Storybook Ending for Oliver Ames Hoops Legend

Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames’ legendary girls basketball coach Laney Clement-Holbrook announced her retirement after winning the third state title of her 46-year career. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

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Laney Clement-Holbrook sits down on a bench just a few steps from the gym where she has spent nearly five decades building the Oliver Ames girls basketball program into a state power and creating lasting relationships with generations of players. It has only been a few weeks since the Tigers beat Norwood to claim the Div. 2 title, and she is proudly wearing a 2022 state champion shirt as a reminder.

The championship trophy has been paraded through the Easton schools, the players recently met in the lobby and got sized for their state championship rings, and the final administrative details are being put on another impressive winter for a program that has become accustomed to consistent success.

It is school vacation week, so the atrium is quiet and Clement-Holbrook is taking a moment to reflect. This is not an ordinary off-season conversation.

After 46 years in charge, 44 playoff appearances, 19 league titles, four South sectional titles, three state championships, and a record-setting 733 wins (an average of about 16 wins per season), Clement-Holbrook announced that she is retiring.

She is stepping away as a champion, an unrivaled winner, a pioneer, a mentor, an inspiration, and unquestionably (although she would never agree to this label) as a legend.

“Oliver Ames girls basketball is going to miss her tremendously,” said 2010 state champion and current Princeton assistant coach Lauren Battista, “but she’s put in so many years of sacrifice and hard work and giving her all to that program to make it what it is and she deserves to go out as the top dog and enjoy these years.”

Kerry Bourne played for Clement-Holbrook, worked with her as a coach in the youth program, and watched her daughter Hailey win a state title for OA this winter. “She wants the girls to win but she wants them to be leaders,” Bourne explained. “She wants them to be compassionate. She always wants them to play fair. It’s her life. She’s put everything into it. She’s given 150 percent to Oliver Ames basketball.”

It didn’t take long after the Tigers lifted the trophy in Lowell for rumors to swirl about whether this might have been Clement-Holbrook’s last year, and whether she would take the opportunity to go out on top, but she said the decision was actually made months before the season started. She came to the realization in August, after speaking with friends, that it was the right time to, as she put it, have some fun while she can.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

“I need to leave a little life left for me so I can enjoy time with the people who I’ve spent my life with in the world of basketball,” she said. “To be able to be free and say, do you want to go to this game or go watch this? I want to have some time to enjoy that because this is a 12-month, 24/7 operation. It’s not like you start thinking about the season the Monday after Thanksgiving.”

Even though OA goes into each new season with the goal of winning a state title, and has since Clement-Holbrook took over the program in the 1976-77 season, how perfect would it be to win one in the final season of a legendary career, to let Clement-Holbrook walk away after all this time and effort as a champion? (And, as a Dedham High Hall of Famer, to have the added bonus of beating Norwood for the final win of her career?)

“It was just the storybook ending,” said assistant coach Christine Hochstein. “She didn’t tell any parents, didn’t tell any of the kids, because she did not want this to be about her and her farewell tour because it’s all about the girls.”

Brittany Engle, who has been an assistant for the past six years and was a star on the first state title team in 2006, added, “I’m so, so happy for her. We were so in the moment that I never thought we’d come up short and then once it finally happened it was, ‘Oh thank God that we can finish on top for Laney.’ It’s so cool and so fitting, she deserves it.”

Laney Clement-Holbrook
Celebrating a new record for wins in a career. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Creating opportunities and fighting for equality

Clement-Holbrook started at OA as a teacher in 1975. Because she had been a catcher in college at Bridgewater State, longtime athletic director Val Muscato appointed her as head softball coach. She was also named freshman field hockey coach and JV basketball coach, working with Sue Rivard, another member of the OA Hall of Fame. She was also in grad school at Bridgewater State working towards a Master’s in Education (which she finished in 1981). One year later, Rivard retired as basketball coach and Clement-Holbrook took over the program.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

OA was a good fit at the start because it was a short drive from the Bridgewater campus, but it quickly became a welcoming place to start her teaching and coaching career, and eventually, it grew into her home. Now, almost five decades later, the school and Clement-Holbrook are synonymous. It is difficult to think of one without the other.

She started coaching in a very different era. Title IX was only four years old. Massachusetts had just recently progressed from six-player girls basketball (with three players in each half who weren’t allowed to cross midcourt). The girls were only given one hour of practice per day (boys got two hours) and games were played in the afternoon, unlike the boys who got to play at night. None of that sat well with the new coach.

“I had a meeting with the superintendent for them to explain why that was,” said Clement-Holbrook. “It didn’t go very well, but it was a start. These kids’ parents are working, they want to come see their daughters play. I’m grateful there was that transition. You see the passion for basketball in this community and, to me, because it’s a basketball town that helped quite a bit.”

Moscato and OA boys coach Bill Nixon created a basketball camp at Stonehill College. Clement-Holbrook added a girls basketball camp to give more opportunities to local players. In 1986, her former roommate at Bridgewater State, Barbara Stevens, took over at Bentley University (on her way to more than 1,100 wins and a place in the Naismith Hall of Fame), and started a camp for local coaches that became, as Clement-Holbrook described it, “a think-tank for anyone coaching girls or young women.” They also started attending the annual WBCA convention at the NCAA Women’s Final Four and did so for more than 30 years.

“It was so much fun because we learned so many things from that education,” she explained. “When you learn from the best, you would be remiss if you didn’t take some of what you learned and try to apply it and that’s what we did.”

Lisa Downs, who has played and coached against Clement-Holbrook during her time at Foxboro, said, “I really credit her for stepping up and fighting for the girls to receive as much acknowledgment (as the boys). It brought a lot more of the spotlight on girls basketball than it had years back and she’s a pioneer with getting the word out and really pushing the issue to get the girls the credit they deserve.”

Downs continued, “She’s a pioneer in so many ways and I don’t think people realize what she’s done for the sport, not just for Oliver Ames, but for girls everywhere.”

There are significantly more opportunities for female coaches now than in the 1970s. This past winter, eight of the 12 Hockomock League teams were coached by women, including four who were coaching at their alma maters and six who had played at the collegiate level. It is a development that Clement-Holbrook relishes and something she has encouraged for years. She was not only the first woman president of the state coaches association, where she pushed for recognition and opportunities for female coaches but has also added coaches with top-level playing experience on her own staff. Current assistants Engle (Marist), Hochstein (Assumption), and Chrystal Holland (AIC) each played in college.

As she moves into the next phase of her life, Clement-Holbrook is confident that her fellow coaches will continue pushing for equality and that they understand the importance of creating more opportunities for future generations.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

“Yeah girlfriends, it’s time for you to take it and run with it now,” she said. “We got you to this point, now it’s your turn and I love the fact that they’re as passionate about it as I am. You know you did your job and you know you inspired them and you know that you taught them things.”

Laney Clement-Holbrook
Laney Clement-Holbrook along with assistants Brittany Engle (left) and Christine Hochstein (middle) after win over Norwood. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Bringing the title home to Easton

“She challenged me,” Engle recalled about the build-up to her senior season in 2005-06. “She told me, ‘You have to be a better leader because there are girls on this team who are afraid of you because you yell at them when they make mistakes and that’s not making them better players, it’s making them play scared.’ Because I wanted to win so badly and it was my last chance, I said fine I’ll try it your way, and she was right.”

Winning a state title is hard. Sometimes the most talented teams don’t win. Sometimes even the best teams, the best players, have off nights, and in the playoffs, you are facing the best teams in the state, which are all ready to pounce when you might not be at your best (and sometimes even when you are).

Laney Clement-Holbrook

OA won its first South sectional title in 2000 but lost in the state semifinal at the Fleet Center. Heading into the 2006 season, Clement-Holbrook’s 29th, confidence was high that the Tigers had the potential to make a run at a championship. There was a strong core of seniors, including Engle (who would reach the 1,000-point plateau that year), but to make it work, to make the personalities mix in a way that would bring the ultimate success, both players and coach needed to adapt.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

Engle explained, “It seemed like Laney gave in and had fun with us, so it felt like we were all in it together. She would give in to our goofiness and let us be ourselves, so as we got closer to the end not only did we think about our goal as seniors but the idea that this will be the first time and that Laney is such a legendary coach that it will be huge for her too.”

Clement-Holbrook said, “You have to get a total buy-in from the kids that they understand they have to give whatever it takes. I was lucky in 2006 because I had a group of seven or eight seniors and the buy-in was huge.”

She joked, “Before we won that first one, I said I want to win a championship before I’m dead and then we won and it was like, well that was fun, maybe we can try it again.”

