STOUGHTON, Mass. – With all-star third baseman Karly Estremera, one of the Stoughton’s leading hitters, sidelined with an injury, sophomore Julia Driscoll took over the starting role for Saturday morning’s playoff opener against Somerset-Berkley. She would walk off the field a hero.
In a tie game in the bottom of the seventh inning, Driscoll, batting in the eighth spot, drilled a lead-off double to left. It was only the fifth hit that the Black Knights had managed off of Raiders starter Laney Martin. After a pair of strikeouts, Jordan Lyons hit one off the end of the bat down the first base line. The backspin took it away from the first baseman and Lyons hustled to the bag to keep the inning alive.
The very next pitch skipped by the Somerset-Berkley catcher and made its way to the backstop as Driscoll scampered home with the winning run and was mobbed by her teammates. With the 2-1, walk-off victory Stoughton will travel to face Walpole in the D1 South first round.
“It’s what we talked about yesterday is that the beauty of this roster is that we have depth and somebody is going to step up every day and today was Julia’s day,” said Stoughton coach Deb Parker. Parker was also celebrating her birthday on Saturday and appreciated the gift of a win from her team. She joked, “It was the only thing I wanted today.”
Parker also praised the play that Lyons made to keep running on the awkward play for the first baseman and allow the inning to continue with Driscoll at third. She said, “That’s one of the things we stress with these girls is that every ball is in play until someone says you’re out and Jordan’s all hustle all the time.”
It was a pitcher’s duel from the start. Sophomore Nicole Baker and Martin combined to allow three base runners and one hit through the opening three innings of the game. Both pitchers struck out four over the first two innings, while Martin struck out the side in the third. Stoughton ended the third with a double play, as Sydney Menz grabbed a line drive in right and doubled up the runner on first.
The second time through the order was a little more difficult. In the fourth, the visitors nearly broke the deadlock, but with runners at first and second and two outs, Lyons chased down a bloop by the line in shallow left. The shortstop stretched to get to the ball and stayed with it when it popped off her glove, eventually corralling it on the slide.
During the fourth inning Baker took a liner off her ankle that had the Black Knights worried, but she recovered and ended up throwing a complete game. Parker explained, “We just needed her to work on her breathing and we wouldn’t give her mask or her glove back until she could breathe and then she wants the ball every pitch and we’re going to give it to her.”
After making a great play in the field, Lyons led off the bottom half of the inning and reached on an error. A sacrifice bunt by catcher Bri Ferrandiz moved Lyons into scoring position for Lexi Baptista, who drilled a double to right center (Stoughton’s first hit of the game) and brought in Lyons for the game’s first run.
Nikki Coppola singled as well, but Martin was able escape the jam by snaring a comebacker from Baker and then recording her eighth strikeout of the game.
The Raiders came right back and got their first run in the top of the fifth, with some help from the Stoughton defense that was otherwise outstanding. A lead-off walk and a sac bunt moved a runner into scoring position, but Baptista took a one-hop single to center and gunned down the lead runner at third, with Driscoll applying the tag.
“I think defense is one of the things we do best,” Parker said. “Nicole is a great pitcher but she also knows that she has eight people on the field with her that will get it done behind her.”
The next batter hit a hard shot up the middle that Baker knocked down, but her throw to first got away and skipped up the right field fence. The runner came all the way around from first and, after a delay at third, raced home to score the tying run. Somerset-Berkley were fortunate that the throw back into the infield dropped because that delay at third could have cost them the run.
Stoughton got two on in the bottom of the inning but Martin got out of the jam with an infield pop-up. Baker threw a perfect sixth and nearly helped her own cause with a two-out double in the bottom half, but again Martin was able to pitch out of the jam. In the top of the seventh, Baker was perfect again, with help from Baptista chasing down a liner in left center, and finished with her fifth strikeout.
Stoughton (15-6) will try to carry the momentum from its dramatic win into Sunday’s game at No. 5 seed Walpole.
“I think it’s great,” said Parker, “especially to battle the way that these guys did. They know there’s nothing they can’t do now.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – In a showdown between two of the Hockomock League’s top pitchers, North Attleboro’s Bella Erti and Stoughton’s Nicole Baker both delivered.
Erti, a junior, allowed just one run on four hits and one walk, striking out 13 in the circle for the Rocketeers. Baker, a sophomore, was also strong with just two runs (one earned) allowed on three hits, no walks, and 11 strikeouts, including 10 swinging.
A game with two great pitchers is likely to come down to one or two plays, and that’s exactly what happened.
Stoughton took the lead in the top of the fourth inning, but the Rocketeers answered with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. And then erased the tying run at the plate in the top of the sixth on a nice defensive play by North Attleboro junior catcher Ashley Cangiano.
“It was nice to respond,” said North Attleboro head coach Bill Wallace. “We’re still a young team, we had four girls that it was their first varsity start. Having said that, they know the game. We knew that we’d have to put the ball in play.
