A-B boys' lax finishes season at No. 1

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
3:57
PM ET
After capturing the program's first state title, Acton-Boxborough finishes the season in the top spot of our statewide MIAA boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll.

The Colonials finished the regular season at No. 1 and then went on to beat Duxbury, in overtime, to secure their first title.

The full poll can be accessed HERE.

CHAMPIONS REIGN: Medfield, which captured its sixth overall championship, was the highest ranking Division 2 squad, checking in at No. 3 after dispatching rival Hingham in the title game.

Cohasset, which interrupted Dover-Sherborn's run in Division 3, also hopped into the top 10, showing at No. 8.

NEW BLOOD: Five teams that made their Top 25 debuts this season made the cut in the final poll of the year, adding to the notion that parity might have finally come to Massachusetts lacrosse.

Bridgewater-Raynham makes its highest showing at No. 12 after reaching the Division 1 South quarterfinals. Shrewsbury (No. 15) and Westfield (16) both climbed into the poll -- with the Bombers making their debut in the final rankings -- after huge upsets in Division 2, coming over St. John's and last year's state champion Longmeadow, respectively.

Wakefield (24) and Melrose (25) also held it down on the back end after making their debuts in the final weeks of the regular season.

ESPN Boston's MIAA All-State Baseball Team

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
9:16
PM ET
THE SUPER TEAM

Starting Rotation

LHP – Evan Roberts, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The Catholic Conference MVP was one of the more pleasant revelations of the 2014 season, anchoring the Eagles to a Super 8 appearance with his efficiency and unique delivery. The Davidson commit finished the season 8-2 with 50 strikeouts in 59.2 innings, with a 1.17 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.

RHP – Jack Connolly, Jr., Bridgewater-Raynham
With his crafty curve, the Notre Dame commit took the state by storm, leading the Super 8 tournament with 21 strikeouts as the Trojans reached the semifinals. On the season, Connolly went 9-2 with 94 strikeouts in 65 innings and a 1.51 ERA, holding opponents to a .196 batting average.

RHP – Zach Correll, Sr., Case
With low to mid-90’s velocity, Correll was one of the most dazzling players to watch on the South Coast, recording 103 strikeouts in 64 innings for a 0.54 ERA and 8-2 record. The 6-foot-5 Correll turned pro earlier this month after being selected in the 13th round by the Cincinnati Reds in the MLB Draft.

RHP – Shane Combs, Jr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In his first season in Shrewsbury, the St. Louis transplant and Notre Dame commit dazzled in some of the Pioneers’ biggest games, including two no-hitters. On the season, he was 4-1 with 60 strikeouts in 36 innings, with an ERA of 1.36. Combs also stars for the Pioneers’ football team.

LHP – Jackson Gillis, Soph., Wilmington
One of New England's top 2016 pitching prospects, Gillis recorded two no-hitters this season and was named MVP of the Middlesex League's Freedom Division. He went 7-2 with 102 strikeouts in 57.1 innings, holding opponents to a .117 batting average. A number of Division 1 programs have begun to take interest in Gillis, including LSU, North Carolina, Duke, Vanderbilt, Boston College, Wake Forest and Pitt.

Starting Nine

Isan Diaz, Sr. SS, Springfield Central
Diaz was named ESPN Boston’s fourth annual "Mr. Baseball" as the state’s best overall player, after hitting .492/.625/.898 totals with four home runs and 14 RBI from the top of the Golden Eagles’ order, while also demonstrating remarkable defense. Diaz turned pro earlier this month after getting selected in the Sandwich B round (70th overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Joe Freiday, Sr. C, Bridgewater-Raynham
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Freiday was named the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .457/.620/.789 with 35 RBI and seven home runs, as the Trojans reached the semifinals of the inaugural Super 8 tournament. Freiday will continue his career next year at Virginia Tech.

Andrew Noviello, Jr. INF, Bridgewater-Raynham
The University of Maine commit was one of the state’s best two-way players, hitting .465/.574/.746 at the plate with 33 RBI and three homers and also going 5-0 on the mound with 67 strikeouts in 43 innings, holding opponents to a .223 average and also notching three saves.

Seamus Curran, Jr. 1B, Agawam
Despite missing the last two weeks of the season with illness, the 6-foot-4 University of Rhode Island commit demonstrated rare left-handed power as one of the state’s best long-ball hitters. He registered .462/.611/.795 totals at the plate, and drew 15 walks.

Neil O’Connor, Sr. INF, Leominster
As the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year in football last fall, O’Connor joins the rare club of athletes to make ESPN Boston’s All-State Team in two different sports. The UNH football commit was dominant at the plate (.486 BA, .580 OBP, 18 RBI, 4 HR, 30 runs, 13 SB) and the mound (10-1, 0.83 ERA, 91 K’s, 56 IP, 1.11 WHIP) as the Blue Devils earned their first MIAA Division 1 state title since 1996.

Jack Riley, Sr. 1B, St. Peter-Marian
Another power bat from the left side of the plate, the UConn pledge batted .414/.535/.743 with 21 RBI, and was also a rock on the mound for the Guardians with a 5-2 record and 0.61 ERA, striking out 78 batters in 46 innings as they reached the Division 1 Central Final for the first time since 2008.

