A leadoff double from sophomore Emma Varella in the bottom of the seventh seemed to steal the momentum back for the Tigers, who used four straight hits in the inning to get their first win of the season.
“Emma is clutch, she’s always hungry,” said OA head coach Lindsey Allison. “She’s one of the hungriest players I’ve ever coached. She wants to get it done for her team all the time. She’s a reliable player to have in that situation where you need to put the ball in play.
Varella moved to second when junior Katie Abreu beat out a bunt single to put runners on the corners. Abreu quickly stole second uncontested and sophomore Grace Simone plated Varella with a single the middle; Abreu moved to third and Simone to second on the throw.
Freshman Anna Balestino tied the game with a bloop single just past first base, bringing Abreu home to make it 7-7 with no out and runners on second and third. Allison elected to put the pressure on the Panther’s defense, calling for a suicide squeeze.
Senior Katie Mills pushed a bunt between the third baseman and the pitcher, allowing Simone to scamper home from third for the game-winning run.
“We had just a couple of mental miscues in the last two innings, we got a little nervous,” Allison said. “They got some hits and we seemed to get a little nervous. It was unfortunate because we had played so well for the first five innings and with clean defense.
“They came together and got back on track. We talked about not letting that momentum swing ruin the game. They didn’t let that happen today and that’s something that we’ve been working on, that mental toughness. And I think it’s growing, which is good.”
After nice defensive plays in the top of the second by Georgeu and sophomore right fielder Mollie Crabtree, the Tigers offense came alive. Mills blooped a one-out single into center and moved to second when Georgeu singled up the middle. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt from junior Abbi Holmes.
Mills came in to score on a wild pitch, sophomore Kalei Clark walked, and senior Colleen Larson hit a sharp RBI single to the right side of the infield that had to be knocked down, scoring courtesy runner Elizabeth O’Brien to make it 2-0.
Georgeu (CG, 9H, 8K, 1BB) got back-to-back strikeouts in the top of the third, retiring the side in order. Simone led off the bottom of the third with a single and courtesy runner Caitlin Walsh advanced to second on a wild pitch. A single from Mills put runners on the corners with one out.
Courtesy runner Sarah Dore stole second and Georgeu drew a walk to load the bases. Holmes hit a hard grounder up the middle that looked like it would bring multiple runs in but Whitman-Hanson shortstop Reese Cordero made a terrific diving stop to get the force out at second and limit the Tigers to just one run on the play.
Dore came in to score on a wild pitch and Clark singled to put runners on the corners with two outs. Holmes came in to score on another wild pitch to put OA up 5-0.
Georgeu faced just four batters in the fourth and retired the side in order in the fifth. Whitman-Hanson got back into the game with a pinch-hit leadoff single in the fifth, a bunt, an infield error, and a two-run home run to make it 5-4.
In the top of the seventh, a single and sacrifice put the tying run on third. An RBI single tied the game, an error put the Panthers ahead, and another base hit made it 7-5.
Oliver Ames softball (0-3 Hockomock, 1-4 overall) is back in action on Thursday when it hosts Foxboro.
By Cameron Merritt, HockomockSports.com Contributor
MANSFIELD, Mass. – The Oliver Ames softball team outlasted the Mansfield Hornets in an offensive showdown Monday afternoon at the East Street Fields.
“I think it was a really great team win,” Oliver Ames coach Lindsey Allison said, praising her team for never giving up. “Everybody kind of had a piece of it, which was really nice, and we just battled through adversity.”
Most of the Tiger runs came during an offensive burst in the top of the fourth, where they put up six runs and batted through the lineup. The Hornets a six-run inning of their own in the sixth inning, but the Tigers added on two insurance runs in the seventh to get the win.
On the mound, OA freshman pitcher Emma Varella tossed 5.2 innings, giving up four runs and on six hits and seven walks while striking out three for the win. In relief, senior Lexie Campbell moved over from second and gave up a run and two hits in 1.1 innings.
Oliver Ames broke through first in the top of the second, as a walk to sophomore shortstop Katie Abreu was turned into a run by a single to left from senior third baseman Rachel Han two at-bats later to give the visitors the run advantage.
The game remained much of a pitcher’s duel up until the top of the fourth when the Tiger offense roared to life as seven straight batters made it on base. A leadoff single by senior designated hitter Caroline Mahoney was followed by a walk to junior first baseman Katie Mills and a single by Abreu loaded up the bases for Oliver Ames. A walk to senior right fielder Sarah Tetrault drove in Mahoney to make it 2-0, and Han drove in Mills for her second RBI of the afternoon.
With the bases still loaded and no outs, Allison called on junior Kayla Georgeu to pinch hit.
“[Georgeu] has a serious power stick, so I can always count on her to swing for the fences almost every time she’s up there,” Allison said.
Her decision was proven right as the junior sent a shot into deep left field, clearing the bases with a three-run triple and doubling her team’s lead.
“It was just a good hit,” Georgeu said. “I got all of it and it was great for the team.”
Senior catcher Antonia Peretti drove Georgeu home on a single in the next at-bat, extending the lead to 7-0.
The scoreline remained the same until the bottom of the sixth when Mansfield staged a comeback effort with a six-run inning of their own. Junior third baseman Kara Bendanillo and junior second baseman Megan Letendre drew back-to-back two-out walks and the pair advanced into scoring position on a couple of wild pitches.