“Baker did a really nice job, Bella did a really nice job. It was classic pitcher’s day…the wind blowing in, cold…and both pitchers did exactly what they were supposed to. A game like that comes down to one or two plays, and the bunt and the play are home were the two plays.”
Both pitchers had it going early on. Bella retired the first nine Stoughton batters in order, six by strikeout. Baker allowed just two base runners to start, one on an error in the first and Katie Daby’s leadoff single in the second. But neither runner advances past second and Baker had seven strikeouts through three.
“That was a great game and it really could have gone either way,” said Stoughton head coach Deb Parker. “Nicole had a great day, that’s how she throws every day. She keeps her composure and does what she needs to do. She’s going to keep us in every ball game.”
The offenses for both teams came alive in the fourth inning. Stoughton senior Jordan Lyons sliced a one-out triple over the right fielder’s head. Two batters later, junior Lexi Baptista hit a hard grounder through the right side for a two-out RBI and a 1-0 lead for the visiting Black Knights.
Stoughton’s Bri Ferrandiz followed with a single up the middle to put runners on first and second but Erti bounced back with a three-pitch strikeout to escape further damage.
North Attleboro had an immediate response in the bottom half of the fourth. Cangiano led off with a single up the middle. Annabelle Hebard followed with a bunt up the third base line. The ball was bobbled into foul territory, and Cangiano hustled to an open third base, which allowed Hebard to take second.
Daby hit a soft grounder up the middle but the throw to first was high and both Cangiano and Hebard came home safely. Stoughton freshman Sydney Menz made a terrific catch in right and doubled the runner at second to help the Black Knights keep the deficit at one.
“That’s two juniors and a senior making those plays,” Wallace said of leaning on more experienced players while the younger players gain experience. “We only started the one senior today, we have a handful of juniors. We have to learn as we go. We still made some mistakes but we got through it.”
Stoughton threatened with the tying run at third in the sixth but North Attleboro denied the Black Knights. Karly Estremera led off with a walk and moved to second on a single from Baker. A short grounder allowed Estremera to take third and Baker moved to second.
On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Cangiano was able to block the ball down. It looked like it had gotten away from her and Estremera took off for home but Cangiano recovered nicely, grabbed the ball and made a diving play to tag the Black Knight base runner as she slid into home for an out.
“Ashley did a great job on that play,” Wallace said. “I thought she could have had her the play before, the girl got caught leaning a little but I think it surprised Ashley a little bit. But I think that helped because then she was aware and felt like she could have gotten her, and then she did a great job blocking and tagging her.
“I trust our lineup, one through nine we can get it done,” Parker said. “If we’re going to be aggressive and take a chance, I thought that was a chance worth taking. It just didn’t go our way.”
Baker retired the final six batters in order while Erti had a 1-2-3 seventh inning, including back-to-back strikeouts to end it.
North Attleboro softball (1-0 overall, 1-0 Hockomock) is back in action on Monday when it entertains Oliver Ames. Stoughton (1-1, 1-1) has its first home game on Tuesday against Attleboro.
2018 Record: 9-12 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
After back-to-back playoff appearances, the expectations are high around the Attleboro program this spring. The Bombardiers return eight of nine starters from last year’s team and the lineup should be loaded with good hitters, as well as multiple players who can step into the circle and produce a good start. With the depth on the roster this season, Attleboro will be eyeing another postseason berth.
Senior McKenzie Bergdoll is one of the top power hitters in the league and will be back for another spring in the heart of the Attleboro lineup. She will be joined by classmates Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti as starters. Junior Makenzie Killough will be back at shortstop and also batting cleanup and providing protection for Bergdoll in the order. Sophomore Lora Woyton returns behind the plate, sophomore Autumn O’Connell will be in center and batting second and junior Ashley Macia will be out in left. Sophomore Brenna Morse will be taking over in rightfield. In the circle, Attleboro has plenty of depth with juniors Emily and Jenna Gittle and Bergdoll all able to step in. The Bombardiers will try to take advantage of their overall team speed and head coach Mark Homer said there are a few freshmen who may see playing time right away.
“The bar was set high from last season,” said Homer. “So the girls are onboard to perform well again this season with high hopes of competing in every game they play. They have set some goals to achieve one a\t a time. I am cautiously optimistic with our chances of winning more games this season than we have in the past. Knowing that there are no easy games on our schedule so we have to come to play every night.”
2018 Record: 8-13 2018 Finish: Reached D2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Bohane
Canton had quite the turnaround in 2018 under second-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, winning eight games, seven more than in 2017, and making a return to the state tournament. Robillard, last season’s HockomockSports.com Coach of the Year, has moved on to a position at Bentley and football coach Dave Bohane has taken over a team that has seen an influx of young talent and has momentum on its side heading into the spring.