After the first title, Easton displayed its adoration for the Tigers. The team was given a police and fire escort into town, parents lined the street to welcome the bus back to the school, and a new tradition was born when the Tigers took the championship trophy on a tour of the elementary and middle schools. It was a chance for the players to be recognized and be celebrated by the younger grades, but also provided inspiration for the next group of players who now wanted the same experience.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

“When I was in eighth grade watching that team, they were like our idols,” said Battista, who would go on to score more than 1,000 points in her career and was named Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior. “I remember a few of them came to our little travel basketball banquet and it was like Diana Taurasi was there, LeBron James, that’s how big a deal they were to us at that moment. That’s what Oliver Ames girls basketball was all about, winning state championships and competing at the highest level.”

Many of the members of the 2010 state championship team were in the stands at the Fleet Center when the Tigers won four years before. They wore their MetroWest jerseys and winner’s medals and they dreamed of adding their own state championship banner in the Nixon Gym. Four years later, they would get their chance, although not without a moment of adversity in the season opener.

“Our whole preseason was, this is it, last chance, we’re going to make it happen and then we went out and lost our very first game,” Battista recalled. Clement-Holbrook remembered that before the season opener she broke her long-held superstition against going to pre-game team pasta dinners. She said, “I went into the team room at Foxboro and they’re all sitting on the floor in the locker room and they’re all crying their eyes out. I remember walking in and looking at them all and I said, ‘Stop crying, nobody died!’”

Battista laughed when thinking about that moment, “She broke the tension. It was what we needed to kick our butt a little bit and get back to work in practice.” The kick in the butt and the new mantra of ‘Lose the first, Win the last’ worked pretty well, as the Tigers went on to win the next 25 games and bring home a second state title in five years.

“She always has these Laney-isms,” Battista continued, “and sayings that in the moment you’re just like, ‘Oh that’s just Laney being Laney,’ but she delivers it and she sticks to those values in a way that transcends time. It doesn’t matter if you’re coaching a team from the 1990s or today, those same values are what makes her great. It’s always about what’s best for the team and how you are making the people around you better. I’m sure me and my teammates gave her some gray hairs. We know how to push her buttons sometimes, in a good way, but it was such a good and positive environment.”

When Clement-Holbrook set the state record for wins by a girls basketball coach, passing the 633 wins of fellow Bridgewater State grad Vi Goodnow, members of the current state title-winning squad were in the stands holding up signs and cheering for their future coach. The desire to be a part of the OA program and add to the program’s legacy is developed at an early age.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

Bourne, who has been a long-time coach in Easton youth basketball, explained, “If I didn’t have such a wonderful experience at Oliver Ames with Laney as my head coach, then I wouldn’t have started in fourth grade talking about how it’s such an honor to play for Oliver Ames, to play for Laney, to take them to games, to go support OA, and then to now have eight girls still from those 10 (in fourth grade) on the team today.”

“It 100 percent is about reaching out,” Bourne said, adding that the current fourth-grade team was in the stands for the title game in Lowell. “Laney is the one who made sure that the trophy went to every single school and got them excited about it.”

Laney Clement-Holbrook
OA players surround Laney Clenent-Holbrook when she reached win No. 700. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Legacy that extends beyond the record books

After the Tigers beat Dracut in the Sweet 16, the players and their families gathered at Maguire’s for dinner. They filled up the tent outside the building and celebrated an impressive win against a strong team.

All season long, the players had talked about honoring the 2021 team, which missed its chance to play for a state title because of the pandemic, and they had written that message on the whiteboard in the locker room before every game. Clement-Holbrook went into the tent to address the team. While they hadn’t yet reached the end of the journey, she told them that she appreciated what the whole team, from the starters to the team managers, had done to get the Tigers to that point.

“I talked about the puzzle,” she recalled. “I said, remember when I talked about there’s something special about you? Look at what you’ve accomplished, and I couldn’t be more proud of you, and everybody here has had a part in all of this. We’re not measuring the size of the (puzzle) part, what we’re measuring is the value of all those parts together.”

There are two common threads that come up in every conversation about Clement-Holbrook’s longevity as a coach and her lasting impact on OA basketball – culture and relationships. Whether you’re speaking to current or former players, her staff, or opposing coaches, they all agree that she set a standard for the whole community (from youth levels to varsity) and it’s a standard that everyone readily buys into. They want to play, and to win, for her and for OA.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

The speech on the first day of tryouts hasn’t changed in years. “If you’re fortunate enough to be chosen and to wear the Oliver Ames on your jersey,” Clement-Holbrook explained, “I point to all the banners on the wall, then you’re playing for something bigger than yourself.” It is a message that resonates with the players to this day. In separate interviews throughout the 2022 playoff run, each of the players mentioned, unprompted, the legacy of OA basketball and how meaningful it is to play their part in it.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

“She wants to develop strong women, not just good basketball players,” Engle said. “She wants to equip us with the character and the tools to take advantage of opportunities or make opportunities for ourselves. That’s not just talk because she lived that, so I think it means so much more.”

Bourne added, “I was telling the girls, you get to play for a legend. I was telling them that in fourth grade, so I think I made them a little nervous. I told them, ‘You have an amazing opportunity to play for such an incredible program.’”

When Battista played for the Div. II national title at Bentley, Clement-Holbrook was in the stands in Erie, Pa. to watch. It was an unforgettable moment for one of OA’s best players and for her best friend from college and Clement-Holbrook made sure that she was there to share the experience with them.

“She’s been involved in every major thing in my life, especially with basketball,” Battista said. “Having that kind of connection between playing for her and playing for Coach Stevens means the world to me and I think means the world to her as well.

“Just the attention to detail, the team-over-me mentality, the communication, the relationships, the genuine care for the people that they’re coaching, winning is just a byproduct of all of that stuff. I’m just very lucky that I got to experience this for a long period of time.”

The relationships don’t end in March or even at graduation. In the midst of the celebrations following the win over Norwood, Clement-Holbrook looked into the stands and saw the father of former player Erin Sheehan and he was wearing a state championship jacket from the 2006 season. There are always former players in the stands at home games and there is always a host of people waiting to talk to Clement-Holbrook when she emerges from the locker room.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

Her smile widens and her eyes light up as she talks about the players’ children she meets doing trophy parades, about having a former player give her grief that she is going soft because today’s team did a drill differently than they did years ago, or about having the youth teams line up at the door to high-five the players as they come out of the locker room for warmups. At the end of the day, at the end of her career, these things will be missed more than results on the court.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

Hochstein noted, “She has a relationship with every single player who’s ever played for her. I think Laney could text any one of them and ask for something and they would do it because that’s just the type of person she is. She would do anything for them and when she asks for something, Brittany and I joke that we’re still doing this, you can’t say no to Laney.”

Laney Clement-Holbrook

“Honestly, I think, my greatest strength is people development, not necessarily basketball skill development,” Clement-Holbrook said when asked about establishing connections through the years. “You have to change, of course. I think that one of the keys to success is to read the room, know what you had to do, know what the benchmarks were that you had to set because kids are always different.”

Laney Clement-Holbrook
Laney Clement-Holbrook reacts to the win over Norwood and her third state title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

Hollywood ending to a legendary career

“It’s not a job to her, it’s part of her life,” Engle replied when asked if she could pinpoint what it takes to coach at one program and maintain an unparalleled level of success for 47 years.

“She invests herself in this. It’s 12 months out of the year. She’s texting us in the off-season, she’s going to Summer League, she’s going to camps. I’ll get a random email about a drill and I’m like, ‘Laney it’s July, what are we doing?’ But, that’s just how she’s wired. It’s such an integral part of her life and who she is.”

Her passion for the game has never wavered. While this was her final season in charge of the Tigers, no one believes Clement-Holbrook is going to simply walk away from the program. They fully expect to see her in the stands next winter and she is still going to be invested in her current and former players.

Laney Clement-Holbrook

Hochstein said, “She’s dedicated her life to this. This is her commitment to giving back to the community. She’s so committed and passionate about coaching and teaching these girls.”

None of the players knew that this was it. As Caroline Peper stepped to the free throw line in the closing seconds and sealed a state title, no one was thinking that this was going to be the final seconds of Laney Clement-Holbrook’s storied career.

“She just hasn’t aged in my eyes,” Downs said with a laugh. “I feel like she looks and she acts and she coaches the exact same way as she did when I was in high school in the ’80s playing against her. Her love not just of the sport but of coaching girls…I just kept thinking she’s got a couple more years in her.”

Bourne was thrilled that her daughter got to be part of this final season. She said, “It’s been unbelievable. I’m very, very, very grateful that [Hailey] had this opportunity and it’s been a blessing. I can’t even imagine what was going through [Laney’s] mind that night. She knew it was her last night ever to coach and I wish I’d known.”

It seemed to still be sinking in for Engle, who was a player on the first state title and a coach on the last one. “We were so focused on each possession,” she said. “So I think we were just so focused on each little step and being present for each step that afterwards it was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ and then days later we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ The fact that I can be a part of the bookends of her career…I just feel lucky.”

“It went by kind of fast,” Clement-Holbrook said about her time on the OA sidelines. “I didn’t think to myself, this is the last time I’m going to do this or the last time I’m going to do that. I was so focused on the moment that I never really thought about it. Even on the bus ride home from Lowell, I wasn’t thinking this is it because I wanted to savor the moment. I didn’t want to make it a sad moment because we were having way too much fun.”

