Boston High School: Dennis Baker

D2 EMass: Bellingham 3, Tewksbury 2

June, 12, 2014
Jun 12
12:04
AM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. – Gutsy.

That would be the applicable adjective to use when describing the performance of Bellingham’s Megan Cook on Wednesday night as the Blackhawks rallied for a 3-2 victory over Tewksbury in a Division 2 State semifinal softball game. Cook, who stepped on the field with an 18-1 record plus a 0.47 ERA, allowed two runs on six hits and one walk in addition to hitting two batters.

“She didn’t have her best game she’ll tell you she didn’t,” Bellingham coach Dennis Baker said. “But it was just good enough. She was gutsy. She never quits. They hit her hard in the first and second innings. But that doesn’t make a pitcher. How are you going to respond to that?

“She never lost her confidence. She bounced back and threw the last few innings like she’s capable of doing. But even if she doesn’t have her good stuff, she’s going to keep us in the game. From the beginning of the season we preach defense, pitching and timely hitting. That’s what we work on all the time.”

Tough in the clutch: The way Cook pitched the last five innings was indicative of how she reached down for something extra after the North champion Redmen (18-6) grabbed a 2-0 lead after two innings. Cook retired 16 of the last 19 batters she faced and didn’t allow a runner to advance past first base during the last five innings.

“I just had to buckle down,” Cook said. “We were down 2-0 and I needed a little ‘Get the job done.’

“We got two runs and then we got that third one and then it was time to put it away.”

As a result, the South champion Blackhawks (24-1 – the 24 victories are a school record) will make their first-ever trip to the state finals on Saturday at Worcester State against undefeated Grafton (24-0).

Positive attitude: Despite the fact Tewksbury had the early lead and Bellingham stranded four runners over the first two innings, the Blackhawks maintained their poise instead of wilting.

“The tone was definitely all for our teammates succeeding,” said Rachel Kuhlman, whose fifth-inning single snapped a 2-2 tie and plated what proved to be the winning run. “It was really positive. It was like ‘Find a way … find a way to get a run.’

“Everyone was cheering for each other.”

The fact Cook and Kuhlman have been battery mates for four years also factored in Bellingham’s victory.

“I’ve been very fortunate to have had those two for four years,” Baker said. “They coach themselves. They go over strategy with each other. They’re almost attached at the hip.

“I know Rachael’s going to call a good game.”

Tewksbury scored both of its runs in the second. Teagan Trant doubled with one out and sped to third on Anna Sessa’s bloop single with Sessa taking second on the throw to third. Kayla VonKahle followed by lining a two-run single just inside first base.

After Kirsten Dick forced VonKahle at second and Brooke Hardy was hit by a pitch, Dick tried to score from second on Marissa Doherty’s single to center. But Julianne Kilduff fired a strike to Kuhlman who tagged Dick for what, in retrospect, proved to be a key out.

Bellingham finally got to Shannon McLaughlin for a pair of runs in the fourth. Cook and Chloe Woodward led with singles and advanced when Kayse Baker grounded out to first.

Cook scored when pinch-hitter Julia Caddell beat out an infield hit and Woodward raced home on a wild pitch.

Then, in the fifth, Meghan Cook (no relation to the pitcher) drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on Taylor MacGowan’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Kuhlman’s single.

“We needed Cook to do what she did to get one more game,” Baker said. “We’re playing a 20-0 team in Grafton that’s won the state championship two years in a row. But it’s going to be a great game.

“I’m very proud of these girls. They play hard and they don’t quit.”

D2 South final: Bellingham 1, Case 0

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
12:21
AM ET


TAUNTON, Mass. - It was a perfect throw by Case right fielder Ellie Roberts and catcher Jenna Santerre was sitting at the plate waiting for the Bellingham runner. Megan Cook was several steps away from the plate when the ball arrived, but when she slid in the umpire took a beat and called her safe.

“I was just going hard, going hard,” said the Bellingham senior. “I don’t know. I saw that she had it and I was thinking hook slide and I just slid hard, ran hard, and he called me safe. Maybe I got under it, but he called me safe so I’m going to take it.”

Case coach Don DiBiasio could not explain how the call was made when his catcher did not appear to drop the ball.

“I honestly don’t know what he did,” said DiBiasio. “He looked for the ball, she had the ball, and he called her safe. I don’t understand the call. I feel bad for the kids because I feel that they got robbed. That was a great, great game between both teams and who knows.”

