White, Aldrich Power Taunton Past KP On The Road

Taunton softball Hanna Aldrich
Taunton sophomore Hanna Aldrich takes a swing against King Philip. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
PLAINVILLE, Mass. – Going on the road and picking up a win against King Philip at the Plainville Athletic League Complex is no easy feat.

In order to accomplish that, the Taunton softball team knew it had to play a complete game.

The Tigers did just that, playing well in all facets of the game to score a 7-0 victory over King Philip in an early-season showdown between two of the top teams in the Hockomock League.

PAL has been a house of horrors for visitors with the Warriors winning 22 contests at home over the past two seasons and a winning streak against league opponents dating back to 2016.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Fittingly, the Tigers were the last team to win a league game at PAL, back in 2016. Taunton was on the verge of a win last season before a seventh inning rally resulted in a walk-off win.

This time, Taunton jumped ahead early, building a 5-0 lead through three innings and that lead was more than enough for sophomore pitcher Kelsey White (CG, 2H, 4K).

“I thought we played a complete game,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “Our pitching was outstanding, Kelsey was really on today. We played good, solid defense, and we hit the ball well, especially early. Hanna [Aldrich] got into a couple, and that’s what you have to do to beat this team. They are solid, they are going to be around come the end of the year.”

Sophomore Hanna Aldrich was the catalyst for the Tiger offense. In her first at-bat, she launched a two-out solo home run over the fence in left field to put the visitors up a run after an inning.

Eighth-grader Ava Venturelli led off the top of the second with a walk for the Tigers and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Alexa White. A double off the wall in right from Paige Silvia put runners on second and third.

Payton Ceglarski brought Venturelli home with a sacrifice fly into right field with Raegan Simeone making a terrific running catch and nearly getting the runner at home with a great throw. Silvia, who moved to third on the sacrifice, came home to score on a passed ball to make it 3-0.

After allowing a two-out single in the bottom of the first inning to KP’s Faith Turinese, Kelsey White retired the side in order in the second, getting a strikeout and two ground balls.

Taunton’s offense was back at it again in the top of the third. Kelsey White reached on a bunt with one out and Aldrich delivered again. This time, Aldrich smashed the second pitch she saw well over the wall in left for a two-run homer and a 5-0 lead on the scoreboard.

“I think it’s every team’s plan, you want to get an early lead and put the pressure on the other team.=,” Lewry said. “For Hanna get that home run in the first inning and give us the lead, and kind of take a little pressure off, that was huge. And then she added another in the third too.”

King Philip’s Grace Kelley reached on an error to start the bottom of the third but White got a pop up to center, erased the lead running with a grounder, and another out to left to prevent any damage.

The sophomore right-hander retired the side in order in the fourth, five, and sixth innings, getting five ground balls for outs.

“That’s the key, you have to play good defense,” Lewry said. “Kelsey was pitching to contact today. She threw a lot of good changes, she got some swings and misses but she got a lot of ground balls which is what we were trying to do in this situation.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Taunton added some insurance in the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore Tayah DeCosta drew a two-out walk, and courtesy runner Kylie Thorpe advanced to third on a single from Rylie Murphy (Abigail McDonough re-entered to run). Senior Jaime Brown knocked both runners in with a double to left field to increase the score to 7-0.

Taunton softball (2-0 Hockomock, 3-0 overall) is back in action on Friday when it visits Foxboro. King Philip (1-2, 1-2) returns to PAL on Tuesday to host Bishop Feehan.

2019 Hockomock League Girls Lacrosse Preview

2019 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview
Sharon and King Philip battled in the opening round of the D1 East tournament and both have their sights set on a return to the postseason as the spring gets underway. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview

Attleboro

2018 Record: 3-15
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Chrissy Quinn

Attleboro is a relatively young program that is looking to build on a talented group of returning players, particularly in the attacking end of the field. New head coach Chrissy Quinn has a dynamic group of attackers that she is hoping will build on last season’s 113 goals, which was the second-lowest goals tally in the league.

