North Attleboro gets first baseball title 4-3 over Beverly

Force out at second ends the game

North Attleboro – Division Two state champs

Zach DeMattio

(Lowell MA) North Attleboro held off Beverly, 4-3, to win the Division Two state baseball title on Thursday night at LeLacheur Park in Lowell.

“We’ve worked all our lives for this,” said Zach DeMattio afterwards.  “There’s no better feeling.”

Zach was the hitting star for the Rockets (22-2) driving in all four runs with a single, double, and a sacrifice fly.

Zach’s sacrifice fly in the fifth inning gave NA a “comfortable” four-run lead, or so it seemed, with the way UMaine commit Nick Sinacola was pitching.

But Beverly (20-5) had other ideas.  In the bottom of the fifth the Panthers loaded the bases on a double (Ryan Munzing), single (Tim McCarthy), and a walk (Matt Collings).  That brought Northeast Conference MVP Spencer Brown to the plate.  Spencer reached the left field fence, cleared the bases, and BHS was within a run.

Spencer Brown cleared the bases of three teammates in the 5th inning

“That ball was hit 340 feet,” explained Beverly coach Dave Wilbur.  “In most parks that’s a home run.”

But it didn’t go out and that 4-3 held the rest of the way.

“They were a hitter or two better than we were today,” said Coach Wilbur.  “This game could have gone either way.”

The Panthers stranded two in the first and twice ended innings with a runner on third base.

“Nick (Sinacola) was going to stay out there no matter what,” said Coach Mike Hart afterwards.  “He has been our strength.”

There was little to choose between pitchers Spencer Brown and Nick Sinacola.  Both allowed six hits and struck out nine.

Nick Sinacola

Spencer twice had a runner on third with no outs and escaped both times.  In the North Attleboro second, he struck out three straight, to end the threat.

The Panthers were within a run with two innings left but costly baserunning hurt them in each of the last two innings.

In the 6th, Matt Ploszay tried to stretch a single to right into a double.  RF Jeff Gale threw a strike to nail him.

In the 7th, Ryan Munzing walked leading off. When next batter Connor Hanlon squared to bunt, the pitch got a short distance away from catcher Zach DeMattio.  Ryan went well off the base and Zach alertly got him in a rundown.  Nick Sinacola applied the tag although Ryan was already out for going wide to avoid the tag.

The Panthers had an infield single later in the 7th inning by Tim McCarthy but Matt Collins’ grounder to second turned into a game-ending forceout.

Ryan Munzing caught in a 7th inning rundown

The costly rundown in the seventh kept Spencer Brown from getting another crack at Nick Sinacola.

“They were doing the right thing to bunt him over,” said Coach Hart.  “He was the tying run.  Zach made a great play to get the out.”

Coach Wilbur may have been referring to those last two Beverly innings when he said, “These are high school kids.  Nothing is going to be perfect.  The kids played their butts off.”

Brendan McHugh gets one of NA’s six steals

Looking for another reason why the Rockets won the game?  Six stolen bases.  NA was able to move into scoring position via the steal in the run-producing first (Nick Sinacola) and fifth (Brendan McHugh) innings.

Nick Sinacola: “Early in the game my fast ball was working.  Later, my curve was too and that made a big difference.”

Coach Wilbur: “Spencer was right there with Nick Sinacola.  From the 4th inning on he was unhittable.  We had a great season winning two championships.”

The title was the first one ever for North Attleboro.

The Rockets (Hockomock League) only losses were to two Super Eight teams Mansfield and Franklin.

Matt Collins tripled in the 3rd inning

NA blew through the D2 South outscoring three opponents 41-4.

Beverly (Northeast Conference) upset #1 seed Masco to win the D2 North finals.

The Panthers were very disappointed by the loss, but Coach Wilbur saw the lighter side when he quipped regarding Spencer Brown’s wall-hitting triple, “If he had just done ten more pushups a day it would have gone over.”

NA coach Mike Hart was notified after the game that he had been selected as Division 2 Coach-of-the-Year.  The notifier was planning a photo-shoot in Braintree the next day.  Mike sheepishly said that he wouldn’t be able to attend.  Why?  He was getting married on Saturday!

Brendan McHugh (18) and Nick Sinacola (23) scored on Zach DeMattio’s double in the second inning.

I jokingly asked Mike what there was left for him to do!  This is a first-year coach leading North Attleboro to their first-ever state baseball title.  He answered by saying he wanted to develop baseball players and about his eight years with the program.  However, I’m guessing that in a week or so when the reality of all that has happened, including the wedding, hits him he will realize what an amazing time this has been for him.

The weather at LeLacheur was terrific. The internet?  Not so good afterwards, hence the delayed posting of this story.

