Round-trippers that clear the fence at Campbell High are a rarity. They're so rare, in fact, that nobody associated with the Litchfield school's softball program remembers a single batter going yard.
Correction: Nobody remembers a single batter going yard before May 13.
That's when sophomore designated hitter Chelsea Caynon slugged her way to a career-defining contest. Her 3-for-4 day at the dish included three towering home runs tagged in consecutive at-bats.
“I kind of thought all of them were lucky because nobody has done it before,” Caynon of her Friday the 13th fireworks, the last of which was a walk-off that clinched a 13-1 Division III mercy win over Alton's Prospect Mountain High.
Caynon said she was mobbed by teammates after circling the bases for the third time. Her last blast, in the fifth inning, capped Campbell's 13-run outburst over three frames.
Campbell's No. 3 hitter connected in the third, fourth and fifth innings and knocked in five runs. The lasers all landed in the same spot, well beyond the left-field fence stationed 250 feet from home plate.
Coach Laurie Gatherum, in her sixth year at the helm, estimated the shots sailed 260 feet.
“When Chelsea comes up to bat, I get as far away from the third-base box as I can. She's come close to killing me. She's a dead-pull hitter,” Gatherum said. “I get as close to the out-of-play line as possible.
“I almost want to warn the third baseman to back up. If she gets a piece of the ball, it's going.”
Caynon's powerful performance actually carried into her next game. She went 1-for-3 with a homer against Hopkinton High, giving her four taters in a span of seven at-bats.
But Caynon isn't a stereotypical all-or-nothing power hitter. She closed the regular season with one strikeout in 64 plate appearances.
She also posted a .500 average (28-for-56) with eight walks, five home runs, one triple, 10 doubles, 25 runs scored and 32 RBI. Her production helped the Cougars clinch first place with a 15-1 record.
“I would say she is the best hitter that the program has ever had, as far as consistency and power,” Gatherum said.
That's saying something. Caynon is, after all, just a sophomore.
“I wasn't really trying to hit three in row,” she said. “I was just waiting for my pitch.”
500 WINS – TIMES TWO
On consecutive days, two longtime coaches entered the 500 wins club.
Salem High softball coach Harold Sachs celebrated the milestone win on May 24. Bob Burns, the baseball coach at Conway's Kennett High, hit the magic mark on May 25.
“The 500 wins is an endurance award,” Burns, Kennett's coach since 1971, told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “I've been at this a long time because I enjoy working with the players.”
Salem defeated Dover in Division I action, 9-2. Current and former players donned special “500” T-shirts and raised a banner to recognized Sachs, whose career mark over 26 seasons improved to 500-68 with the win. Fourteen of those wins earned the Blue Devils state titles.
Kennett needed extra innings to clinch the big win for Burns. Alex Milford delivered a two-run walk-off single that earned the Eagles an 8-7 Division II win against St. Thomas Aquinas High of Dover.
Portsmouth High's baseball team set a national record for consecutive wins on May 19. The Clippers won their record-setting 76th straight Division II contest with a 10-2 triumph at Pembroke Academy.
Clippers coach Tim Hopley said 37 players over the life of the win streak, which started with the 2008 season-opener and now stands at 79 games entering postseason play, contributed to the record run.
The group, in alphabetical order by graduating class, includes:
Class of 2008 – Ben Hart, John Haslam, Keegan Pafford, Tim Welch
Class of 2009 – Kevin Bergeron, Peter Bergeron, Kyle Bowser, Steve Brouillette, Mike Fransoso, Gabe May, Chris Sawyer, Andrew Watt
Class of 2010 – TJ Berky, Justin Dorow, Max Esposito, Jack Gonsalves, Nate Jones, Nick Leishear, Ryan McGreevy, Mike Montville, Rob Welch
Class of 2011 – Tate Hartmann, Matt Main, Quinn McCann, Aidan O'Leary, Keegan Taylor
Class of 2012 – Cam Berube, Kyle DiCesare, John Graham, Billy Hartmann, Matt Feeney, Connor McCauley, Evan Pugliese, Conor Trefethen
Class of 2013 – Dillon Crosby, Rick Holt
Class of 2014 – Jack Young
LONG TIME COMING
Considered the gold standard in Granite State boys' lacrosse, nine-time Division I champion Pinkerton Academy has spent the last five seasons chasing another New Hampshire powerhouse.
