Boston High School: Jackie Del Bonis

D1 South softball: Taunton 2, North 0

June, 1, 2013
6/01/13
12:25
AM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. – When two teams are evenly matched, it is one bad hop, one mistake or one bloop hit that can decide the outcome of the game.

Taunton took advantage of each of those on Friday night for a 2-0 win against North Attleborough in a Division 1 South first round game.

In a scoreless game in the bottom of the sixth inning, Kailey March’s grounder took a bad hop off the chest of North second baseman Marissa Gifford and the leadoff hitter hustled for an infield single. The next batter, freshman Meg Navarro, tried to sacrifice, but third baseman Daylin Rhilinger could not field it cleanly. Navarro’s sister Mackenzie followed with another sac bunt, which moved both runners into scoring position.

Rocketeers pitcher Meg Colleran induced a weak liner from freshman clean-up hitter Jordan Wade and walked the catcher Alicia Pavadore, who had a base hit off Colleran in the second inning, to load the bases. Up stepped senior Katelin Morrissey and she dropped the first pitch just in between the shortstop and the left fielder to bring home the only two runs of the game.

Taunton head coach Dave Lewry noted that in a pressure situation like that, he was grateful to see one of his more experienced players at the plate.

“She’s gotten her swing back the last week or two,” he explained. “She’s been a three-year starter for us. You hope to see your senior up in that situation because you know that they’ve been there before.”

Following the game, North Attleborough head coach Bill Wallace could only shake his head at the struggles that his team has had at Taunton’s field in the past few years, including a loss to the Tigers (17-6) earlier this season.

“This is our house of horrors, I think we’re 0-6 here in the last three years,” he reflected.

Wallace continued, “In a game like this, in a game where both pitchers are dealing, it’s going to take a bloop here or a lucky bounce there and she couldn’t have thrown it in a better place. That was the Bermuda Triangle.”

Lewry admitted that he said just that to Wallace when they shook hands at home plate following the game. He remarked, “Like I told Bill afterwards, you knew there was going to be a mistake and then there was going to be a bloop hit. Fortunately, it happened for us and we were able to pull it out.”

The game finished in barely over an hour, mostly due to the strength of the two pitchers that stepped into the circle.

Jesse Aleixo did not allow a base runner for 3 1/3 innings before a swinging bunt single by Rose Mooney, who was thrown out stealing second two pitches later. Following the hit, Aleixo retired the final 10 North Attleborough batters that she faced.

“Jesse is our key obviously,” Lewry said about the junior hurler. “Meg Colleran is a tremendous pitcher but Jesse can hang with her and keeps us in the game.”

Aleixo was modest about her pitching performance and passed much of the credit on to her batterymate.

“Honestly, my catcher Alicia [Pavadore] calls all of the pitches and she’s so good,” Aleixo said. “She just called the right pitches and they worked every time.”

Colleran was also solid. She gave up only five hits (only two of which were hit hard) and struck out four batters. Aleixo finished with five strikeouts but, unusually for a top-level softball game, neither pitcher recorded a strikeout after the third inning. Both defenses came up with big plays.

Gifford, in particular, came up big for North. The second baseman made a sliding stop to rob Pavadore of a hit to end the fourth and started the fifth with a leaping grab of a soft liner by Morrissey. The middle of the Rocketeers order tried to get something going in the fifth, but Meg Wynn lined out hard to center and right fielder Lauren Mitsairis made a sliding grab on a sinking liner by Jackie Del Bonis.

When the brackets were released, the groans of disappointment could be heard from both North Attleborough (14-7) and Taunton, as the two league rivals were hoping to avoid each other until later in the tournament. This was the third meeting between the Hockomock League sides this season and they have combined for 25 innings and a cumulative score of 4-2 in those three games.

Lewry commented, “We’d played 18 innings against them already this season and we each scored two runs. I don’t think that you’ll find two teams more evenly matched. Neither one of us were thrilled when we saw the match-up in the first round.”

Wallace echoed those sentiments, “They’re a very good team and I’m sure he looked at the draw and said, ‘Oh no,’ just like we did.”

Taunton now awaits the winner of top seeded Bridgewater-Raynham and No. 16 seed Dighton-Rehoboth.