The key player in the midfield and attack is senior Kyra Lyons, who accounted for nearly half of the team’s goals last spring despite drawing the attention of opposing defenders. Lyons will be joined by senior midfielder Rylee Fontes, a Worcester State-commit, who adds a secondary playmaker around the opponent’s goal. Junior attackers Sydney DiLiddo, Kelly Johnson, Rylee Turnes, and Ashley Piazza will get helped by sophomore Hannah Webster, Campbell Compton, and Isabella Salviati.

On the defensive side of the ball, seniors Sam Fasoldt and Sydney Viera will be the leaders of the back line, trying to protect sophomore Maggie Porreca and junior Dee Graham, who will both see time in goal this season. Juniors Julia Willis, C.J. Westwater, and Lynn McDonald will also be jumping into the defensive unit to add depth at the back for the Bombardiers.

Canton

2018 Record: 4-13
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Laurie Chabot
Like many of the teams in the Davenport division, Canton comes into the spring eyeing a return to the state tournament. The Bulldogs last made it in 2016 after finishing in a three-way tie for second behind Foxboro in the Davenport division. With a mix of new faces and experienced returning players, second-year coach Laurie Chabot is hopeful that this season with see Canton make a run up the standings.

Canton will have a lot of experience in the defensive unit even after graduating a few key pieces. Senior Molly Cummings will be the leader at the back and will be joined by classmate Devyn McGrann and freshman Sydney Gallery, whose twin sister Fay will jump into the midfield this season. Junior Alexa Maffeo and seniors Maggie Connolly and Leah McLellan will also be critical for the Bulldogs to take control of the middle of the field and transition from defense into attack. Communication at the back will be key. There are several new faces in the attacking unit but Chabot is already seeing that chemistry is building. She was pleased with results in the preseason and is hoping that confidence will carry over into the games that count.

“We are off to a great start this spring,” Chabot said. “This year we not only have a strong team with both skill and speed, but we have size on our side. The team is coming together, starting with a win against Norwood in our scrimmage. We have strong players in all areas it’s hard to pinpoint just one.”

Foxboro

2018 Record: 14-6
2018 Finish: Reached D2 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Brittany Sherry
Expectations may be as high for this year’s Foxboro team as any under head coach Brittany Sherry because the Warriors have a roster filled with talent and experience (14 returning seniors). Foxboro will be looking to clinch an eighth straight league title but also will have its sights set on bringing home the program’s first sectional title as well. With the weapons at the Warriors disposal, there is the potential for plenty of silverware to come their way this spring.

It all starts with two-time reigning Hockomock League MVP (and reigning HockomockSports.com Player of the Year) Sophia DiCenso. The senior midfielder has spent the off-season playing with the youth national team and will be the cog on which the Warriors build their attacks. She is joined in the midfield by classmate Molly Murphy, who is closing in on 100 goals in her career, juniors Abby Hassman and Jamie Notarangelo and sophomore Ella Waryas, who each provide Foxboro with solid two-way play. In attack, seniors Meghan Curran and Caroline McGeary have consistently provided goals in big games and sophomore Lilly Vey is a newcomer to watch this spring. The loss of Alex Stamatos to injury will be tough on defense, but senior Carlie Stern will provide the leadership for an experienced group that includes seniors Mary Spillane and Jenna Stamatov and junior Grace Boudreau. Of course, if anyone gets through then University of Louisville-commit Sara Addeche will be waiting in goal.

“This year our main goal is to take it game by game,” Sherry said. “We’re putting whatever has happened these last few years, as far as previous wins/losses and playoffs go, and putting it in our past. We need to continue to work hard every day, play as a team and have fun while doing it. We all have a common goal and know what it’s going to take to get there.”