Driving to Lowell during rush hour traffic is always a challenge when 495 is in the mix.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Zach DeMattio, Coach Mike Hart, Nick Sinacola

Brendan McHugh steals second in the 3rd inning

Aidan Harding leaps for a high throw and Matt Collins reaches first

Nick Sinacola scores the first Rockets’ run

Matt Collins, Coach Dave Wilbur, Tim McCarthy

Aidan Harding celebrates

Matt Collins at game’s end

Matt Ploszay out at second in the 6th inning

Brendan McHugh avoids a tag

 

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Austin Prep reaches D3 title game after 5-3 win over Dedham

Jason Leonard scores a run for Dedham in the first inning

Colin Jaena induced fourteen ground ball outs.

(Lynn MA) Austin Prep held off Dedham, 5-3, to advance to the Division 3 title game on Saturday at Holy Cross.

The Cougars (23-2) trailed 1-0 after a half inning but three batters into their half of the same inning they were up 3-1 partly due to senior Peter Burns’ two-run homer.

“I was looking to see a pitch deep and drive it,” said the BC commit afterwards.  “It was an inside fastball.”

Austin Prep added two more runs in the fourth inning and it was a good thing they did because Dedham got two of their own in the seventh and had the go-ahead run at the plate.

“Nick Cafarelli had a big hit (2-run single in 4th) and we needed those couple of extra runs at the end,” explained AP coach Steve Busby.

Junior Colin Jaena was the complete-game winner for Austin Prep.  His success was all about getting the Marauders to hit the ball on the ground. Dedham had fourteen groundball outs. “My two-seam fastball down in the zone was very effective,” said Colin after the game.  “Coach Merrick did an awesome job of calling the pitches.”

Peter Burns had a two-run homer for AP in the first

“Colin was hitting his spots,” said catcher Peter Burns.  “We wanted to attack batters early in the count and get up.”

Dedham coach Don Savi was okay with the loss: “I’m pretty sure that we’re the two best teams in Division Three. AP should have been a Super Eight team.”

The Marauders (20-5) got an unearned run in the first inning.  Shortstop Logan Bravo mishandled a two-out grounder and next batter David Logan drove in Jason Leonard with single to right.

Peter Burns (walk) and Logan Bravo (double) reached in the fourth inning ahead of Nick Cafarelli’s single to centerfield.  Both runners scored, and Nick was cut down at second.

Dedham had two on in the fourth, but Colin Jaena worked out of it by getting a fly to center (Peter Coughlin) and a groundout (Billy McCaig).

Shortstop Logan Bravo flips to 2B Jon Gilbride to end the game

The Cougars weren’t as fortune with that two-on, two-out thing in the seventh.  In that game-on-the-line spot, both Jason Leonard and Griffin O’Connor singled in runs.  That put the tying runs on base but Colin Jaena was able to get his 14th grounder of the game and teammates SS Logan Bravo and 2B Jon Gilbride combined to get a game-ending force-out at second.

“It was a little scary at the end,” admitted Colin Jaena afterwards.

Austin Prep had to come back earlier in the tournament after getting off to a bad start. “Swampscott scored four runs in the first inning and we came back with five,” said Coach Busby.

Peter Burns continued to impress Dedham coach Don Savi: “We knew that he can hit the ball well.  He hit another one that our centerfielder (Billy McCaig) made a ridiculous catch on.”

Griffin O’Connor takes a cut

Coach Savi was proud of what his seniors contributed to Dedham baseball: “Two years ago we won our conference for the first time in forty years.  Two years later we were battling for the state title.  It’s to their credit.”

Jason Leonard paced the Marauders with two hits.  He also scored a run and drove in a run.

Colin Jaena, Nick Cafarelli, and Jake Thain had two hits apiece in AP’s ten-hit night.

The Cougars move on to face Taconic. “They should do very well,” said Coach Savi.

AP coach Steve Busby

The game started late because the teams were late getting to Lynn.  Coach Savi referenced a three-hour bus ride from Dedham afterwards.

Nice night a Fraser Field.

Members of the Austin Prep softball team were at the game in uniform.  Must have come straight from practice.

Impressed with the Dedham support for their team.  After every inning the coaches would talk with the team and the fans cheered them on.

Dedham had seven hits and stranded eight runners.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

CF Dylan Arnold catches a fly in the 4th inning

Catcher Peter Burns dives for a wild throw

Dylan Arnold

Catcher Peter Burns and pitcher Colin Jaena

Cougars celebrate

Shortstop Logan Bravo

Starter Jason Leonard

2B David Logan gets a force at second

Austin Prep scored two runs in the 4th on Nick Cafarelli’s single

3B Alex Martinez throws to first

Austin Prep turned two to end the Dedham 6th

 

 

 

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Madison recovers to win Class C softball title 7-3 versus Narraguagus

The Class C title celebration begins around pitcher Lauria LeBlanc

Madison Bulldogs raise the Gold Glove

Pitcher Lanie Perry with the runnerup trophy

(Standish ME) The first half-inning was a three-run disaster for Madison and shortstop Virgina Worthen (3 errors).