Junior pitcher Caroline Hughes is one of the reasons for optimism in the program, as she is looking to build off a strong sophomore season in which she pitched almost every inning. Hughes was also one of the team’s top hitters and she will be at the heart of the lineup along with sophomore outfielder Liz Bickett, who batted .409 last season. Bickett is just one of several sophomores who the Bulldogs will be counting on, including infielders Olivia Lanci and Sarah Kelly, catchers Steph Trendell and Amanda Vrabel. Junior catcher Jackie Howard and seniors Haley Donovan and Ally Chin will provide leadership for this young group to try and get the Bulldogs right back into the state tournament mix.
“I am very excited to be coaching this team,” said Bohane, who has previously served the program as an assistant coach. “They are extremely hard working and devoted to the program. I think they will set the standard for our future players who come through the program. It’s a very tough league, but we will take it one game at a time and try to improve each game”.
2018 Record: 11-12 2018 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal Coach: Mark Maguire
Foxboro made a run in the Div. 2 tournament last season, winning a pair of games before being knocked out in the quarterfinals, and the Warriors will hope to build on that exciting finish to 2018 by making a run at the Davenport crown this spring. Even with the loss of catcher Hannah Davis, who was instrumental in the team’s playoff run, Foxboro has a strong returning core and some talented young players stepping in to give head coach Mark Maguire confidence ahead of the new season.
Senior Emma Rohan will be back in the circle for her fourth year as the Foxboro starter and she has the experience of pitching in a number of big games and against the top teams in the league. Senior Cam Willis will play first this season, but can also step in and pitch if needed along with junior Amelia Stowell. The pitchers will have a rookie to throw to, as freshman Allie Willis will be stepping in behind the plate. Sophomore Morgan Sylvestre returns at shortstop after a strong first season on varsity and will be one of the leaders of the infield. Senior Chelsea Gibbons is at third base and freshman Peyton Feldman takes over at second. Sophomore Nicole Theriault will be in centerfield but can play a number of positions, senior Riley Martignetti gives the team pop from the right side of the plate, and senior Jill Finn can play all three outfield positions.
“Preseason is going great as the girls are working very hard to be ready for the season,” said Maguire. “We have a group of girls who work hard. I think team defense should be good with our senior leadership, and the younger players who aggressively look to make plays in the field. I have high expectations for this team, as we look to compete for a Davenport title and gain a state tournament berth.”
2018 Record: 9-11 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Kate Fallon
Franklin has consistently been right behind perennial league leaders Taunton and King Philip in the Kelley-Rex division standings but has narrowly missed out on the playoffs by a single win in each of the past two seasons. This year, the Panthers have eight seniors coming back with the goal of getting the team back into the postseason and use a typically tough schedule to prep for a tournament run.
Pitching will be a strength for the Panthers this year with seniors Jackie Cherry and Emily Valentino giving the team depth and different options in the circle. Throwing strikes will be the key for both and limiting opposition base runners. Behind the plate, Franklin has plenty of experience as well with seniors Ally Shea and Maggie Hobby both capable of stepping in and handling the pitchers as well as providing power at the plate. Senior Tara Hartnett will be back at shortstop and provides strong defense up the middle. Junior Anna Balkus will be in centerfield and will set the table for the offense as the lead-off hitter. Junior Maddy White will be at third base and joins Shea and senior Kylie-Jade Bouzan as the team’s primary run producers.
“We are excited to see the Panther players on the field again,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon-Comeau. “Overall our tough league and non-league schedule will keep us focused for tournament and we will rely on our solid pitching and defense.”
2018 Record: 21-4 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South Final Coach: Norm Beauchemin
Every season King Philip loses important players and every season the Warriors seem to be right back in the mix for the league title. This spring should be no different. KP will have several important players to replace in the lineup, but it expects to challenge for a 12th title in the past 13 seasons and also make another tournament run, following last year’s South final loss to Kelley-Rex rival Taunton.
Meghan Gorman is the player to watch for the Warriors this season, as the senior shortstop is one of the top defensive players in the state and also the spark plug at the top of the lineup. Senior Faith Turinese will move from the outfield into the circle and will split time with classmate Heather Nix as the top pitchers for the Warriors. Turinese also batted over .400 last year and will be an important bat in the middle of the order. Junior Destiny Goyco will step in behind the plate, after overcoming an injury from basketball season, and fellow junior Liliana Rolfe will take over at third. Grace Kelley will be at second base and Anna Bradley will be at first. The outfield will be filled with speed, including Kara McWhinnie in left, sophomore Paige Berdos in center, and either Ryan Stagg or junior Reaegan Simeone in right.
“One to nine, everyone hits the ball,” said KP coach Norm Beauchemin. “I’m looking forward to another solid season. The league overall is going to be very competitive, so it should be fun.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is looking to bounce back from a tough 2018 season in which the Hornets struggled in the Hockomock (going 4-12 in league play) and missed the playoffs. This year, Mansfield hopes for a quick turnaround and return to the state tournament with an experienced roster that brings back 11 players, seven starters, and seven seniors from last season.
