2017 Hockomock Softball Preview

2017 Hockomock Softball Preview
With a deep and experienced lineup and both pitchers returning, Milford will once again be the favorite to retain the Davenport division title. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Softball Preview

Attleboro

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 MacKenzie 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.”

Canton

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.”

Foxboro

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.”

Franklin

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.”

King Philip

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.”

Mansfield

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.

Milford

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.”

North Attleboro

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. Meghan 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

2016 Record: 10-11
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South Preliminary Round
Coach: Lindsey Allison

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.”

Sharon

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.”

Stoughton

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.”

Taunton

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.”

2017 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview

2017 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview
Sophomore attacker Sophia DiCenso (1) and Foxboro will be favorites for a sixth straight Davenport division crown this season but will face tough challenges from North Attleboro, Sharon, and Canton. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

By HockomockSports.com Staff

2017 Hockomock Girls Lacrosse Preview

Attleboro

2016 Record: 6-12
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kevin Patton

Attleboro is still a relatively young program but has taken strides to be competitive with the rest of the teams in the Hockomock and first-year head coach Kevin Patton is hopeful that the large number of players at tryouts is a sign that the Bombardiers are heading in the right direction.

One of the reasons for Attleboro’s confidence coming into the spring is the experienced players that will take the field, including senior Mish Logie, who is a four-year varsity midfielder. Joining Logie as a captain for this year’s team is goalie Hadley Porreca, who is in her second year in net.

In addition. juniors Emily Patton and Ali Wall return in attack, while classmates Kim White and Graycen Cassidy will keep things tight on the defensive side of the ball. Midfield depth will be provided by sophomores Kyra Lyons and Alex Compton, who are both coming off strong rookie seasons on varsity. Freshman Sydney DiLiddo will also have the chance to step in and contribute in midfield this season and junior Ashlyn Salisbury and sophomore Shea Harrison will see time on defense.

“We had our largest player turnout in the program’s history,” said Patton, “and we have girls that want to work hard and succeed. With only two seniors on this year’s team, I will be looking to certain underclassmen to take on added leadership roles. This will help us not only this year but going forward.”

Canton

2016 Record: 8-9
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 South First Round
Coach: Christine O’Connor

Canton won five of its final seven games last season to get back to .500 and qualify for the state tournament and the Bulldogs will be hoping to carry that momentum over to this spring with a roster that features nine seniors and eight juniors.

Some of the key returning players for Canton this season include senior attacker Mary Kent, senior defender Tessa Cudmore, and senior goalie Kathryn Doody, who form a solid spine for the Bulldogs to build on. Caroline Hagan, Rebecca Eckler, and Maria Mackie are among the other seniors that will be contributing for Canton.

One of the younger players to watch is sophomore attacker Leah McClellan, who is one of several players that helped the girls’ hockey team reach the state title game at the TD Garden. Another sophomore, Maggie Malloy, has already had strong seasons for the field hockey and ice hockey teams and will provide depth this spring.

“We look to gain strength as the season progresses,” said O’Connor. “We will look to the seniors for leadership and intensity in order to be competitive.”

Foxboro

2016 Record: 16-5
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Semifinal
Coach: Brittany Sherry

Foxboro won its fifth straight Davenport division title last spring and returned to the Div. 2 South semifinal for the second straight season and expectations will be even higher this season for head coach Brittany Sherry, as the Warriors return 15 players to try and make it six league titles in a row.

Among the many experienced players coming back is an exciting core of sophomores that have made instant impacts, including the reigning HockomockSports.com Underclassman of the Year Sophia DiCenso, who scored 65 goals and had 31 assists last year. Joining DiCenso up front will be classmates Caroline McGeary and Meghan Curran and juniors Jackie Brion and Catherine Luciano.

Defensively, senior Hallie Canfield will be back to anchor things and provide leadership. Junior Christina Rogers and sophomores Jenna Stamatov and Molly Murphy will also be back to limit opposing offenses. Freshman Sara Addeche will take over in goal and is another in a line of talented underclassmen that Sherry is excited to see develop over the course of the season.