But this was a seven-inning game and the Bulldogs, including Virginia, recovered strongly and won the Class C tile, 7-3, over Narragaugus on Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph’s.

“We settled down after the first inning,” said Madison coach Chris LeBlanc afterwards.  “Mistakes are going to be made.  They knew to leave them behind and go to the next play.”

The undefeated Bulldogs (20-0) got a run back in their half of the first and then gained significant separation with a five-run second.

I realize that there were five innings left and time for a Narraguagus comeback, but Madison’s Lauria LeBlanc (Coach LeBlanc’s cousin’s daughter) overwhelmed the team from Harrington after the dust cleared from those three unearned first-inning runs.

The sophomore retired fifteen straight Lady Knights before Kylee Joyce grounded a hard single to left with two outs in the sixth inning.

Lauria LeBlanc struck out fourteen Lady Knights

Lauria finished with fourteen strikeouts and no walks.  She allowed only two hits.

“Their pitcher pitched a great game,” said Narraguagus coach Tracie Martin.  “We got those three runs in the first inning and she shut us down for the next six.”

As Lauria began to settle in during the early innings, the Madison bats and baserunning started to unsettle the Lady Knights.

Senior Ashley Emery started the Madison first with a beautiful bunt.  Ashley then took advantage of a passed ball (catcher Kaci Alley) and not only reached second but third as well.  From there, Whitney Bess’s fielder’s choice brought Ashley in.

The Lady Knights, however, still held a 3-1 lead after the first inning.  That lead disappeared in the second inning.

Madison catcher Ashley Emery

A bad combination of walks and clutch hitting generated five runs for Madison.

Pitcher Lanie Perry walked three in that second inning and all of them scored.

Lauria LeBlanc walked harmlessly to lead off the inning.  Lanie then K’d the next two batters (She had eight strikeouts in the game).

But then sophomore Emily Edgerly, as she had done in the regional finals, whacked a triple into the gap in right center scoring Lauria.

The next two batters reached to load the bases for Sydney LeBlanc.  The MHS senior ripped a hard shot down the opposite line (she’s a left-handed batter) to clear the bases.  Suddenly, the Bulldogs were up 5-3.

Madison wasn’t done.  Senior Virgina Worthen drove Sydney across with a hard liner off 3B Kyle Joyce’s glove. That put the team from the Mountain Valley Conference in front 6-3.

“They (Narraguagus) hadn’t been in a big game like this before,” said Virgina.  “We knew we could come back.”  (2002 was the last time Narraguagus was in a title game.)

Shortstop Virginia Worthen’s wild throw allowed two Narraguagus runs in the first inning

Regarding the three first-inning errors: “For some reason I started off really nervous.  I was glad to put those three errors out of my system.”

Emily Edgerly, Ashley Emery (24), and Whitney Bess (4) all scored in the second on Sydney LeBlanc’s two-out double

Lauria LeBlanc dominated the rest of the game.  “They hadn’t face a lefty before,” explained Lauria.  “My ball spins outside to right-handed batters.”

Kristin Kennedy scores the first Narraguagus run

Coach LeBlanc had praise for catcher Ashley Emery: “I thought that Ashley called an outstanding game, mixing it up, calling for some changeups.”

Ashley Emery: “Lauria’s outside pitch was effective as well as her changeup.  Part of what I called was based on where the batter was standing.”

Madison added an unearned run in the sixth inning. A drop by LF Anna Strout and a bad throw by pitcher Lanie Perry enabled Emily Edgerly to give the Bulldogs an extra run.

Narraguagus had only two hits including this one by Kylee Joyce in the sixth inning

The Lady Knights (18-2) were disappointed by the final result but hoped for better things next year.  Their lone graduate is shortstop Madison Leighton.

Lanie Perry: “We made some errors that were costly.  We need to keep our chins up.  Hopefully we come back better next year.”

Lanie also told me afterwards that now that the season is over she can get back to her lobster boat.  The Cherryfield native has a commercial license.

Coach Tracie Martin: “The second inning was the turning point.  Their 9th hitter (Emily Edgerly) had a big hit in the regional finals too.  It wasn’t a total shock that she did it again.”

Emily and Ashley Emery both scored two runs.  Sydney LeBlanc had three RBI.