The battery of senior pitcher Sarah Cahill and senior catcher Caty DeMassi is back and should give the Hornets a good foundation on which to build on this season. Seniors Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo will hold down the left side of the infield and provide pop in the middle of the lineup, while Mady Bendanillo returns in centerfield to give Mansfield a dynamic defensive player and another strong bat. There is an influx of youth as well with two sophomores and a freshman jumping into varsity and having the chance to contribute right away.
“Our goal is to make it back to the tournament this year and with strong leadership from our captains and our seniors, I think we will have a good shot at it!” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre.
2018 Record: 18-3 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Steve DiVitto
The biggest question for Milford is how do the Hawks move on from a group of 10 seniors that won a combined 79 games, four league titles, and the 2017 state championship? Milford has been the team to beat in the Davenport division for six years and a relatively inexperienced group will have to face a season in which the target for every team in the league is squarely on their backs.
Junior Megan Hart is one of the primary options to replace Kelley Reichert in the circle to start the season, with freshman Olivia Morelli showing potential to step in and contribute innings right away. Senior Lucy Creedon can step in at first or in the outfield. Junior April Swain will jump into the outfield along with classmate Taylor Waldrup, while junior Amanda Wenckus can play either position on the left side of the infield and sophomore Carly Ferreira can play either corner infield spot. Sophomore Elise Fauerbach can play behind the plate or in the outfield, while her classmate Natalie Casilli will take an outfield spot. There are a lot of spots to fill this year, but head coach Steve DiVitto is talking about that as an opportunity for a new group of players to step into.
“We understand that lack of experience is something that we will need to combat with, however the bar will continue to be set high!” DiVitto said. “Each year a new page is turned over, and as always the focus is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season. We’re excited for the challenges of playing in the best league in the state!”
2018 Record: 16-5 2018 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Bill Wallace
Two seasons ago, North Attleboro was a young team that made a surprise trip to the South semifinal, but this year the Rocketeers will have much higher expectations. North is now the experienced team in the Davenport division and has aspirations of unseating Milford and winning a first league title since 1990 and adding to the league’s recent history of strong tournament performances with another deep run.
Junior pitcher Bella Erti will be one of the league’s top pitchers again this season, after a 15-5 sophomore season in which she struck out 137 batters. She also hit .357. Junior Ashley Cangiano is also back for her third year as a starter and is one of the top catchers in the league. Abby Gallagher returns to the North outfield after hitting .500 last season as a sophomore and senior Olivia Capobianco will be back in centerfield and the middle of the North lineup. Freshman Mandi Hanewich and sophomores Emma Bailey and Belle Clarkin will compete for the third outfield spot after impressive preseasons. Senior Katie Daby is at first, while sophomore Emily Nardelli moves from shortstop to second base. Junior Alex Moulson takes over at short and her classmate Annabelle Hebard will be at third. Emily Bedard and Makenzie Nardelli add to North’s infield depth and Alivia Byrne will give Erti a rest in the circle and is another big bat in the lineup.
“We will need to be more multi-dimensional, as late in the year we couldn’t sustain our offensive start to the season,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “This group really wants to make their mark on the league and they know how much work that is going to take.”
Last season was a struggle for the Tigers, with only three wins and head coach Lindsey Allison is hoping that a group of younger players can add to the returning core and make a push to get Oliver Ames back into the state tournament. Allison is confident that the offense will get into the swing of things for the Tigers after scoring only 66 runs last season, second-lowest in the league.
Senior Kayla Georgeu will be back in the circle for OA and in the heart of the lineup. The Tigers will count on sophomore Emma Varella to provide some innings at pitcher, as well as playing in the infield. Senior first baseman Katie Mills is a big bat for the Tigers and junior Katie Abreu can step in at either shortstop or centerfield depending on the game to provide vocal leadership. Sophomore Grace Simone will be behind the plate this season.
“Every spot is open for the taking and there are many young players who are hungry to be on the field,” said Allison. “This group of players seem like a team – not just a group of individuals. They compete with one another for positions, but also support each other. They hold each other accountable and communicate. I am excited to see what hard work can accomplish this season.”
It was definitely a rough debut season for Sharon coach Heather Poliferno, but it was also a chance for a number of young players to get experience at the varsity level. This spring, there is renewed enthusiasm with a crop of underclassmen joining the experienced players to give Poliferno and the Eagles confidence for a much better spring.
Freshman Trinity Payne is the player to watch for the Eagles this season as she takes over as the starting pitcher and has already drawn the attention of coaches in the Davenport division. She will be used at a couple of different positions and gives the Eagles versatility in the lineup. Senior Alli Small will be back at shortstop this season, while classmate Jody Goldenberg is back at first, and senior Rebecca Clayman will be the leader of the outfield group. As the program is growing, Sharon is hoping for much different results this season.
“We are very excited for this season!” said Poliferno. “We have many returning players leading our varsity team, as well as the addition of a very talented freshman class. Though we have only had a handful of practices, one of our clear strengths is our desire to be the best on the field.”