“Our goals stay about the same every year, most importantly getting another round further!” Sherry said. “The last two years our season has ended in the semi finals but I’m hoping with the scheduling and tourney experience last year we will have the edge we need to get to the finals.”

Franklin

2016 Record: 19-5
2016 Finish: Reached the Div. 1 State Semifinal
Coach: Kristin Igoe Guarino

Another spring and another league title for Franklin, which completed another perfect season in the Hockomock and then carried that success into the playoffs to win a second Div. 1 East title with a dramatic, one-goal victory over Acton-Boxboro. Even though they only return five players, the Panthers enter the season as the favorite in the Kelley-Rex division and with sights set on challenging for a state title.

There is experience coming back for the Panthers with seniors Grace McDermott and Dana Lewandowski coming back to control things on the defensive end, while former Underclassman of the Year Kendall Reardon and fellow senior Caroline Lounsbury will provide leadership in the attack.

Franklin always seems to have players ready to step in and, despite there being a youth movement on the varsity team, the Panthers have already started 2-0 with wins against Needham and Lincoln-Sudbury. Sophomore midfielder Annie Walsh and her freshman sister Erin have both gotten off to strong starts with sophomore Halle Atkinson helping out with a hat trick in the win over L-S as well.

“I am very excited for the 2017 season!” said Igoe Guarino. “Our freshmen and sophomores bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and games, while our juniors and seniors bring the discipline and experience. The two combined could bring us very far again this year!”

King Philip

2016 Record: 12-10
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Julie Boudreau

King Philip surprised some last spring when the Warriors went on the road to beat Westford Academy in the first round of the Div. 1 East tournament and that experience could pay dividends as KP returns a number of key players with the intent making a run at earning a first league title since 2012.

Senior Angela Vellante is back and head coach Julie Boudreau called her the “quarterback” for the attacking unit. Vellante will be looking to feed junior Katie Crowther, who was the team’s and the league’s leading scorer as a sophomore with 111 points. Senior Meghan Wagner was a starter as a freshman and scored in every game but missed the last two years with an injury and is now back to make an impact on offense.

KP can also count on a strong sophomore class led by a core of midfielders: Caroline Klim, Alli Meehan, Victoria and Olivia Tormey, and Dana Truini. Also back is sophomore goalie Caroline Watson behind a defense of juniors Molly Mullins, Christina Hathaway and Izzy Agricola. Also making a return is assistant coach Mary Pasquantonio, Boudreau’s sister, who brings experience as a former KP player and will help the current crop of Warriors on draw controls.

“We have a deep bench with many sophomores and will be looking to run lines and sub regularly to keep everyone fresh,” said Boudreau. “Our theme for the season is ‘grit=hard work + passion’.”

Mansfield

2016 Record: 5-11
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Alexis Kobey

Mansfield won its opening two games of the 2016 season, but the Hornets struggled during a difficult middle part of the spring and missed out on the state tournament. The Hornets showed flashes of potential during the year, including a close loss to perennial tournament team Hingham, and hopes are high that they can get back into the postseason this year.

Expectations are boosted by the return of a strong core of experience players. Senior Maire Foley will be a focal point of the Hornets attack this year, while classmate Maggie Dunn and junior Ann Maher will return in the midfield. Senior Jen McCabe will provide leadership in defense and sophomore Kaity Garvin will build off her rookie season in attack.

Among the new faces this spring are sophomore midfielders Maggie Danehy, who had a solid winter with the girls’ basketball team, and Lauren Whitman

“Our team really has been working together as a unit day one,” said head coach Alexis Kobey. “They came into the season ready to go and work on what they needed to work on to get better, from draw controls, ball movement, attack/defense they have been showing up everyday. They also really love playing with each other, working with each other, making each other better.”

Milford

2016 Record: 3-15
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Tim Dowd

It has been a tough run for Milford since moving to the Hockomock League, but the Hawks bring back an experienced roster for first-year head coach Tim Dowd and he is hopeful that the program will continue to improve over the course of the season.

Dowd’s excitement for the new season is in part built on the leadership of his senior class, including captains Taylor Dube, Jill Burley, and Jordyn Lombardo, who Dowd said would all have “incredible seasons.” He praised all three for their competitive spirits and for pushing their teammates to improve.