Connor Columbus, Jr. 3B/SS, Braintree
Even in the woobat-only Bay State Conference, Columbus had powerful numbers at the plate, hitting .398 with 35 RBI and four home runs and getting hit by a pitch 16 times. He also tied for the lead in the Super 8 tournament in RBI (7) and home runs (2) as the Wamps reached the finals of the tournament.

Joe Klingensmith, Sr. 1B, Masconomet
The UMass commit and Cape Ann League MVP was another two-way force as the Chieftains captured their first MIAA Division 2 state title since 2000. On the season, Klingensmith batted .343/.484/.658 with 20 RBI and four home runs. He also went 10-0 on the mound, with 84 strikeouts in 56.1 innings, with a 0.94 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.

Ben Gibson, Sr. 1B, Pope John Paul II
The 6-foot-5 Cape & Islands League Co-MVP helped lead the Lions to the MIAA Division 4 state title in just their fourth year as a varsity program. At the plate he batted .542 with 33 RBI, four home runs, 18 walks, 44 runs and 21 extra base hits. On the mound, he was 6-0 with 39 K’s in 46 innings, with a 1.87 ERA. Gibson will continue his career next year at Quinnipiac University.


BEST OF THE REST

Tyler Bell, Soph. RHP, Catholic Memorial
Bell often took the ball in big Catholic Conference games this year for the Knights, and he routinely delivered. On the season he was 4-1 with a 1.12 ERA, striking out 52 batters in 53.1 innings, throwing four complete games and a shutout, as the Knights made the Super 8 field.

Matt Bickford, Sr. RHP, Braintree
The senior anchored the Wamps’ rotation as they made the inaugural Super 8 Final. On the season, he was 5-2 with four saves and a 1.04 ERA, striking out 56 batters in 58 innings, for a WHIP of .914. Bickford is headed to Northwest Oklahoma State next season.

Luke Brennan, Sr. RHP, Doherty
After quarterbacking the Highlanders to their first football state title last fall, the Franklin Pierce University commit turned in an excellent campaign on the mound this spring, leading Doherty to a Division 1 Central Semifinal appearance. Brennan went 5-2 on the year with 74 strikeouts in 42 innings, with a 1.12 ERA.

P.J. Browne, Sr. OF, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
The Merrimack commit was one of the state’s best two-way players, anchoring the staff with 50 strikeouts in 46 innings, for a 1.82 ERA and .804 WHIP. He was also efficient at the plate, putting up .297/.426/.486 totals with 20 RBI.

Brian Christian, Sr. RHP, Plymouth North
With velocity touching in the low 90’s, the Northeastern commit put in another dominant season on the mound, going 8-2 – including just seven hits and one earned run allowed in his last six starts. On the year, he had 94 strikeouts and a 0.39 ERA. In his final two seasons at North, Christian amassed a 17-3 record on the hill.

Peter Clark, Sr. INF, Gloucester
Clark was named MVP of the Northeastern Conference after leading the Fishermen to a league title and appearance in the Division 2 North Final. At the plate, he batted .531 with six homers and RBI, and on the mound he went 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA.

Jack Dolan, Sr. RHP/INF, Wellesley
Dolan was named MVP of the Bay State Conference’s Herget Division after leading the Raiders to the No. 1 overall seed in Division 1 South. At the plate, he hit .410/.449/.602 with two home runs and 14 RBI, as well as 14 stolen bases. On the mound, he went 3-1 with two saves, striking out 38 batters in 34.1 innings, for a 2.71 ERA, .903 WHIP and .133 opponents’ batting average.

Kevin Hassett, Sr. RHP, Springfield Cathedral
The UMass commit was the ace of the Panthers’ staff, as they captured the Division 1 West title. On the mound, he went 8-1 with two saves, with 63 strikeouts in 65.1 innings. He also hit .275/.367/.304 with 13 RBI at the plate.

Garrett Hudson, Sr. RHP, Greenfield
The Merrimack commit was one of the state’s strikeout leaders, fanning 107 batters in 68.1 innings, for a 9-0 record with a save. At the plate he was also dominant, registering .500/.557/.679 totals with 17 RBI.

Alex Joyce, Sr. C, Newton North
Joyce was named MVP of the Bay State Conference’s Carey Division, then anchored the bats to the Division 1A State Championship, their first state title in 28 years under coach Joe Siciliano. For the season he hit .405/.536/.512 with 21 RBI.

Scott Manea, Sr. C, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
One of the state’s best defensive catchers, Manea was selected in the 40th round by the Seattle Mariners to become the first Pioneer to get drafted since 2011. The NC State commit registered a .426 on-base percentage this spring, with 12 RBI.

Bobby McNiff, Jr. RHP, Braintree
As one of the Wamps’ aces, The University of Rhode Island commit helped lead Braintree to the Super 8 Final. On the season he was 9-1 with a 1.42 ERA, striking out 60 batters in 69 innings with a .739 WHIP.