2018 Record: 7-13 2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Deb Parker
Stoughton struggled to find a groove in 2018 and ended up missing the playoffs under first-year head coach Deb Parker, who had made the switch from Sharon before last season. This year, the Black Knights bring back starters in key positions and once again have the potential to make a run at a state tournament berth and even challenge for the Davenport title.
Seniors Nikki Coppola (second base) and Jordan Lyons (shortstop) give Stoughton a strong combination up the middle and senior Karly Estremera brings plenty of experience at third base. Sophomore pitcher Nicole Baker will take over full-time in the circle this season and Parker is impressed by the work that she put in during the off-season to get ready. Baker will be throwing to an experienced catcher, as senior Brianna Ferrandiz is back behind the plate for the Black Knights. Junior Lexi Baptista will lead the outfield crew in center and could also be one of Stoughton’s top hitters this season. Freshmen Melody Casna and Sydney Menz will give the Black Knights versatility by playing multiple positions.
“This team has come together so quickly, it is a real tribute to the leadership of our captains,” said Parker. “This team knows what they are playing for this year and we have high expectations going into the season. Softball in the Hockomock League is incredibly competitive but if we continue to work hard, we should have a great season.”
2018 Record: 26-2 2018 Finish: Won D1 State Championship Coach: Dave Lewry
How do you follow up a state championship? For Taunton, it just may be to make a run at a repeat. The Tigers lost the second, third, and fourth hitters in the lineup (including league MVP and HockomockSports.com Player of the Year Kya Enos), who combined for 88 RBI, but there is a ton of talent coming back from last season, all of whom contributed at one point or another during Taunton’s run to the title.
It starts in the circle where sophomore Kelsey White will be the starter again this season after going 16-2 as a freshman and pitching every inning during the playoff run (not to mention batting .418). Her sister Alexa will also see time at pitcher, along with freshman Olyvia Mendonca, but will also play most of the season in centerfield. The infield will be a strength for the Tigers, with all four players back. Senior Jaime Brown (batted .469) is back for her fifth year at third base and is one of the top hitters in the league, sophomore Hanna Aldrich (.385 average with four homers and 30 RBI) is in her third year at shortstop and was this site’s Underclassman of the Year in 2018, sophomore McKenzie McAloon returns at second base for her third season, and junior Paige Silvia is back at first. Silvia and junior Riley Murphy are also in the running to replace Enos behind the plate, while junior Abbie McDonough takes over in left and eighth-grader Ava Venturelli could start the season in right.
“While we lost three outstanding players to graduation, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “We have a good nucleus of returning players looking to defend our D1 state championship.”
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.”
CANTON, Mass. — The ball rolled slowly back to Clara Cook. The senior pitcher carefully scooped the grounder and lobbed it to first base for the game’s final out of a 3-0 victory for Sharon over Davenport rival Canton.
There was no wild celebration, but Cook smiled wide as she removed her protective face mask while walking towards home plate.
Cook had just thrown her first career no-hitter.
Sharon entered the game following a loss to Milford a day prior, in a game that saw Cook get hit with three line balls.
While the bruise from the incident remained, no such signs were shown on the field. The right hander struck out four batters while walking just two in a complete game effort. Canton earned just four baserunners as batters reached first on two errors to compliment the walks.
“I think she did everything well,” Sharon head coach Deb Parker said. “To even have her come back and be able to throw today…this kid has thrown with a leg brace on, her wrist wrapped, a giant bruise on her shin. To come back and have a no-hitter is what she’s about.”
Cook stifled the Canton offense with specific pitch placement, picking corners on the first at bat of the game and earned the looking strikeout on just three pitches. Two groundouts to second base rounded out the three-up, three-down inning.
And the sequence looked strikingly similar throughout the next six innings. Canton batters had trouble latching onto Cook’s pitches.
A hard hit ball nearly put the no-hitter in question in the seventh inning but it was ruled an infield error. A mishap at first base in which the exchange from second and third floated high provided Canton one of its baserunners.
“The last time we played them they hit the ball really well.” Parker said, reflecting on her team’s 9-4 victory against Canton on April 20th. “So, I was a little surprised to no-hit them.”
Sharon’s three runs all involved freshman Shoshana Lowe. She cranked the game’s first hit deep to right center field and reached third standing after some ball bobbling in the Canton outfield. Jenika Patel knocked in Lowe three batters later as she ripped a line drive just over a reach Canton defender’s glove and down the third base line.
Lowe hit a similar ball an inning later, which despite being caught, scored Jamie Kessler on a sacrifice fly. In the fifth, Allison Small scored on Lowe’s final hit of the day which didn’t travel as far as her first two. But the blooper landed in the gap between shortstop and right field giving Small all the time she needed.
“I think [Clara] moved the ball well,” Parker said. “Sammy [Marglous], our catcher, calls a great game. Going into the game we don’t really know what we are going to see and Sammy does a good job with that.”