So, how about winning a state championship in her final game? How amazing was it to be able to end her career by lifting the trophy? She leaned back on the bench and smiled.

“I couldn’t have ever asked for a happier ending. Someone up there was thinking of me. I’m a lucky kid.”

Quotes

Laney Clement-Holbrook

“There are some coaches who walk into the gym and probably know who your starting five are going to be and that’s about it, but she knows every single thing about your team, so I try to do the exact same thing to play her because I know what we’re going to be facing. It’s a ton of fun as a coach. It’s almost like a chess match because you know what they’re going to be doing, maybe not fully, and then you have to counteract that. It keeps it fun because you’re coaching against someone who is so good and has so much basketball IQ.”Lisa Downs, Foxboro girls basketball coach

“People like Laney paved the way for all these opportunities for us to pursue this as a profession. When she started, I can’t even imagine the battles she had to fight just to get the opportunities that the boys team was getting. When I was growing up in Easton, I always thought the girls team was better than the boys team and that’s because of her and what she put into it. I always thought that was the normal, that’s how things were, and now that I’m a little more experienced I know that’s not the case. I was lucky that I got to grow up in her sphere of influence because she had such a great influence on basketball and 100 percent on my life and my career trajectory in coaching.”Lauren Battista, 2010 state champion

“I’m very thankful for this year obviously. Honestly, it was a whirlwind and it almost doesn’t feel real yet. We talked about it for so many years, ‘You guys really have a chance to win the state championship.’ Even though it’s so difficult to do, I really believed in them and now that it’s actually happened it’s just unreal. I understand that Laney didn’t want to tell us beforehand but I wish I knew that day was her actual last day.”Kerry McLaughlin Bourne, Class of 1990

“We say these kids grow up watching OA basketball, they want to play for Laney, they want to play for their hometown high school. The kids really want to be part of this program that they’ve grown up watching since they were little. That’s Laney. She puts the time in. We won the Dracut game and the next day I think eight of our players showed up at the fourth-grade championship game for Metro. Those are the kind of kids that she’s coaching and that’s what she’s teaching them, that you’re part of something bigger. Those little girls are looking up to you. That’s the kind of program that she’s built at OA.”Christine Hochstein, OA assistant coach

“She tried to really broaden my perspective as a player and it took until my senior year to see the value in that lesson and what she was trying to get across. I gave a little and she gave a little and she allowed me to be the best version of myself. You know when you go bowling with little kids and you have the bumpers on the side? I think that’s what she tried to do my senior year, allow me to think it was my idea but she was keeping me in the lane. High school basketball didn’t make me a better three-point shooter, but it definitely made me a better teammate, it definitely made me a better leader, definitely helped prepare me for challenges that I would face in college and as a coach. I think the fact that she brings so much of herself to the table, her character, and that she lives the values she preaches to us that eventually, she’s going to get through.”Brittany Engle, 2006 state champion, OA assistant coach

Richardson, Oliver Ames Take Down Milford

Oliver Ames baseball Jack Richardson
Oliver Ames senior Jack Richardson struck out 10 in a five-inning effort against Milford. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 NORTH EASTON, Mass. — Oliver Ames senior Jack Richardson had strike three called for the final out of the top of the fifth inning and headed to the dugout with five shutout innings under his belt.

But an umpiring mistake on the third strike, which was dropped with runners on first and third, ended up being corrected and it put the batter on first to load the bases instead of the third out.

Oliver Ames baseball

Milford cashed in when sophomore Keith Lee snuck a grounder up the middle to plate two to make it 5-2, and the tying run came to the plate. But Richardson quickly jumped ahead of the next batter and induced a fly ball to left that was hauled in by a sliding Ian Kelly to get the third out, again.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

That was the only damage done by the visiting Scarlet Hawks, as OA junior reliever Andrew Zagami pitched out of a bases-loaded threat an inning later and the Tigers secured a 5-2 win at Frothingham Park.

“We try to do one thing at a time and we focus on what we can control,” said Oliver Ames head coach Joe Abarr. “We don’t let the calls influence us, we ignore what’s going on in the stands, we just focus on the next pitch and try and be as competitive as possible. And I think Jack has bought into that completely. You see it at the plate, he’s unshakable in the box. He’s been a tremendous leader for us at the plate, on the mound, he’s been phenomenal.”

Richardson (5IP, 2R, 0ER, 4H, 2BB, 10K) worked around a leadoff walk (erased by catcher Nathan Carpentier at second) in the first, stranded runners at second and third with a big strikeout in the second, and retired the side in order in the top of the third.

OA left a runner at second in both the first and second innings but finally broke through in the bottom of the third. Nathanial Lewis reached on a one-out single and advanced to second on a single from Patrick Finnerty. Lewis came in to score on a single from Ian Kelly, and both Finnerty and Kelly moved up a bag on the throw.

A walk to Jake Waxman loaded the bases and Richardson came through to help his own cause, smacking a single to bring in two runs. Two batters later, Joe Cicchetti was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Carpentier connected on a two-out single to bring in two more runs for a 5-0 lead.

“I think we’re getting a little more confident at the plate, we had good at-bats both yesterday (at Canton) and today,” Abarr said. “And it’s getting to be contagious too. Now we have a little bit of a gap until our next game next week so we have to keep that mindset rolling until then.”

Oliver Ames baseball

Milford sophomore Anthony LaPierre (6IP, 5ER, 7H 3BB, 4K) bounced back with a strikeout to end the inning, stranding runners at first and second.

LaPierre finished the game strong, only allowing three Tigers to reach in the final three innings. The tall righty sat the home side down in order in the fourth, erased a walk with a 6-3 double play by shortstop Damien Carter to first baseman Evan Cornelius, and ended the inning with a fly ball to center after an infield single from OA’s Jack Muir.

“I thought Anthony LaPierre did a really good job for his first varsity start as a sophomore, before and after that inning really settling down keeping them five to give us an opportunity,” said Milford head coach Alex Dion. “Obviously we didn’t capitalize on it, but for his first varsity start, I was impressed with that.

“I think we’re seeing some growing pains right now, when we have the opportunity to make a play, we just aren’t making. We were a play or two away from getting out of that inning with two runs instead of five, and then it’s a different game.”

After OA’s big third inning, Cornelius drew a one-out walk but Richardson got all three outs via strikeout.

“I told him that was one of the best high school pitching performances that I’ve seen,” Abarr said. “He had great stuff, he had swing and miss stuff, but he was willing to attack and get those swinging strikes. And he himself made a couple tremendous defensive plays. I give him a tremendous amount of credit and I think the rest of the guys saw what he was doing and bought into it.”

An infield error allowed Ian Carter to reach in the top of the sixth for the Hawks and a passed ball and wild pitch moved him all the way to third. After Tyler Lane drew a walk, the Tigers went to their second reliever of the day in junior Andrew Zagami.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Zagami got the second out with a pop-up to the shortstop Jack Morley but a two-out walk to Grant Scudo loaded the bases for the Hawks, with Scudo representing the tying run at first. Zagami induced a grounder to third and got the force out at the bag to escape any damage.

Zagami closed the game by retiring the side in order in the top of the seventh.

“He fills up the strike zone, that’s his thing,” Abarr said of Zagami. “He’s worked on holding runners and looked pretty good today in that regard. He loves baseball, he wants to get out and throw strikes, work with his catching staff, and he went out there and did exactly what we needed him to do today.”

Oliver Ames baseball (4-1 Hock, 4-1 overall) is off until next Wednesday when it hosts non-league foe Dighton-Rehoboth at Frothingham. Milford (2-2, 2-2) returns home for a date with Mansfield on Friday.

Oliver Ames baseball

2022 Hockomock League Boys Lacrosse Preview

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview
Following a first South final appearance, Franklin returns a strong group to go after a state title. Find full previews for all teams below. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

Attleboro

2021 Record: 3-11
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Kevin Patton
Attleboro had some growing pains during the 2021 campaign, but has a good chunk of the roster back in the fold for 2022 and will try to take the next step forward as a program.

The Bombardiers will have a strong foundation on the defensive end of the field. Captain Fred Wheaton is back for another year to anchor the defense and he’s joined by fellow returners Bobby Sawyer and John Wheaton to give Attleboro a solid veteran nucleus to try and shut down some of the top offenses in the league. Attleboro also has sophomore Harry Wheaton back in net after gaining valuable experience in the cage in 2021.

Having last year’s top scorer in Carter Shelton back in the fold will give the Bombardiers a good start in the attack. Shelton scored 30 goals and had 15 assists, finishing 12th in the Hock in scoring. Captain Keigan Conley is also back to bolster the attack, coming off a 22 goal, 10 assist campaign a year ago. Freshman Nathan Conroy is also in the mix already in the attack.