Austen Michel, Jr. RHP, Hamilton-Wenham
Michel was one of the breakout stars of the MIAA tournament, striking out 30 batters in two starts, including a no-hitter, as the Generals reached the Division 3 North Final. On the season he was 5-3 with two saves, striking out 92 batters in 61.1 innings with a 1.37 ERA and .929 WHIP.

Chris Murphy, Sr. RHP, Billerica
The University of Maine commit was selected in the 29th round by the Toronto Blue Jays earlier this month, becoming the first product directly out of Billerica High in 20 years to get taken in the MLB Draft. Murphy was named MVP of the Merrimack Valley Conference’s second division after posting a 1.24 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. He also hit two home runs and 17 RBI at the plate.

Matt Nicholson, Sr. OF, Rockland
One of the state’s premier defensive outfielders, the Merrimack commit was named MVP of the South Shore League after batting .508 with two home runs, 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He also recorded five outfield assists, with no errors in 58 opportunities.

Ryan Pocock, Sr. 1B, Westford Academy
Pocock took home the Dual County League’s MVP after leading the state in home runs (eight) to go along with 31 RBI and a .405 batting average. He also struck out 28 batters in 24 innings on the mound. Pocock will continue his career next year at Brandeis University.

Teddy Rodliff, Sr. LHP, Newton North
The lefty puzzled hitters all spring long with his unorthodox sidearm delivery, as the Tigers won the Division 1A State Championship. For the season Rodliff struck out 83 batters in 60 innings, going 6-0 with a 0.95 ERA and holding opponents to a .117 batting average.

David Sampson, Sr. RHP, Bellingham
The Southern New Hampshire University commit led the Blackhawks to the Division 3 State Championship after a dominant campaign on the mound, leading the state in strikeouts (119) in a workmanlike 81 innings pitched, posting an 11-1 record with a 1.12 ERA and .198 opponent’s batting average. He also had 27 RBI at the plate.

Dylan Sbordone, Sr. RHP/INF, Newton North
After posting two wins and two saves in the Tigers’ run to the Division 1A title, the Southern New Hampshire University commit was named ESPN Boston’s Super 8 MVP. On the season he went 7-1 with three saves, striking out 70 batters in 54.1 innings, holding opponents to a .153 batting average.

Tyler Schemerhorn, Sr. RHP/INF, Lowell
Schemerhorn was the Merrimack Valley Conference’s Player of the Year for its first division as the Red Raiders made the inaugural Super 8 field. He batted .329 with 13 RBI from the middle of the order, and on the mound was 6-2. Schemerhorn plans on attending Endicott College in the fall.

Anthony Videtto, Soph. RHP, Silver Lake
The Lakers’ youth movement is filled with potential, none greater than Videtto, who anchored the rotation with a 10-1 record, striking out 77 batters in 62.1 innings with a 1.14 ERA, as the Lakers made the inaugural Super 8 field. He also batted .314 with 11 RBI.

Tyler Wilson, Sr. RHP, Palmer
The University of Rhode Island commit was one of Western Mass.’s most dominant as the Panthers reached the quarterfinals of the Division 3 West tournament. On the mound he was 5-1 with 83 strikeouts in 48.2 innings. At the plate, he had .327/.435/.558 totals with 18 RBI.

Michael Young, Sr. SS, Pope John Paul II
The Eckerd (Fla.) College commit was named Co-MVP of the Cape and Islands League as the Lions captured their first state title in just their fourth year of varsity. At the plate, he hit .528 with 36 RBI and three home runs, with 34 runs and 20 extra base hits. On the mound, Young went 6-0 with 41 K’s in 44 innings, with a 1.64 ERA.
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Baseball

Braintree High rising senior point guard Ashley Russell, the state's reigning Gatorade Player of the Year and ESPN Boston Miss Basketball, has verbally committed to the University of Pennsylvania, she announced just a few moments ago on her Twitter account.



The 5-foot-10 Russell spearheaded a Wamps squad that was among the state’s stingiest, as they captured their third straight South sectional title and their first MIAA Division 1 State Championship since 2006. The Wamps went wire to wire as the No. 1 team in ESPNBoston.com’s statewide poll in 2013-14, leading the state’s top division in points allowed per game (34.8) and going unbeaten against in-state competition, their lone loss coming to national power Christ The King (N.Y.).

On the season, Russell led the Wamps in nearly every major statistical category, averaging 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. One of her more impressive performances came in a win over Lynn English in the Eastern Mass. Final at TD Garden, where she achieved a rare point-less double-double, recording 13 rebounds and 11 assists in spite of a 1-for-10 effort from the field.

"I am just so excited to play at UPenn and become part of such a successful program," Russell said. "Their coaching staff is just one of the best, and I can't wait to play for them."

Fairfield, Hofstra, Colgate, UMass-Lowell, Bentley and Stonehill were among the other schools offering Russell at the time of her commitment.