With two outs, junior catcher Caty DeMassi drove in the pair of juniors for the first two Hornet runs and would come home herself via a single by infielder Grace Benton to make it 7-3. After Sarah Cahill walked, a single down the right-field line from Felicity McMullin allowed Benton and Cahill to score, bringing the hosts within two.
Varella, who was coming off 10 innings of work in her previous outing, was replaced by Campbell, and after McMullin came home through a wild pitch and a throwing error to first , the inning ended with the Hornets trailing the Tigers by just a run, 7-6, with another inning left to play.
The Tigers, however, were quick to respond as Mahoney, Mills, and Abreu all singled to start off the inning. While OA grounded into a double play at first that denied a run at the plate, Han hit a double into deep left field to bring in Mills and Abreu for two more runs, and the Tigers headed into the bottom half of the inning with a three-run advantage.
Kara Bendanillo lead off the bottom half for Mansfield with an infield single and may have very well scored off Letendre’s gap shot the next at-bat had it not been grabbed in a diving catch by senior center fielder Marissa Guarino. Junior center fielder Mady Bendanillo drove her in off a single, but the Hornets comeback effort would fall short as Campbell sealed the deal for the Tigers.
Though her team is out of tournament contention, Allison felt the win was still very important to the team overall.
“We’re just trying to catch some more people off guard,” she said. “We just want to finish out the season strong, finish it positive, enjoy our seniors for the last couple games and also make sure we’re getting people in to get them ready for next year.”
Oliver Ames (2-12 Hockomock, 2-16 overall) returns to action Tuesday as they host Kelley-Rex co-leaders Taunton while Mansfield (3-12 Hockomock, 5-12 overall) travels to Duxbury Wednesday for a non-league outing against the Dragons.
2017 Record: 9-10 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro made a return to the state tournament last spring thanks to a no-hitter from McKenzie Bergdoll in the final game of the regular season and now the Bombardiers, who lost only three players from last year’s roster, are looking to build on that success to make another run at the postseason this year. Bergdoll, a junior, will be back in the circle again this season as well as one of the big bats that Attleboro will rely on to make it back-to-back playoff appearances.
Senior rightfielder Casey Whelan will add experience to a relatively young outfield unit and fellow seniors Vanessa Dancer and Adrianna Elel will provide leadership. Juniors Jordyn Lako and Kayla Battisti are back to contribute to the Bombardiers playoff challenge and there are high expectations for a talented group of sophomores that includes Makenzie Killough, Ashley Macia, and twin sisters Emma and Jenna Gittle.
“With the loss of only three seniors last year, our season has several impact returning veterans along with some new freshman that will fill the holes quite nicely,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “This season’s early player roster looks very promising but it will be the leadership of the team that will determine our direction and state the facts at the end of the season.”
2017 Record: 1-19 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Canton is coming off a difficult 2017, after winning one game under first-year head coach Jennifer Robillard, but both the coaches and players have a year of experience to build on and an infusion of young talent, with five freshmen being added to the varsity roster, has the Bulldogs looking at 2018 as a year to get the program heading in the right direction.
Sophomore Caroline Hughes will be the starting pitcher and will bat third this season and the coaches are confident that she can provide a lift to the team. Senior Hannah Jerrier will also be back in the middle of the order, after missing almost all of last season after breaking her hand during basketball, and should give the Bulldogs some added pop in the lineup. Senior Katie Halloran will be back in the middle of the infield and senior Evelyn Carrington returns in center. Unfortunately, injuries have struck again with sophomore Jackie Howard lost for the season, but Robillard believes that several of the new faces can come in and contribute right away.
“As a first-year varsity coach, last year was a learning experience for both myself and the girls,” Robillard said. “I am confident that we will make great strides towards success this season.”
2017 Record: 5-16 2017 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round Coach: Mark Maguire
Foxboro earned a playoff berth through the Sullivan Rule a season ago, despite 15 losses in the regular season, but the Warriors were much better than their overall record and No. 20 seed may have suggested. Out of the 16 games that Foxboro lost in 2017, six were by two runs or less, including a 2-0 loss to Ursuline Academy in the tournament, and those close games are what head coach Mark Maguire is hoping his team can turn into wins this year to make a run at the playoffs.
The Warriors will be looking to senior catcher Hannah Davis to provide the offensive punch, as the perennial league all-star has been among the Hockomock’s best hitters for the past three seasons. Classmate Lexi Buckner will also add some offense in the middle of the order and the lefty will be moving from second base to first this year. Senior Kelly McCarthy will be back in center and at the top of the order, while Chelsea Gibbons will be at third and Camryn Willis will be back at shortstop. Foxboro also has experience in the circle as third-year starter Emma Rohan will get the ball again for the Warriors.
“We have good senior leadership,” said Maguire about the team’s strengths. “Right down the center of the field we have vocal leaders to help the defense. We’re a good hitting team and I think fielding and pitching should be even better this year.”
2017 Record: 10-12 2017 Finish: Missed Playoffs Coach: Kate Fallon
Franklin missed the playoffs a season ago and have a relatively young roster this season, with just one senior in the squad, so the Panthers are flying under the radar as the season gets underway, but they don’t mind if teams overlook them at the start of the season as they try to get back into the postseason.
While there are a number of new faces for Franklin this season, the battery of junior pitcher Jackie Cherry and junior catcher Ally Shea are back, which gives the Panthers a strong foundation on which to build. Junior shortstop Tara Hartnett is also back to give Franklin strong middle of the infield defense and sophomore Anna Balkus will be in center. Senior Meg Caron, the lone upperclassman on the team, will add versatility playing at third and some outfield this season.