Attleboro’s midfield will be anchored by captain Ryan Betts along with Chad Beaupin and Seth LaPlace. The Bombardiers also expect contributions from Cole McKenna, Patrick McAvoy, and Spencer Scherck.

“We have a lot of returning guys that picked up valuable varsity experience last season,” said Attleboro head coach Kevin Patton. “We are looking forward to a strong season in 2022.”

Canton

2021 Record: 14-2
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Ryan Quinn
Canton split its two games with Foxboro to win a share of the Davenport title in 2021, just the third league title in program history and were an overtime goal away from reaching the Div. 2 South final. The Bulldogs have a lot of experience in the attack and the midfield this season with the goal of putting in another challenge for the league crown and putting together another state tournament push.

The Bulldogs had a dynamic attack last spring and the league’s leading scorer Sam Carlino headlines a strong group this season as well. Junior Jeff Chaput joins Carlino in the attack and the midfield group is filled with experience from last season. Sophomore Brendan Tourgee, juniors AJ Thomas and Chris Hamilton, senior Eddie Gillis, and Charlie Vaughn will all give Canton playmaking at the middie position.

Defensively, Canton will definitely miss graduated goalie Dylan Coyne but the Bulldogs have a talented group of poles that should be tough to score against this season. Senior Sean Connolly will lead that defensive group alongside sophomores Luke Darling and Colin Blake.

“I am really excited about this upcoming season,” said second-year coach Ryan Quinn. “Our student-athletes have been working hard to build on our success from last season, but are very aware that everything we achieve is based upon the work we put in this year, every day.  We are led by a small, but strong senior class, and have depth across all four grades levels. This group is a very coachable group and we are very excited to begin”







Foxboro

2021 Record: 11-4
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central/East Quarterfinal
Coach: Matt Noone
After graduating just two seniors from last year’s team, Foxboro is back with a strong lineup that will look to reclaim the Davenport title that it shared with Canton in 2021. The Warriors will have depth up and down the field with the goal of not only returning to the top of the division but also being ready for a deep run in the statewide tournament.

Foxboro’s attack is all back from last season. The Warriors finished third in goals scored in the league in 2021 and a year’s worth of experience should make them even more dynamic. Junior Conor Noone was the league’s third-leading scorer last season and he will lead the line again alongside sophomore Lincoln Moore, coming off a breakout rookie campaign, and senior Jack Avery. Senior Tommy Sharkey was an all-star middie last season and he will be joined by junior Finn Stapleton and sophomore Tony Sulham, another player who made a strong varsity debut as a freshman.

Depth should be a strength for the Warriors, who return their second midfield group as well, including sophomores Sully Kenneally, Ryan Cotter, and Ian Foley. Foxboro’s defense is returning as a group too. Seniors Dylan Kerrigan and Ben Ricketts are the leaders at the back and will be joined by classmate Mark Jansen. Senior Matt Grace will start at LSM with sophomore Jack Sullivan backing him up. Sophomore Adam Addeche is back in goal, backed up by classmate Nate Urman, and freshman midfielder John Sacchetti and defender James Dee Gaffney are newcomers with potential.

“The Warriors graduated two seniors and return the core of their team,” said Foxboro coach Matt Noone. “Everyone is a year older with varsity experience which will help us in our 2022 push.”

Franklin

2021 Record: 18-1
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Lou Verrochi
After reaching the program’s first sectional final in 2021, Franklin brings a typically strong lineup of experienced players who will be aiming to make a run in the new statewide tournament. The Panthers have loaded up their regular season schedule to prepare for the rigors of the tournament with state powers Medfield, Lincoln-Sudbury, and St. John’s Prep among the teams that Franklin will challenge itself against to be ready to shoot for silverware this spring.

Franklin’s attack scored more than 300 goals in 19 games last season and should be just as dynamic this year with junior All-American Luke Davis joined by classmate Jayden Consigli, who were both in the top five in scoring in the league in 2021. Junior Tyler Sacchetti will be the third member of the attacking crew. Sophomore Drew Hansen and Ed O’Brien and junior John Walshe will make up the first midfield. Junior Justin Alexander was one of the best face-off middies in the state last year and the Panthers will be counting on him to control possessions again this season.

Senior Kyle Palmieri will lead the defensive group, which should once again be a challenge for the opposition to score against. Junior Ben Harvey and senior Billy Gardner will also be key players at close defense. Sophomore goalie Matt Corvi will step into the cage this spring and has the potential to be a standout.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

“Once again, we will have a very competitive team this spring with a very tough schedule,” said Franklin coach Lou Verrochi.




King Philip

2021 Record: 9-5
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Hal Bean
With more than a dozen players back in the fold from last year, King Philip is looking to take another step forward after posting a 9-5 record last year.

The Warriors have key pieces in the lineup all over the field, starting with senior goalie James Boldy. Boldy had a great campaign a season ago and will be among the top goalies in the league this year. He will work with fellow senior captain Will Weiblen and senior Shaun Fitzpatrick as the anchors of the King Philip defense.

There is a strong core of midfielders back in the mix this year, starting with returning faceoff specialist Thomas Brewster. He will be joined by a very experienced group that features seniors Ben Riggs, Sean McCarthy, Andrew Longobardi, Nolan Feyler,
Brayden Thompson, John Campbell, and Ian Hill, along with sophomore standout Noah Minkwitz. Riggs (31 points last year) will be one of the most dangerous two-way players in the league but KP has a lot of depth in the position.

Offensively, King Philip has Sean Crowther back in the fold, who was just one of six Hock players to reach the 40-goal mark on the season. He’s joined by Kip Bishop and Colin Lightbody, who both registered 19 points a year ago, as well as Colin Gillis and sophomore Donovan DeVellis.

“King Philip boys lacrosse expects to compete in every game and anticipates a productive season and playoff run,” said KP head coach Hal Bean “We all are looking forward to a fun season!”

Mansfield

2021 Record: 6-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Tim Frias
With a handful of young faces fighting for spots in the lineup, Mansfield is hoping to pick up valuable experience early and make a late charge for a spot in the state tournament.

The Hornets do have some experience on the defensive side of the ball with Ryan DeGirolamo starting in the cage and senior captains Zander Holmes and Mark DiGirolamo patrolling the space in front of him. Mansfield has a handful of young poles that will be in the mix including Liam Barry, Patrick Gormley, Nolan Bordieri, and James DeGirolamo.

The group of upperclassmen will make up the majority of the field with senior Dash Munson joining a trio of talented juniors in Grady Sullivan, Drew Sacco, and Cody Gordon. The Hornets have a lot of young players looking to find spots in the midfield and lineup and general, and new names that could contribute early on include Aidan Steele, Jake Feinberg, and Liam Steele.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

In the attack, senior Jack Roberts will be accompanied by a pair of sophomores in Tommy Smith and Andrew Burnham.




Milford

2021 Record: 2-11
2021 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Austin Costa
Under the guidance of new head coach Austin Costa, the Scarlet Hawks are aiming to show improvement throughout the season and set the program on an upward trajectory.

There is a strong mix of veteran leadership and new faces eager to find a spot in the lineup for Costa and the Scarlet Hawks this season. Senior captain Eric Landry is set to be the leader on the defensive end, and his experience will be key as Milford tries to fend off some lethal offenses. Landry will be joined by Brian Goncalves and junior Nick Casilli, both returners for the Scarlet Hawks. Defensive experience will be key as the Hawks turn to Alex McGuire for his varsity debut in the cage.

Offensively, look for veterans Jacob Ligor and Eric Farrell to be major contributors for the Scarlet Hawks. Both have a good amount of experience playing at this level and know what it takes to compete in the Hockomock League. Other returners for Milford include Kyle Donelan, Shawn O’Donnell, and Ronn Swineford while freshmen Alex Maietta and Jayden Martins have impressed early on and could be key contributors right away.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

North Attleboro

2021 Record: 7-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 Central/East Quarterfinal
Coach: Kevin Young
North Attleboro finished in a tie for third in the Davenport division last year and had an impressive playoff win over Belmont before being beaten by sectional finalist Medfield. The Rocketeers only graduated two players from last season’s team, so Big Red comes into the spring with big expectations of competing for a first league title since 2017 and being a threat in the state tournament.

The North attack should be an area of strength this season with seniors Matt Antonetti, Connor Ruppert, and Clayton Billingkoff all back up top. Antonetti led the team with 57 points in 2021. Juniors Jack Regan and Luke Ward have both had strong preseasons, while freshmen Ethan Gustafson and Brady Brackner could be poised for breakout debuts. Senior Jared Vacher will do his best to get as many possessions as possible for the North attack by winning draws.

North’s defense has plenty of experience as well. Senior Max Hobbs, Anthony Ferro, and James Brennan will get plenty of help from sophomore Connor Rajotte and junior LSM Julian House. The Rocketeers can also count on two experienced goalies with senior Ethan McGrath and junior JT Gallagher both back in the cage this spring.