Narraguagus, from the Penobscot Valley Conference, was 15-3 last year.

The Lady Knights came into today’s game averaging nearly 14 runs per outing.

The Bulldogs have been in thirteen title games including five of the last six.  They recently won titles in 2014 and 2016.

1B Aishah Malloy

Coach Chris LeBlanc was honored by the Madison faithful after the game.  It was his 100th win as head coach.  He has a remarkable 100-4 record counting today’s game.

The Bulldogs graduate six starters but pitcher Lauria LeBlanc is not one of them.

I saw junior Mckenna Smith get nineteen strikeouts in last year’s Class B Old Town win at St. Joe’s.  I was surprised that OT didn’t return to the Class B title game this year with Mckenna still pitching for them.

I got to Standish, from North Bridgton, over an hour early and it seemed as if I was the last one to arrive!  The teams were working out, the fans were in place, and the second-story pressbox was filled.  I was told that I could sit in an elevated seat beyond the fence in left field.  That turned out to be a great place to watch a game.  It was covered and elevated.  It was a poor man’s “green monster” seat!

I am posting my scorebook.  Understand that I was nearly 100 yards from the official scorer.

Narraguagus box

Madison box

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Class C champion Madison Bulldogs2018

Narraguagus pregame

Madison pregame

Kirstin Kennedy bunts in the first inning

Shortstop Virginia Worthen chases a loose ball

Ashley Emery takes two bases on a passed ball

Emily Edgerly’s 2-out triple drove in the 2nd Madison run

Coach Chris LeBlanc talks with Virginia Worthen

Freshman Anna Strout chases a fly in the 7th

Ashley Emery’s bunt led to a 7th Madison run

Emily Edgerly scores in the 6th inning

 

 

 

 

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Amesbury softball surprises St. Mary’s 4-2 in Division 3 North semifinals

Hayley Catania ended the first and fifth with consecutive strikeouts

Emma DiPietro (triple) scored in the 5th inning to tie the game

(Lowell MA) Neither team expected to even be in this game!

St. Mary’s was young while Amesbury was seriously reconstructed.

On this afternoon, it was the reconstructed team that put enough pieces together to win the Division 3 North softball semifinals 4-2 at Martin Field in Lowell.

The top piece for Amesbury (15-8) was senior Hayley Catania.  The AHS pitcher allowed five hits (three of them in the first inning) and struck out ten Spartans.  But there’s more to the story: Hayley also had two hits and an RBI.  Her alert baserunning keyed one of the Indians runs in the 2-run fifth.

Shortstop Alyssa Grossi makes a nice running catch

Both teams had powered past quarter-final opponents.  St. Mary’s had four homers versus Pope John while Amesbury had three long ones against Lynnfield.

Today’s contest had only two loud hits and both of them were by Amesbury.  Emma DiPietro had a triple in the 2-run fifth and Hayley had an RBI double in the Indians 2-run seventh.

St. Mary’s (14-9) scratched out a run in the first.  Consecutive singles (Felicia D’Alessandro, Marina DiBiasio, Jordan Sullivan) produced a run.  This was where Amesbury’s Hayley Catania gave us a glimpse of the kind of game she would have as she then struck out Jennie Iudice and Taylor Sullivan to end the inning.

Amesbury had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but pitcher Lily Newhall kept the ball in the infield and escaped being scored on.

Starting with the 2 K’s in the first inning, Hayley retired eleven in a row including six strikeouts.

While the pitching was terrific for Amesbury they still trailed by a run until the fifth inning.

Emma Catania singled home a run in the 5th but was thrown out stretching it.

Junior Emma DiPietro tripled with one out over CF Christina Nowicki’s head.  Hayley Catania walked but on ball four the ball got away from catcher Jordan Sullivan allowing Emma to score and tie the game.  Hayley alertly took second when the Spartans concentrated too much on Emma crossing the plate.  That alertness paid off for AHS because when her sophomore sister Emma singled to center, Hayley came home with the go-ahead run.

Now down, 2-1, the pressure was on the St. Mary’s offense.  Alyssa Grossi singled to center opening the bottom of the 5th.  A sacrifice bunt (Katie O’Neill) moved her to second with one out.  But here came Hayley Catania, doing exactly as she had done in the first inning, striking out the next two batters (Angelina Catino and Christina Nowicki) to hold the slim lead.

Emma DiPietro’s triple goes over CF Christina Nowicki’s head

Both teams went down in order in the sixth.

The seventh was not for the weak of heart on either team!

Amesbury put two runners on with no one out on a walk (Emily O’Donnell) and Julia Campbell reaching on an error by pitcher Christina Nowicki.  Freshman Maddie DiPietro pinch ran for Emily.  That brought up Hayley and St. Mary’s coach Paige Licata had a meeting at the mound.