“We’re looking to make it back to the tournament this season,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon. “Ally Shea and Meg Caron will provide excellent leadership for our up and coming athletes and no doubt in my mind they will be an integral part of our successes this season!”
Despite a lot of turnover in the lineup last spring, King Philip followed up its 2016 state championship by winning the Kelley-Rex division title and reaching the quarterfinal of the Div. 1 South sectional. With 10 returning players this season, KP has typically high expectations and one of the state’s perennial powers seems poised to make another run at a league title, which would be its 11th in the past 12 seasons, and to go deep in the state tournament.
The biggest change for the Warriors this season will be in the circle where senior Elise Pereira takes over as the primary starter after the graduation of Jenn Hutnyan. Pereira saw plenty of action last year too, but will have to shoulder the majority of the innings this season, backed up by Faith Turnese. Brianna Lacy will be behind the dish, returning as one of the league’s top defensive catchers. Senior Hailey McCasland returns at second base and junior Meghan Gorman is back at shortstop after a breakout sophomore season. Jess Bonner returns at third and senior Sydney Phillips will once again be in centerfield.
It is a loaded lineup with a ton of speed and a strong defensive unit, according to KP head coach Norm Beauchemin. He added, “This is a very hungry team that should compete for the Kelly-Rex and make a strong run in the playoffs.”
2017 Record: 13-9 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Lori Letendre
After booking a return to the state tournament last spring, Mansfield returns 10 players, including five starters, to try and make it four playoff appearances in a row. The Hornets are relatively young with only three seniors on the roster and have some holes to fill, including two-thirds of the outfield, but there is a lot of confidence that the program will be able to compete with the best in the league.
Sarah Cahill took over as the starter during the season last year and she will be back in the circle again this spring trying to build on an impressive debut. Cahill will be throwing to her battery mate, as Caty DeMassi is back behind the plate. While the corner infield spots are open this year, Megan Letendre and Kara Bendanillo are back to fill the other infield spots and give the Hornets strength up the middle. Junior Mady Bendanillo is also back to patrol centerfield and fill one of the middle of the order spots, as one of the league’s most dangerous hitters. Freshman Elle Veheggen joins the team this spring as a newcomer to keep an eye on.
“We are a young team,” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre. “The girls have been working hard in the off-season and came into tryouts well-prepared.”
2017 Record: 25-1 2017 Finish: Won D1 State Championship Coach: Steve DiVitto
The defending Div. 1 state champions look loaded for another run at the title with nine returning players, including six starters, back from last season’s tournament run. Kelley Reichert will take over for Ali Atherton in the circle after seeing time as a reliever and starter in each of the past three seasons. The lineup looks just as potent as last year with senior shortstop Emily Piergustavo back after being named HockomockSports.com Player of the Year and league MVP.
Senior first baseman Jess Tomaso is back to add power in the heart of the order and senior Kate Irwin, fresh off reaching 1,000 points in her Milford basketball career, will return to set the table as the lead-off hitter and emotional spark plug. Senior second baseman Maddy Bonvino, senior rightfielder Shannon Cormier and junior catcher Emily Hartman will add depth to a fearsome lineup that features lots of power and speed.
“This year’s team is focused on the here and now and not the past,” said Milford coach Steve DiVitto. “Each year a new page is turned over, and the focus this year is: what’s your legacy going to be? Keeping our awesome team chemistry will be an important part of this season.”
2017 Record: 14-7 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Semifinal Coach: Bill Wallace
The Rocketeers had a young squad last season but managed to surprise a few people by reaching the Div. 1 South semifinal, including an upset of league rival Taunton, and after that year of experience North Attleboro is expecting to be competitive again this spring. Sophomore pitcher Bella Erti is back in the circle after a strong freshman campaign and will be throwing to classmate Ashley Cangiano with the hope of improving on her breakout season.
Olivia Capobianco is back in centerfield after turning in a strong season and she will also be one of the table-setters for the lineup. Abby Gallagher and Katherine Munley will join Capobianco in an experienced outfield for the Rocketeers. Annabelle Hebard, Katy Daby and Abby Warren will play the corner infield positions, while Andrea Miceli is back at second base after a strong year at the plate and in the field. Stephanie Inglese and freshman Emily Nardelli will compete for the shortstop position.
North Attleboro coach Bill Wallace said, “If we want to repeat the success of last year we will need to find some power in the middle of the lineup lost to graduation last year.”
Oliver Ames will have plenty of experience this spring as it makes a run at a return to the state tournament. The Tigers have 10 players back from last year’s roster, including six seniors, highlighted by junior pitcher Kayla Georgeu, who will take the ball as the primary starter again this spring and who head coach Lindsey Allison thinks is ready to “come into her own” both in the circle and at the plate.
The strong senior class includes infielder Alexis Campbell, who will also chip in as a pitcher this year, outfielders Sarah Tetrault and Marissa Guarino, infielders Caroline Mahoney and Rachel Han, and catcher Antonia Peretti. Sophomore Katie Abreu had a strong rookie campaign and is expected to have an even better second season with the Tigers.
“The best thing about this team is their heart and determination – they show up to practice excited to work together and work hard every day,” Allison said. “They are coachable and strive to get better at every opportunity.”
There is a change at the top for Sharon this spring and Heather Poliferno takes over for the Eagles, replacing Deb Parker after her move to league rival Stoughton, and the new staff is confident that the experienced players on the roster will set the tone for the team and give the Eagles a chance at booking a place in the state tournament.