“We know the Hockomock will be strong this year,” said North coach Kevin Young. “I am excited to watch this group compete and grow as a team.”

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

Oliver Ames

2021 Record: 3-11
2021 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Ben Devlin
Oliver Ames coach Ben Devlin stepped down after last season, but he was convinced to come back this spring to lead a young Tigers team. Twenty-four of the 34 players in the program this year are either freshmen or sophomores, so OA will be counting on younger players to step up across the field and Devlin is excited about the promise he sees during the preseason.

Senior midfielder Wyatt Fritchman and junior attacker Ben Reardon will be the leaders on offense. Fritchman was second on the team in scoring last year and Reardon went on a run of nine goals in the final three games of his sophomore season. Senior Wes Tower is back to run things in the midfield and sophomores Ryan Jaco and Alex McAndrew have the potential to find the back of the net.

On the other end of the field, senior Cam Tower has been converted to LSM this season. The other poles will be led by junior Jake Manthous, who also was in charge of the face-offs last year, and sophomore Landon Grothe. Junior Noah Isleib returns in goal to keep things organized on defense and sophomore Ethan St. Jean will be his backup.
 
“Despite being much younger, we are looking to improve on last year’s results and continue building the program,” said Devlin. “We expect to have some growing pains early in the season, but look to improve as the younger players get experience and develop their game during the season. It’s never easy to rebuild in a talented league like the Hock. There aren’t any easy games as every team is talented and well-coached…but we are setting our sights on winning enough games to reach the postseason.”

Sharon

2021 Record: 9-6
2021 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Jon Shocket
Sharon has a solid core back from last year’s nine-win team but without any juniors on the squad, there will be a lot of young players in the lineup with most getting their first taste of varsity lacrosse.

With over a half dozen seniors on the roster, head coach Jon Shocket will lean heavily on their veteran leadership and experience as the new players get integrated into the lineup and acclimated with the speed of the high school game. The senior trio of Ben Shocket, Brady Daylor, and Ryan Zunenshine are this year’s captains.

The other seniors on the team include Jace Nestler, Matt Mahoney, James Lillenfeld, and Chance Hanah, and all four will be vital as the Eagles make a push for the postseason. There are four freshmen already in the lineup including Matt Powers in net, Jordan Burke at attack, and Zach Bernstein and Ben Goldberg at defense. Sophomores Gabe Korn, Ryan Brown, Jacob Kaufman, and Ronin Widland will also be in the mix for the Eagles.

“I hope to get a lot of growth from our team as we get more experience,” Shocket said.

2022 Hockomock Boys Lacrosse Preview

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview
Taunton is coming off a state championship and a perfect season, but there will be plenty of competition for the league crown this season. Read team-by-team previews below. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

Attleboro

2021 Record: 9-7
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Mark Homer
Last spring, Attleboro was an inning away from upsetting crosstown rival Bishop Feehan and reaching the Div. 1 South quarterfinal. The Bombardiers were also the only team to score on state champ Taunton. That is a good foundation to build on coming into a new season, as Attleboro brings back a strong core of players looking to challenge the top two in the Kelley-Rex and make another state tournament push.

Senior Lindsey Perry, who can also play second base, will be in the circle for the Bombardiers to start the season and will be throwing to sophomore Rylie Camacho, who had an impressive debut campaign at the plate and in the field. Senior Hailey Perry is coming back from a knee injury but should be at shortstop early in the season. Attleboro added pitching depth this season with junior Lily Routhier transferring in from Wheelock School (R.I.). Routhier will also play center field when she’s not pitching.

Sophomore Kayla Goldrick is another player coming off a standout rookie season and she will be at third and in the middle of the order. Junior Lauren Eby will return at the other corner and junior Sarah Maher gives Attleboro versatility by being able to play multiple positions. The Bombardiers have a balanced lineup and will be able to incorporate new faces to the program and players pulled up from JV to find the right combinations.

“The team’s goal is to stay competitive for every practice and game, and qualify for states,” said Attleboro coach Mark Homer. “We must be consistent in every aspect of the game. It’s always a tall order, but this team has the potential and determination to make it happen. We’re gonna have fun doing it.”

Canton

2021 Record: 5-11
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Sandy Lombardi
Canton returns seven players from last year’s team, which went on the road to beat Cardinal Spellman in the first round of the state tournament. After Dave Bohane stepped down, Sharon girls basketball coach and former Duxbury softball coach Sandy Lombardi has taken over the Bulldogs hoping to take the mix of experience and new talent on another trip to the postseason.

The Bulldogs will have depth in the circle this season with seniors Gillian Gordon and Sophia Santos bringing experience to the position and sophomore Jess Wright adding another option. Senior Taylor Reynolds brings a strong bat to the top of the order and will play in left field. Senior Emily Ciampa will return at second base, with Wright playing mostly at first, and junior Olivia Mackwell behind the plate. Sophomore Laura Valkanas will be at shortstop.

Freshman Chloe Guerschuny is a new face at third base and classmate Klara Redquest will take over from Liz Bickett in center. Senior Jessica Vo, junior Sam Vrabel, and sophomore Anna Lehan are all newcomers on varsity who will give Canton additional options in the outfield and in the lineup.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

Lombardi said, “We have a good mix of upper and underclassmen. The girls are working hard and we are looking forward to competing in a tough Hockomock League.”







Foxboro

2021 Record: 11-6
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Mark Maguire
With two eighth graders in the starting lineup, including one in the circle, no one was quite sure how good Foxboro could be last spring. As it turned out, the Warriors were good enough to make a run all the way to the Div. 2 South quarterfinal. With additional pitching depth and critical varsity experience, Foxboro will try to build on that momentum and make another deep tournament run.

Senior Peyton Feldman was one of the top hitters in the league last season and she will be moving to shortstop while continuing to lead off. Senior Allie Willis will add leadership from the catcher position, as she is in her third year behind the plate. Her experience is critical when working with Foxboro’s young pitching staff. Freshman Emma Callahan had a breakout season as the starter last year and she will get the chance to play some second and third base as well to make sure her bat stays in the lineup. Freshman Vittoria Cuscia and sophomore lefty Angelina Rifai will give Foxboro more options in the circle.

Foxboro will have plenty of speed in the lineup this season. Freshman Jillian Slattery and Natalia Leach are athletic outfielders and will add production from the bottom half of the order. Freshman Ava Hill is back to start at first base after a solid eighth grade season and Fiona Dunn will get the start in right field.

“We are a young team that is looking to compete for the Davenport division,” said Foxboro coach Mark Maguire. “We have some very good athletes that look to take their softball skills to the next level. They are a group of kids who are a pleasure to coach.”

Franklin

2021 Record: 6-9
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Katie Holbrook
Last season, Franklin showed that it could score runs in bunches, hitting double digits in five of its 15 games, but the Panthers could also allow runs in bunches with teams reaching double digits six times. With seven returning players, second-year coach Katie Holbrook is hoping that experience and depth will carry the Panthers back up the standings and into the postseason.

Franklin will have depth in the circle this season with senior Aislinn Lavery taking the bulk of the innings and junior Kiera Kotwicki able to step in when needed. Both will mix pitches and keep teams off-balance. Junior Hailey Fales will be back behind the plate, adding another layer of experience to the pitching staff. Senior Julia White battled an injury all spring in 2021 but she is back healthy and back in the middle of the infield and the order. Junior Georgia Harvey is a versatile player who can fill in at multiple positions and batted 0.426 as a sophomore.

Sophomore Carly Johnson-Pellegri had an impressive rookie season and will be moving from second to short and senior Hannah Cacciapaglia is back at first, and in the middle of the order, after recovering from an injury that kept her out all of last spring. The outfield looks strong for the Panthers this season. Senior Kelly Moussa has a strong arm in right and juniors Reece Allen and Dana Stott are two newcomers that could play big roles for the team this season.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

“We have a lot of different players who can jump in and be the spark at any given moment,” Holbrook said. “There are a lot of new players in the mix, but they are already showing signs of coming together as a team and leadership is not lacking in this group. If they can remain poised and confident and play their game, we should do well this season.”




King Philip

2021 Record: 14-3
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal
Coach: Kate Fallon-Comeau
King Philip lost only three games last season and all of those were to league and state champion Taunton. The Warriors bring back a lot of players from last season and that has put high expectations on one of the state’s perennial powers to get back on top not only in the Kelley-Rex division but also once the tournament kicks off.

A year of varsity experience might be most beneficial in the circle where senior Emma Sheehan and sophomore Jordan Bennett give the Warriors a lot of depth for a long season. Both saw plenty of action last year, including in the playoffs and they should be ready for the challenge of the new season. Junior Sarah Cullen will also be back behind the plate for the Warriors after an impressive debut season in which she batted nearly .500.