Russell is the first of Braintree's heralded "Big Four" of Division 1 recruits to make their college decision. Rising senior forwards Molly Reagan and Bridget Herlihy, and junior guard/forward Brianna Herlihy, all hold multiple Division 1 offers.
Lowell High senior inside linebacker Shyheim Cullen gave a verbal commitment to Syracuse University earlier today, he confirmed tonight to ESPNBoston.com

The 6-foot, 215-pound Cullen gave a pledge to the Orange today while on a visit to campus for a prospect camp, where among other things he recorded a 36-inch vertical leap, 10-foot-1 broad jump and 4.4-second shuttle. In the past, he has recorded a 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range.

At the time of his commitment, Syracuse -- who offered last April -- was Cullen's lone Division 1 FBS offer. Cullen also received varying degrees of interest from Boston College, UConn, UMass, Temple, Rutgers, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island.

"I already had Syracuse on my mind. But after coming today and meeting the coaching staff, coming to school, that all drew me in," Cullen said. "It's a great environment for me. I just felt comfortable there.

"I was really excited [to commit], and I still am. I still can't believe I'm going to Syracuse. What stuck out most to me was how much the coaches cared about the athletes."

Cullen was one of just eight juniors selected to ESPN Boston's annual All-State Team last fall after leading the Red Raiders to the semifinals of the MIAA Division 1 North tournament. Manning the middle linebacker position in Florence's 3-5-3 defense, Cullen was particularly lethal on interior gap blitzes, recording 12 sacks to go along with 52 tackles.

At Syracuse, Cullen likely projects to outside linebacker, either at the weak or strong side.

"That's what they really like, how well I carry towards the ball," Cullen said. "They say I have incredible explosiveness and speed when it comes to that. When they watch my highlight film and see me jumping over people and stuff like that, that really attracts them."

When he arrives at Syracuse in the fall of 2015, he will be the Orange's first recruit from Massachusetts since former offensive lineman Ryan Durand, a 2005 St. Bernard's graduate who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans in 2009. Historically, though, the Orange have often landed some of the Bay State's best recruits for generations, from Diamond Ferri (Everett) to Rob Konrad (St. John's Prep) to the famed Morris brothers of Ayer High.

"It actually means a lot," Cullen said. "Especially coming from this area, Mass. kids don't get looked at by big schools such as Syracuse. I'm actually honored to go to Syracuse."
A Shot for Life has announced the participants for its second annual "Shot For Life Challenge", pitting the state's top high school shooters in a test of endurance to dub the state's best shooter.

Last year, 12 shooters from around Massachusetts convened at Hanover's University Sports Complex and shot jumpers for two hours, raising more than $10,000 for brain cancer research. Walpole High's Scott Arsenault won the inaugural event, shooting at a 91 percent clip for the two-hour span.

Sixteen of the state's best shooters will convene in Hanover for this year's contest. There will also be a girls' division, as well as a slam dunk contest.

Here is A Shot For Life's official press release on the event:



A Shot For Life, Inc. is pleased to announce its second annual A Shot For Life Challenge. The event will take place at the University Sports Complex in Hanover on August 2nd. The A Shot For Life Challenge is a one of a kind shooting competition that is open exclusively to the best shooters in the state of Massachusetts as chosen by our selection committee.

The money raised by all of our shooters goes to Brain Cancer research at both Children’s Hospital in Boston as well as the Dr. Curry Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. By accepting to become a part of this event, all of our shooters have committed to spending significant time and energy raising money for our cause.

“We are extremely proud of all of the new members of our A Shot For Life family and we’re very happy to welcome all of our still eligible shooters back from last year," said A Shot For Life founder and CEO Mike Slonina. "All of these tremendous young athletes have made the decision to use their extraordinary talent to raise money for Brain Cancer research which speaks volumes about them as people.”

There are two major upgrades from last year’s A Shot For Life Challenge. This year’s event will feature a girls division and we will conclude the event with a dunk contest. There are loose plans to include a point guard skills competition for the 2015 event next year.

The winner of the A Shot For Life Challenge gets placed in the A Shot For Life Hall of Fame and has their jersey number retired for all future ASFL events. To date, the two retired numbers are 24 and 11. Last year’s winner, Scott Arsenault, will present the championship trophy to this year’s winner.

The dunk contest roster will be added to during the summer, before the event. There is also a possibility that one or two more names will be added to the female shooting roster before the event on the first weekend in August.

Female Roster:
Hayley Wardwell #22 (Cardinal Spellman)
Sam Hyslip #21 (Westford Academy)
Infiniti Thomas-Waheed #45 (Newton North)
Alana Gilmer #22 (Archbishop Williams)
Katie Nelson #4 (Bishop Feehan)
Bridget Herlihy #15 (Braintree)
Ashley Russell #10 (Braintree)
Emma Forbes #2 (North Attleboro)
Vanessa Edgehill #15 (Rivers)

Male roster:
Brandon Twitty #1 (Catholic Memorial)
Mike Nelson #2 (Bishop Feehan)
Ryan Boulter #23 (Mansfield)
Matt Kelley #12 (Canton)
Tommy Mobley #12 (Newton North)
Denis Tobin #31 (Catholic Memorial)
Ryan Roach #21 (Cardinal Spellman)
Jake Foote #20 (Duxbury)
Efthim Butka #31 (North Quincy)
Ben Judson #99 (St. John’s Prep)
Paul Calobrisi #21 (Westwood)
Chris Rodgers #12 (Franklin)
Matt Hanna #22 (Catholic Memorial)
Jack Loughnane #5 (BC High)
Drew Myers #33 (Quincy)
Shaquan Murray #3 (New Mission)

Dunk Contest Roster:
Anthony Green (North Quincy)
Guillien Smith (Catholic Memorial)
Nick George (Cardinal Spellman)
Nick Lynch (Lawrence Academy)
Sidney Limage (Archbishop Williams)



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Basketball

In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Garrett O'Toole of Middlesex School as its 2013-14 Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year. O'Toole is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Middlesex School.