Seniors Jamie Kessler and Jenika Patel and junior Rebecca Clayman are the captains this season and will provide leadership that Poliferno called “key to our success this season.” Junior Alli Small and freshman Julia Earley are players to keep an eye on this season for the Eagles as they could be big contributors in the field and at the plate. Junior outfielder Courtney Sollis brings an accurate arm and consistent contact at the plate.
“Our passion for the game and drive to compete is why we will be a strong contender in the Hock this year,” Poliferno said.
2017 Record: 10-11 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Deb Parker
After back-to-back playoff appearances, Stoughton welcomes a new coach this spring to take over a roster filled with experience and talent. Deb Parker has made the move across the Davenport from Sharon to take over the Black Knights with an eye at another run at the postseason and with senior pitcher Gina Carafa back in the circle and the middle of the order there is plenty of optimism for a strong spring.
Joining Carafa in the Stoughton lineup is junior Jordan Lyons, who Parker called a “standout” third baseman. Lyons is one of a group of talented juniors that Stoughton will be counting on this season, including second baseman Nikki Coppola, shortstop Karly Estremera, and catcher Brianna Ferrandiz. Sophomore Lexi Baptista will add versatility to the lineup and Parker is excited about the freshmen class and expects that they will be able to contribute as well.
“The energy of this team is infectious!” said Parker. “ I am looking forward to this season and have very high expectations about what this team will be able to accomplish.”
2017 Record: 17-5 2017 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Dave Lewry
Even with a host of underclassmen in the lineup, this is an experienced Taunton roster that will be trying to put together a run not only at a league title but also at a deep tournament run, after seeing the last couple of seasons end earlier than expected. With 10 returning varsity players, including seven starters, the Tigers will have high expectations and the key to reaching those goals will be replacing pitcher Courtney Fisher, as freshman Kelsey White and sophomore Jaylin Couto will step into the circle as regular starters this season. Junior Alexa White will also see time at pitcher.
The lineup is loaded again this spring, starting with senior catcher Kya Enos, who added power to her game last year. Junior Jaime Brown is in her fourth year on varsity and is coming off a season in which she was named HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year. Freshmen Hanna Aldrich and McKenzie McAloon stepped right in at the middle infield positions last year and will be building on that experience this year. Senior Lianna Duarte is back in center and senior left-fielder MacKenzie Handrahan will bring power to the middle of the lineup as well.
“I think we should have a solid infield defense,” said Taunton coach Dave Lewry. “Offensively we have the capability of putting runs on the board with a deep and experienced lineup.”
2016 Record: 2-18 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Mark Homer
Attleboro struggled through a difficult 2016, the first season under new head coach Mark Homer, winning only two games while giving up a league high 177 runs and scoring a league-low 46. Heading into this spring, the Bombardiers will be counting on a group of young players to try and turn things around and it seems to be working so far, as Attleboro has played two games and already matched last year’s win total.
One of the true bright spots from last season was freshman pitcher McKenzie Bergdoll, who showed flashes of the potential to be an ace for Attleboro, and this season she will be counted on to keep the Bombardiers in games and to provide big hits from the three-spot. Julia Woyton will be behind the plate this year while senior Ilea Caverley and junior Casey Whelan (outfield) and Jordyn Lako (second base) are the few returning players on the roster.
The Bombardiers are going to turn to youth this spring with freshman MacKenzie Killough taking over at shortstop. Freshmen twins Emma and Jenna Gittle will add depth to the Attleboro pitching staff and classmate Ashley Macia will take over in centerfield. Homer also said that there were underclassmen who would provide speed off the bench.
“The expectations are to play hard, be committed and get excited with every game and practice that they take part in,” said Homer. “With the added depth in each position this year, the girls hope to gain advantages from the previous year and reach their set goals for the season.”
2016 Record: 3-17 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Jennifer Robillard
Former King Philip and Sacred Heart University shortstop Jennifer Robillard takes over the Canton program this spring with the hope of bringing some of the success that she enjoyed playing for two state champions and a Division I college to the Bulldogs, who are coming off a three-win season.
The Bulldogs will be looking to their experienced players to help turn things around in 2017, including seniors Molly Loughran, Taylor Carrington, and Julia Ezepik and junior Hannah Jerrier, who are all captains this spring. Jerrier and Ezepik will start the season injured, but Robillard is hoping that other players can step up until they return. Canton will have depth in the circle, as both junior Caitlyn Cahill and freshman Caroline Hughes will see action at pitcher.
Lillian Carrington and Samantha Keefe are two other players that will be counted on to contribute and both provided home runs in a loss to Mansfield in the second game of the season. Robillard is excited about the opportunity to get back into the Hockomock League and she sees a team that “wants to learn.”
“This team has a lot of potential. If we can tap into this potential, I truly believe that we are going to take teams by surprise,” Robillard said. “I am here to share my passion for and knowledge of the game I love with these girls. It is important to me that these girls learn how to be strong, independent and respectful young women.”
2016 Record: 9-13 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round Coach: Mark Maguire
In 2016, Foxboro finished 6-10 in the Hockomock League but got its chance to play in the postseason and took advantage with a preliminary round win over Westwood and a near-upset of Abington in a nine-inning classic. The Warriors will hope to build on that experience this spring with a number of key players returning.