Franklin

2018 Record: 14-6
2018 Finish: Reached D1 East Semifinal
Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino

It is a sign of just how far the Franklin program has come that being knocked out in last season’s East semifinal could almost be considered a disappointment. After winning the East title in 2016 and 2017, the Panthers come into the spring with another roster loaded with talent and experience and a schedule loaded with the top teams in the state to prep for a deep tournament run as well as trying to make it eight straight league titles.

Senior Annie Walsh will be the focal point for the Panthers again this year and the player that the offense typically runs through. Her sister Erin, a junior attacker, is one of the best finishers in the league and gives Franklin a dynamic one-two punch on offense. Junior Kelsey MacCallum adds another talented attacker to the forward line, while senior Hailey Toolin adds versatility as either a midfielder or defender and junior Alex Field will be a key piece of a defensive unit that was by far the best in the Hock last season. Junior goalie Gianna Cameron is another reason for the Panthers having such a strong defensive record after two straight seasons on the HockomockSports.com First Team. The Panthers haven’t lost a league game since 2012 (more than 70 straight wins) and have added an exciting freshman class with loads of potential, including six players making the instant jump to varsity.

“We have a ton of versatility where a lot of different players can play all positions. I am excited about the athleticism and skill level of our team,” said Franklin coach Kristin Igoe Guarino. “We have a ton of players with high level stick work and IQ that are capable of scoring and feeding. I am looking forward to us becoming a team with a high powered offense!”

King Philip

2018 Record: 14-6
2018 Finish: Reached D1 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Kourtnie Wilder

Under first-year head coach Kourtnie Wilder, King Philip built on the momentum of its run to the 2017 East semifinal to put together a 14-win season and finish comfortably in second place in the Kelley-Rex division. The Warriors took Franklin to triple-overtime, coming as close as anyone has in recent years to ending the Panthers’ long league win streak, and battled with Lincoln-Sudbury in the East quarterfinal. Now, KP is hoping to use that experience to make a run at ending Franklin’s dominance in the division.

The key for KP may be the attack, which returns a lot of goals from last season. Senior Caroline Klim is back and will be a player that opposing defenses will have to watch out for after leading the league with 73 goals last season, including nine against Sharon in the playoffs. Klim will be joined up top by classmate Dana Truini and junior Jessica Sullivan. Defensively, Wilder points to the team’s aggressiveness and communications as being the keys to building on a season in which the Warriors only allowed 153 goals, which was second-best in the Hock. Senior Victoria Tormey, a HockomockSports.com First Team defender last season and Boston University-commit, will be the leader at the back and will have classmate Caroline Watson back in goal behind her to make a formidable group for opponents to break down.

Wilder said, “We are excited for the season and have a great group of returners. This season will be competitive as we are playing some strong teams, but we are up for the challenge! We are looking to build off of our success from last season and continuing to work hard and improve each day at practice.”

Mansfield

2018 Record: 9-10
2018 Finish: Reached D1 East First Round
Coach: Lauryn Wilkie

New coach Lauryn Wilkie takes over the program this spring, looking to push an experienced Mansfield roster up the league standings, challenge Franklin at the top of the division, and make another run at a state tournament berth. The Hornets will be counting on its 11 returning seniors to keep things heading in the right direction this spring.

Senior attacker Katie Garvin will lead the forward line again this season after being among the league’s top scorers in 2018. Seniors Lauren Whitman and Maggie Danehy bring verve, energy, and experience to the Mansfield midfield, covering on draw controls and the transition game. Seniors Emily Vigeant and Kylie Tryder will cover the back line just in front of senior goalie Katie McCarthy, all of whom have multiple years of experience on varsity and should be a strength of the team. There are some underclassmen who will contribute right away for the Hornets, including sophomore midfielders Annemarie McCoy, Abby Varricchione, and Grace Fernandez and sophomore defender Melissa Shanteler.

“We are coming back this year with a brand new coaching staff looking to make some changes to the program,” said Wilkie. “We are breaking down the sport back to the basics and building it back up. Once this team finds their groove, I expect big things.”