Sharon improves to 6-13 (4-12 Hockomock) and will close out the season on Thursday against Milton. Canton finishes the season 1-19 but the future looks bright with a strong core returning for first-year head coach Jen Robillard.
Attleboro, 1 @ King Philip, 2 – Final – King Philip’s Ben Furfari was responsible for knocking in both of the Warriors’ runs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh for a walk-off victory. Furfari put KP ahead in the first, knocking in Will Weir – double, stole third – on a sacrifice fly. Attleboro tied the game in the sixth, taking advantage of a pair of errors. Kyle Guenthner scored the game-winning run, reaching on an infield single, taking second on an error and coming home a base hit to right from Furfari. Chris Wing tossed 5.2 innings, allowing just one hit with seven strikeouts. Dan Antunes picked up the win in 1.1 innings of work in relief, striking out one without allowing a hit. Tyler McGovern had a strong outing for Big Blue, going 6.1 innings with three strikeouts and one earned run allowed.
Canton, 1 @ North Attleboro, 2 – Final – North Attleboro junior Nick Sinacola threw a no-hitter and the Rocketeers scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh to walk-off against Canton. In a complete game effort, Sinacola walked three and struck out 13 on 104 pitches. After six scoreless innings, Canton tied the game in the top of the seventh on a pair of walks and a pair of hit batters. Sinacola escaped the bases loaded jam without allowing any further damage. After taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth, the Rocketeers won the game in the bottom of the seventh. Tyler LaFreniere walked and pinch runner Jeff Gale stole second. Gale advanced to third on a base hit from pinch hitter Aidan Harding and then John Brennan brought the winning run home with a sacrifice fly.
Foxboro, 8 @ Sharon, 6 – Final – Colin Thoener had a pair of hits and knocked in a pair of runs and the Warriors took advantage on a pair of two-run doubles in the third to hold off Sharon. Both Cam Feldman and Chad Bearce came through with a two-run double in the third to help starter Aaron Wentling earn the win. Steve McLaughlin came on in relief, getting the final out with the bases loaded to earn the save.
Franklin, 1 @ Oliver Ames, 0 – Final – A pitcher’s duel broke out at Frothingham Park on Monday afternoon between Franklin’s Jake Noviello and Oliver Ames’ Sam Burr. The difference in the game came in the fourth inning when the Panthers scored the lone run of the game. Jake Lyons’ swinging bunt forced an errant throw to first, allowing the Franklin senior to get to second. Lyons moved to third on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Alex Haba and came home on a sacrifice fly from Ryan Hodgkins. Josh Macchi had a pair of hits for Franklin. Noviello earned the win, allowing just three hits, walking one and striking out five in a complete game effort. Burr scattered six hits without issuing a walk, striking out three in a complete game performance.
Taunton, 2 @ Mansfield, 13 – Final – Mansfield’s offense exploded for seven runs in the first inning and scored all 13 of its runs by the conclusion of the third inning. Max Boen had a team-high four hits, scored twice and knocked in one run, both Zack Peterson (run, RBI) and Cullin Anastasia (four RBI, two runs) had three hits for the Hornets and Aidan Cahill (three runs, RBI) registered a pair of hits. Nolan Dousa earned the win, striking out nine in six innings of work.
Stoughton, 6 @ Milford, 8 – Final – Stoughton got off to a strong start with three runs in the top of the first but Milford had the answer, scoring seven runs in the bottom half off of seven hits. The Black Knights came back with three more runs to make it a one run game in the top of the second, but that would be the closest they’d get the rest of the way. Milford starter Nate Irwin settled down after the first two innings, allowing just three hits the rest of the way with five strikeouts. Ryan Goncalves had three hits and a run scored, Anthony Mobilia cleared the bases with a three-run double in the first inning and Aidan Wilde and Zack Tamagni each recorded a pair of hits for the Scarlet Hawks. Ruben Gonzalez, Jack Connelly and Nick Hardy each had two hits for Stoughton.
King Philip, 18 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final (5 inn.) – King Philip’s Jenn Hutnyan didn’t allow a walk or a hit, throwing a perfect game as the Warriors ran away with a big win. Hutnyan helped her own cause, coming up with two hits and four RBI at the dish. Hailey McCasland had four hits, Sydney Phillips added three hits and Meg Gorman, Allie Kuchy, Jess Bonner, Brooke Taute and Brianna Lacy all chipped in with two hits apiece.
North Attleboro, 15 @ Canton, 0 – Final (5 inn.) – Olivia Capobianco had a strong day at the plate and Bella Erti and Olivia DesRoches combined to allow just three hits as the Rocketeers rolled to a big win. Capobianco went 4-for-4 (two doubles) at the plate, recorded five RBI and scored three runs to pace Big Red’s offense. Liz Morehouse added a two-run home run and Abby Warren and Andrea Miceli each scored a pair of runs. Erti threw the first three innings with five strikeouts with five strikeouts while DesRoches allowed just two hits in the final two innings.