The award, which recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the track, distinguishes O'Toole as Massachusetts’s best high school boys track & field athlete. Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Boys Track & Field Athlete of the Year award to be announced in June, O'Toole joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Ryan Hall (1999-01, Big Bear HS, Calif.), Meb Keflezighi (1993-94, San Diego HS, Calif.), Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo HS, Mich.), Candace Parker (2001-02, Naperville Central HS, Ill.), Mark Sanchez (2004-05, Mission Viejo HS, Calif.) and Lolo Jones (1997-98, Roosevelt HS, Ia.).

The 5-foot-11, 135-pound senior won the 800-meter run in a meet-record time of 1:52.32 as well as the 1,500 in a meet-record 3:58.24 at the Independent Schools Track Association championship meet this season, leading the Zebras to fourth place as a team. A returning Boys’ Track All-Scholastic selection as named by The Boston Globe, O’Toole also anchored the bronze medal-winning 4x400-meter relay quartet that crossed the line in 3:34.98. His 1-mile time of 4:01.89 at the Adrian Martinez Classic and his 1,500 time of 3:45.55 at the Princeton Elite Meet both ranked as the nation’s No. 1 performance by prep competitors in 2014 and amongst the top 25 clockings in U.S. prep history.

O’Toole has maintained a 3.37 GPA in the classroom. In addition to participating in his school’s drama program as well as its FOCUS and jazz lunch clubs, he has volunteered locally on behalf of a nursing home, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the Open Table community assistance organization.

“Over the last four years, I have watched Garrett develop as a person and an athlete,” said Scott Bosworth, head coach of rival Milton Academy. “With all the success that he has earned, he has remained humble, approachable and thoughtful. He is quick to support his teammates and athletes from other teams. He is universally liked and respected by his contemporaries at all of the 16 ISL schools. He has been a terrific role model. In all respects, Garrett is an ideal student athlete.”

O’Toole will attend Princeton University this fall, where he will compete in track and field.
The top high school players from Massachusetts will square off against Connecticut's finest in Middletown, Conn., this weekend for the seventh annual "New England Challenge". Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Executive Secretary/Treasurer Steve Freker passes along more information, including schedule and rosters:



MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -— The top high school baseball players from Massachusetts will face off against their counterparts from Connecticut on Saturday in the Seventh Annual “New England Challenge” Championship games.

The Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association (MBCA) is sending the MBCA Senior State All-Star Team and the Junior State All-Star Team to take on their respective Connecticut High School Coaches Association (CHSCA) opponents in a twin bill at Palmer Field in Middletown, Conn. The MBCA Senior All-Stars play Connecticut at 11:00 a.m. The MBCA Junior State All-Stars will play at 2:00 p.m. In the New England Challenge.

In last year’s New England Challenge, held at Tufts University in Medford, the Connecticut Seniors hung on for a 3-2 win, while the MBCA Junior State All-Stars won, 5-2.

Following are the rosters for the MBCA Senior State All-Star Team and Junior State All-Star Team:

MBCA STATE SENIOR ALL-STAR TEAM

P - Sean O’Neil (Reading), Evan Roberts (St. John’s Prep), P.J. Browne (St. John’s-Shrewsbury), Mike Bomboard (Chicopee Comp)

C - Andrew Noonan (Springfield Cathedral), Scott Manea (St. John’s-Shrewsbury)

INF - Neil O’Connor (Leominster), Jordan Roper (Lynnfield), Peter Clark (Gloucester), John Carlson (Hingham), Michael Young (Pope John Paul II)

OF - Sean McGrath (Peabody), Brent Houle (Westfield),Colby Maiola (No.Reading), Joe Caico (Holy Name), Tyler Wilson (Palmer), Matt Nicholson (Rockland)

COACHES - Rich DiScenza and Mike Kennedy (Westfield)

*****

MBCA STATE JUNIOR ALL-STAR TEAM

P - Bobby Pedersen (Acton-Boxborough), Dan Barlok (St. John’s-Shrewsbury), Ryan Earle (Archbishop Williams), David Longstreeth (Smith Academy), Bobby McNiff (Braintree), Brendan Welch (Oliver Ames)

C - Traverse Briana (Lynnfield), James Sheehan (Oxford)

INF — Chandler Debrosse (New Bedford), Ryan Lever (Leominster), Kevin Donati (Pittsfield), Jamie Carey (Amherst Regional), Matt Santos (Pope John Paul II)

OF — Dan Cacciola (Saugus), Ian Steckel (Malden Catholic), Kieran Pathak (Lincoln-Sudbury), Connor Gavin (East Bridgewater)

COACHES— Justin Richards (Oxford), Rob Kane (Wellesley), Greg Vouros (Amherst Regional)


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Baseball

Central Catholic junior safety Mike Balsamo received his second Division 1 FCS offer, from Wofford College, head coach Chuck Adamopoulos told ESPNBoston.com this afternoon.