Not only did Cook score the winning run on Monday night at Jack Tripp Field, but she also made it stand up by striking out seven and retiring the final 11 hitters that she faced in order to lead Bellingham to a 1-0 win and its first Division 2 South sectional title since 2010.

“I can’t tell you anything about whether she was safe or out, I wasn’t even watching,” said Bellingham coach Dennis Baker. “Once that happened, Megan stepped up again like she has all season.”

He added, “After she scored that run, coach and I looked at each other and said that it’s over.”

Case came out swinging against the Tri-Valley League MVP, who tossed a no-hitter against Dighton-Rehoboth on Sunday in the semifinal, and had two hits in the top of the first. The Cardinals had two runners in scoring position with one out in the first, two runners on in the second, and runners on in the third and fourth innings but failed to get a run home.

That was a missed opportunity, as Cook would find a groove and the Hawks made the plays behind her to keep Case off the base paths for the final three innings.

“They showed up to the game ready to swing and hack the ball,” said Cook. “They’re aggressive. They’re a good team and they deserve to be here.”

DiBiasio said, “[Cook] settled in and we kept hitting the ball the whole game it was just a matter of they didn’t fall in. We stroked the ball well; it was just unfortunate that they didn’t drop.”

In the bottom of the fifth, Cook smacked a one-out double to right center that could have been a triple but for a great throw by Roberts from the warning track. After a strikeout, freshman Kayse Baker hit a single to right field that Roberts charged and came up throwing to the plate.

Baker admitted that he took a chance sending Cook in that situation but felt that it may be the only chance that Bellingham got.

“She probably has the best arm that I’ve seen in this tournament, but it’s just one of those things -- you’re hoping for something to happen,” he said. “We weren’t hitting the ball; they weren’t hitting the ball. It was one of those instincts and we said all along on a base hit to the outfield we’re going to send her.”

Regardless of the controversy on the play at the plate, Baker praised his freshman right fielder for coming through with the game-winning RBI.

He said, “We needed somebody to get on base and some different chemistry in our lineup. She stepped up big. She doesn’t get rattled at all…and that’s big hit.”

Case made the jump from D3 to D2 this season and continued its annual trip to the sectional finals. Despite the defeat, DiBiasio was proud of the way his team battled and expects the Cardinals will be a tough out again next season.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “The kids showed that they can play with these schools and it’s awesome -- really awesome.”

Cook had similar feelings about making it to the state semifinal game on Wednesday night, again at Jack Tripp Field, to face North sectional champion Tewksbury.

“It feels good; you’ve just got to put it all out there,” she said. “I’m just going to be ready, whenever the game is I’m just going to be ready.”

D2 South: Bellingham 5, D-R 0

June, 9, 2014
Jun 9
1:24
AM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. – There’s no looking back for Megan Cook, this is it.

The Bellingham softball senior pitcher had an upsetting junior year, when she was limited to just five starts on the season due to injury. Entering Sunday’s Division 2 South semifinal, Cook had a chance to lead the Blackhawks to a sectional final for the first time she was along for the ride as an eighth-grader with the squad.

“It’s my last year, I’m going to put it all out on the field,” Cook said.

Cook didn’t have much to leave after spinning a no-hitter against Dighton-Rehoboth in a 5-0 win. She sweated out the finish, walking the bases loaded in the seventh, but spared just enough, reaching back for her seventh strikeout of the game to finish off the Falcons.

“She’s pitching with a lot of confidence now,” Blackhawks coach Dennis Baker said. “I didn’t even know until late in the game that she had a no-hitter going. She was focused on one pitch at a time. But we played great team defense again today and we had timely hitting.”

Engaged in a scoreless game through three-and-a-half, Cook jumpstarted Bellingham’s offense as well. She scored the first run of the game after a one-out double after a wild pitch.

Cook was in control from the beginning in the circle. The Falcons (18-6) only hit five balls out of the infield in their 21 outs.

“Everything was pretty good, my changeup was really effective, just going off speed, catching them off guard,” Cook said.

The Blackhawks (23-1) also got production from the bottom third of its order, with the No. 9 spot accounting for four RBI. Chloe Woodward scored the Blackhawks’ second run of the fourth on a sacrifice fly from pinch hitter Julia Caddell.

They also got a three-run home run in the sixth from sophomore outfielder Elaina Chambers, who reentered the game to hit ninth.