The rival program is defending champion Bishop Guertin High of Nashua. BG has appeared in six consecutive state finals – winning three of them – since 2005. In that span, Guertin's title total is three times Pinkerton's crown count.
That background places in its proper context the magnitude of Pinkerton's tremendous 8-7 comeback win over BG on May 16 at Memorial Field in Derry.
Guertin entered the spring's most anticipated non-playoff game riding a 48-game regular-season win streak against in-state opponents. The run started with the season-opener in 2008.
Guertin also entered the game riding a six-game win streak against Pinkerton, tagged in the preseason as the title favorite. The Astros last topped the Cardinals in the 2006 championship game when Steven Boyle – widely recognized as the most talented lacrosse player to emerge from New Hampshire – was a senior. (The star attackman went on to appear in consecutive NCAA title games at Johns Hopkins University, winning a championship ring as a freshman.)
In the May 16 matchup, Pinkerton ended its drought against Guertin by twice erasing a three-goal deficit. The Astros fell behind, 3-0, in the opening 3 minutes, 27 seconds courtesy of Guertin's Brody Smith, Matt Thistle and Erik Kelly.
Casey Burnett scored the second half's first goal. It pushed Pinkerton into a 6-3 hole.
But the Astros didn't quit. Tom Auger, Ryan Coombs and Jeff Auger sparked a three-goal barrage over the final 4:27 of the third quarter to pull Pinkerton even.
The showdown came down to the final frame.
Burnett struck first from the doorstep. BG regained the lead, 7-6.
It wasn't until 88 seconds remained that Pinkerton knotted the contest. Kyle Hanaway's mid-range marker did the job. Coombs won the critical ensuing faceoff and Conor McCarthy connected with 59 ticks left on the clock.
Guertin's last gasp on offense ended with the ball hitting the turf. Defenseman Zach Tulley scooped the ground ball and drained the clock.
Game over. So, too, were Pinkerton's struggles against Guertin.
The opening 7-plus minutes belonged to Londonderry High. The remainder of the May 22 interstate girls' lacrosse matchup went to Andover (Mass.) High.
Andover, as a result, posted a 12-9 win. It ended Londonderry's 51-game streak of consecutive victories. The state-record run started with a win in the fourth game of the 2009 season.
Freshman midfielder Alexa Bedell (three goals, assist) scored Londonderry's first and second goals on free-position shots. Each tally briefly gave the visiting Lancers a one-goal lead.
But a four-goal response after Bedell's second score gave the Golden Warriors a lead they didn't relinquish.
Lancers Jenny Thompson (three goals), Leah Walter (two goals), Caitlyn Murphy (goal) and Kelsey Derhak (assist) also cracked the scoring column. Goalkeeper Crystalle Parent made nine saves.
GRANITE STATE GREATS
– Goffstown High catcher Brittany Neuman drove home five runs with two swings on May 13. The key connection was a sixth-inning grand slam that fueled her team's 9-0 Division II win over North Sutton's Kearsarge Regional.
– Campbell High pitcher Julia Nolan recorded her 500th career strikeout in a 12-2 win over Hopkinton High on May 16. The senior went 14-1 in the regular season.
– Attacker Charlotte Walters scored a game-high nine goals to pace Manchester's Derryfield School, a 20-12 winner over Penacook's Merrimack Valley High in Division III girls' lacrosse on May 19.
– Goffstown pitcher Ryan Smith fanned 12 batters in a complete-game effort on May 19. It helped the Grizzlies record a 5-2 Division II baseball win over Hollis/Brookline High at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
– Manchester Memorial High's Tyler Charles celebrated three first-place finishes in the May 20 Manchester city cross country championships at Livingston Park, wins that helped the boys' team repeat. He was named Male Athlete of the Meet for winning the triple jump (39 feet, 1.5 inches), 300-meter hurdles (42.96 seconds) and contributing to a triumph in the 4x100-meter relay (44.99).
– Manchester Central High's Meggie Donovan also celebrated three first-place finishes in the Manchester city cross country championships as the girls' team also defended its title. She was named Female Athlete of the Meet for winning the 100-meter dash (13.02), 200-meter dash (26.25) and anchoring the 4x400-meter relay (4:20.97).
– Concord defender Seneth Waterman, used on attack in double-overtime on May 24, scored a sudden-victory goal to clinch a 5-4 Division I girls' lacrosse win over Pinkerton.
Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read his blog, "New Hampshire GameDay" and follow him on Twitter @marc_thaler.