League all-star Hannah Davis is back behind the plate for the Warriors and will be one of the top hitters in the Hockomock. Davis will likely be in the three-spot in the lineup and right behind her will be senior Kelly Fisher, who head coach Mark Maguire called one of the best first basemen in the league. Kelly McCarthy will try to set the table for the power hitters in the lead-off spot.
Sophomore pitcher Emma Rohan is back in the circle and Maguire expects that she will compete every game and build on her rookie campaign. Behind Rohan, Cam Willis will moved from second base to short and Chelsea Gibbons will provide good ‘D’ and a solid bat at third. Lefty Lexi Buckner could grab the second base spot and senior Jamie Gorham could provide an unexpected boost as a first-year player in the outfield. Mandy Ryan and Kayla Wheatley are two of the players coming up from JV that Maguire is hoping will step in to provide depth.
“They’re all working hard and they’re ready to build together as a team,” said Maguire. “The expectations are really to compete every game.”
2016 Record: 12-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Kate Fallon
Once the rains go away for a few days, Franklin will be able to open its new field and make official its move back to the high school after a couple seasons playing at Dean College. The Panthers are excited about the new facility and about the team’s potential for success this spring with seven returning starters from last year.
Leading the way is third baseman, and four-year starter, Olivia DiGiacomo, who has been a mainstay at the hot corner and provides leadership for the infield. To her left is shortstop Alyssa DaSilva, a three-year starter with two years of experience at short. Sophomore Allie Shea is back at first base and senior Clara DeCarvalho is back behind the plate and poised for a “breakout season,” according to head coach Kate Fallon. The outfield is also filled with veterans, including seniors Rachel Cousineau in left and Olivia Haba in center.
The seventh starter is senior Alex Niss, who started as a pinch hitter last season before taking over the DP role and turning into one of the top power hitters in the Hockomock League. The Panthers should be solid defensively and at the plate and Fallon is hoping that sophomore pitchers Jackie Cherry (who carried a shutout into the seventh in the season opening loss to North Attleboro) and Emily Valentino can make an instant impact in the circle.
“Win 11 games and make the tournament again,” said Fallon when asked about the expectations for the team this season. “I expect the seniors to provide leadership and be role models for the underclassmen. It’s always a dogfight in this league…but I think we are a good team.”
2016 Record: 24-4 2016 Finish: Won Div. 1 State Championship Coach: Norm Beauchemin
King Philip comes into 2017 on the back of its third state title in the past six years and, while expectations remain high for one of the region’s top programs, there are key pieces from last year’s team that need to be replaced in order for the Warriors to get back on top in the Kelley-Rex division and in the state.
The biggest absence this season is, of course, pitcher Kali Magane, who is now in the circle for Boston University and who was dominant during KP’s playoff run a year ago. Senior Jenn Hutnyan will step in to be the team’s starting pitcher after several starts and relief appearances in the past two seasons. Hutnyan will also be an important bat in the lineup. Junior Brie Lacy will be back behind the plate to help Hutnyan and head coach Norm Beauchemin noted that junior Jessica Bonner will be a solid defensive third baseman.
KP rarely rebuilds and almost always reloads for another title push. This year should be no different with a lineup that features several familiar names from last season’s title run, including sophomore Meghan Gorman and juniors Brooke Taute, Elise Pereira, and Hailey McCasland. Each of those players had important roles last season and will be ready to step up for the Warriors this spring as KP tries to regain the league title after Taunton ended its nine year run in 2016.
“Though it’s hard to replace last year’s seniors,” said Beauchemin, “we have a solid core of returning players ready to represent King Philip and its proud softball legacy.”
2016 Record: 13-9 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield is coming off a 13-win season that included a tournament win against Notre Dame Academy, but after four years of being able to count on Maddie Letendre in the circle the Hornets will be handing the ball over to a new pitcher this spring, although as it turns out only the first name will be changing.
Megan Letendre, who played shortstop as a freshman, will take over in the circle for the Hornets and her development as the No. 1 pitcher will go a long way to determining if Mansfield can repeat last year’s success. Pitcher is not the only position that needs to be replaces, as the Hornets will have a new catcher and three new infielders. Still, with nine returning players, there is plenty of experience on the roster.
Kara Bendanillo will move from third base to second, according to head coach Lori Letendre, and Megan Letendre will sometimes see time at second when not pitching. Liz Mackin will take over at first base, while Marissa Staffier and Amanda Giambanco will take the corner outfield positions. Mady Bendanillo will be back in center after an impressive first season for the Hornets.
“This is one of the hardest working teams I have had at Mansfield and they have been putting in a lot of effort to get ready for the season,” said Coach Letendre.
2016 Record: 17-5 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford has been the class of the Davenport division for the past four seasons and the Hawks come into 2017 with the expectations of being heavy favorites for another league title, but, with three seniors and nine juniors on the roster and eight starters returning, head coach Steve DiVitto is hopeful that the talent will translate to a deep run in the state tournament.
The Hawks are one of the few contenders to return not just one but two starting pitchers from last season. Senior Ali Atherton is back to be the primary option in the circle and the Southern New Hampshire-commit has been dominant at times in her career. If Atherton gets into trouble or needs a rest, junior Kelley Reichert has demonstrated that she is more than just a fill-in but can also shut down opponents. They will be pitching to sophomore Emily Hartman, who will step into the starting lineup this season.