“We talked about walking her (Hayley),” said Coach Licata.  “I told Christina (Nowicki) to keep the ball away from her, and she did, but the ball was still pulled to left.  With a hitter like that you take your lumps and hope you can produce more runs.”

Hayley took that outside pitch over LF Julia Nickolau’s head bringing Maddie DiPietro across and getting Julia Campbell to third.  Senior Hannaih Burdick’s grounder to second enabled Julia to tally Amesbury’s 4th run.

Maddie DiPietro (8) and Julia Campbell (10) wait on the bases to see if Hayley Catania’s long fly will be caught….it wasn’t.

Hayley Catania happy to survive the St. Mary’s 7th

The Indians would need those extra runs in St. Mary’s final at-bats.  Things started harmlessly enough (for Amesbury) as two Spartans struck out.  Then Hayley walked Alyssa Grossi and Katie O’Neill followed with a 2-strike single to right.

Was a miracle comeback about to happen?

The Spartans created a rundown between first and second and Alyssa Grossi scored as Katie O’Neill got back to first safely.  Now the tying run was at the plate.

But Hayley got Angelina Catino to fly out to RF Karleigh Walker insuring Amesbury a trip to Saturday’s North final against Austin Prep.

The Indians reaching the D3 North surprised their coach (Jacqui Waters) as much as anyone: “I have only two players playing where they played last year.  This is all ecstasy to me.  I never thought we’d be here.”

Lily Newhall gave up five hits over six innings.

Coach Paige Licata was surprised that her team made it as well:  “We started 0-3 with a team with no seniors and two juniors.  Today we used a 7th grader (Angelina Catino) at first and an 8th grader (Lily Newhall) pitching.  There was no one crying afterwards because everyone will be back.”

Hayley Catania: “To beat St. Mary’s was a first for me.  My best pitch today (like against Lynnfield) was my drop curve.”

St. Mary’s had only three outfield outs, all to RF Karleigh Walker.

Coach Waters: “Our two seniors (Hannaih Burdick & Hayley Catania) have held this team together.  Often graduated seniors aren’t like that but our two have stayed attentive.  We practice three hours a day, six days a week on the basics and go at it as hard as we can.  We’ve gotten better and better as the season has progressed.  I learned that approach from previous coach Chris Perry and it has paid off.”

Weather looked as if it could rain at any time.

RF Karleigh Walker successfully handled three fly balls including the one that ended the game.

Funny moment: I asked Coach Licata about Hayley’s pitching and she said that she’d coached against her two years ago.  She then asked me laughing, “She’s a senior, I hope, isn’t she?”

No one I talked to afterwards knew when the last time was that Amesbury softball had beaten St. Mary’s.  Coach Waters guessed that it might have been 2005.  It had obviously been a while!

I did see Amesbury soccer defeat St. Mary’s in the tournament this season at Landry Stadium.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Christina Nowicki

Waiting for the game to start

Pitcher Christina Nowicki loses the ball attempting to tag Julia Campbell

Maddie DiPietro turns 3B and heads home in the 7th inning

Hayley Catania after the win

Victory hugs

2B Felicia D’Alessandro tosses to first

Hayley Catania throws to first

Shortstop Alyssa Grossi throws to first

Freshman Marina DiBiaso

3B Julia Campbell throws out bunter Katie O’Neill

 

 

 

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Amesbury bats drop Lynnfield 13-1 in D3 North quarterfinals

Emma Catania had a 3-run homer in the first inning

Freshman Maddie DiPietro crosses home in the sixth inning with the game-ending run

(Amesbury MA) Amesbury coach Jacqui Water told me after today’s game that her team had done a lot of extra hitting lately.

That information might help explain the hitting barrage the Indians unleashed on Lynnfield during a 13-1 mercy-ending D3 North quarterfinals game on sunny Tuesday afternoon.

The game ended in the Amesbury 6th when the Indians took a twelve-run lead.

Today’s tournament contest got away from the Pioneers early.  Amesbury had ten runs on ten hits after just two innings.

Unfortunately, for Lynnfield, their hitting was held in check by senior Hayley Catania.  Hayley allowed only four hits and struck out nine batters.  During one section of the game she retired eight in a row.

The Indians season continues as they advance to the D3 north semis on Thursday (3:30PM) at Martin Field in Lowell against St. Mary’s.

On May 2nd the Pioneers had rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Amesbury, 7-6, at Lynnfield.

Hayley Catania pitched a 4-hitter with nine strikeouts

Coach Waters remembered it: “I wasn’t comfortable with our lead today because of it.”