Milford

2018 Record: 2-16
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Nicole Serra

Milford has a number of players back and a new head coach, Nicole Serra, looking to make a quick turnaround from last season in which the Hawks won only twice overall. With an athletic group back, Serra is working on building chemistry and putting the players in position to take advantage of their speed in transition. After scoring a league-low 82 goals last season, the attack will be a primary area of focus this spring.

Seniors Emily Haley, Katie Drysdale, and Sophia Bucal will give the Hawks leadership on the field, with Bucal providing a vocal presence in the attack. Senior Briana Maietta will join Bucal up front and they will be helped by junior midfielders Annie Flanagan and Elena Bon Tempo, who add athleticism whether in the attack or tracking back to help out on defense. Junior Hannah Bangert will be the leader at the back, controlling the defensive zone, along with sophomores Katie Maietta, Jillian Michelson, and Eva Parson.

“I am hoping to see the team really push themselves to improve every day and treat each practice like a game,” said Serra. “We are working on improving our speed, adding to our repertoire of offensive plays, and beating our record from previous years. I am looking forward to a great season.”

North Attleboro

2018 Record: 7-11
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Colleen Carchedi

While North Attleboro finished below .500 last season, the Rocketeers only missed a postseason berth by a single game, ending up one game behind Sharon and in third-place in the Davenport division. Second-year coach Colleen Carchedi, who came over from Sharon last spring, is counting on the team’s young core (and the new turf at Beaupre Field) to help North get back into the postseason hunt and even challenge Foxboro’s reign at the top of the division.

Senior attacker Alexa Sinacola and senior defender Lauren Pezzi will be leaders on either end of the field, but North also has a strong junior class that will be counted on to produce this season, especially after the graduation of perennial all-star Kenzi Rosenberg. Junior Katie Lindstrom will be the focus of attention in the midfield after committing to UMass Lowell in the off-season, but she will have help from classmates Kathryn Kayata, Regan Fein, Lily Cameron, and Lindsay Spratt. Junior Faith Graveline will step into goal to try and help Pezzi lock down the defense along with sophomore starters Camryn Gonrdell and Aimee Baiungo. Sophomore Maggie O’Brien will add a spark to the attack.

Carchedi said, “We are young, but we are fresh. We are full of potential and certainly have the ability to compete at a high level of lacrosse. It is going to be a great season for us. Having the turf will be crucial in creating success for the program. I am very excited for this season and the future looks bright.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 8-12
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Nicole Lang

Oliver Ames continues to build the depth within its program to try and get that elusive berth in the state tournament. The Tigers have won eight games in each of the past three seasons, making the postseason in 2016 and narrowly missing out by two wins each of the last two years. This spring, OA will send out a relatively young squad that will look to get the Tigers over the hump and into the playoffs.

While there is plenty of youth on the roster, OA has leadership from a core of experienced players, including senior midfielder Olivia Piazza, who was on the HockomockSports.com Second Team last year and is committed to Merrimack College. She scored 91 points last season and will be the engine at the heart of the OA midfield. Senior Maddie Kullen will be in goal this season for the Tigers and classmate Grace McCallum returns to lead the defensive unit.

OA will try to improve its defensive record and make strides up the league standings under second-year coach Nicole Lang, who said, “We have a young team this year but with a lot of determination to learn the game. We continue to work hard each day to continue to build a competitive team for this League. The girls are definitely excited for the season so we are looking forward to their hard work paying off.”

Sharon

2018 Record: 11-8
2018 Finish: Reached D1 East First Round
Coach: Shara Ginthwain
Sharon has made the playoffs each of the past three seasons and has gone 7-3 in league play for the past two years. It has been an unprecedented run of success for the program and the challenge for the Eagles is to keep that momentum going even with the loss of key players to graduation. Second-year coach Shara Ginthwain will hope that new players can step in and that the team’s chemistry and effort will allow Sharon to continue battling at the top of the Davenport division standings.