There are very few question marks in this year’s lineup with junior Emily Piergustavo moving from second to short to replace Jill Powers, which is Piergustavo’s natural position and one she has played several times in the past year. Junior Jess Tomaso is back at first base and in the heart of the lineup where she will be joined by senior outfielder Maggie Farrell and senior third baseman Kaitlyn DeCapua. Junior Kate Irwin will try to be the table-setter at the top of the order and juniors Maddy Bonvino (second base) and Shannon Cormier (outfield) will also be contributors.
“This has been a focused and driven group ever since the end of last season,” said DiVitto. “They have worked hard in the off-season and that was very apparent in the early stages of the season. We are excited to compete in the best league in the state, which will hopefully prepare us for a long run into June.”
2016 Record: 11-10 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro returned to the postseason in 2016 and for the Rocketeers to get back to the tournament this spring it will be the younger players that will lead the way. Head coach Bill Wallace knows that his team will be “green” (with only four seniors on the roster), but he is excited about North’s athleticism and versatility.
Pitching may be North’s biggest strength this season with five players in the rotation, led by freshman Bella Erti, who won her first career start, and last year’s starter Amelia Murphy. Juniors Olivia DesRoches, Jaclyn Buckley and Abby Warren could also step into the circle to help out. Senior Sam Courtemanche will be behind the plate to help the pitchers.
Senior Liz Morehouse returns at first base and Andrea Miceli will be at second. Megan Barlow moves in from the outfield to take over at short (and provided the walk-off hit in North’s season opening win), while Murphy will see time at third when she’s not pitching. Olivia Capobianco will play center with Katherine Munley and Kristina Murphy in left and right with freshmen Ashley Cangiano and Abby Gallagher getting playing time.
“With only four seniors on the roster, I am hoping the learning curve will be brief!” said Wallace. “This may be the year we see a lot of pinch hitting and pinch running! For a young team, they are very focused between the lines!”
Oliver Ames finished in second in the league in 2016 and qualified for the postseason, but that will be an even tougher task now that the Tigers have made the move to the Kelley-Rex division. Even with facing the likes of defending state champion King Philip twice this spring, head coach Lindsey Allison is optimistic that the 10 returning players have the experience to get back into the playoffs.
Senior Victoria Ziner will be the spark on offense for the Tigers this season, but OA also has a number of juniors that Allison said can “do some damage at the plate.” Among those players is Caroline Mahoney, whose bat “is still as dangerous as ever,” according to Allison. Freshman Katie Abreu will be a newcomer to watch for the Tigers as her versatility will make her a valuable member of the lineup.
The Tigers will bring back sophomore Kayla Georgeu in the circle and will be hoping that she continues to develop and keep OA competitive against the league’s top teams. Junior Alexis Campbell will be a second pitcher and also help out at second base.
“We have a solid 10 players returning from last year’s roster,” said Allison, “and we are looking to fill holes behind the plate, in the outfield and at first base this year. Definitely hoping to use some of the speed we have on our team to our advantage this year.”
2016 Record: 4-16 2016 Finish: Missed Postseason Coach: Deb Parker
Sharon is coming off a four-win season in 2016 but head coach Deb Parker believes that the Eagles have the potential to be a contender in the Davenport division this spring as long as the players continue to develop over the course of the season.
Although the Eagles are a relatively young team, Parker is counting on senior captains Clara Cook and Sam Marglous to provide the leadership needed to keep the team on the right track. Cook will be back in the circle for Sharon, while Marglous will be back behind the plate. Parker said, “Both have been solid contributors for their entire high school careers.”
Sophomore centerfielder Rebecca Clayman and shortstop Ally Small, who Parker referred to as “standouts,” will be the anchors of the defense. Freshman Shoshanna Lowe will step in to play third base and should have a positive impact in the lineup as well.
“I believe we have the right combination of experience, talent and drive to be a contender in the Hock,” said Parker. “This is a team that works hard every day to be better than they were the day before. They have great chemistry and our captains have done an excellent job leading them into the season.”
2016 Record: 10-11 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round Coach: Tim Norton
The Black Knights made a return to the state tournament in head coach Tim Norton’s first season in charge, and nearly pulled out a win against Braintree, and Stoughton will be counting on last year’s freshmen to continue developing and keep the program heading in the right direction.
One of the sophomores that the team will be leaning on is third baseman Jordan Lyons, who brings a strong bat to the hot corner and her leadership skills had her named a captain for this spring. Brianna Ferrandiz will take over behind the plate for Sam Tullis and Karly Estremera will move into the infield and continue to be the table-setter as the leadoff hitter.
Norton is excited to have depth in the circle with Shannon Flaherty and Gina Carafa both capable of racking up innings and “setting great examples on and off the field.” Stoughton will also have depth in the outfield with first-year starters Krista Michienzi, Val Whalen and Alessandra Loffredo.
“We were extremely fortunate in Stoughton last year to have such a strong freshman class with great senior leadership,” Norton explained. “This year that sophomore class is going to have to come into their own. While this team is young they got a taste of the post season last year and are hungry for more.”
2016 Record: 22-2 2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal Coach: Dave Lewry
Last season, Taunton won its first outright league title, ending King Philip’s nine-year reign atop the Hockomock. It was a fitting coda to the impressive careers of Taunton’s senior class, but this spring the Tigers will now have to move forward with six new faces in the starting lineup, including at pitcher and the middle infield positions. Taunton typically reloads quickly and head coach Dave Lewry believes this year’s team has a plenty of potential.