The Terriers are the second FCS program this week to offer the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Balsamo, one of the Bay State's top defensive back prospects for the 2015 class. Balsamo was an All-Merrimack Valley Conference selection at defensive back, as the Raiders won the inaugural MIAA Division 1 State Championship, the program's first bowl victory since 1998.

Balsamo visited the Spartanburg, S.C. campus yesterday.

"They loved his film, and indicated it would be worth it to go down there for one day," Adamopoulous said.

Duxbury's Marrocco is ESPN Boston Mr. Lacrosse

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
5:25
PM ET
ESPNBoston.com and their high school section announced today that Nick Marrocco, senior goaltender of the Duxbury Dragons, is the recipient of its fourth annual “Mr. Lacrosse” award, presented annually to the top player in the MIAA.

The Mr. Lacrosse winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff, correspondents and state lacrosse coaches. Marrocco will be presented the award at a later date.

“Nick has arguably been the top goaltender in the state in each of the last two seasons, continuing a long line of All-American goaltenders at Duxbury,” said ESPN Boston High Schools co-editor Scott Barboza, who coordinates the site’s boys’ lacrosse coverage. “Some of the saves Marrocco made during the postseason this year, during the season’s most important games, were worthy of SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays reel. ”

The Georgetown signee becomes the second Duxbury player to win the Mr. Lacrosse award, joining Max Randall (2012).

Marrocco is a two-time Eastern Mass. All-American, repeating the honor in both of his seasons as Duxbury’s starter (2013 and ’14). He also was a finalist for the Mr. Lacrosse award a year ago.

With Marrocco in cage this season, the Division 1 state finalists averaged just 3.26 goals against in 23 games. During five postseason games, Marrocco allowed 16 goals – an average of just more than three goals per game as well.

Marrocco was also a member of the Dragons hockey team, which qualified for the Super 8 tournament in March. He was named a captain of both teams in his senior year.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked and then some in terms of being a player and working hard,” Dragons head coach Chris Sweet said. “But his impact on our program is next to anybody’s, we would’ve gotten as far without him.

“We’ve had some very good goaltenders in my time and it’s tough to rank them, but I’d put him right up there as the best we’ve ever had.”

Dracut's Shepard named Gatorade Player of Year

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
2:56
PM ET
In its 29th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, The Gatorade Company, in collaboration with USA TODAY High School Sports, today announced Karina Shepard of Dracut High School as its 2013-14 Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year. Shepard is the first Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year to be chosen from Dracut High School.

The 5-foot-10 senior middle-distance runner won the 800-meter run with a meet-record time of 2:07.14 at the All-State championships this season. The state’s returning Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Shepard also anchored the fourth-place 4x800-meter relay squad that crossed the line in 9:25.57. At the Division III East championships, Shepard also won the 800 in 2:13.12 and anchored the winning 4x800 in 9:41.85. Her 800 at the All-State meet ranked as the nation’s No. 9 performance among prep competitors in 2014 at the time of her selection.

Shepard has maintained a 4.46 weighted GPA in the classroom. In addition to donating her time as a member of the National Honor Society, she has also volunteered locally on behalf of her church, the BayState Marathon and as a youth track instructor.

“Karina Shepard is perfect for an award like this,” said John Byrnes, head coach of rival Tewksbury High. “To be honest, she’s so good that she can make a 2:07 look boring. I’ve seen her routinely take 800’s out in 61 seconds in the quarter. Well, when she’s in that mode—who cares if it’s a league championship, state class meet or all-states—the race is over.”

Shepard has signed a National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field on scholarship at Stanford University this fall.

Two-time winner Shepard joins Gatorade Massachusetts Girls Track & Field Athletes of the Year Carla Forbes (2011-12, Newton North High School), Nadia Eke (2010 – 11, Holy Name Central Catholic High School), Deanna Latham (2009-10, Triton Regional), Emily Jones (2008–09 & 2007-08,The Bromfield School), and Arantxa King (2006-2007, Medford) among the state’s list of former award winners.

Masco's Mike Manni commits to UMass

June, 19, 2014
Jun 19
1:28
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Masconomet senior catcher Mike Manni has verbally committed to UMass for the 2014-15 baseball season, the Chieftains announced this afternoon on their Twitter account.



Manni becomes the third Chieftain from the 2014 class to commit to UMass, joining righthanders Joe Klingensmith and Will Twiss. With Manni behind the dish, the Chieftains' pitching staff had an ERA of 1.04 -- including a combined 149 strikeouts and 17-1 record by Klingensmith and Twiss -- as they captured their MIAA Division 2 State Championship. For the season, Manni batted a team-high .399 and an OPS of .982, with three home runs and 27 RBI.
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Rivers School lacrosse rising sophomore goaltender Ben Churchill has committed to Princeton, the Top Gun Fighting Clams lacrosse club announced through its Twitter account today.