Foxboro, 5 @ Sharon, 6 – Final – Sharon trailed 5-1 with two outs in the sixth inning but rallied to pull out the divisional win. Freshman Shoshana Lowe hit a triple with the bases loaded to cut the lead to just one run. Senior captains Sam Marglous and Clara Cook set up the game-tying run and Lowe provided the game-winning run with a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh. Cook picked up the win, striking out seven and allowing only two hits for the Eagles. Sharon coach Deb Parker said, “This is what we have seen from this team all year, they are never out of a game and they never stop fighting. I am so proud of the way this team plays day in and day out, they never quit!”
Oliver Ames, 4 @ Franklin, 8 – Final – Franklin struck for six runs over the first three innings and tacked on two more in the fifth to double up on Oliver Ames. Ally Shea paced the offense, going 4-for-4 with four RBI while Anna Balkus chipped with two hits and two stolen bases. Emily Valentino earned the win for the Panthers, striking out three. For Oliver Ames, Katie Mills had a pair of doubles and two RBI, Sarah Tetrault had a pair of hits with a run scored and Caroline Mahoney went 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Mansfield, 2 @ Taunton, 5 – Final – Courtney Fisher tossed a complete game to earn the win and Taunton’s offense came up with a pair of home runs to beat out Mansfield under the lights at Jack Tripp Field. Fisher scattered seven hits, striking out five with two walks to earn the win. Katie Van Zandt (2-for-3, double) had a solo home run and Jaylin Couto connected on a two-run blast. Kya Enos (3-for-3, RBI), Hailey Medeiros (RBI) and McKenzie McAloon each had a double for the Tigers. Liz Mackin opened the scoring for the Hornets with a first inning RBI single. In the sixth Marissa Staffer singled to cut the lead to one but the Hornets could not capitalize on a bases loaded situation. Megan Letendre had two hits for Mansfield on the night.
Milford, 14 @ Stoughton, 0 – Final – Milford’s Kelley Reichert retired 11 batters on strikes, allowing just two hits in six innings of work to earn the win for the Scarlet Hawks. At the plate, Reichert added two hits while Jess Tomaso had a breakout game, going 5-for-5 with a triple, two runs scored, a stolen base and two runs scored. Maggie Farrell (3-for-5) had a double and four RBI and Shannon Cormier (3-for-4) scored a run for Milford (19 hits). Karly Estremera, Shannon Flaherty and Nikki Coppola each had a hit for the Black Knights.
Milford, 6 @ Attleboro, 16 – Final
King Philip, 12 @ Canton, 2 – Final
Mansfield, 8 @ Foxboro, 4 – Final – Mansfield built a 5-3 advantage halftime, didn’t allow Foxboro to score in the third and owned the fourth quarter to pick up the win. The Hornets won the final quarter 3-1 and forcing a handful of turnovers to secure the win. Sean Powers made 14 saves in net for Mansfield while Cullen Murphy paced the offense with a pair of goals and two assists. Danny DeGirolamo and Joe Cox each scored once and had an assist, Brad Grant netted a pair of goals and Mike Reed and Aidan Sacco each scored once. Tommy Donnelly and Mike Zampine each played well defensively for the Hornets.
Franklin, 10 @ Oliver Ames, 2 – Final – Sam Arsenault scored a hat trick and Eric Civetti and Chase Tanner each netted a pair in Franklin’s win over Oliver Ames. “OA played very well defensively, we had to work for this win,” said FHS head coach Lou Verrochi. Jonathan O’Glishen and Nitin Chaudhury each chipped in with a goal, Jacob Alexander won 14 of 16 face offs and Connor O’Rourke recorded eight saves in the cage for the Panthers.
Sharon, 2 @ North Attleboro, 14 – Final – North Attleboro had a dominate performance in a key league game, limiting Sharon to just one goal until the final minute of play. Zach McGowan paced the big offensive day for the Rocketeers, registering five points (one goal, four assists) while Tommy Lindstrom had four points (one goal, three assists), Colin Young scored a hat trick and Jack Dakin had two goals and one assist. Jason McNeany made a big difference for the Rocketeers, winning 14 of 16 face offs while Dan MacDonald turned aside eight shots in net. Owen Costello scored once and had two assists and Andy DeMattio (goal, assists) finished with two points. Nick Ward, Nick Moore, Nick Morse and Zac Doucette each scored one goal apiece while Hunter Sarro, Damien Curtis and Jack Connolly had one assist.
Taunton @ Stoughton, 3:45
Attleboro, 12 @ Milford, 14 – Final
Canton, 9 @ King Philip, 16 – Final
Foxboro, 16 @ Mansfield, 7 – Final
Oliver Ames, 4 @ Franklin, 15 – Final – Annie Walsh registered five points while Erin Walsh, Caroline Lounsbury and Jordan Jette each recorded four points apiece to pace the Panthers past Oliver Ames. Annie Walsh scored four goals and had one assist to go along with Erin Walsh’s four goals, Lounsbury’s three goals and one assist and Jette’s four assists. FHS head coach Kristin Igoe Guarino said Grace McDermott (three draw controls, three ground balls) played well defensively. The Panthers’ offensive burst could have been higher if not for an incredible 27-save performance from OA goalie Ari Waldorf.
