Boston High School: Lauren Hanna

D1 softball semi: Milford 3, Central Catholic 0

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
2:07
AM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. -- Milford’s Shannon Smith has set the proverbial bar so high that anything short of perfection seemingly qualifies as an off night for this senior right-hander who’s been given a full ride to Kentucky.

Smith blanked Central Catholic, 3-0, in a Division I state softball semifinal game on Wednesday and allowed two hits plus three walks replete with 17 strikeouts – including the 1,200th of her illustrious career. But Smith “only” threw 68 of 110 pitches for strikes and had to wiggle out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth before retiring the side in order in the seventh.

The Scarlet Hawks (25-1) now will get a chance to defend their state title when they'll play the winner of the other semifinal game between Marlborough and Agawam at Worcester State on Saturday.

“I had a little trouble,” Smith said. “I started missing high and low in [the sixth]. I had to relax and throw my game. I think I got a little excited that we were up and were having a good game.

“I got a little ahead of myself and was throwing too hard. I think I had to take a step back and relax and find the strike zone again, and I did.”

In that precarious sixth, the North Sectional champion Raiders (20-5) loaded the bases on Krista Maloney’s double plus walks to Olivia Antczak and Leslie Moore. But Smith fanned Karoline Leavitt which allowed the Milford fans to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Prior to Leavitt’s at-bat, coach Brian Macchi paid a visit to Smith.

“I said we’ve been here plenty of times before,” Macchi said. “We just need one more out and we’ll go ahead and see if we can score more runs.

“We weren’t concerned about the runners on base. We just wanted to get that girl at the plate out and come hit. That was our focus. It was just [Smith] against the batter. Find a way to get her out and we secure our three-run lead and get to hit again.”

After Smith recorded that final out, she reflected on the meaning of the game – which, in a sense, was a bit surprising.

“Coach always gives us a speech before the game about Charlie Sand who was an old baseball coach at Milford who coached him and he always used to call this the ‘no-name’ game because you don’t win any trophies here but it’s still a huge game,” Smith said. “You’re not winning anything by winning this game but you’re getting an opportunity to go to the state championship.

“We call it the ‘no-name’ game. It’s probably one of the most important games of your season because there’s nothing to win coming out of this game, but it’s a crucial game to win.”

Go figure. In retrospect the Scarlet Hawks scored all the runs Smith would need in the first.

Sam Bonvino led with a single and scooted to second base when the ball eluded left fielder Olivia Ciccarelli for an error. Bonvino advanced to third on Lauren Hanna’s groundout to second and scored on a passed ball.

After Smith reached on an infield hit, Rachel Levine roped an RBI double to right-center for a 2-0 lead.

Milford added an insurance run in the fifth on Hanna’s single, a fielder’s choice and Caroline Fairbanks single.

“This time of the year, experience is a huge piece of your success,” Macchi said referring to his team’s post-season excursions. “Last year we were able to get the ultimate prize. And now we’re here again. We have a chance to do it again.

“It’s a great feeling to be there. But it’ll feel a lot better if we can finish it off on Saturday.”

South softball: Milford, Bishop Stang advance

June, 10, 2013
6/10/13
1:23
AM ET


TAUNTON, Mass. – In the biggest moments, the best players need to be counted on. Under pressure, teams rely on the stars to step up, raise their games, and find a way to win. On Sunday evening at Jack Tripp Field at Taunton High, the consensus best player in the state and three-time Gatorade Player of the Year demonstrated once again why she receives those accolades.

Milford’s Shannon Smith reached base in all four at-bats, smashed a three-run homer, and struck out nine batters to lead the Scarlet Hawks to a dominating 7-0 victory over Bridgewater-Raynham in the Division 1 South sectional final. It was a meeting of the sectional’s top two seeds and the top two teams in the statewide, ESPNBoston.com Top 25 poll, but in the end it was all about Smith and the Hawks.

Smith explained her approach against the Old Colony League champs.

She remarked, “They have some pretty good hitters and I just tried to keep breaking different zones – inside/outside, up/down, just to make sure that they weren’t expecting one certain spot.”

Smith added, “After the first inning, I adjusted to the umpire and we were good to go.”

The Trojans had an opportunity to change the story in the bottom of the first inning. Madi Shaw led-off with a double down the leftfield line and Stacey Korotsky followed with a walk. Chelsea Correia popped it up on the infield, but a tangle at first base allowed the ball to drop and the runners to advance on the infield fly rule.

With two runners in scoring position and only one out, the Trojans looked like they were going to be the first team to score on Milford (23-1) in the postseason. But, cleanup hitter Emily Kurkul bunted a liner right back to Smith, who then fired to third to double up Shaw and escape the jam.

Smith spoke after the game about the importance of that sequence.

“We start off the game a little shaky defensively too; I think we’re a little unsure- there’s a lot of pressure,” Smith said. “It really gave us a lot of momentum, and a lot of confidence too, and it relaxed us to get out of that.”

The game was scoreless into the top of the third, when Smith struck with a blast to left. Prior to Smith’s at bat and with a runner on base, senior Lauren Hanna battled B-R’s sophomore pitcher Sarah Dawson and fouled away several two-strike pitches to draw a walk that continued the inning. Smith promptly stepped up and made it 3-0 by following the plan that the team scouted in B-R’s win over Silver Lake.

“We watched them on Thursday, I guess, and we saw that she really pounded the inside corner for pretty much the whole game,” said Smith about Milford’s gameplan against Dawson. “I knew that she was coming inside and in my first at bat I took it deep, but not quite out…I knew where it was coming the second time and I really got adjusted to her and got a good piece.”

