Cook Fires First No-Hitter In Sharon’s Shutout Win

Sharon softball
Sharon’s Clara Cook delivers a pitch in the third inning against Canton. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)

By Josh Schafer, HockomockSports.com Contributor

CANTON, Mass. — The ball rolled slowly back to Clara Cook. The senior pitcher carefully scooped the grounder and lobbed it to first base for the game’s final out of a 3-0 victory for Sharon over Davenport rival Canton.

There was no wild celebration, but Cook smiled wide as she removed her protective face mask while walking towards home plate.

Cook had just thrown her first career no-hitter.

Sharon entered the game following a loss to Milford a day prior, in a game that saw Cook get hit with three line balls.

While the bruise from the incident remained, no such signs were shown on the field. The right hander struck out four batters while walking just two in a complete game effort. Canton earned just four baserunners as batters reached first on two errors to compliment the walks.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think she did everything well,” Sharon head coach Deb Parker said. “To even have her come back and be able to throw today…this kid has thrown with a leg brace on, her wrist wrapped, a giant bruise on her shin. To come back and have a no-hitter is what she’s about.”

Cook stifled the Canton offense with specific pitch placement, picking corners on the first at bat of the game and earned the looking strikeout on just three pitches. Two groundouts to second base rounded out the three-up, three-down inning.

And the sequence looked strikingly similar throughout the next six innings. Canton batters had trouble latching onto Cook’s pitches.

A hard hit ball nearly put the no-hitter in question in the seventh inning but it was ruled an infield error. A mishap at first base in which the exchange from second and third floated high provided Canton one of its baserunners.

“The last time we played them they hit the ball really well.” Parker said, reflecting on her team’s 9-4 victory against Canton on April 20th. “So, I was a little surprised to no-hit them.”

Sharon’s three runs all involved freshman Shoshana Lowe. She cranked the game’s first hit deep to right center field and reached third standing after some ball bobbling in the Canton outfield. Jenika Patel knocked in Lowe three batters later as she ripped a line drive just over a reach Canton defender’s glove and down the third base line.

Lowe hit a similar ball an inning later, which despite being caught, scored Jamie Kessler on a sacrifice fly. In the fifth, Allison Small scored on Lowe’s final hit of the day which didn’t travel as far as her first two. But the blooper landed in the gap between shortstop and right field giving Small all the time she needed.

“I think [Clara] moved the ball well,” Parker said. “Sammy [Marglous], our catcher, calls a great game. Going into the game we don’t really know what we are going to see and Sammy does a good job with that.”

Sharon improves to 6-13 (4-12 Hockomock) and will close out the season on Thursday against Milton. Canton finishes the season 1-19 but the future looks bright with a strong core returning for first-year head coach Jen Robillard.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

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.”

Friberg, North Attleboro Overcome Sharon in Overtime

North Attleboro boys basketball
North Attleboro’s Hacmoni Cuevas drives to the basket in the first half against Sharon. (Ryan Lanigan/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
SHARON, Mass. – Standing at 6’6, North Attleboro senior Jonny Friberg often gives the Rocketeers the edge in the paint.

But due to foul trouble, North Attleboro was forced to find other ways to keep pace with the red-hot shooting Sharon Eagles.

While the Rocketeers did enough to keep pace, Friberg came back in midway through the fourth quarter. He went on to score eight points down the stretch, including the tying basket with 5.9 to send the game into overtime. And in overtime, he scored North’s first nine points and the Rocketeers came away with a thrilling 81-75 win over the Eagles.

Friberg finished with a career-high 27 points and hauled in 13 rebounds to lead the Rocketeers.

“Everything starts with [Friberg] inside and then with the shooters on the outside,” said North Attleboro head coach Sean Mulkerrins. “[Foul trouble] is something we’ve unfortunately had to deal with before. I’m really happy with how Tommy [Reynolds] and Moni [Cuevas] played inside. Hats off to Sharon, they played their butts off tonight. It’s frustrating when Jonny goes out but we’re a team and we have to win like a team, which I think we did tonight.”