North Attleboro, 12 @ Sharon, 14 – Final
King Philip, 5 @ Attleboro, 0 – Final – King Philip lost just two games total to sweep Attleboro and qualify for the state tournament. Cole Ginter (first singles) and Blake Ginter (second singles) each won 6-0, 6-0 while Martin Matous registered a 6-1, 6-0 win at third singles. The team of Sam Colella and Ryan Gemelli won 6-0, 6-0 at first doubles and Aidan Ignatius and Jake Webster took a 6-0, 6-1 decision at second doubles.
North Attleboro, 2 @ Canton, 3 – Final – Canton’s Jake Wolicki dropped the first set at first singles but rallied back to win the next two, finishing it off with a tiebreaker to help the Bulldogs edge North. Wolicki won 5-7, 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) while Jeevith Chandrasekar won 6-3, 6-4 at second singles and Justin Diep took a 6-3, 6-3 decision at third singles as Canton swept singles play. North’s Daniel Zhang and Ben Pfeffer won 6-0, 6-1 at first doubles and Alex Pfeffer and Vikram Senthilakumaran took a 6-1, 6-0 win at second doubles.
Sharon, 5 @ Foxboro, 0 – Final – Sharon earned a sweep against division foe Foxboro, winning all five matches in straight sets. Griffin Fein won 7-5, 6-2 at first singles, Fred Bondar earned a 6-2, 6-2 win at second singles and Andre Olivei won 6-1, 6-3 at third singles. Sharon had a pair of dominant performances in doubles play with Alex Romantz and Alberto Olivei recording a 6-0, 6-1 win at first doubles and Danujan Thirumavalavan and Ashwin Sreevatsa teamed up for a 6-1, 6-1 win at second doubles.
Oliver Ames, 0 @ Franklin, 5 – Final
Mansfield @ Taunton, 3:45
Milford, 3 @ Stoughton, 2 – Final
Attleboro, 0 @ King Philip, 5 – Final
Canton, 0 @ North Attleboro, 5 – Final – It was a clean sweep for the Rocketeers, taking all five matches to defend home court against Canton. Emily Chiasson won 6-0, 6-0 at first singles, Jordan Willis took a 6-1, 6-1 decision at second singles and Mae McLoughlin earned a 4-6, 6-2, 10-6 win at third singles. The team of Azka Siddiq and Katie Demontigny won 6-1, 6-1 at first doubles and Hana Hershey and Shurobhi and Nandi took a 6-2, 6-3 victory at second doubles.
Foxboro, 1 @ Sharon, 4 – Final – Sharon earned a big win over division rival Foxboro, sweeping doubles play and earning two more wins in singles play. Nupur Shukla earned a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win at first singles and Lulu Yuan won 6-1, 6-0 at third singles for the Eagles. The team of Katie Merport and Emily Wen won 6-0, 6-2 at first doubles and Rithika Neti and Sophia Fein won 6-0, 6-2 at second doubles. Foxboro’s Lexi Nelson prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at second singles.
Franklin, 2 @ Oliver Ames, 3 – Final – After splitting the first four matches, it came down to second doubles between Franklin and Oliver Ames. OA’s team of Olivia Groebe and Kristin Bloumbas prevailed in a three set thrilling, 6-2, 5-7, 6-1 to help the Tigers secure the win. Maura Kiernan (third singles) won 6-4, 6-0 and the team of Tori Wyman and Tate Hadges (first doubles) won 6-0, 6-1 for Oliver Ames’ other two points. Franklin’s Hannah Sweeney won 6-0, 6-0 at first singles and Anja Deric earned a 6-2, 6-1 win at second singles.
Taunton, 3 @ Mansfield, 2 – Final – Taunton’s Jillian Pagliuca rallied from dropping the first set to win the next two sets, giving the Tigers the winning point. The Tigers qualified for the state tournament with the win. Pagliuca won 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to secure the final point. Taunton’s other wins came from doubles play as Ashleigh Eason and Emily Moor won 6-0, 6-2 at first doubles and Caroline Hebert and Jordan Martin won 6-0, 6-2 at second doubles. Mansfield’s Paulina Martin won 6-1, 6-0 at first singles and Sarah Doyle won 6-3, 6-3 at second singles for the Hornets.
Stoughton, 1 @ Milford, 4 – Final
Milford, 0 @ St. John’s Prep, 3 – Final
Taunton, 2 @ Braintree, 3 – Final – Taunton rallied from a 2-0 deficit to force a game five but came up just shy on the road at Braintree, falling 22-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-18, 11-15. Lance Law had 19 kills, three aces and a block, Malik Charles added eight kills, four blocks and Lens Esquil chipped in with eight kills and five blocks.
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.”
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.”