The Tigers are on a roll, having won 14 of the last 16 games that they have played (since a 3-4 start) and Aleixo believes that Taunton can compete with any team in the sectional.

“We have a lot of confidence,” she said. “We still have to play really tough and stay really focused, but I think we can beat anyone that we play.”

Recap: No. 12 North Attleborough 1, No. 1 Milford 0 (10 inn.)

April, 30, 2013
4/30/13
2:04
AM ET


MILFORD, Mass. – The gloves flying through the air and the mass celebration at home plate after the final out was made, confirmed what everyone outside the foul lines already knew – this was more than just a standard regular season Hockomock League game.

“That probably, in my career, is the team’s best regular season win. Did that ooze tournament atmosphere or what?” asked an excited North Attleborough head coach Bill Wallace after the final pitch.

North Attleborough (7-2) pushed home one run in the top of the 10th inning, only the second run allowed by Milford (10-1) in 11 games this season, and the Rocketeers threw out runners at the plate twice in extra innings to pull off a 1-0 upset over the defending Division 1 state champions. The Rocketeers’ victory ended the Scarlet Hawks win streak at 35 games going back to 2011.

“It was just a great game,” said Wallace. “That kid [Shannon Smith] is a darn good pitcher over there, but luckily I have a darn good pitcher over here too.”

With the game scoreless heading into extra innings, the International Tiebreak Rule was used, which begins the inning with a runner on second. It was the first time that either team had managed to get a runner past first base.

In the top of the tenth, Colleran dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Marissa Gifford to third. Senior catcher Meghan Wynn then smacked a grounder on a 1-2 pitch that third baseman Caroline Fairbanks knocked down with a diving stop, but Fairbanks was not able to get the throw home in time to prevent Gifford, who was running on contact, from scoring.

“I knew that in order to pull out the win that I had to be smart and make contact,” said Wynn about the last at-bat with the go-ahead run just 60 feet from home. “I know that she’s going to pitch smart and not give me anything to hit. I just have to watch the ball all the way to the bat.”

Milford had the heart of the order coming up in the bottom of the tenth and Smith, Milford’s University of Kentucky-bound senior, drew a walk to put the winning run on base with no outs. Fairbanks followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. On the next pitch, Rachel Levine hit a hard grounder off Colleran’s glove to shortstop Jill Costello, who bobbled the ball but was still able to throw out Sam Bonvino at the plate.

Colleran, who seemed especially fired up for this game, then struck out Taylor LeBrun to close out the victory and set off the celebrations at home plate.

“It feels great; I’m so excited right now,” said Colleran, who struck out eight while allowing only two hits. “They’re a really great team, so I just knew that I had to move the ball around and fool them because I know that every kid on that team can put it over the fence.”

The game had a playoff atmosphere from the first pitch and the Hawks starter was her usual dominant self. Smith, who recorded her 1,000th career strikeout last week, started the game by striking out two batters in three of the first four innings. She finished with 17 for the game and allowed only one hit in the defeat.

After 35 consecutive wins, Milford head coach Brian Macchi was philosophical about the team’s first loss since the 2011 state semifinal against Amherst and its first loss as a Hockomock League team.

“It was two great teams going at it and in my opinion the two best pitchers and it showed. Shannon pitched great, Meg pitched great and it was fun to be a part of,” Macchi said.

He continued, “It’s been a while since we’ve lost a game and come back to work the next day. For me as a coach, you lose to a caliber team like North, we can learn from this and come back tomorrow and go to work. It’s definitely a learning experience for us and we’ll turn this into a positive.”

While Colleran was excellent in the circle, North also made several plays to get out of potential scoring situations. After a single by Smith in the first inning, North first baseman Jackie Del Bonis snared a line drive by Fairbanks to end the inning. In the bottom of the sixth Costello picked a hard grounder by Bonvino to prevent the heart of the order from coming up. In the bottom of the eighth, second baseman Gifford made a perfect throw home to prevent the winning run from scoring.

Following North’s shocking loss to Attleboro last Thursday, Wallace was thrilled to see his team bounce back with a total team effort and to pull the biggest upset of the softball season.