LHS coach Paul Marinelli said that his defense was partly responsible for today’s bad start: “We gave away too many things in the beginning.  We got in a hole as a result and couldn’t get out.”

The Pioneers best scoring chance was in the sixth when they loaded the bases with two outs.  Hayley Catania, however, struck out Jillian Babine to end that threat.

Stranded baserunners were rare for Amesbury.  They stranded just three in six innings.

The Indians had homers in each of the first three innings.  Sophomore Emma Catania hit her HR into the gap in left center in the first.  Freshman Julia Campbell hit an opposite field liner that lasered past RF Gabby Langone in the second.  Senior Hayley Catania also hit into the left-center gap and the ball rolled nearly to the stadium wall in the third inning.

Hayley would also round the bases in the second inning when her hard-hit single to left went through LF Allie Wing.  The Pioneers were quick to retrieve the ball and Hayley had to slide into home to score.

Freshman Chloe Shapleigh homered in the 3rd inning

A while ago the Indians celebrated Seniors Day at their last home game.  I assumed that Amesbury (14-8) wouldn’t have any tournament home games.  So I asked senior Hayley Catania about her favorite memories of Perry Field after the Senior’s game.

Not so fast! The #11 Amesbury won their tourney opener over Shawsheen on the road and #14 Lynnfield did the same with O’Bryant.  That brought the quarterfinals game back to Amesbury today.  Today I was certain that Hayley won’t be playing on Perry Field again when we talked after the game.  “It was a nice last game here today – to hit well and pitch well,” said Hayley afterwards.

LHS freshman Chloe Shapleigh had one of those good and not-so-good games.  The good?  Chloe was the Pioneers’ leadoff batter and went three-for-three including a long homer to right.  Chloe’s teammates had only one hit among them.

The not-so-good?  The LHS shortstop had four errors by my count.  One was on a bobbled grounder but the other three were on throws, two of them to first base.  The other throw was an attempted flip toss to third in the sixth inning that went over 3B Jillian Babine’s head and allowed Maddy DiPietro to score the game-ending run.  I strongly suspect that Chloe’s defense will improve and will combine with her good hitting to impress Cape Ann League teams over the next three seasons.

Julia Campbell celebrates her home run in the second inning

One of Amesbury’s best shortstops (Maddie Napoli) was home from college and in the house today.

Emma Catania drove in four runs for Amesbury.

Meg McElaney and Hayley Catania each collected three hits for the Indians.  Hayley also scored three runs.

Coach Waters had good words for seniors Hannaih Burdick and Hayley Catania: “Sometimes you lose the seniors after they graduate, and the season is still going on.  These two have kept the team going.”

Senior Hayley O’Brien

Hayley Catania: “My drop curve was working well today.  When they loaded the bases (6th inning) I had to focus a little more.”

Coach Marinelli: “We graduate one senior (pitcher Hayley O’Brien) so we should be good next year. Amesbury has always been a good team and I would rather play them than some of the Boston teams in the tournament.”

Hayley O’Brien will be attending Fitchburg State next year and expects to play softball there.

A little windy at times today but the temperature made for a pleasant afternoon.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Hayley Catania slides under the tag of Allie Wing

Meg McElaney scores the 10th Amesbury run

Taylor Tringali

Hayley Catania homered in the third inning

Breanna Serabian

Shortstop Emma DiPietro snags a line drive

Play at second

Shortstop Chloe Shapleigh throws to first

Emma DiPietro

Shortstop Chloe Shapleigh flips toward third base.

Hayley O’Brien

Emma DiPietro leads off the game with an infield hit

Reilly Ganter

RF Gabby Langone

Shortstop Chloe Shapleigh sets to tag out Emma DiPietro

 

 

 

 

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Early hits and strong pitching gets Exeter second straight title 6-2 over Bedford

In Exeter’s 3-run first Cody Morissette tripled and later scored the Hawks second run

Bobby Cliche pitched a five-hitter with seven strikeouts

(Manchester NH) The Exeter Hawks put a nice combination of early hitting and quality pitching together and won their second straight Division 1 state title, 6-2, over Bedford on Monday afternoon at the home of the Fisher Cats.

Exeter jumped all over Bedford starter Geoff Mosseau in the first two innings with four runs and seven hits.

“We talked before the game about setting the tempo and that is what we did early,” said 1B Tom Polhemus afterwards.

“Geoff (Mosseau) is a very good pitcher and we didn’t want him to settle in,” explained Exeter coach Kevin McQueen.  “We had him at 52 pitches after two innings.”

Senior Cody Morissette paced the Hawks (20-3) getting three hits and driving in three runs.  Cody had a triple in the first and a single in the second, driving in a run with each hit.