Senior Courtney Fisher will step into the circle hoping to make a seamless transition from 2016 Player of the Year Aimee Kistner. Fisher tossed three shutout innings and had three hits in the season opener and got several opportunities to pitch in the past two seasons. She will be pitching to junior captain Kya Enos, who is making the move back to catcher after two seasons in the outfield. Other starters coming back include first baseman Katie VanZandt, junior outfielder Liana Duarte, and sophomore Jaime Brown, who is in her third year at third base.
The Tigers have always found young players who can step right in an make an impact at the varsity level and this year could be a breakout season for eighth grader Hannah Aldrich, who will take over from Jordan Wade at short. Sophomore Alexa White looks ready to step in at second, while senior Rebekah Lajoie and junior Hailey Medeiros are in line to start in the corner outfield places. Taunton could also get contributions at pitcher from eighth grader Kelsey White and freshman Jaylin Couto.
“While we lost six starters from last season, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team,” said Lewry. “I expect there will be some growing pains with six new starters in the lineup, but with some seasoned veterans and good young talent we are optimistic that we’ll be competitive this season.”
NORTH EASTON, Mass. – In the bottom of the fourth inning, Oliver Ames senior first baseman Jamie Gottwald stood at the plate with two outs and two runners in scoring position with the Tigers trailing by two. Foxboro freshman Emma Rohan caught Gottwald looking with a nasty pitch on the inside corner to end the jam.
When Gottwald came up in the sixth with two outs and two runners on and the Warriors still out in front 4-2, OA coach Lindsey Allison expected the outcome to be very different.
“She’s just a kid that steps up,” said Allison. “I kind of had a feeling, two outs, runners on, and she’s a contagious hitter and an under pressure hitter.”
Gottwald came through, driving a pitch well over the leftfield fence for a three-run, go-ahead homer. Freshman Kayla Georgeu made it stand up with a perfect seventh and OA pulled out a 5-4 victory in a game that Allison described as a “must-win.”
“I’m not sure we were ready for what Foxboro was bringing today,” said Allison about one of OA’s top challengers for second place in the Davenport division. “Past history, we’ve always won against Foxboro and they had some really great hitters, pitcher pitched a great game. Fortunately, we were able to shut the door.”
Foxboro loaded the bases in the first inning against OA starter Alexis Campbell, but a grounder to Rachel Han cut down the lead runner at the plate and Katie Pursley turned it into a double play with a quick relay to first. Campbell escaped the jam by getting Ryann McGowan to bounce to third.
The Tigers jumped out to a lead in the bottom half of the inning. Campbell walked with one out and Victoria Ziner, who missed almost all of last spring with an illness, lined a hit to left. Gottwald and Pursley followed with hard-hit line drives that skipped off gloves in the infield and brought in a pair of runs for a 2-0 advantage.
The lead was short-lived, as Foxboro put up a four-spot in the second. Chelsea Gibbons led-off with a single and moved to second on a groundout. Camryn Willis singled to put runners at the corners and Kelli McCarthy had a bunt single that loaded the bases.
After a fly ball to center for the second out, Foxboro catcher Hannah Davis drove over the head of centerfielder Missy Krim for a double that brought in two, while confusion in the infield on a rundown allowed McCarthy to score as well. Kelly Fisher followed with the first of her two hits to plate Davis and make it 4-2.
In the third, Allison turned to Georgeu. The freshman struggled at first, walking three of the first four batters she faced to load the bases, but came back to strike out McCarthy for the second out and then got a foul pop to Gottwald at first to end the threat.
“I kind of went out and said to her, where’s my confident little freshman?” Allison explained. “Just take a deep breath, walk around, talk to your people and…throw a strike. She throws one in and then I think she struck a girl out right after that and she looks at me and gives me a ‘finger gun’ and I was like, oh there you are.”
The Warriors also had a pair of runners on in the fourth inning, but Davis was caught stealing on a great catch and tag by Ziner and Georgeu managed to work her way out of the jam.
“It’s just timely hitting and we just didn’t get it today,” said Foxboro coach Mark Maguire, “and the girl from OA hit a nice shot there. I don’t think it was a game that we gave back; they made some plays too.”
Meanwhile OA continued to get base runners against Rohan, but the Foxboro freshman seemed to come through with the big pitch when she needed and the Warriors made plays behind her, including Davis catching Pursely leaning at third for an important first out in the bottom of the fifth.
“She’s been like that all year long,” said Maguire of Rohan’s ability to keep battling. “She’s a freshman and she’s still learning. She’s fighting every inning.”
In the sixth, Rohan was one strike from getting through the inning clean, but Campbell worked a two-out walk and Ziner followed with a slap single to left, which set the table for Gottwald’s heroics.
Georgeu had settled down after a shaky start to her relief outing and in the seventh she got some help from her defense. Marylou Long led-off with a deep drive to center that Krim tracked all the way and snagged just before falling into the fence. McGowan grounded to third and Han’s throw was high but Gottwald managed to leap and snare it and then come down on the bag for the second out.
Georgeu then got a pop up to retire her 10th straight hitter and seal the win.
Maguire said, “I don’t know if our girls got a little too anxious at the plate but instead of just driving the ball through the infield, maybe they wanted to go long ball and maybe should have dialed back their swings a little.”
Allison knows that her team needs to cash in with runners on base, but she credited the Tigers for making plays to pick each other up and working as a team to get the win.
She said, “Jamie launches herself out and makes the catch [in the seventh]. Maybe Kayla left it hanging over the plate, but Missy Krim picks her up in the outfield. They play well as a team.”