Another senior, Brainna Croteau, will be in charge of the defensive unit and Dowd is counting on the development of a talented group of sophomores and juniors. Milford also has two freshmen, Hannah Bangert and Anne Flanagan, who will be on the varsity roster this season and who Dowd thinks will make an impact.

“I think one of our strengths is going to be teamwork and work ethic,” said Dowd. “We want to be a team that goes the extra mile for each other and constantly works to win battles on the field. We’re going to try to outwork other teams. We’re going to try to focus on the little things to hopefully make big improvements.”

North Attleboro

2016 Record: 13-7
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 2 East Quarterfinal
Coach: Mike Vitelli

Under first-year head coach Mike Vitelli (who had previously led King Philip to a Hockomock League title and a South final), North Attleboro made a jump into second place in the Kelley-Rex division and won 13 games, while reaching the playoffs for the first time. After a loss to eventual state champ Walpole, Vitelli has built up North’s schedule with perennial powers Notre Dame Academy, Natick, and Walpole to get the Rocketeers prepared for a tournament run.

North will clearly miss last year’s Player of the Year Hana Caster (who is now at UMass Lowell), the Rocketeers return a number of important players, including six of the team’s seven defenders. Seniors Samantha Taggart, Emily Schromm, Emma Cromidas, and Alaina Mello will provide an experienced defensive unit in front of junior goalie Kayla Moulin, who Vitelli believes will have a great season.

Up front, North will turn to junior Kenzie Rosenberg and senior Erin Holley, who had breakout seasons for the Rocketeers in 2016. Chloe Olsen, Julia Dakin, and Julia Tolfa will also be counted on to provide offense for North Attleboro, while Camille Pizzaro and freshman Katie Lindstrom will be newcomers to watch this spring.

“I really like the depth of our bench as well,” said Vitelli. “Lots of hybrid players who can play in many roles…Biggest question I’ve gotten this offseason has been ‘how can you replace Hana Caster?’ My response is we can’t. But that being said, I don’t think any player is replaceable…It just becomes an opportunity for other players to step in and make their mark.”

Oliver Ames

2016 Record: 8-11
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round
Coach: Abby Tepper

Oliver Ames reached the postseason last year by finishing second in the Davenport division and will look to build on that in 2017 in the Tigers first season in the Kelley-Rex and first season under new head coach Abby Tepper, who is only one year removed from the end of a very successful college playing career at Salve Regina and a solid first season as coach of the OA field hockey program this fall.

Tepper inherits a roster with several key returning players that provide a foundation for the Tigers, who won the opening two games of the spring. Junior captain Sofia Masciarelli will be the main attacking cog for OA this season with senior Katie Davenport back in the heart of the defense and junior goalie Ari Waldorf will be back between the pipes.

Also back for OA and expected to make a step up into the starting lineup are senior captain Kendall Clifford in the midfield, junior Chloe Kilkelly in the attack, and sophomore midfielder Olivia Piazza.

“The girls have been working hard each day at practice to prepare for the tough schedule they will face,” said Tepper. They continually improve their skills and lacrosse IQ each day. I have been impressed with how the girls have pushed one another to get better and have committed themselves to the program.”

Sharon

2016 Record: 10-9
2016 Finish: Reached Div. 1 East First Round
Coach: Colleen Carchedi

In her second season in charge, Sharon head coach Colleen Carchedi (née Manning) led the Eagles to their first ever playoff appearance. On their home grass, the Eagles put in a great performance to battle perennial playoff competitor Bishop Feehan and the experience has generated a lot of excitement in the program as the new season begins.

Sharon has five key players returning from last season, including leading scorer Alex Rabb and twin sister Sam, who is one of the team’s top defensive players. Senior Anna Crosby will be the motor in the midfield and junior midfielder Sabrina Robbins has verbally committed to the University of Colorado. Carchedi said of Robbins, “She is someone who always gets the job done and deserves more credit than she gets. She is reliable and hard working, never afraid to take a risk.”

Sophomore Emma Eberhardt is another player coming back that Carchedi believes will be able to take on a much larger role this spring. Eberhardt will add size in the midfield and, particularly, on draw controls. Carchedi said, “She is an all around stud athlete and is for sure a player to watch.” Sophomore Rose Wald is a newcomer that takes over in goal.

