She caught a rise ball that possibly didn’t rise as much as we had hoped,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry, “and got it up around the letters and hit the ball out and that’s the ball game.”
Hession admitted that she had no idea that it was going to be a homer when it left her bat. She said, “I didn’t realize it was gone, I really didn’t. Not until I hit second base and then I knew. It was amazing.”
Magane dominated the Tigers from start to finish and made sure that Hession’s one swing was enough to earn the win. She struck out the side in the top of the first and struck out two hitters in an inning twice.
The Tigers got a two out walk in the second, but did not get their first hit until the fourth on a single by Meghan Navarro, which followed Kistner’s walk and was the only time that Taunton had more than one base runner in an inning. Magane stuck out Kya Enos and got Sarah Bagge on a soft liner over second that Hession chased down to end the threat.
“She beat us tonight. There’s no doubt about it,” said Lewry. “We didn’t even hit her well in the two games we won; we just got enough bats on the ball to score a couple of runs.
“In three games we probably squared four balls up. She’s good…the kid can pitch.”
KP coach Norm Beauchemin added, “Dominant, dominant. She’s getting more and more determined. Mentally stronger, but not physically stronger; I think she’s reached her peak.”
Taunton also got a hit from Katie Van Zandt with one out in the fifth, but the inning ended when Liana Duarte grounded to second baseman Meghan Gorman who turned a 4-3 double play. That was the last Tigers base runner, as Magane retired the final seven hitters.
“The first game they only had two hits,” said Beauchemin. “They may have had three hits today, so actually they may have hit her better today than the first game but we didn’t make any errors…and we scored runs.”
Kistner had a rough start to the game but seemed to get stronger as the innings wore on and turned it into another pitcher’s duel. She limited the Warriors to just two hits after the second inning (a single in the fifth and one in the seventh) and finished with three strikeouts, including back-to-back K’s to end the sixth.
“Aimee battled like she does every single game,” said Lewry. “She had trouble with a couple of pitches early on, couldn’t get things to work, but she just finds a way to battle through things.”
Lewry added that he is going to miss the influence of seniors Jordan Wade, Navarro, and Kistner, who have played at least four years on varsity and won a pair of league titles.
He said, “I said to the other kids coming back next year, let’s remember what they established. Lets remember the teamwork they emphasized. Lets remember the hard work they were willing to put in every single day. We’ve got to keep that same level of spirit.”
Beauchemin was basking in the moment after beating the Tigers. He said, “It was nice to see the seniors come through…If we don’t win another game, this one’s sweet, but I think we’re going on.”
When asked if he felt comfortable potentially playing the next two games at Jack Tripp Field, he replied with a smile, “We’re very comfortable here. We’ve played a lot of games here and had a lot of success in the past.”
King Philip (20-4) will face the winner of Hopkinton/Walpole on Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
MANSFIELD, Mass. -For the first time in five seasons of competing in the Hockomock, Taunton softball can proclaim itself the best following a 12-0 victory at Mansfield on Monday afternoon that clinched a one-loss league campaign and at least a one-game advantage over King Philip.
It is not the first Hockomock title in the program’s history (the Tigers and Warriors shared the title in 2014), but it is the first time that Taunton will finish the season alone in first place in the Kelley-Rex division, ending a streak of nine straight titles by KP.
“It means a lot to us,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “It was nice getting a share a couple years ago but we’ve been on top all year and to drop back and potentially lose it or end up in another tie was not what we were looking for, so this one feels good.
“KP has dominated it for so many years and it just feels good to be able to come in and take it away from them, for a year anyway.”
Senior Jordan Wade, who is in her fifth season with the Tigers, added, “We haven’t been on top since we entered into the Hockomock and, this is a great division, to know we’re one of the best in this division means a lot and I think it’s a good push for us to go into states.”
Taunton had the opportunity to clinch the title on Sunday but lost for the at Milford (its first loss of the season), which added even more motivation to not allow the outright title slip away as it has in the past couple of years.
Wade said, “We came in this year and we just wanted it. The loss yesterday just made us want it even more. We did not want to lose today.
“We’re a confident team and we used that loss yesterday as fire, as energy to come out today. We needed that loss just to let us know that people are out there, just like us, wanting to go into the tournament and wanting to go far into states.”
The Tigers did not waste any time putting themselves in a position to clinch the title, scoring four runs in the top of the first.
Freshman Jaime Brown was moved up to the top of the order, replacing Liana Duarte, and that switch paid immediate dividends. Brown lined a lead-off triple to right and would score on a wild pitch. After Aimee Kistner singled and Meghan Navarro reached on an error, sophomore Kya Enos blasted a three-run homer to left center, using her speed to score standing up.
“We were talking about that, the coaches, before the game – lets jump on top early,” said Lewry. “Kya obviously was huge. She’s been clutch for us all year. She doesn’t feel pressure; she just comes and plays.”
Mansfield had runners on base in the second and third innings against Kistner, who was pitching her second game in as many days, but both times the Taunton pitcher got the out that she needed to escape unscathed.
Those missed opportunities would be the last ones that the Hornets would get. Kistner seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, mixing her pitches and increasing her velocity in the later innings. She retired the final 13 hitters that she faced.
“I was a little worried because it was back-to-back days,” Lewry explained, referencing some nagging injuries that Kistner is managing. “I was a little concerned that she’d feel the effects from yesterday, but she did a great job for us today. She’s clutch; she can dig down when she needs to.”
Mansfield would finish with just one hit, a third inning single by Megan Letendre. Kara Bendanillo walked, Maddie Letendre reached on an error, and Liz Mackin reached on a fielder’s choice. That was it for the home team.
Meanwhile, the Taunton lineup showed that it has pop from all positions. Duarte led off the fifth with a bunt single followed by an infield single from Brown. Wade drove her in with a single to left and then Kistner (3-for-4) cleared the bases with a triple to center. Madi Letendre retired back-to-back hitters, but Sarah Bagge brought in courtesy runner Hailey Medeiros to make it 8-0.
Lewry said, “That’s been a big thing for us all year is that we have gotten offense out of our entire order. It’s nice to see it come around again.”
Katie Van Zandt singled to start the sixth and would come home on a throwing error, while Wade reached on an infield single, stole second, moved up on the error and would score her second run of the game on Kistner’s third run drive in.
In the top of the seventh, Duarte (2-for-4) lined a triple to right field, scoring Bagge and Van Zandt and making Lewry look like a genius for moving her down to the nine-hole on Monday.
“That worked out pretty nicely,” he said. “Liana’s been struggling a little bit the last couple weeks…so I figured just take a little pressure off her and Jaime hits no matter where you put her. It seemed to pay off.”
The season has been one big pay-off for the Tigers, who clinched the Kelley-Rex title with their 14th shutout of the spring. Taunton has outscored opponents 220-16 and finished a perfect 10-0 against teams from the division.
Taunton (19-1, 15-1) will close out the regular season against Dighton-Rehoboth and city rival Coyle & Cassidy. Mansfield (11-7, 8-7) finishes up with Holliston and Canton.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.