On the other side, the Bulldogs (21-2) were being held hitless by Exeter starter Bobby Cliche until two were out in the third inning.

Ryan Lee heads for 3B

Bobby ended up giving up just five hits and two runs.  He struck out seven Bulldogs.

Bobby said that his curve was the key to today’s success.  “The curve was good today.  I had the fastball but if your secondary pitch isn’t there you’re screwed.  Things were working today.”

The only glitch for Bobby was in the fourth inning when his pickoff attempt went past 1B Tom Polhemus allowing baserunner Joey Barrett to reach 3B with no outs.  Joey would later score on Ryan Lee’s infield out.

The Hawks would get that run back in the sixth inning.  Davis Leighton reached on shortstop Joey Barrett’s error and later scored on Cody Morissette’s second triple of the game.

Watching from the Exeter dugout

Coach McQueen talked about this game being a “white knuckler” as it played out.  The Bulldogs’ sixth inning was certainly that.  Bedford had a walk (Joey Barrett) and a two-out double (Ryan Lee) and a run-producing single (Peyton Murray).  One run in, two on, down by three.  A hit would cut the deficit to one with four outs left.  But Bobby Cliché struck out Patrick Harrington swinging to end the threat.

Exeter stretched their lead to 6-2 in the seventh inning.  It was all “small ball.”  A walk, a hit batsman, and a suicide squeeze (Garrett Roberts) got it done.

Double play in the 7th

Avery Mosseau opened the last of the 7th with a hit but was soon doubled off first after Zach Fletcher lined out to 2B.  Nick Mokas’ pop to 3B Brady Green brought on Exeter celebrations.

Bobby Cliché: “It was definitely more comfortable to be working with the lead.  I’ve worked with the seniors on this team for seven or eight years now.  To end our time together with a state championship is amazing.”

Cody Morissette: “The reason I haven’t pitched since May is that I’ve had arm issues.  I’m not sure what the problem was.  I could have pitched for an inning today if needed.  We have all kinds of good pitching on this team, so I knew that we’d be safe without me pitching.”  Cody pitched all three tournament games last season as the Hawks were a perfect 21-0.

Grant Lavigne

The missing piece in what I’ve written so far is Bedford’s Grant Lavigne.  Grant was recently drafted in the first round (#42) by the Colorado Rockies.  Bobby Cliché retired Grant all three times (infield groundout, infield popup, and outfield fly).

I asked Coach McQueen about keeping Grant off the bases: “Keeping Grant off the bases is nothing short of a miracle!  He’s a great hitter with a great future in front of him.  In this game, he didn’t come up with a lot of runners on the bases.”

Joey Barrett scored two runs for Bedford.  He also dislocated a finger sliding into third base.

Tom Polhemus had two hits, and RBI, and scored a run for Exeter.

The crowd was good although you wonder how many working folks can attend a 4PM game on a Monday.

Surprised by the small number of media in attendance.  I was the only photographer in the dugouts during the entire game.

Having the Northeast Delta Dental Stadium evolve into part sun and part shade made for difficult photography, at least for this amateur!

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Tom Polhemus with trophy

Cody Morissette

Exeter Hawks

Grant Lavigne

Celebrating

Celebrating a title

Grant Lavigne, Peyton Murray, Zach Fletcher

Geoff Mosseau

Shortstop Cody Morissette

Garret Roberts bunt turned into a hit

Grant Lavigne in the dugout

Cody Morissette’s second triple

Davis Leighton scores the 5th Exeter run in the sixth inning

Shortstop Joey Barrett

Joey Barrett slides into 3B

Tom Polhemus steals 2B as Trevor Anibal awaits throw

Patrick Harrington pitched well in relief

Catcher Kyle Lavigne

 

 

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Burlington gets past Triton 2-1 to reach D2 North softball semifinals

Christina Clark slides home with the second Burlington run as catcher Liv Doane waits for the ball to arrive

Christina Clark pitched a one-hitter with nine strikeouts

(Byfield MA) A year ago Burlington’s Christina Clark struck out seventeen Triton Vikings on her way to a 9-0 first round win in the D2 North softball tournament.

With that in the back of my head, I went over to Triton today wondering what to expect a year later in a quarterfinals matchup between the same two teams.

Burlington (17-4) prevailed, 2-1, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and will go on to face Gloucester in the D2 North semifinals.

As far as pitcher Christina Clark is concerned, she’s still an overwhelming presence.  Today she recorded nine strikeouts and allowed only one hit.  The Vikings had only three baserunners and little good contact off the junior.

“When it comes to softball it’s all about pitching,” said Triton coach Dave Dupere afterwards. “Their pitcher (Christina Clark) was tough to hit.  She hit her spots, changed speed and had a good curve ball.  We don’t see her speed very often.”