“I know we are going to be a really well balanced team,” Carchedi added, noting that the Eagles had six different goal scorers in the season opener against Milford. “I am so excited for the season and ready to hit the ground running after a big game against my old high school, KP.”

Taunton

2016 Record: 2-16
2016 Finish: Missed Postseason
Coach: Kerry Northup

With a win against Norton on Monday, Taunton avenged a pair of losses to the Lancers from 2016 and is halfway to last year’s win total. The Tigers are still a young program at the varsity level and, as such, head coach Kerry Northup knows there will be a learning curve against Hockomock opponents, but she is also excited about the team’s potential.

The Tigers will turn to seniors Delaney Powell, Annie Tate, and Abbey Kingman to provide consistent offense this spring and all three had big games in the opener against Norton, combining for 12 of the team’s 17 goals. Powell led the way with six goals in the win and junior Lorna Li had 12 saves in another strong performance for the Tigers’ “confident” goalie.

Taunton also has plenty of youth that will be gaining valuable experience this spring, including three sophomores, a pair of freshmen, and three eighth graders. One of the eighth graders, Alana Tavares, made the most of her varsity debut on Monday, potting five goals against Norton and will be one of the newcomers to watch in the Hock this season.

“We have a solid group of girls this season,” said Northup. “Our strength players have a nice balance throughout the field from offense, mid, to defense. We are not a powerhouse team, but a team with passion, drive, and grit. These girls play to the end and don’t give up until that last whistle sounds.”

Oliver Ames Falls To Hot Shooting Whitman-Hanson

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Carter Evin posts up against a Whitman-Hanson defender in the second half. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomocSports,com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
HANSON, Mass. – It didn’t matter if it was from deep, in the paint or at the free throw line: #3 Whitman-Hanson was impressive.

The Panthers shot nearly 70% from two-point range, connected on eight three pointers in the first half alone and connected on almost 80% of their free throws, taking a 79-66 win over #13 Oliver Ames.

It took just four minutes for the hosts to create a double-digit lead. Hitting three of their first five three pointer attempts and going a perfect 3/3 on takes to the basket, Whitman-Hanson was up 15-4 halfway through the opening quarter.

The closest Oliver Ames was able to get the rest of the way was six, at 30-24, with 3:45 left to play in the first half.

“They kind of took us out of something we’d hoped we would be able to do, something that we were doing down the stretch,” said Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron of his defense. “Second half of the year we had fallen into that matchup and handed it pretty well…not so much tonight. We tried to withstand the barrage they had early. We were down 10 before we knew what hit us. We ended up staying in that 10-13 point range for an awful long time. We battled even for a good part of it but they had that early lead.”

After going down 10 at the end of the first quarter (23-13), Oliver Ames settled in some in the second quarter. A 7-3 run – helped along by a bucket from Dylan Mahoney (11 points, seven rebounds), a three from Nick Welch (16 points, seven assists), and a layup from Jack Spillane (12 points) – brought the Tigers within two possessions at the midway point of the second quarter.

But Whitman-Hanson responded with a three from Nikko Raftes (27 points) and a basket underneath from Jacob Hanson-Bartlett (11 points, 5 rebounds) to stretch the lead back to double figures. The Tigers finished the first half on a 5-0 run over the final minute – two free throws from Matt Muir (12 points) and a three from Welch – to stay within striking distance (38-31) at the break.

But a slow start to the second half quickly erased Oliver Ames’ chance to get close. A 6-0 run from Whitman-Hanson pushed the lead to 13 before Oliver Ames finally scored in the quarter. Welch hit a three just over two minutes in to make it a 10 point game – an advantage the Panthers held for the majority of the quarter.

It wasn’t until a wild final minute of the third quarter that the game became out of reach. Up 50-40, the Panthers managed an 8-0 run in 60 seconds to close the frame. A layup from Lucas Franklin (13 points), a jumper from Luke Tamulevich (21 points, eight rebounds), a bucket down low from Hanson-Bartlett and two free throws from Raftes made it 58-40 heading into the final quarter.