After the game, Milford head coach Brian Macchi made sure to highlight Hanna’s contribution to the big inning.

He commented, “It was just a real hard-fought at bat by Lauren Hanna that I have to keep going back to that allows that to happen. Without that walk, Shannon never gets up with anybody on. So, it changes the whole complexion of that game.”

Smith settled into a groove and allowed only two base runners (both with two outs) after the first inning, while Dawson was struggling against a patient and potent Milford line-up. Macchi credited the team’s approach and the work that it did in the cage for being successful at the plate.

“We’ve been practicing for three straight days…working that inside corner and making sure that we’re ready to clear our hips and drive the ball,” he said. “The girls bought into it for three days of work and did an outstanding job today.”

The Hawks, who finished with nine hits, broke the game open by batting around in the fifth.

A hit, a walk, and an error loaded the bases for senior Caroline Fairbanks, who lined a two-run single to left to make it 5-0. Sophomore Taylor LeBrun drove in a run with a single and then freshman Jill Powers, who went 2-2 with a walk, brought home a run with a hit of her own.

The 6-8 hitters in the Milford lineup reached base a combined six times, which Macchi believes is crucial to the team’s success offensively.

He said, “We had an inning where Allie Piergustavo got a hit, Jill [Powers] got a base hit, and Lizzie [Stallone] just missed getting a hit, but it allowed us to get back up to Sam [Bonvino, lead-off hitter]. Turning that line-up over is just as good as getting RBI’s sometimes because it allows the top of the line-up to do the damage.”

The loss was the first of the season for the Trojans, who finish at 23-1. Meanwhile, the defending state champions will advance to the Eastern Mass. final on Tuesday night against the North sectional champs, Central Catholic.

D2 South Final: Bishop Stang 5, Dedham 3
In Sunday’s improbable afternoon match-up, the no. 13 seed Bishop Stang claimed the Division 2 South title with a 5-3 win over no. 18 seed Dedham. Neither team was expected to make much noise coming into the postseason, but the Spartans would take home the hardware at Taunton High.

Stang came into the game on the heels of an 11-inning, 5-1 victory over Eastern Athletic Conference rivals Coyle-Cassidy and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Dedham answered back with a pair of runs in the second on hits by Kristina Mitchell and Brianna Dozier.

The Spartan stormed right back in the fourth highlighted by a two-run double from second baseman Katie Wood, which was followed by another a double from Nicole Andrade. A Dedham error allowed an unearned run to score and it was 5-2 after four innings.

Dedham would get a run back in the sixth but failed to create any chances in its final at bat, giving Stang an unlikely sectional championship.

Recap: No. 2 Milford 1, No. 3 A-B 0

April, 10, 2012
4/10/12
1:15
AM ET
ACTON, Mass. -- With Acton-Boxborough’s Sarah Ropiak and Milford’s Shannon Smith working in the circle, it was possible that something as slight as a howling wind might create the margin between winning and losing.

As the gales whipped across the diamond at Acton-Boxborough Regional on Monday, the teams’ aces were undaunted. The matched each other strikeout for strikeout nearly throughout. But the only thing that separated the No. 2 Hawks and the No. 3 Colonials in the end were a couple of first-inning walks and one, solitary run score on a wild pitch.

“I told the girls we needed to find a way to scrape across a run any way that we could,” Milford head coach Brian Macchi recounted his pregame remarks before the Hawks’ 1-0 win.

That run came in the Hawks’ first at-bat. After working a one-out walk, Milford second baseman Lauren Hanna took a tour of the base paths with a stolen base, advancing to third on a wild pitch and also scoring the game’s only run off another wild pitch.

Ropiak was undaunted despite the early setback, settling into a complete-game two-hitter, while striking out 13.

Of course, Smith was on par as well. The junior, who’s one season removed from her performance as a Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year, struck out 17 while surrendering a pair of hits and two walks.

Smith struck out the side in both the sixth and seventh innings — despite allowing base-runners in each — capping the complete-game win.

“The umpire really seemed to like to call the outside corner, so you to adjust to that and make sure you’re throwing to where they’re calling and whatever works for you best,” Smith said.

DIFFICULTY ADJUSTING
With Smith nibbled and lived on the outside corner with great success thanks to her curveball, the Colonials (0-1) weren’t able to compensate at the plate.

“We weren’t able to learn today that she kept going at us outside,” A-B head coach Mary Matthews said. “We weren’t adjusting our feet and trying to send it the other way.”

PUTTING DEPTH TO USE
Milford (3-0) was without its starting catcher Taylor Archer (out 2-3 weeks with an ankle injury) coming into the game, so freshman Taylor LeBrun got the nod behind the plate.

The Hawks’ backstop situation went from bad to worse in the fifth, when LeBrun left the game with an ankle injury while sliding into second base on a caught stealing. Macchi then turned to starting shortstop and resident do-it-all Sam Bonvino.

However, Bonvino hasn’t had time to work behind the plate in the early season due to a back injury of her own. Still, the sophomore did an exemplary job, filling in a tough spot and working with Smith.

The Milford hurler credited the work all of her catchers have put in, making it easier for her to do her job.

“I have confidence in all of them,” Smith said of her battery mates.

Now all the Hawks need is to stay healthy.

“We’re a bit of a walking wounded team right now, but as I told the team, it’s better to happen now then at the end of the season,” Macchi said. “We’re going to heal up and keep trying to find ways to win games.”

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