Oliver Ames (5-4, 4-3) will travel to Mansfield on Monday, while Foxboro (4-5, 3-4) will be on the road at North Attleboro.
Josh Perry can be contacted at JoshPerry@hockomocksports.com and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.
Canton reached the postseason two seasons ago, despite only recording four wins, and this year’s crop of Bulldogs will be hoping to replicate that experience by getting the program back to the postseason. With senior lefty Sarah Reissfelder back in the circle, Canton has an experienced pitcher to rely on this spring and a power bat in the middle of the order.
Senior captains Gabby Matthews, Colleen Phelan, and Kaitlin McCarthy will also provide some pop, while sophomore Hannah Jerrier is hoping to carry over her success from the basketball court to the softball diamond. Taylor Carrington (third base) and Lillian Carrington (centerfield) will also be players to watch as the Bulldogs fight for a spot in the Div. 2 tournament under head coach Tracy Andrews.
2015 Record: 9-12
2015 Finish: Reached D2 South preliminary round
Coach: Mark Maguire
Despite being below .500 again last season, Foxboro continued to improve its win total from the year before, going from six to seven to nine over the past three years, and clinching its fourth straight trip to the state tournament. Head coach Mark Maguire expects that a fifth trip will be in the cards for the Warriors again this spring but he is also setting his sights on challenging Oliver Ames and Milford at the top of the league standings.
Senior Jenna Weinstein is back in the circle for the Warriors and will be the primary starting pitcher, but Foxboro also has depth at pitching and that can make a big difference over the course of the season. Freshmen Camyrn Willis and Emma Rohan will be developed as pitchers of the future.
Weinstein will also be one of the Warriors’ top bats this season along with sophomore Hannah Davis, who is moving behind the plate to replace league all-star Bri Stern after a season at shortstop. Mary Lou Long will take over at short and Kelly Fisher will be at first base and batting cleanup, while senior Carolynn Will continues in center and has been a three-sport captain (soccer and basketball).
“We expect to compete for the Davenport division as long as our pitching comes along,” said Maguire. “We expect to make the playoffs and challenge for the league…and the girls are ready to go.”
2015 Record: 19-4
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South quarterfinal
Coach: Steve DiVitto
Milford enters the season with the potential to win a fourth straight league title and challenging the top teams in the Div. 1 South. Senior shortstop Jill Powers and catcher Meg Jacques will provide leadership for an experienced and still young roster that features sophomore infielder Emily Piergustavo, who is already getting Div. I college interest.
In the circle, junior Ali Atherton returns for a third year and she showed last year that she can compete with the best, as evidenced by her regular season win over South champ Silver Lake. Junior Maggie Farrell will add a lot of pop to the lineup and sophomore Jess Tomasso has transferred in from Hopedale and could make an instant impact in the middle of the order. Sophomore Kate Irwin will step in to fill an outfield role and freshman Emily Hartman will be used at multiple positions this year.
Milford coach Steve DiVitto said, “They are motivated to continue to exceed others expectations and truly believe they can compete with the best of the Hock and state. They have set the bar high-and have worked tirelessly in the off-season to strive and reach those goals.”
2015 Record: 11-11
2015 Finish: Reached D1 South first round
Coach: Lindsey Allison
Oliver Ames finished behind Milford in the Davenport last year, but pulled an upset over league rival Mansfield to advance to the first round of the state tournament to face eventual South champ Silver Lake. The Tigers will be hoping to challenge the Hawks again this spring and make a run at the league title.
Spearheading the offensive attack for OA will be senior Jamie Gottwald, who led the Tigers with a .449 battling average and three homers last year. Classmate Katie Pursley will also be back after hitting .389 last year and fellow senior Missy Krim will bring experience to the outfield. Caroline Mahoney hit .352 last season and the sophomore return at third base, while junior Victoria Ziner has been off to a strong start at shortstop this preseason.
One of the biggest changes for the Tigers will be in the circle where freshman Kayla Georgeu will be the starter with sophomore Alexis Campbell will help out as a pitcher and second baseman. Head coach Lindsey Allison said, “There are still some puzzle pieces we are working on to finalize positions being filled from graduating seven last year…We are definitely looking to play .500 ball and make tournament again this year.”
Sharon will look to build on last season and while the Eagles may not be challenging for the league title this season they will be hoping that the mix of experienced starters and talented underclassmen can make a push towards the postseason.
Sharon will be aided by experienced pitching, as junior Clara Cook will be the starter for the third season in a row and her battery-mate is senior Rachel Ulsen, a two-time Hockomock all-star. Senior Jenna Kranseler will be back at first base and junior Sam Marglous will be at shortstop. Head coach Deb Parker will also be counting on versatile freshmen Allison Small and Rebecca Clayman.
Parker said, “Both play a variety of positions so we will spend the next few days figuring out where they will help us the most.”
After many years in charge of Stoughton softball, Janet Sullivan has stepped down and first-year head coach Tim Norton has taken over. Norton inherits a team that has lost nine seniors from last year and has as many as eight starters playing new positions this season.
Sam Tullis will be behind the plate this year and the Black Knights will also return seniors Courtney Campbell, Nicole Bodette and Shannon Flaherty. Freshman Karly Estramera will be a player to watch, according to Norton, and may be the starting centerfielder.
Norton said, “Even with the high degree of turnover this year I think the tournament isn’t out of the question.We have a very solid core of young talented players and if they play up to their potential it could propel us back into the tournament.”