Infield defense was a strength for the Warriors, even after an injury to junior shortstop Libby Walsh. Senior Mia Bennett returns at second base and sophomore Maddie Paschke will be back at third base, after an impressive playoff run at the hot corner. Senior Meg Sherwood will add leadership in the outfield, while juniors Charlotte Raymond and Ava Lanza provide a spark in the lineup.

KP coach Kate Fallon-Comeau said, “We’re hoping to have a solid season, make the tournament, and see where it goes from there!”

Mansfield

2021 Record: 9-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Quarterfinal
Coach: Lori Letendre
Mansfield made a surprising run to the quarterfinal of the South sectional last spring, winning at Needham and at No. 2 seed Natick before falling to perennial power Silver Lake. With seven starters returning, the Hornets will be aiming at another tournament run this year and building the confidence that they can challenge the top teams in the Kelley-Rex.

Pitching will be a question mark for Mansfield this year after graduating last year’s starter Ashlyn Conley. Senior Julia Kelly, better known for her exploits on the volleyball court, will join the team for the first time in her career and will get the chance in the circle. Junior Amanda Schwarz will also be given time in the circle, as she makes the jump up from JV.

The lineup was young and inexperienced last season, but still proved to be dynamic and most of the players who came through with big at-bats have returned. Seniors Alanna Conley, Olivia DeTrolio, and Casey Moussette are all back along with sophomores Molly Kucharski, Callie Lake, Jill Koppy, and Liv Madeira, who all had impressive rookie seasons.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

“It’s been fun to get back on the field and start working with a great group of girls and we are looking forward to the season!” said Mansfield coach Lori Letendre.

Milford

2021 Record: 0-14
2021 Finish: Missed postseason
Coach: Steve DiVitto
The Kelley-Rex division is loaded every year and a young Milford roster is hungry to move past a couple of tough seasons to be more competitive in a difficult league schedule. While the Hawks went winless in 2021, they lost twice to Mansfield by a combined five runs and lost by only two runs to Franklin and Sharon, so the Hawks had opportunities to come out on top. Now, with a year that is closer to normal, Milford hopes to take the next step and turn those close defeats into victories.

While the roster is almost all underclassmen, Milford does return seven players from last year. Only two of the returners are upperclassmen, senior pitcher and outfielder Olivia Morelli and senior third baseman Gianna Cacciola. Both captains are entering their third seasons on varsity and going to be expected to provide leadership for the rest of the lineup, which is almost all freshmen and sophomores.

Also returning this year are sophomores Maddie Burns (catcher and first base), Camille Bonina (first base and outfield), Grace Bonina (middle infield), Maeve Driscoll (pitcher, shortstop, and outfield), and Sarah Wengel (outfield and first base). Each player gained valuable experience as freshmen and provide a lot of versatility in how the team will line up. The Hawks will also look to a trio of freshmen for instant impact as starters or off the bench, including pitcher Cae Pellegrini, outfielder Jianna Fernandes, and shortstop Olivia Baglione.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

“With such a young crew, we will rely on our two seniors, our captains, who have four years of experience to help lead the way,” said Milford coach Steve DiVitto. “We pride ourselves on keeping strong team chemistry; something that will be an important part of this season. We’re hungry to get back on the field!”




North Attleboro

2021 Record: 12-4
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Bill Wallace
North Attleboro has won back-to-back league titles for the first time in program history and would love to make it a three-peat before moving to the Kelley-Rex division next season. The Rocketeers graduated four starters, so there will be opportunities for underclassmen to step in and contribute right away, but North also has a strong core, particularly with two strong starting pitchers, to make a run in the Div. 2 tournament.

Juniors Zoey McDonough and Kelly Colleran are back and give North an impressive one-two punch in the circle. Both players were all-stars in their debut seasons, and both are Div. I college recruits. Since they’re also important to the lineup, McDonough will play first and Colleran will play short when they’re not pitching. Senior Mandi Hanewich is battling a hand injury at the start of the season, but the four-year varsity player will add leadership in center, while senior Ally Levine will be behind the plate working with North’s staff. Junior Grace Simmons is the fifth returning starter and the right fielder will also get the chance to produce at the plate as well.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

Senior Shaelyn Burns will take over at third after being the DP for most of last season, while freshman Maryellen Charette gets the nod at short or at first, depending on who the starting pitcher will be. Junior Emma Hanwell and senior Grace Barry will both get chances in the outfield, while juniors Maddie Bailey and Julia Forman will play second and be the DP. Freshman Aryanna McDavitt provides much-needed versatility, as she can play anywhere in the infield and pitch when called on.

“Our goals don’t change – what does change is the approach to get there,” said North coach Bill Wallace. “We’re working at it, let’s see if we retain it. The girls are focused – they know what’s in front of them!”

Oliver Ames

2021 Record: 4-10
2021 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Lindsey Allison
Despite having no seniors on the roster this season, Oliver Ames has set a goal of getting back into the state tournament picture and moving up the standings in the Davenport division. The Tigers return five players from last year’s team but there is excitement about the underclassmen who will be stepping into the lineup this year and the energy that they’re bringing to the team.

Junior Maddie Homer is the team’s top returning hitter and was also an all-star at shortstop last spring. She will provide leadership in the infield. Junior Katie Melendy has a year of varsity experience in the circle and will look to build on her four wins as a sophomore. Lexi Galsband will be at first base and fellow junior Caitlin Miller returns in center, while sophomore Katherine Farley is stepping in behind the plate.

The underclassmen will give OA important versatility to find the right spots for everyone in the lineup. Sophomores Madison Monteiro, Paige Taylor, Sammy Johnson, and freshmen Emily Martin and Devon Morris will fill out the roster this season. Although young, there is a lot of club experience that they will add to the Tigers.

“Overall, I am impressed with the attitudes, hard work, and teamwork that I have seen so far this season and I am looking forward to watching them grow together as a team,” said OA coach Lindsey Allison. “We expect to be competitive in the Hockomock League and get back to the culture of making tournament an expectation.”

Sharon

2021 Record: 2-12
2021 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Heather Poliferno
For Sharon to move up the Davenport division standings, the Eagles are going to need to produce more runs this season. Sharon was last in the league with 31 runs scored in 14 games last year, but there is optimism around the team this spring that the combination of returning players and talented new faces is making good contact, being aggressive on the base paths, and look ready to create more opportunities to manufacture runs.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

Senior Trinity Payne will be a second-year captain for the Eagles, and she will need to produce in the circle (60 strikeouts last year) and at the plate (0.343 average in 2021). Senior catcher Ciara McAuliffe can hit for power and is an experienced battery mate for Payne, which will be a key to Sharon limiting the opposition’s base runners. Senior Savannah Gray is another power hitter in the middle of the Sharon order and a leader at first base.

Junior Ally Foulsham gives Sharon important versatility, being able to play solid defense at several positions and even jump in the circle to give Payne a breather. Foulsham, who will start at third base this spring, played third, short, and pitched last year and had a fielding percentage over 90 percent. Sophomore Maddie Hu will be the new shortstop this season and junior Natalie Kessler will start in the outfield but could see time at a few positions, including catcher.

“Our players have worked incredibly hard the last couple of weeks,” Sharon coach Heather Poliferno, “and we are all eager for them to get out on the field and show everyone what Sharon High softball is capable of.”

Stoughton

2021 Record: 8-7
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Deb Parker
After a year off, Stoughton got to experience the postseason in 2021, and a playoff win, and now the Black Knights will enter a normal spring with confidence that they can build on that foundation to make another run for a state tournament spot. With depth and talent throughout the lineup, Stoughton will be hoping to be back in the mix in the Davenport division standings as well.

Senior Sydney Menz will be the anchor for the team in center and as one of the top hitters in the middle of the order. She will be joined in the outfield by classmate Kate Bulger and freshman Angie Berry, who is going to get the chance to step right into the lineup this spring. Pitching is always critical and junior Kerry Driscoll will get the nod as the starter after getting a taste of facing varsity lineups last season.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

The infield will be led by senior shortstop Melody Casna. Surrounded by underclassmen, Casna will give a dash of experience and is a vocal leader. Sophomore Alyssa Edwards is back at the corners, primarily at third, after a freshman season that saw her lead the team with a 0.417 batting average.

“I have so much confidence in this team and I expect big things from them this year,” said Stoughton coach Deb Parker. “They have come together really quickly and have chemistry that I have not seen in a long time. I am excited to see what this team will accomplish together this season, they have talent, depth, and personality, and they are willing to work. They are really fun to coach!”

Taunton

2021 Record: Won Div. 1 State Title
Coach: Carrie Consalvi
Not every team rebuilds in the same way. After graduating five starters from last year’s state championship-winning team, including in the circle and the heart of the order, Taunton will have plenty of new faces stepping into big roles this spring, yet the expectations remain high for the Tigers to challenge for a third straight league title and make another tournament run.