“Wins and losses in April aren’t as important as wins and losses in June, but from a team standpoint, I think now they believe, you know what, we’re with the Milfords and the [King Philips],” said Wallace.

“We were all really bummed out,” said Colleran about the team’s attitude after the loss to the Bombardiers. “I think this is huge, especially a game when we think we are underdogs. It could kick start us and boost us through the rest of the season.”

Macchi was thrilled about the playoff atmosphere surrounding the game and noted that Division 1 South is going to be a stacked sectional from top to bottom. He is hoping that this loss will add motivation for the Hawks to keep improving.

“Today was a great test and something that we can build on,” Macchi explained. “I am looking forward to practice tomorrow with these girls and seeing how hungry they are.”

Recap: No. 5 King Philip 6, No. 4 North Attleborough 1

April, 18, 2013
4/18/13
3:51
PM ET
NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH, Mass. – Heading into the match-up between North Attleborough and King Philip, there was some talk that this might finally be the year that the Rocketeers take the Hockomock League title from the Warriors. Following Wednesday afternoon’s game, it is clear that there is still some work to be done to catch KP.

The Warriors scored four runs in the first three innings and got an impressive pitching performance from senior Anna O’Neill (nine strikeouts) to beat North 6-1 and take an early first step towards another Kelley-Rex division title.

“Obviously, that’s a good team and anytime you play a good team, you want to come out on top,” said King Philip’s first-year head coach Norm Beauchemin. “It was an important game for us because you want to be on top of the league. You don’t want to be chasing someone; you want them to be chasing you.”

The Warriors took the lead on the first batter of the second inning. O’Neill, who drove in a pair of runs in addition to her dominating work in the circle, crushed a 2-2 pitch deep over the fence in straightaway center.

KP broke the game open in the very next inning.

Clean-up hitter Renee Poirier plated Breanna Shaffer with an infield single to make it 2-0. O’Neill followed that with a sacrifice fly on a hard hit line drive to right that brought home Tori Constantin. Casey Hutnyan followed with a single to right that brought home Poirier to make it 4-0.

It was a big inning for the Warriors, but the hardest hit ball off Rocketeers starter Meg Colleran was the line drive out by O’Neill. After the inning ended, North Attleborough head coach Bill Wallace brought his team together and told them that reaching the next level means making those types of plays.

Four runs was enough for O’Neill, who allowed only three base runners (two of them on walks) through the first five innings. Although North started to have better at bats in the later innings, Beauchemin was nonchalant about the effort of his senior.

He explained, “Anna was on. She threw the ball well. If they put the ball in play, hopefully we make the plays.”

The Warriors added a pair of runs with two outs in the sixth inning. Shannon Jones lined a base hit to right that tipped off the webbing of North first baseman Allison Paquin’s glove. That was followed by a triple down the leftfield line by pinch-hitter Christa Wagner. Wagner scored on a single by Shaffer to make it 6-0.

With six runs against North, KP has scored 30 runs in the three wins that followed its shutout loss to Milford. Beauchemin credited the Warriors’ success to a more disciplined approach at the plate.

“We were undisciplined that day and the girls know it,” he remarked. “These girls swing the bat well. They actually like to see pitchers like this, top pitchers; it makes for a more interesting game. Everybody’s level of play goes up.”

North got on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Leadoff hitter Rose Mooney beat out a grounder to third and two batters later advanced to third on a single by Colleran. She came home to score on a grounder up the middle by catcher Meghan Wynn that was bobbled by KP shortstop Ashley Hession but right to Constantin to get the force at second.

Despite the loss, Wallace was proud of how his team battled. North were without middle of the order hitter Jackie Del Bonis, who injured her ankle playing field hockey, and played freshman Mycala Moody at third base for the first time. Also, Colleran made the start despite battling illness.

“We probably had seven or eight 3-2 counts, Marissa Gifford had an 11 or 12-pitch at-bat her first time up, so I thought that was good today,” Wallace remarked. “Those are two of the best pitchers in the league and I thought both teams did a good job with their plate approach.”

He added, “Just a lot of stuff fell in today. Tip your hat to them and move on.”

Both teams step outside the Hockomock League in their next games. King Philip will host Shrewsbury on Friday, while North Attleborough travels to Durfee on Saturday.

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