“We had to come out of ourselves a little bit, gamble a lot and foul and hope for the best,” Byron said. “And the best didn’t happen. They shot really well from the foul line, they never gave us a shot at getting it to six or seven. We could never quite get it there.”

The Tigers were forced into a full court approach. Already in the bonus, Oliver Ames attempted steals off the inbounds but often had to settle for fouls against the Panthers.

Whitman-Hanson didn’t blink – making 18 of their 24 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter. The Panthers, who did have four turnovers in the final quarter, made 26/33 of their attempts from the charity stripe.

Throughout the season, Oliver Ames – as many teams do – thrived on small runs that can change the course of a game. They never got that run though, the best being either the 7-3 run to get within six in the second quarter or the 5-0 run to end the first half.

“That’s a credit to [Whitman-Hanson],” Byron said. “Their guard play is good. Lately, we’ve had pretty good success with what we do, with our matchups, to let Welch gamble a little bit and if you make a mistake he makes you play. He probably averaged five or six forced turnovers the second half of the season. But we didn’t get a ton of turnovers tonight because their guard play was solid.”

While Oliver Ames gambled and sent the Panthers to the line, their offense came to live. The Tigers scored 26 points in the final frame, with 19 coming in the final four minutes. Senior Carter Evin (seven rebounds) scored 10 of his 14 points in the final quarter.

“When we settle down and put the film online, I told the kids to watch the last four minutes of the game,” Byron said. “I was so proud of those four minutes as I was of anything we did all year. We did a lot too. There were people questioning if we could handle the jump to the big side [of the Hock]. And our non-league schedule became very difficult. People simply don’t want to play Hockomock teams. We’re a Division 2 team in name only, we’re looked at as D1 school because that’s what we play. We ended up with more Division 1 schools on the non-league schedule and the kids withstood the whole thing. They did a great job, it was a fun group that was very coachable.”

Oliver Ames boys basketball finishes the season 13-11.

Oliver Ames Skates Past Nauset With Timely Goals

Oliver Ames hockey
Oliver Ames sophomore Brett Williams scores on a slap shot in the first period against Nauset. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
BOURNE, Mass. – Each goal is worth the same but there’s no denying that getting one at the right time can make it feel worth even more.

Oliver Ames not only found the back of the net often, but scored at those important times as well, cruising to a 5-2 win over ninth-seeded Nauset.

The Tigers, seeded eighth, got its first goal less than three minutes into the game to set the tone. OA added its second less than two minutes after Nauset tied the game, scored its third on the power play, its fourth less than a minute after its third and the final goal under two minutes after Nauset cut the deficit to two.

“I think if we establish our forecheck, we move our feet and crash the net good things happen,” said Oliver Ames head coach Sean Bertoni. “We didn’t have any spectacular highlight goals tonight but that’s how we can move forward in the tournament, getting the tough ones.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Oliver Ames set the tone with its very first shot of the game. Senior Jack Maloney found Brett Williams on a breakout pass and the sophomore skated to the center of the ice and unleashed a slap shot between a pair of defensemen that found the back of the net. Oliver Ames led just 2:31 into the contest.

Nauset leveled the game just over midway through the period, taking advantage of a one-on-one opportunity. Nauset’s Devin Roderick went into the offensive zone with just one defenseman in his way and was able to slide the puck just inside the post to tie the game.

But in the all important next couple of minutes, Oliver Ames went back up. Sophomore Cullen Gallagher collected a loose puck in the offensive zone, and with no pressure on his back, turned and fired a puck towards goal. With junior Rory Madden providing a screen in front, the puck went straight in.

Just 1:42 after the Warriors tied the game, Oliver Ames took the lead back.

“After that first goal, we relaxed a little bit,” Bertoni said. “The first period was an OK period for us, I didn’t think we forechecked as hard as we should have. We didn’t really get that many offensive chances, we got a couple of bounces which you need in the tournament.”

While Oliver Ames had two goals, Nauset brought a very physical approach to the game. Although that might have swayed other opponents, Oliver Ames has experience in that situation.

“We’re used to it,” Bertoni said. “The Hockomock League is very physical with Franklin, Canton, North, Mansfield, right down the line. We’re not the strongest team, we’re small but we can skate.”