Senior midfielder Emma Eberhardt is the key to the Eagles staying on track. The Lehigh University-commit scored 69 goals last year, including five against KP in the playoffs, and has been one of the top playmakers in the league the past three seasons. Eberhardt’s normal running mate in midfield, Sabrina Robbins, is now playing at the University of Colorado, so it will be important for her to build a rapport with sophomore Jenna Goldstein, who had an impressive rookie campaign, and senior Maeve Barbera. Senior goalie Rose Wald will be back between the pipes and classmate Bridget McManus is back to guide the defensive unit after being a HockomockSports.com Second Team performer last spring. Sophomore Molly McAlevey is a newcomer in defense to keep an eye on.

“Based on tryouts, practices, and scrimmages early this season, I can already tell that this team has a lot of heart, a lot of grit, and does not give up,” said Ginthwain. “I think their mental toughness is going to be a big strength for us this year!”

Taunton

2018 Record: 7-10
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Kerry Northup

Taunton has been on the verge of getting into the postseason in each of the past two seasons, missing out by just two wins last year, including a one-goal loss to Canton and a pair of non-league losses to New Bedford. With a young crew coming into this spring, the Tigers will be looking to improve their performance in the league (2-8 in the Hock in 2018) to push themselves into the postseason conversation.

The key for the Tigers is sophomore Alana Tavares. The three-year starter has been one of the league’s most dynamic attacking threats since jumping onto the varsity scene as an eighth grader and so much of the Taunton attack runs through her. Junior Kamryn Li is also back for the Tigers after scoring 23 goals last season. The only seniors on this year’s team are Emma Sheehan and Mabel Smith, but Taunton will have 10 sophomores, eight freshmen and an eighth-grader on this year’s roster, so the underclassmen are going to have roles to play right away this spring.

“We are a young group this year, but added some promising players to our roster,” said Taunton coach Kerry Northup. “We are excited to work with and grow the young talent we gained towards building us as a confident, strong competitor in the league.”

2019 Hockomock League Softball Preview

2019 Hockomock League Softball Preview
Taunton won the D1 state title last spring and comes back as one of the favorites for a league title as another competitive Hockomock softball season kicks off. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2019 Hockomock Softball Preview

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.”

Canton

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”.

Foxboro

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.”

Franklin

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 Maddie 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.”

King Philip

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.”

Mansfield

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.

Milford

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!”

North Attleboro

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 Mackenzie 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.”

Oliver Ames

2018 Record: 3-17
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Lindsey Allison

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.”

Sharon

2018 Record: 0-20
2018 Finish: Missed Playoffs
Coach: Heather Poliferno

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.”

Stoughton

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.”

Taunton

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.”

KP’s King Grabs the Goal Scoring Crown at Clark

Brandon King
KP alum Brandon King (19) is on the verge of becoming the all-time leading goal-scorer in the Clark University men’s lacrosse program. (Clark University Athletics)

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It was already a special game for the Clark University men’s lacrosse program, as the Cougars hosted Coast Guard Academy in the fourth annual Renny Classic to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s research, but it became a record-breaking night with three minutes left in the first half. Senior attacker Brandon King scored his fourth goal of the night, putting Clark up 7-0, breaking the program’s record for career goals.

The King Philip alum finished with six goals and two assists in the 14-13 loss to Coast Guard, moving his career total to 124 goals, three more than the previous record of 121. King is also sixth in career points.

“I didn’t walk into Clark thinking that this would ever be an opportunity in front of me but walking out I’m really happy that I might be able to leave my legacy,” said King in an interview two days before he broke the record.

He added, “I’m walking into this Coast Guard game looking to score as many goals as I can. Obviously, four would be huge and getting that goal in the Renny Classic would be pretty cool to walk in and break the record in that game, but I’m going to walk in and shoot as hard as I can no matter what.”