Churchill becomes the second Class of 2017 member from the Clams to have given a college commitment, joining Dover-Sherborn attack man and Eastern Mass. All-American Bailey Laidman (North Carolina).

North Kingstown (R.I.) softball returns to top of hill

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
2:43
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North Kingstown High softball coach Adam Laliberte had a recent discussion with the school’s athletic director Howie Hague when Hague posed the following question: “How difficult is it for a team to play North Kingstown knowing it’s only going to score half a run?”

Rhode IslandThis difficult: En route to the Skippers’ first Division I championship since 2002 (and the second overall since the school added fast-pitch softball in 1993), North Kingstown pitchers Rachel Kantor and Kiara Oliver combined for a miniscule 0.46 ERA. And of the 24 runs this duo allowed, only 11 were earned.

Laliberte defied conventional wisdom by utilizing two pitchers in every game instead of deciding on one and asking her to hurl a complete game.

“I did something that most teams never do,” said Laliberte. “I threw both of them in every game. Rachel (a junior) pitched the first four innings and Kiara (a freshman) pitched the last three.

“We had two aces so we used them. Having that two-headed monster really paid off.”

The strategy paid off so well that the Skippers pitchers:

* Never allowed more than two runs in game after April 10.

* Combined for two no-hitters, three one-hitters, two three-hitters, and threw 15 shutouts while the Skippers recorded the first undefeated season in school history, 26-0, with the 26 victories obviously being a school record.

* Kantor and Oliver combined on a four-hitter as the Skippers beat Smithfield, 8-2, in the championship game.

Laliberte had reason to be skeptical about his team’s chances entering the season since it graduated three key players from the 2013 squad that lost in the winners’ bracket finals to Coventry. Pitcher Taylor Butler, who earned First Team All-State and First Team All-Division honors, plus First-Team All-Division selections in center fielder Kristina Rodriguez and First Team All-Division second baseman Liz Finell were all gone.

In addition, All-Division third baseman Devan Neary missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing elbow surgery.

“I thought there was a better chance of our winning the state championship than going undefeated,” said Laliberte. “Fortunately, we got better and better as we went along.

“I broke the schedule into quadrants. Our first four league games were against top teams. I was thinking the best case scenario was we start off at 2-2. At the end, I thought we would be 11-5. The top 16 teams make the playoffs and I hoped to grab one of the top six seeds and go from there. I hoped the team would grow and, at the end of the season, we would be playing our best.”

In retrospect, the Skippers made Laliberte look like a prophet.

Another reason for the Skippers’ success was the fact they outscored opponents by a combined margin of 234-24 – including 74-5 in the fourth and fifth innings. And each of the team’s top nine players batted over .300 with five batting over .400.

Kantor was as much of a factor at the plate as she was on the mound.

“Last year Rachel batted eighth in our lineup and was the designated player so she didn’t play in the field,” said Laliberte. “This year she moved from eighth to second in the lineup and hit .490 and stole 20 bases.

“She’s a bulldog. She’s a kid who wants the ball in her hand and the bat in her hand when the game’s on the line.”

Laliberte also freely admitted something else figured in the Skippers’ run to the state championship: luck.

“When you go undefeated there’s no question you have some luck,” he said. “In our first game with La Salle, we were losing 5-0 in the sixth and we scored five runs in the sixth to tie it. Then, Heather Jackson hit a walk-off homer in the seventh to win it.

“On Mother’s Day, against Mount St. Charles, we were trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seven and with two outs we were down to our last strike. We scored nine runs and won 10-2.

“Believe me,” continued Laliberte. “You can’t make this up.”

But Laliberte already can start making plans for next season considering North Kingstown graduates only one player of note: Jackson, a catcher who was voted the Cox Communications Softball Player of the Year, receiving more votes than any other player who garnered First Team All-State honors.

“Losing Jackson is big,” Laliberte said in an understatement. “But we have very capable personnel returning. Obviously another undefeated season is beyond my wildest dreams.

“Next year we’ll have a senior-laden roster. I have to make them realize it will be harder the second time around. If they buy into it, we’re certainly capable of repeating.”

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

Central's Isan Diaz is ESPN Boston Mr. Baseball

June, 18, 2014
Jun 18
12:25
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ESPNBoston.com and its high school section today announce that Isan Diaz, senior shortstop of the Springfield Central High School Golden Eagles, is the recipient of its fourth annual "Mr. Baseball" award, presented to the top overall player in the state of Massachusetts.

The Mr. Baseball Award was chosen by a panel of ESPNBoston.com staff and correspondents. Diaz will be presented with the Mr. Baseball Award at a date to be determined later. He joins Lawrence Academy's Tyler Beede (2011), Lowell's Matt Tulley (2012) and St. John’s Prep’s Brandon Bingel (2013) among recipients in the award's four-year history.