Oliver Ames once again came up with a timely goal, scoring the all important next goal less than three minutes into the second period. Just 89 seconds into the second period, the Warriors were whistled for interference to put the Tigers on the power play. OA passed the puck around the offensive zone before junior forward Eric LeBlanc – patrolling the blue line during the power play – stepped into a wrist shot that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.

And less than a minute after that, the Tigers tacked on another goal. With the majority of players on the left side, a cross ice pass found junior Michael Nikiciuk along breaking into the offensive zone. With an odd-man rush, Nikiciuk centered his pass for an easy one time tap in from Madden to make it 4-1 with 11:29 to play in the second period.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“We changed our personnel on the player play for the last couple of games so it was good to see shots from the point,” Bertoni said. “We’re not the most skilled team but when we get shots from the point, good things happen…we love garbage goals. We want to get traffic out in front and we had two of those tonight.

“I thought our second period was very good.”

The Tigers took a penalty while on the power play to make it 4-on-4 and the Warriors were able to capitalize. As Oliver Ames’ defense inched forward, a turnover led to Nauset racing into the attacking zone. After beating one man, Nauset’s Nick Hull went in alone and tucked the puck in to make it 4-2.

But as they had done all game, Oliver Ames had a timely answer. Just 90 seconds later, Oliver Ames once again cashed in from a shot from distance. Sophomore Matt McCormack took a pass from classmate Collin Bourne and fired a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that found the back of the net.

Oliver Ames had a 24-14 lead advantage in shots.

The Tigers (14-6-1) await the winner of #1 Scituate and #16 Dedham on Wednesday. Oliver Ames hockey will play the winner at Gallo Arena in Bourne on Saturday at 12:30.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Hockomock Girls Basketball State Tournament Preview

State Tournament Preview
Attleboro’s Sarah Deyo (32) and Mansfield’s Meg Hill (31) could meet for a third time in the second round of the state tournament. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)

Josh PerryFollowJoshPerry


Six girls’ basketball teams will begin their quests for a state championship when the state tournament begins this week. League champions Mansfield (Div. 1 South) and Foxboro (Div. 2 South) both earned the top seed in their respective brackets, but neither will have an easy road with league rivals like Attleboro, Oliver Ames, and North Attleboro posing major threats to bringing home a trophy. Milford will also represent the league as the lone Hock team in Div. 2 Central.

As usual, Div. 1 South is a loaded bracket with some of the top programs in the state, including defending state champion Bishop Feehan and perennial powers Braintree and Newton North. Mansfield (18-2) earned the top seed in a coin flip with the Shamrocks, who beat the Hornets in an exclusion game during the regular season. More important than the seed, Mansfield will now avoid the Shamrocks, the Wamps, and the Tigers until the South final.

Led by senior guard Jen Peel and junior center Meg Hill, the Hornets like to slow the pace down and focus on strong defense, which held teams to a league-best 38.0 points per game. Mansfield is young this season, but deep and versatile and head coach Mike Redding’s squad should match up well against the teams on its side of the bracket, including potential semifinal opponents Wellesley or Marshfield (which Mansfield beat 52-47 in December).

In order for the Hornets to get to the semifinals, they may have to go through Kelley-Rex rival Attleboro (15-7), which claimed the No. 8 seed and will host Brockton (Attleboro beat the Boxers 63-55 in December). The Bombardiers have scuffled down the stretch, losing seven of its final 14 games of the regular season, but closed it out by putting 94 points up on Durfee in the season finale.

With seniors Sarah Deyo and Julia Strachan, Attleboro has a potent inside-out combo and has been one of the top offensive teams in the league this year, averaging a league-best 61.4 points per game. The issue for the Bombardiers will be trying to slow down Jen Peel and Mansfield in the quarterfinal, if they can get past a dangerous Brockton team in Tuesday’s playoff opener. Attleboro struggled in two losses to Mansfield in the regular season, but will be hoping third time is the charm to set up a potential rematch with Wellesley, which knocked the Bombardiers out of last year’s tournament.