“It’s nice because 7-8-9 are putting the bat on the ball and the top of the order is doing what they should right now,” Baker said. “We have a lot of confidence, but I tell you, we were watching Case earlier today and they’re going to be as tough a team as we’ve played this year.”

Bellingham advances to play those Cardinals back at Jack Tripp Field in the sectional final, Monday night at 7 p.m.

TVL softball All-Stars announced

June, 4, 2013
6/04/13
9:01
AM ET


The Tri-Valley League recently announced its softball All-Star teams.

Here's a look at the list, as provided by Hopkinton athletic director Eric Karjel:

Editor's note: League all-star lists may be sent to editors Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com) or Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com).

Coach of the Year - Dennis Baker Jr., Hopkinton

MVP - Alissa Karjel P/SS Hopkinton - Sophomore

TVL 1st team all-stars:


Kaycee Babineau, Sr. CF, Medway

Jackie Dunne, Jr. CF, Norton

Ilyza Holman, Sr. SS, Ashland

Alissa Karjel, Soph. P/SS, Hopkinton

Lauren Keast, Sr. SS, Holliston

Rachel Kuhlman, Jr. C, Bellingham

Lindy Kyger, Sr. 1B, Holliston

Erica McBride, Jr. C, Hopkinton

Jess Pieterson, Jr. P, Norton

Nicole Reed, Sr. SS, Bellingham

G.G. Ricciardi, Sr. P/OF, Bellingham

Dannielle Vaclavik, Jr. C, Medfield

Recap: No. 10 King Philip 6, No. 16 Hopkinton 0

May, 23, 2013
5/23/13
9:23
PM ET
HOPKINTON, Mass. -- On paper, it was a marquee match-up. It was a meeting of the champions of the Hockomock League’s Kelley-Rex division and the Tri-Valley League, as well as two teams in the Top 25 in the state.

But, on the field, the game was more about two teams closing out busy weeks and long regular seasons with all eyes on potentially deep postseason runs. In the end, King Philip (16-4) had just a little more gas in the tank and a little more depth.

The No. 10 Warriors cruised to a 6-0 victory on the road at No. 16 Hopkinton (17-3) behind six innings of relief from freshman pitcher Kali Magane. The Warriors No. 3 starter struck out eight Hillers while giving up only two hits. At the plate, she also added a pair of hits and drove in a run.

“She hasn’t been on the mound in three or four weeks so to come in and perform that way goes to show you how tough she is. She’s got a lot of good years ahead of her,” Warriors head coach Norm Beauchemin said.

Magane entered the game in the second inning after starter Anna O’Neill, who has been KP’s ace all season, complained of tightness in her arm. This was O’Neill’s third start of the week and second in as many days (an eight-inning loss to Taunton on Monday and 3-1 win over Coyle on Wednesday) and Beauchemin did not want to take any chances with his top pitcher with the tournament looming.

He remarked with a chuckle, “Anna was a little sore from last night’s game. She pitched Monday and she pitched yesterday and said she had a little stiffness. So, with playoffs coming, we can’t ruin our horse.”

Magane struck out the side in the second inning and the Warriors offense responded in the top of the third.

Lead-off hitter Bre Shaffer began the inning with a walk and shortstop Ashley Hession reached on an error by catcher Erica McBride. With runners at second and third, senior Tori Constantin lined an RBI single to left. Sophomore first baseman Renee Poirier followed with the game’s big hit – a three-run homer that was crushed to right center.

Beauchemin marveled, “She’s been killing the ball all year. She probably has the most extra-base hits for us. She’s a great hitter.”

He added with a laugh, “She struck out for probably the fourth time all season tonight. So, she’s probably more upset about that than happy about the homerun.”

Prior to the game, Hopkinton head coach Dennis Baker Jr. admitted that he was struggling to put together the line-up because of injuries and the fact that the Hillers were playing their fourth game of the week. Hopkinton clinched the TVL title on Wednesday night with a win over Westwood (in conjunction with Bellingham’s win over Norton) and Baker gave a rest to several of his starters.

King Philip essentially put the game away in the top of the fourth when Hession doubled home Shaffer and was then brought home by a Magane single. Hannah Engstrom ended the inning with a perfect throw to the plate to nail Constantin trying to score from second. The Warriors took advantage of the 6-0 lead to use some of the substitutes that have not seen playing time in recent weeks.

It was a comfortable road win over a tough opponent for King Philip but, for both the Warriors and the Hillers, all eyes are on next week and the start of state tournament play.

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