Senior Kylie Thorpe will be the anchor in the middle of the infield and add strong leadership at the top of the order. Freshman Brooke Aldrich will take over for her sister Hanna at shortstop and has already shown off a strong arm and a strong bat. Junior Kaysie Demoura will give the Tigers vocal leadership from behind the plate and looks set for a breakout season at the plate, while senior Angie Lynch was one of the stars of Taunton’s playoff run as a leadoff hitter and center fielder.

Junior Ava Venturelli is back in the fold this spring and the University of Louisville-commit will bring her big bat to left field, having hit a pair of homers during the preseason jamboree at the PAL fields. It won’t be easy to fill the shoes of Kelsey White in the circle, but senior Olyvia Mendonca will get that assignment and has had a strong preseason.

“We have a great crew this year, very different team from last year,” said second-year coach Carrie Consalvi, noting her team will have plenty of personality and rely on key leaders this year.

2022 Hockomock League Softball Preview

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview
Taunton returns a strong group of players looking to challenge for the Kelley-Rex division title. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Attleboro

2021 Record: 5-11
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Steve Dunlea
With a good mix of new faces and experienced veterans, Attleboro is aiming to be in the mix of a loaded Kelley-Rex division. For the Bombardiers, it will lean heavily on a deep pitching staff.

It starts with seniors Billy Saltmarsh, who is committed to UMass Dartmouth, and Cian Kelleher, who is committed to Stonehill. They’ll be joined in the rotation by junior lefty Danny Johnson while senior Jamie Bloch and junior Sean O’Hara lend strength to the relief corps. Sophomore Matt Harvie, sophomore Johnny Pagano, and freshman Tyler Dunlea will also be in the mix to see innings on the mound.

Senior captain Owen Taber (UMass Dartmouth) will be an anchor of the Bombardier defense at second base while juniors Peter DelPozzo and Cooper Johnson, along with Pagano, look to fill in at shortstop as senior captain Evan Houle works his way back from an injury from basketball season. Johnson, DelPozzo, and Dunlea are in the mix for the starting job at third while Bloch (committed to UMaine Farmington) and Christian Dame provide depth at first base.

In the outfield, senior Nate George will cover a lot of ground from his spot in centerfield, and the Bombardiers will rotate between Parket Sacket, Hayden Hagerty, Ben Hochwarter, Danny Johnson, Brody McKenna, and Harvie for the other two outfielder spots. Junior Aidan Hochwarter provides a steady presence both at the dish and behind the plate at catcher.

“The strength of this team is its chemistry,” said Attleboro head coach Steve Dunlea. “We have a great group of returning players who have really worked hard to build a team bond through the pandemic. I give a lot of credit to the captains from last year and this year. Despite the challenges they faced with COVID, they were able to rebuild the chemistry of the Attleboro baseball program that was lost when the 2020 season was canceled.”

Canton

2021 Record: 8-7
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Ben Shuffain
Canton got off to a great start to the 2021 campaign, winning six of their first seven games but ended up with a first-round exit in the playoffs. With a strong core of returning players plus a couple of promising young players, the Bulldogs are aiming to get back to the postseason again this season.

The Bulldogs certainly have some holes to fill with the loss of a talented senior class and the departure of ace Andrew Middleton. Fourth-year head coach Ben Shuffain will lean on captains Andy Butler and Matt Chafin to lead the charge this season, along with three-year players Nico Bonanno, Matt Quan, and Zach Peters. Chafin was one of the best offensive players in the league last year, finishing second with a 0.442 average.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Shuffain has a lot of options for pitching, with at least a dozen choices to fill out the rotation and relief corps. Jay Kelleher, Hayden Rose, and Owen Lane will all be in the mix for innings on the mound. Matty Lesser, James Young, Jack Digirolomo, and freshman Kyle Redquest will work the infield while the catching duties will fall to Sean Sullivan and Matt Hart.

“We are a very experienced team with a lot of guys with a lot of innings pitched from last season and wins under their belt,” Shuffain said. “With a few of last year’s backups moving into starting roles and the addition of a few younger guys and the experienced upperclassmen this team should have a good season as they will continue to work hard on the field and in the weight room.”







Foxboro

2021 Record: 5-10
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 3 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Derek Suess
Foxboro has some of the top returning talents in the league but will look for some of its younger players to provide the depth needed to compete for a division title this season.

Junior captain Sean O’Leary is one of the top arms in the league and has a lot of varsity experience under his belt already. He will be the ace of the staff that will also feature junior Mathieu Sullivan, who made his varsity debut last season, and freshman Nolan Gordon, who has impressed during the preseason. Pitching depth will come from seniors Andrew Peterson, Tom Marcucella, Liam Mulkern, and junior Alex Stern.

Senior captain Tom Marcucella is one of the most experienced players in the league and his versatility gives head coach Derek Suess a lot of options in the infield. Marcucella can play at any of the four infield spots but will spend the majority of his time at first base. Junior Ryan LeClair is back in the mix at shortstop after a breakout season a year ago, sophomore Tyler Prescott is back for his second year with the squad, and freshman Ryan O’Leary offers a solid bat and glove. Senior Kyle Smith and junior Josh Connolly provide solid depth in the infield.

Senior captain and three-sport star Jack Watts will patrol center field for the Warriors and will be flanked by juniors Kenny Mello and Louis Carangelo, all three looking to make an impact with their bats this season. When not pitching, Gordon will also be in the mix for some innings in the outfield and sophomore Shane Henri gives Suess another solid option. Mulkern is the starting catcher with freshmen Ben Angelini and Mike Marcucella in the mix as well.

“We have great leadership from our captains and upperclassmen which has set the tone for the rest of our guys,” Suess said. “The underclassmen have bought in and can contribute right away. We must embrace the daunting challenge of playing in the Hock, and compete with confidence to give ourselves the best chance to reach our goals.”

Franklin

2021 Record: 16-2
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Final
Coach: Zach Brown
Franklin graduated some of the best players in the league after last season, but the Panthers still have a loaded lineup and a deep and talented pitching staff that could result in a very deep playoff run.

Not many teams could lose one of the best hitters in the league (Nate Cooke, 0.429) and one of the best catchers in the league (Jake Fitzgibbons, 0.353) and still boast one of the best lineups in the league but that’s how deep the Panthers are. Jack Marino, Ben Jarosz, and Chris Goode were all among the league leaders offensively a season ago, and Franklin also has sophomore Henry Digiorgio and junior Eisig Chin back after picking up a year of varsity experience. Junior Ryan Gerety, a Northeastern commit, is one of the best fielders in the region and is very dangerous at the plate.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

And after surrendering a league-low 40 runs last season, Franklin returns its entire rotation. Jacob Jette had a great junior season and will be one of the best pitchers in the Hock while junior Alfred Mucciarone will look to build upon a solid sophomore campaign. Relievers James Kuczmiec and Ethan Voellmicke dominated last season, coming in time after time and shutting opponents down.




King Philip

2021 Record: 8-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Jeff Plympton, Jr.
It was a good start for head coach Jeff Plympton as the Warriors won eight games last season and went to the playoffs, bowing out to eventual state champions Xaverian.

King Philip has the majority of its lineup back and will be looking to make some noise in a very competitive Kelley-Rex division. After averaging almost five runs a game last year, the Warriors have some key bats back in the lineup this year. Senior Shawn Legere is a returning league all star that starts at shortstop and is coming off a season in which he hit 0.386 and scored a league-best 16 runs. Rudy Gately had a breakout sophomore season and will be a key bat in the lineup again this year.

Gately will also be a go-to option on the mound for Plympton after going 4-0 last season, striking out 33 in 34.1 innings of work with an impressive 1.03 ERA. Tommy Martorano also gained a lot of experience last year as a sophomore and will give the Warriors a solid 1-2 punch for its starting rotation.

“We have a lot of arms to roll out if we need them which is great,” Plympton said. “Shawn Legere provides great leadership to the team and demands hard work at practice and games. Our fielding should be strong this year but I’m looking forward to watching our offense. Last year we struggled at the plate but this year looks promising. Last season we notched our first playoff win in over a decade and we look to keep those strides moving forward this year.”

Mansfield

2021 Record: 8-8
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Chris Hall
With a talented and experienced pitching staff and a list of players eager to make a name for themselves at the dish, Mansfield enters the season with the goal of challenging for the Kelley-Rex division title.

The Hornets were young last spring, and a lot of players earned their first varsity starts on the mound and at-bats. Mansfield has the majority of its team back and will be looking to turn that valuable experience into a successful 2022 campaign. They certainly aren’t shying away from testing that talent with defending state champions Xaverian, Maryland powerhouse Archbishop Spalding, and other top teams on its schedule along with a loaded Hock schedule.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Seniors Anthony Sacchetti, Aaron Blinn, Jimmy Gilleran, and Colby Geddis highlight a deep and talented pitching staff for the Hornets. All of those arms got their feet wet during last year’s season and now give head coach Chris Hall a lot of flexibility with his rotation. There won’t be a drop off as the games go on with four solid options.