Foxboro (18-2) has been on fire to close out the season, winning 12 in a row entering the playoffs, including a 20-point win over North Attleboro to claim the league title and an impressive overtime win over Lincoln-Sudbury in the end-of-season tournament. The Warriors will be led by league MVP Ashley Sampson, who scored 31 in that win over L-S and nailed a three-pointer that forced OT, but a strong supporting cast includes Lily Sykes and Grace Tamulionis. The scary part is that all three are juniors and will be back next winter as well.

The Warriors will not have an easy path in Div. 2 South, which is another loaded bracket, and will have to face one of the two finalists from 2016, either Hingham or Oliver Ames, in the quarterfinal and could potentially face the Rocketeers for a third time in the semifinal. Westwood, Nauset, and Falmouth, which knocked Foxboro out of the tournament last year, could wait in the sectional final.

Oliver Ames (13-7), the defending Div. 2 South champ, has had an up and down first season in the Kelley-Rex but managed to claim second in the division and is a sleeper to retain its South title. The Tigers will have a very difficult road to try and repeat with a trip to last year’s South finalist Hingham waiting in the first round and a potential meeting with Foxboro looming in the quarterfinal (the Warriors won the league meeting between the teams 51-35).

Kayla Raymond will be the focus of all of OA’s opponents, but trying to slow down the junior forward is easier said than done. If the Tigers can get support for Raymond from senior Niyera Mitchell and find consistent outside shooting, then OA will be a tough matchup. Losing sophomore guard Sadie Homer during the season and senior Francesca Calabraro prior to it has made things tougher but no one will take head coach Laney Clement-Holbrook’s team lightly.

North Attleboro (16-6) is another sleeper in Div. 2 South. Last year, the Rocketeers were knocked out in the first round by OA on a last second Raymond basket and could have made a similar run to the Tigers if they had made it through. This year, North comes in with six losses, but only one to a team in Div. 2 and that was the league final against Foxboro. Despite missing senior guard Ashley Ahern to injury, North earned an impressive come from behind win against Attleboro in the final week and has the potential to make a deep run this year.

The Rocketeers are loaded with experienced seniors, including forward Caroline Collard and guards Samantha Taggart and Emily Schromm, who have shown the ability to win close games against good teams this season. North beat Foxboro in the first meeting, beat Oliver Ames by one, and has also beaten potential tourney opponents Hingham and Westwood this year. North faces Madison Park to start and likely will face Duxbury in the quarterfinal to try and get a rubber match with Foxboro in the semifinal.

Milford (10-10) qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2012 and has shown immense progress in head coach T.J. Dolliver’s second season in charge. But, the Hawks have also struggled down the stretch, albeit against a tough stretch of league opponents including North Attleboro and Foxboro twice, OA, and Attleboro. The Hawks will be in Div. 2 Central and will likely face Marlboro in the playoff opener, which is a team similar to the Hawks that shoots a lot of threes and does not have a true post presence.

The Hawks will be counting on a big game from junior guard Kate Irwin, who has been among the league’s top scorers this season, but Milford has a lot of versatile players that can cause teams problems on the perimeter and in the paint, including senior Nicole Dahlgren. If the Hawks do get through the first round, then they will travel to No. 3 seed Groton-Dunstable and could face a couple of Eastern Mass. transplants in Hopkinton and Medfield.

Oliver Ames Surges Past Taunton In Second Half

Oliver Ames boys basketball
Oliver Ames’ Carter Evin (right) drives to the basket in the first half against Taunton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
TAUNTON, Mass. – Oliver Ames head coach Don Byron looked up at the scoreboard and felt a little bit of deja vu as his side took on Taunton.

Just like the first meeting, his team had a 12 point lead with the fourth quarter set to begin. In the first game, Taunton roared back to erase that deficit and get the win.

Not this time around.

Oliver Ames kept its lead throughout the final period, walking away with a 73-61 win and a berth in the Division 2 State Tournament. It marks the eighth straight year under Byron that the Tigers are postseason bound.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

OA broke the game open with a big third quarter. After taking a one-point lead (39-38) into the locker room at halftime, the visitors doubled up Taunton with a 22-11 third quarter.