It seemed like there would be no stopping the Eagles, especially after they connected on their 12th three pointer (on just 20 attempts) with just under four minutes to play in the game to go up 64-55. Jimmy Fitzhenry’s (16 points) trifecta capped a 10-1 run over the first 4:09 of the period for the Eagles.

“It reminded me of some games against Milford in the last couple of years where we fight back and they counter punch,” Mulkerrins said. “It speaks to the kids’ mental toughness, not giving up in that situation. There wasn’t much to say then we needed to defend better. They have some great kids, [Sharon coach Andrew] Ferguson does a great job with them.”

But North chipped away with Friberg finally back on the court. Senior Brent Doherty (17 points, five assists) drained a three in response to stop the run and after a stop, Friberg hauled in the defensive board and then converted on the other end. Another stop and another Friberg board led to a jumper from Doherty to make it a two point game.

Sharon’s Alex Kaufman (15 points) extended the lead back to four but Friberg hit back to back buckets down low to tie the game with 1:32 left.

With under 30 seconds to play, Sharon senior Ricardo Ripley (17 points) came away with a steal at midcourt that turned into two free throws to put the Eagles up 68-66.

Friberg took a pass from North sophomore Josh Montague (eight points) and muscled in the tying basket with 5.9 to play. Sharon’s buzzer beater attempt came up short.

In overtime, it was all Friberg – no one else on the Rocketeers attempted a field goal. After Sharon took a brief lead on a free throw, Friberg converted his own miss. Reynolds drew a charge on the other end for the Rocketeers and Friberg hit a free throw on the other end.

Kaufman drove to the basket to cut the deficit to two (73-71), but the Rocketeers simply went back to Friberg, who made a nice move in the post for two. Kyle McCarthy (six points, five rebounds, seven assists) hauled in a Sharon missed three and then assisted on another Friberg basket to put North ahead 77-71 with a minute to play.

Along with his 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, Friberg had seven of his 13 rebounds.

“This was a huge game for us,” Friberg said. We always preach getting the ball inside because we can have success there. If I don’t have something I’ll pass it. I just took advantage of what we had. The foul trouble is frustrating because I want to be in there but you just have to deal with it.”

McCarthy added three free throws down the stretch and Chad Peterson (eight points, four rebounds) also had one.

“We tried like hell to get [Friberg] his fifth foul but he’s just so big, he finishes around the basket so well,” said Sharon head coach Andrew Ferguson. “He’s gotten so much better than a year ago. I’m looking at the fourth quarter and overtime stats and he just killed us. We did a good job on for three quarters, and it helped he was in foul trouble. But him and Brent, those are big time players and we didn’t make enough plays down the stretch.”

The nine point fourth quarter deficit that the Rocketeers overcame wasn’t the largest deficit they erased during the game. After Sharon took a 20-17 lead after the first quarter, the Eagles rattled off a 13-5 run to build an 11-point lead with less than three minutes until halftime.

But a three from McCarthy, two free throws from Friberg, a put back from Montague and a corner three from Montague helped Big Red get within one. A late three from Ripley gave the Eagles a 36-32 lead at halftime.

Doherty was a big reason that North Attleboro entered the final quarter of the game tied. Doherty netted 10 of his points in the third quarter alone, including a three to open the frame, a field goal that gave North it’s largest lead (46-48) and five straight points late that had the game tied 54-54 after three.

“I don’t know what he was in the first half, he just was off,” Mulkerrins said of Doherty. “It almost felt like he was second guessing his shooting and decision making. We told him at halftime if he’s open just shoot the ball. We said that too everybody. It was huge to get Brent going. The second half by Brent was huge, a lot of contributions from guys in the second half.”

Cuevas finished with eight points and four rebounds while Reynolds had seven points, three rebounds and two assists for Big Red.

Malik Lorquet added eight points and nine rebounds for Sharon.

North Attleboro boys basketball (10-7 overall, 7-6 Hockomock) moves into a tie for the lead in the Davenport division with the win. The Rocketeers have the chance to clinch a playoff berth on Friday on the road at Stoughton. Sharon (3-13, 2-12) has a week off until they are back in action with a trip to Stoughton on Valentine’s Day.