King entered the season 24 goals shy of the record and he was aware that he could be the program’s top goal-getter by the end of the season, but tried not to let it affect the way he approached the game. He got off to a strong start with nine goals in the opening two games, but had hit a mini-slump. That slump ended with a hat trick against Plymouth State on Wednesday and King carried that momentum into the Coast Guard game.

“I just wasn’t hitting the net enough or getting the power behind the shots that I needed,” King said. “I need to be shooting that shot from the outside and splashing in order for us to have success and you think about it a lot more when you’re out of your groove.

“It’s all about timing and when you peak. I picked a good time to go down and now that I’m coming back up it’s NEWMAC play.”

King wasn’t an instant success at Clark. During his freshman season, he saw time in 12 games but it he did not become a starter until an injury to, then junior, Nick Johnson opened a spot for King to step into and he never really looked back. He started three games at the end of that season and has started all 43 games that Clark has played since. After scoring 12 goals as a rookie, King jumped up to 42 goals and eight assists as a sophomore.

“I was that fourth attackman and I wasn’t getting a ton of playing time but I was getting man-up and stuff like that because my play is that big outside shot,” said King about his first season at Clark. “When [Nick] went down, there was a spot that needed to be filled and that was kind of the role that I took. The opportunity came about and I think I handled it pretty well.”

When Johnson returned from his knee injury midway through King’s sophomore season, he instantly added a high-quality playmaker to the lineup and added a significant boost to an already prolific attack. Despite missing almost half the season with injury, Johnson, who is the program’s all-time leading scorer (goals and assists), had 24 assists that year. King called Johnson a “role model” and someone who inspired him to continue getting better.

“I was lucky enough to play with him for two years,” King said. “He was more of an assist-guy and a smaller, quick guy, so we weren’t exactly the same player but he always had the work ethic that I wanted to embody.”

Getting the additional playing time was important, but King admitted that there was also a steep learning curve coming from high school lacrosse to the collegiate level. “The difference between high school and college lacrosse is insane and it definitely took me over a year to figure that out,” he said. His coaches continued to show confidence in him and his shooting ability and continued to encourage him to just do what he knows best.

“I’ve always known that I have a good shot but also just working on those mechanics and then having the confidence to unleash it in the game has been my biggest growth over my career,” King explained.

Once the starting role was his, King never let it go. His sophomore year, the Cougars reached the NEWMAC tournament final but were beaten by perennial power Springfield College (which has won 11 straight NEWMAC championships). Last season, King was again one of the top scorers in the conference with 43 goals and six assists. He now has two of the top four single-season goal scoring seasons in program history and earned an All-NEWMAC first team nod in 2018.

While the individual totals and honors are great, King said that he was most proud of the fact that his first two seasons were also the two winningest seasons in program history. His senior class has the chance to end its four years with the most wins of any class that has come through Clark lax.

“Breaking the record is really cool and I’m happy to be part of that but being the class with the most wins in Clark lacrosse history is something that I’ll remember forever,” he explained.

While the goal-scoring record was a possibility this season, King wants another chance to play for the NEWMAC crown. He wasn’t thrilled about the team’s showing in 2017 and he wants another shot at playing in a title game. With that in mind, he wasn’t overly concerned about the team’s play through the opening nine games. The Cougars started 4-5 but King felt that the team was turning a corner and doing so at just the right time of the year.

“We just weren’t at the spot we wanted to be at,” said King of the team’s struggles during a trip to Florida, “but the whole intent of the early season is just trying to work out all those kinks and I think we’ve done a good job doing that.” He noted that in the end it was NEWMAC play that the Cougars were focused on, adding, “We’re on a new path and a different path than we’ve been on, so I’m feeling pretty good right now.”

King, the team’s lone captain, and the rest of the senior class have one goal, and that is to close out their careers with a NEWMAC title. It would be the first in program history and solidify the legacy that the class of 2018 has built at Clark.

“Everything that we do, all the effort that we put in during the preseason or the fall, has been all for that,” King reflected. “If we put in the work and grind every single day, then the NEWMAC title will come to us and we just have to take it.”