“Christina did well today getting ahead of hitters,” said Burlington coach Kristen Farrell.” Even the balls they put in play weren’t necessarily hit hard.”

Katherine Quigley allowed five hits and one earned run

Lost in the deserved excitement over the pitching of Christina Clark was Katherine Quigley’s performance for the (17-3) Vikings.  The sophomore limited the Devils to five hits and retired the last eight batters she faced.

“It was huge for us to do so much better than last time against them,” said Katherine.  “I felt that I threw a lot harder today than I did in the win over Saugus.  I was more confident and relaxed today.”

Christina Clark retired the last eleven Vikings she faced.  “I was feeling the energy of the team as the game went on,” said Christina.  “I knew that I had a great defense behind me.”

The Devils had only one error (3B Sydney Shinopulos throw) and Triton turned it into a run in the second inning.  Bridget Sheehan walked and reached 3B when Sydney’s attempt to turn a grounder into a force-out went past second allowing Bridget to reach third with one out.  Senior Liv Doane’s slow roller to second enabled Bridget to score.

Erin Browne steals second as Emily Karvielis takes the throw

Burlington came back to tie the game in the top of the third inning.  Erin Browne’s bunt (down the first baseline) forced a wide throw by catcher Liv Doane.  Erin stole second with two outs and came home on Chloe McGonagle’s single to right.

The visitors put together the eventual game winner in their half of the 4th.  Christina Clark reached on a leadoff blooper over third base.  Fran Rubino sacrificed Christina to second before freshman Sydney Shinopulos dropped an 0-2 single into right scoring Christina.  Christina slid in but as my picture above shows she was in well ahead of the throw.

“Getting a runner in scoring position with Chloe up or Sydney up, you know things could happen,” said Coach Farrell.  “We have not had a lot of timely hitting this season.”

The improved defense was a factor for Triton in their very successful season. LF Grace McGonagle made several nice running catches for the Vikings.  “Our defense was lights out again,” said Coach Dupere.

Shortstop Bridget Sheehan squeezes a popup

Both Coach Farrell and Christina Clark commended Triton.

“Triton hung tough,” said Coach Farrell.
Much improved over last year.”

“This was a very different game than last year,” said Christina. “They had a good defense.”

The Devils now return again to the D2 North semifinals and will face Gloucester on Wednesday in Lowell.  North Reading will also be in the semifinals at the same place and on the same date.

Burlington line of defense

Encouraging for Triton that the three losses this season were against two teams (North Reading & Burlington) which have now reached the D2 North semifinals.

“Burlington was probably the best team we’ve faced all year and we probably played our best game of the year,” recalled Coach Dupere.

Coach Dupere: “Katherine (Quigley) changed her speeds.  She’s got three different speeds.  She’s tough to hit.”

Coach Farrell: “Any win in the postseason is a good win.  Our defense was solid, and our pitcher had a really great game.  She had big strikeouts when we needed them.”

Coach Dupere: “I came into this season with high expectations, but the girls exceeded them.  We’re losing four important seniors, but we have the nucleus back and we have some good players coming up.  We’re going to be a force to be reckoned with next year.”

Plenty of sunshine today but the game was so quick that the tanning/burning was limited!

Sydney Shinopulos (batting) drove in the eventual game winner in the 4th inning

If I could give Triton softball two pieces of advice they would be these: Schedule twenty games instead of eighteen.  Seventeen days off before the playoffs is unconscionable.  The other thing would be to get a perennial tournament team like St.Mary’s, Burlington, Whittier on the schedule to prep Triton for tournament pitching and hitting.

Nice to see some of the Pentucket players on hand.  They lost in the first round to Burlington, 5-1.

Burlington has been the champs of the Middlesex League for seven straight years.

Sophomore Chloe McGonagle was the only player with two hits in the game.

(All of the pictures above and below will enlarge considerably if you click on them.)

Triton pregame

Burlington pregame

Catcher Meaghan Gurska and pitcher Christina Clark before the game

1B Taylor Penniman catches a foul pop

Meghan Gaffney

1B Jordan Ferullo handles the last out of the game

All smiles for Burlington after 2-1 win

Kat Nikolopoulos

Bridget Sheehan takes 3B after a Burlington throwing error

Erin Browne

Erin Browne scores standing up

Christina Clark reaches 3B as Sydney Shinopulos’ hit is fielded by RF Dani West

Katherine Quigley throws out a runner at first

Bridget Sheehan had Triton’s only hit on this very close play.

Shortstop Bridget Sheehan throws to 3B Colleen McCarthy to force Meghan Gaffney

Senior Liv Doane (batting) drove in Triton’s only run

 

 

 

 

 

 

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