“They shot very, very well in the first half — and from deep,” Byron said. “Even if you tell the kids they can shoot from very deep, the kids take some time to adjust. I thought we did a better job on that in the second half, I thought cut down on the penetration more and when we did that, the kick outs weren’t there as much.”

Taunton hit an impressive nine three pointers (of 13 total field goals made) in the first half but were limited to just four in the second half. Taunton went just 1/7 from deep in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Oliver Ames was an efficient 9/14 from the floor, getting all of its offense from its starting lineup.

Nick Welch (19 points, four assists) hit a layup, Carter Evin (16 points, six rebounds), Dylan Mahoney (17 points, seven rebounds) converted in the post and Jack Spillane (19 points, four rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a put back to put Taunton up 48-41.

“We didn’t want to look at it as having to get one out of five games left, we wanted to look at it just one game at a time,” Welch said of earning the playoff berth. “We didn’t get it Friday against Attleboro so we were extra motivated to get it tonight. It was a good win against a good team.

Another three point play from Evin — who found a home in the post against Taunton’s defense — a three from Welch, two more from Evin, a trifecta from Spillane and suddenly Oliver Ames had a 59-45 lead late in the third quarter.

“We wanted to play inside-out,” Byron said. “I thought Carter and Dylan did some good stuff on the block. And Nick’s been terrific…the whole year but specifically the second half of the season.

“[Taunton] plays small. We have chase guys on the perimeter on the defensive end and maybe that’s a disadvantage for us but we’re not particularly big. We really have five perimeter guys out there. Carter’s a little bit bigger but he’s really just a stretched out three, Mahoney the same thing. We wanted to play inside out though so it helped with our size.”

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

The visitors deployed a press coming out of halftime. Although it didn’t force any turnovers, it wasn’t designed to. Instead, it was aimed to slowing Taunton down.

“That’s what it’s for,” Byron said. “We didn’t want them screaming up and down the court. It’s designed to keep the game at a pace that we’re comfortable in. If we can get a trap on the side and get a turnover, it’s a bonus.”

Oliver Ames led 61-49 going into the fourth quarter.

“I think it was almost the same lead. We talked about how we had been here before but we weren’t going to do what we did the last time,” Welch said. “We just took that message and went out and got it done. They can get hot quickly so we had to contain the three point line and we wanted to keep the lead at 10.

“All five of our starters can hit the three. Then Carter and Dylan can get down low, getting offensive rebounds. It distracts the defense a little, my man has to help, Jack’s man has to help so it gives us an extra step to get the shots off.”

Taunton cut the deficit to nine early in the fourth quarter on a three from Dimitri Barbosa and then to eight on a free throw from freshman Dante Law (19 points, nine rebounds) but that would be as close as the home side would get.

Evin pushed it back to 10 with a nice move in the post and OA’s defense kept Taunton off the board for three minutes. A three from Spillane extended the lead to 13 with 3:21 to play only for Taunton’s Tommy MacLean (nine points, six rebounds, six assists) to answer with a three of his own.

“You have to get to Mahoney, you have to get to Spillane, you have to get to them all…and we didn’t,” said Taunton head coach Charlie Dacey. “And then we came down the other end and we panicked. We were looking for the five point shot. It was not wise basketball for us on either end of the floor.

“[The nine three pointers in the first half] was fools gold. You’re not going to win the game from the three point line, I don’t care who you are. We got seduced by that and started taking the quick early threes rather than working it.

Oliver Ames’ defense was able to limit Taunton to 23 points in the second half after surrendering 38 to the hosts in the opening half.

“We’ve had good games with Taunton but we haven’t beaten them in the last couple of years,” Byron said. “We had the buzzer beater [two years ago], the last one was a one possession game at the end. We didn’t do much right in the fourth quarter the first game. It was remarkably similar tonight. It was essentially the same difference going into the fourth quarter. It was an easier sell to tell the kids to keep the focus because Taunton can score in bunches.”

Sophomore Luis Vendrell added 19 points for Taunton while Barbosa finished with eight.

Oliver Ames boys basketball (11-8 overall, 9-6) will try to improve its record for tournament seeding on Friday with a visit to Kelley-Rex champion Mansfield Hornets. Taunton (13-7, 8-7) looks to bounce back with a trip to Attleboro on the same night.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.