Boston High School: Kelsey Derhak
May, 28, 2011
By Marc Thaler | ESPNBoston.com
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.”
May, 23, 2011
By Marc Thaler | ESPNBoston.com
ANDOVER, Mass. – The double-digit win streak is still intact.
Andover High's double-digit win streak, that is.
The Golden Warriors celebrated something Sunday that hadn't been done by any girls' lacrosse team in several seasons. They became the first club in two-plus campaigns to top New Hampshire power Londonderry High, posting an impressive 12-9 win under the lights at Eugene Lovely Memorial Field.
Londonderry's win streak – and one of the nation's longest active runs – ended at 51 games. It started after a 14-9 loss to Framingham in the third game of the 2009 season, and included back-to-back NHIAA Division I championships.
“It's going to be up there for a long time. Like I told these kids, they're part of it,” Londonderry coach Bob Slater said of the state record. “Who's going to touch 51 games? Not in my lifetime.
“That's going to knock us out of one of the top four or five (longest active win streaks) in the country,” he added. “It's something they can remember.”
Andover, meanwhile, clinched its 15th straight contest. The run includes last month's 12-5 win over Londonderry's arch rival and two-time reigning runner-up Pinkerton Academy of Derry, N.H.
Ally Fazio was a giant reason why Andover (18-1 overall) led for the final 42-plus minutes. The junior was a full-field force from the attack wing.
Her contributions included a marker during an early four-goal run that erased Andover's second deficit and produced a 5-2 advantage. Fazio finished with a game-high six points (four goals, two assists).
“I think (Londonderry's streak) was a really big motivator,” Fazio said. “They're such a good team. You could see it from when they warmed up to every time they had the ball on offense. It's a big accomplishment for us because they're such a good team.”
On this night, Andover was simply better.
The fourth-ranked squad in the latest ESPNBoston.com Top 25 won duels in areas Londonderry (14-1) routinely dominates.
Fazio gave the Golden Warriors the upper hand in draws. Attacker Jen Caro (three goals) posed problems around the crease. Goalkeeper Jillian Beucler (eight saves) denied several point-blank bids that clearly gave her teammates bursts of energy.
But Andover's biggest key to victory was undeniable: Lock-down defense in 7-on-7 play.
The defense's focus was Londonderry junior midfielder Jenny Thompson, already a known commodity to several Division I college coaches. She was constantly bombarded by double teams, many involving Fazio and Jackie Alois.
Thompson hit for three goals. But most often, she was forced to pass the ball as a result of Andover's aggressive defenders.
“It's definitely upsetting. But there's worse things that could've happened than ending our winning streak,” Thompson said. “All that matters is if we tried our hardest. I know I tried my hardest and everyone else on the team tried their hardest.”
Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, Leah Walter (two goals) cut into Andover's 7-5 halftime lead. Spinning to her left in traffic, the junior attacker created an open shooting lane and didn't miss.
Caro and Alexa Bedell (three goals, assist) soon traded tallies. But Andover's mixture of midfielders and close defenders didn't allow Londonderry to pull even at 8-apiece.
They relied on accurate stick checks. They closed quickly on free-position shots. They were relentless in pursuit when the ball hit the turf.
“Our first slides, our second slides, even our third slides are right there – right away. Constantly. Consistently,” Andover defender Emily Shields said. “We just went out and took it from them.”
The effort was particularly impressive, considering Andover played its second game of the weekend. The Golden Warriors beat Acton-Boxborough, 18-11, on Saturday.
As for the Lancers, they can still add to their in-state win streak. It stands at 49 games.
“We have so much respect for that Londonderry team,” said Andover coach John McVeigh, whose team's lone loss was to Needham, 11-8. “It's a nice win for us. But, I think, it puts into perspective just how incredible that streak was. The target's on their back every single day. They're as good a team as we've seen. That's for sure.”
Londonderry (14-1) 5-4—9
Andover (18-1) 7-5—12
Scoring: L – Alexa Bedell 3-1, Jenny Thompson 3-0, Leah Walter 2-0, Caitlyn Murphy 1-0, Kelsey Derhak 0-1; A – Ally Fazio 4-2, Jen Caro 3-0, Sara Miller 2-0, Weezie Gross 1-0, Anne Farnham 1-0, Kate Farnham 1-0
Saves: L – Crystalle Parent 9; A – Jillian Beucler 8
Marc Thaler is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader & Sunday News. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can read his blog, "New Hampshire GameDay" and follow him on Twitter @marc_thaler.