The big challenge for the Hornets a season ago was offense, scoring a division low 57 runs. With a strong offseason under their belts, there are a lot of names eager to step up and improve that number. Sacchetti, Gilleran, Geddis, and classmates Andrew Slaney and Jared Fraone will try to lead the way while juniors Conner Zukowski, Sam Martin, Caden Colby, Aidan Jones, and Rocco Scarpellini are all in the mix. Sophomores Connor Curtis and Jake Maydak both played varsity last year and could be impact players right away. Behind the dish, Aidan Jones and Wyatt Bolduc are battling for the starting spot at catcher after the Hornets lost senior Liam Anastasia to an injury.

“The keys to success this season rely heavily on every player doing their job,” Hall said. “The Hornets bring a well-rounded roster to the table and expect to compete all season long. Pitching and defense continue to be a strength for the Hornets. Offensively, the Hornets look to use a variety of talent to score runs and win baseball games.”

Milford

2021 Record: 5-9
2021 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Alex Dion
There were some growing pains for the Hawks a season ago with a young squad, but with just five players graduated from a year ago, the Hawks are hoping to be a contender in a deep Kelley-Rex division.

Head coach Alex Dion plans to get contributions from all four classes this season, starting with a strong group of seniors that cover the field. Tyler Lane and Grant Scudo will see time in the outfield, Justin Luchini mans first base, Alex McColl can play in a number of spots in the infield, Cole Forrest is a versatile weapon, and John Denegris is an option on the mound.

The rotation will be anchored by junior Evan Cornelius, junior Tyler Caldon, and sophomore Anthony LaPierre. Cornelius started every game for the Hawks last season and will play at first when he’s not on the mound. Caldon and LaPierre, both right-handed pitchers, are up from the JV squad and have impressed in the early going.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

Offensively, sophomore Keith Lee picked up valuable experience after starting nine games as a freshman last season. He will start behind the dish and be one of the most important bats in the lineup. Sophomores Damien Carter and Sean McGee also started last season and will make up Milford’s middle infield.

“I am excited about the potential that this group has,” Dion said. “With strong senior leadership and varsity players in all four grades we have an opportunity to compete this year and for years to come. This is a great league and I have a lot of respect for the other teams in it. It starts on the mound and if we can get quality pitching out of the arms that we have here we have a chance to compete. We will have to win games in a variety of ways and I believe that we have the athletes to do that.”




North Attleboro

2021 Record: 12-5
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Semifinal
Coach: Mike Hart
After splitting the division title a season ago, the Rocketeers enter the 2022 campaign with a chance at winning back-to-back division titles for the first time in 30 years.

Replacing ace Dennis Colleran won’t be easy but North Attleboro has some solid arms on the mound including senior Danny Curran and senior David Floyd, who missed last season. Curran went 2-0 last year and struck out 22 in 23 innings of work with a 3.65 ERA. Head coach Mike Hart also has pitching options in senior Anthony Wescott, and juniors Jordan Paradis, Derek Maceda, and Ayden Delaney.

One of the big reasons the Rocketeers had such success last season was their offense, which scored a Davenport division 110 runs. Maceda was one of the best bats in the league and will patrol the outfield for the Big Red along with Curran, Paradis, and senior Christian Bates. In the infield, Floyd will be joined by classmates Brody Rosenberg, Gavin Wells, and Nik Kojoian, and senior Tyler Bannon will patrol shortstop. Junior Aidan Conrad had a breakout season starting behind the dish a year ago.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

“We’re going to look to put a lot of pressure on other teams offensively,” Hart said. “We have many capable pitchers who can provide quality innings. We feel our defense will limit mistakes and not give many runs away. If we want to have a successful season we will need contributions from everybody on the roster on a daily basis. We will rely on our senior leadership and experience to guide us through the season. We need guys to excel in their role and focus on the job at hand.”

Oliver Ames

2021 Record: 9-6
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South First Round
Coach: Joe Abarr
After earning a share of the Davenport title last season, the Tigers have the pieces in place to make another run at the division crown this year.

A combination of veterans and new faces eager to make an impression gives head coach Joe Abarr a nice mix to work with. Offensively, the Tigers will look for their senior captains to lead the way. Jake Waxman will play first base and potentially some outfield and is one of the best bats in the Hockomock League while Joe Cicchetti could also see time at first as well as the outfield, and is a strong two-way player. Patrick Finnerty is back in the mix after a strong junior season.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

On the mound, OA has a pair of lefties at the top of the rotation. Nick Clark (3-0, 2.78, 32K) and Jack Richardson (2-2, 2.07, 21K) are both coming off great junior seasons and will give the Tigers a solid 1-2 punch on the mound this year. Richardson will also see time in the outfield and will be a key piece of the lineup offensively.

“We have a good mix of returners and young talented players looking for opportunities to help our team win,” Abarr said. “We are excited for a full ‘normal’ season back in the Hock.”

Sharon

2021 Record: 3-12
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 2 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Andrew Poliferno
Sharon enters the season with a roster eager to compete among the Hockomock League’s top teams, but the Eagles will have to do so all on the road this season. With the construction of the new high school currently underway where Sharon’s field was, it will be all road trips for the Eagles this season.

It will start with the 10 seniors on the team, including captains Dan Okstein and Dylan Labbe. Okstein is back after an injury limited his time a year ago and will be a key piece in the lineup offensively. He will be the anchor of the outfield, playing mostly in left but could also see time in center. Labbe has a ton of varsity experience and will be the ace of the pitching staff this year. Also on the mound returns sophomore Luke Meixel, one of the league’s breakout players last year as a freshman. junior Alex Coughlin, Ryan Baker, Zach Loomis, Jack Broughton, and Okstein will also be in the mix for innings on the mound.

Offensively, Nate Yaffe is back after a great year at the dish a year ago and will take over at shortstop. Not only is Yaffe consistent with the bat, but he’s also very dangerous on the base paths. Another speedy option at the dish will be Palash Raina and the Eagles are hoping to get key contributions at the plate from Okstein and varsity newcomer Connor Blaney. Liam Conway takes over behind the dish and Will Hippler, Owen Kevorkian, Eli Greenfield, Josh Tolentino, and Jake Loomis are all in the mix for spots in the lineup as well.

2022 Hockomock League Baseball Preview

“As a second-year varsity coach, I couldn’t be prouder to see how ready our players are to play their 2022 season,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Poliferno. “It is evident our players worked hard during the off-season to prepare to compete in the Hockomock. Our players are gritty, determined, and not afraid to put in the hard work that it takes to improve. In addition to their drive to succeed, the team vibe is positive and players go out of their way to encourage one another. I believe we have the makings of a very talented and passionate group of players ready to make noise for their 2022 season.”

Stoughton

2021 Record: 4-10
2021 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kevin Carty
There will be a lot of new faces in the Stoughton lineup this season, and that goes for the dugout too as Kevin Carty takes over for Mike Armour, who was the longest-tenured coach in the Hockomock League.

Carty is going to lean heavily on his seniors, who make up over half of the Knights’ roster. There is a lot of versatility among the senior class as well with players like Joe McNulty and Jonah Ly, who could see time in the outfield, the infield, on the mound, and in McNulty’s case, even behind the dish. Brad Franey, Anthony Girolamo, Anthony Tilton, James Price, and Owen Wiesnberger are all seniors that are in the mix for infield spots.

Girolamo, Ly, and Price will be joined by sophomore Will Worsley, junior Jeriel Cuello, junior Sean Farley, junior Joe Rush, and sophomore Hunter Malkin as options on the mound for Carty.

“We have a deep group of seniors that will carry us this year,” Carty said. “These seniors are very athletic and can play anywhere on the field. They have the ability to be great leaders for the younger players. We will go as far as they carry us.”

Taunton

2021 Record: 13-5
2021 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Semifinal
Coach: Blair Bourque
Replacing a league MVP is never an easy task as the Tigers have to do with Danny MacDougall, but Taunton has a lot of depth and a lot of new faces looking to make a name for themselves as they help Taunton challenge for the Kelley-Rex title.

The strength of the 2022 Tigers will be offense and defense. Taunton has already lost some pitchers to injury so it will be a group effort on the mound this season. Coming off a season in which they scored 119 runs (nearly 7 runs a game), the offense will once again be a key component. Dawson Bryce had a breakout year after hitting 0.341 and driving in 12 runs a season ago, and junior Ryan MacDougall is one of the best power hitters in the league.

Seniors Evan Cali, Colby DeCouta, Colin Botelho, and junior Braden Sullivan are all very experienced at the varsity level and head coach Blair Bourque will lean on their leadership this season.

“Unlike in years past, we don’t have any true pitchers; our pitching staff consists of position players who will need to step up and give us an opportunity to compete,” Bourque said.”Offensively, we’ll look to have productive at-bats, be patient, and take advantage of mistakes. We should have one of the more productive offenses Taunton has had in some time. Although we’ll continue to play fundamental baseball, we hope to be able to capitalize when opportunity presents itself.”