"We are proud and honored to present Isan Diaz with this year’s Mr. Baseball Award," said ESPNBoston.com High Schools Editor Brendan C. Hall, who coordinates the site’s baseball coverage. "Isan was one of several players across the Massachusetts high school baseball landscape who came into the spring with a mound of hype to live up to, and he more than delivered. Anchoring one of the state’s best middle infields, he always put on a show."

The 6-foot, 170-pound Diaz was named to ESPN Boston’s All-State Team a year ago as a junior, and came into this spring hyped as one of New England’s top high school prospects. He delivered again this spring with some impressive defensive plays and strong batting. At the plate, hitting primarily at the top of the Golden Eagles’ order, Diaz registered .492/.625/.898 totals, with four home runs and 14 RBI.

After a tough start to the season, the Eagles got hot in the second half of the regular season, earning the No. 3 overall seed in Division 1 West. Central bowed out in the quarterfinals of the tournament.

"In my time covering high school baseball at ESPN Boston, Isan is the most naturally-gifted defensive player I’ve seen," Hall said. "It was a joy watching him make some of the most difficult plays in the field look so effortless. And considering that, for all of his defensive prowess, his bat is generally considered his most valuable tool, that should tell you a lot about what a special player he is."

Earlier this month, Diaz was selected 70th overall, a Competitive Balance Round B pick, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was the first of seven high school players in Massachusetts to be taken in the draft, the most in a single draft since 2003, and was the highest selection for a Massachusetts high school player since Beede went 21st overall to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011.

After initially committing to Vanderbilt University last fall, Diaz instead has spurned his pledge to the Commodores, and signed a professional contract with the Diamondbacks reportedly worth $750,000. He is the first Mr. Baseball winner to sign out of high school.

South Hadley's Fitzell takes MVP in All-American game

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
2:35
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BOSTON – Two days after the best teams in the state took to Boston University’s Nickerson Field, the best individuals took to the same field in the second annual Bostonlax.net All-American game.

Behind T.J. Fitzell’s (South Hadley) MVP performance (two goals, assist) and four goals a piece from Hunter Arnold (Acton-Boxborough) and Jay Drapeau (Westford Academy), Team Under Armour shook off the early rust and cruised to a 20-14 win over Team Cascade.

But when the final horn sounded, it wasn’t about the final score or the individual performances, but rather soaking in the environment and partaking in a great cause.

All proceeds generated from admission were donated to the Wounded Warrior project.

“It’s for a great cause, it was a great thing to be a apart of and it was at a great venue like BU,” Fitzell said. “To be able to come out and perform it’s quite exciting.”

“It’s a lot of fun, I met a lot of guys, I only knew three or four guys coming down here so I met a lot of guys from the area that have been playing lacrosse so it was a good time, I had a lot of fun.”

Team Cascade jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first quarter behind a pair of goals from James Burr (Middlesex) to go along with tallies from Danny Seibel (Belmont Hill) and Needham’s Mike Panepinto.

With 31 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, Kevin Bletzer (Catholic Memorial) scored the second Team Under Armour goal that was the front end of a 7-0 run, keeping Team Cascade off the scoreboard for nearly 12 minutes.

Bridgewater-Raynham’s Travis Reid scored back-to-back goals to end the drought and Team Cascade went into the half trailing by three.

Team Cascade cut the lead down to one with a 3-0 run on goals from Morgan Cheek (Nobles), Seibel and Panepinto but pulled away throughout the second half, and igniting an all-star game feel.

With time winding down, Drapeau scored the goal of the night going behind the back to beat Tyler Blaisdell (Thayer Academy) over his right shoulder for the score.

Arnold’s monster weekend: Hunter Arnold was one of three members of the Div. 1 Champion Acton-Boxborough Div. 1 championship team that took to the field Monday night, joining LSM Austin Wolf (Team Under Armour) and midfielder J.T. Kelly.

Arnold scored a goal in the Colonials’ 5-4 double overtime win over Duxbury and went off for another four goals Monday night on the same field.

“Overall the weekend was awesome,” Arnold recalled. “First the state championship game, there is nothing better, nothing better than beating Duxbury. Double-overtime and then today it was fun a lot of great guys out here.”

Arnold wasn’t the only one who took to the Nickerson Field again, as did Division 2 champion Medfield’s John MacLean, Brian Bissell, Blake Frasca, Matt Crowell and goalie Robert Treiber and Division 3 champion Cohasset’s LSM Tim Gillis.

Jelling together: It was the first time that many of these players had met, let alone played on the same team together. Before the game the players got a 20-minute warm-up to find their rhythm.

It didn’t take Team Cascade long to find their offensive stroke scoring four of the first five goals.

“We gelled together pretty quick after passing and catching drills we all came together,” B-R’s Reid said.

It took Team Under Armour a little longer to figure it out, but once they did, they were too much to handle.

“Well we were a little sloppy on offense so we slowed it down a little but got better shots and pumped in some goals,” Fitzell said.

Arnold added: “It was pretty easy to get along with these guys out here everyone knows how to play. We all know how to move the ball well, it was just a bit rusty to begin.”

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