Eagles Ride Strong Defensive Effort Past Canton

Sharon boys basketball
Sharon’s Ricardo Ripley celebrates a late bucket in the fourth quarter. (Josh Perry/HockomockSports.com)
ByRyanLanigan_2016FollowRyanLanigan_2016
 
 
 
PROVIDENCE, RI — When all was said and done, the focus for both coaches was the same: defense.

Sharon and Canton both utilized a 2-3 zone but their respective coaches had vastly different outlooks on how things worked out.

Eagles head coach Andrew Ferguson said it was the best defensive effort from his side all season.

Bulldogs skipper Ryan Gordy had just the opposite outlook on his team’s defensive effort, saying it was the worst output for Canton.

No surprise based on each coach’s feedback, Sharon won the game, 62-53.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

“I think defensively we were so much better than we better than when we played them the first time,” Ferguson said. “We communicated much better, we took away the corner three which killed us the first time. I think we did a great job on Devin Foster, who’s just a terrific player. We knew if he got going, their guys would feed off that so we started with him. I know [Tony] Harris got a bunch and hurt us but defensively, that’s the best effort we have given for 32 minutes.”

The Eagles limited Canton to just six points in the opening quarter and then used a late surge – scoring seven points over the final minute of the first half, including five from senior Ricardo Ripley — to take a 23-18 lead into the locker room.

“It wasn’t about offense tonight, it was about our defense,” Gordy said. “We gave up a lot of uncontested shots, we didn’t compete hard enough defensive to win a game. That was probably the worst defense we played all season.”

Ben Stamm hit an early three pointer in the second half, Jimmy Fitzhenry (14 points, five rebounds) added one of his own and with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter, Ricardo Ripley (13 points) drained one from deep to give Sharon a 36-29 lead.

But Canton would close the gap with Foster driving to the basket for two and Austin Maffie draining a three to make it a two point game. Sharon once again had a response as Tommy Modelevsky connected from deep. Yet again, Canton chipped with with a layup from Maffie and two free throws from Brian Albert pulled the Bulldogs within three through three quarters.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.

Sharon took little time to build an early lead in the fourth quarter with a quick 7-0 run. Lester High drained a three for his lone bucket of the game, Ripley drove to the basket for two and Malik Lorquet hit two free throws — all while the Eagles defense kept Canton off the board to start the quarter.

“That’s what you need, guys to step up,” Ferguson said of getting buckets here and there from role players. “Tommy had a big three, Lester had a big three, and Ben hit a big three right at the start of the second half. We need those guys. We’ve been relying on Ricky and Malik, and Jimmy’s gotten better, but you have to have those side guys come in and hit shots. And add in Jayvon Monteiro, he played great defense and Sammy Kirshenbaum rebounded pretty well. That’s what we need from these guys day in and day out.”

“They hit shots – they didn’t hit shots last game,” Gordy said. “Sometimes it comes down to making and missing. I want to give them credit for shots, but we do close out drills all the time and we didn’t close out correctly all game. It’s a maturity issue right now. You can’t beat Franklin and then lose to Sharon in one week, it’s a maturity issue.”

Danny Hartnett connected on a three to get the Bulldogs’ offense back in gear and Harris scored twice in low to make it a three point game. Sharon sophomore Alex Kaufmann hit a pair of free throws to make it 53-46 but two from Harris and two free throws from Foster made it a one possession game with 2:22 to play.

But from there, Canton’s offense went cold while Sharon was successful from the free throw line. The Eagles ended the game with a 9-3 run, with seven points coming on free throws.

“That’s the difference — when we’re not active and we’re not cutting off passes, it’s an ugly defensive scheme,” Ferguson said of his zone being active, causing Canton problems. “But when we get active, when Malik can control the middle, Xavier [Hackett] helps us rebound, and when we aren’t giving teams second and third chances, we’re a pretty good defensive team. When we start giving up extra opportunities get into trouble.”

Sharon improves to 3-10 on the season, and 2-9 in Hockomock play. The Eagles will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Franklin. Canton (6-7, 4-7) looks to bounce back on the same day with a visit from Oliver Ames.

Click here for a photo gallery from this game.