Boston High School: Madi Shaw

D1 South final: B-R 2, North Attleborough 0

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10

TAUNTON, Mass. – Bridgewater-Raynham was extremely motivated going into Monday’s Division I South championship softball game against North Attleborough.

Just ask winning pitcher Sarah Dawson.

“I think we were pumped to be here,” Dawson said after she tossed a 2-0 no-hitter at the sixth-seeded Rocketeers. “We just wanted this because everybody’s been saying that we don’t play in the ‘Hock’ (i.e. the Hockomock League). We play a less-tougher schedule (in the Old Colony League). So, obviously North Attleboro is a better team because it plays in the Hock.

“We just wanted to show that B-R is a good team even though we don’t play in the Hock. The Hock’s not the most important thing in the world. I think we showed that.”

But beating a Hockomock League team wasn’t the only reason the top-seeded Trojans (23-1) were pumped to play the Red Rocketeers (18-4).

“Ever since that day I wanted to come back to this field,” Dawson said while referring to the 7-0 pasting B-R endured last year against Milford in the South Sectionals. “I felt it was a huge disappointment to me team last year because it was a 7-0 shutout and we lost.

“It was good to shut out this team now and get back in the game.”

Worthy opponent: Dawson, who’s already committed to Pittsburgh, had her own reason to be motivated considering her mound opponent was Megan Colleran, who finished with a one-hitter.

“There may have been a little [motivation] because she was the Gatorade Player of the Year and it was well-deserved,” Dawson said. “She’s a great pitcher and a great athlete. She’s done a lot for her team.

“I think we wanted to show we were just as good as her team.”

The Trojans were so good on Monday that now they advance to the state semifinals where they’ll take on Revere in a 7 p.m. game on Saturday at Lowell’s Martin Park.

And just how good was Dawson?

This good:
  • *She threw 57 of 81 pitches for strikes.
  • The Rocketeers only hit one ball to the outfield, Colleran’s liner to center with one out in the seventh.
  • She only walked one batter, struck out five and extended her consecutive tournament scoreless streak to 28 innings.
  • After issuing her lone walk (to Jillian Costello who led the third), Dawson retired the last 15 Rocketeers and finished with five strikeouts.
  • The no-hitter was her second of the tournament and fifth of the season.

“I didn’t even know it to be honest,” Dawson said of her no-hitter. “I don’t really focus on that when I’m in a game.”

What coach Mike Carrozza focused on was the fact the Trojans have out-scored their four tournament opponents by a combined margin of 23-0.

“We have four shutouts and she’s got two no-hitters,” Carozza said. “It almost was like another day at the office for her because it was her fifth no-hitter this season.”

B-R played the “iron": Carozza also dismissed the contention that B-R played a “soft” schedule.

“I’ve been coaching for 17 years and there always are little people saying ‘It depends on who you’re playing or who you’re not playing’ and this and that,”

Carozza said. “When we started going into the tournament this year, eight out of the nine teams we played this year we’re all in the tournament.”

In retrospect, B-R scored the only run Dawson would need in the first. Madi Shaw and Stacey Korotsky drew leadoff walks and Emily Kurkul dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Stephanie Cavallaro was hit by a pitch to load the bases and, one out later, Kelsey Luenberger walked to force in Shaw.

The Trojans added the obligatory insurance run in the third. Kurkul led with a single and courtesy runner Taylor Poulin stole second. Poulin advanced a base on Cavallaro’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Colleran threw away Jenny Heller’s bouncer to the mound.

In addition to Dawson’s near-flawless pitching, her teammates backed her with flawless defense.

“Depending on how many strikeouts we had in between, the defense played errorless ball and they made a lot of nice plays,” Carozza said. “It could have gone either way.”

Recap: No. 2 Silver Lake 3, No. 1 B-R 2

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
BRIDGEWATER – With the No. 2 Silver Lake softball team clinging to a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth against No. 1 Bridgewater-Raynham on Friday, Emily Kurkul unloaded what looked like a game-tying homer toward the centerfield fence.

Lakers centerfielder Kendra Carley sprinted toward the fence, caught the ball in a full run and collided with the fence at the same time. The force with which she hit the fence sent her headfirst over it, her feet finally disappearing behind the wall.

She slowly stood up, turning toward the field as she did so. The senior captain reached into her glove, pulling out the ball to signal she had somehow come down with it. After a minute’s discussion, the umpires ruled she caught the ball in play, signaling an out and leaving the Lakers holding the same 3-2 lead they would eventually win by.

“Kendra covers a ton of ground out there,” said SL coach Tony Pina. “If that ball is in the air, and it’s in the field, she’s going to get it. That’s the type of play a senior captain makes in a big game. She’s going to remember play. A lot of people are going to remember that catch for a long time.”

“The minute I heard that go off Emily Kurkul’s bat, I knew it was going far,” said SL pitcher Maddie Barone. “As I saw Kendra tracking it back I was just praying she could catch it. When she flipped it and kept it in her glove, that was just amazing. I could tell she caught it because our fan section (behind the centerfield fence) started jumping up in the air.”

While it was a senior leader carrying them late, it was a budding star that got things going in the Silver Lake win. After Emily Colton singled to start the game, freshman Emily Critch belted a Sarah Dawson offering for her third homer of the year for a quick 2-0 lead.

“Right from the get-go, a ball is left out over the plate and she rifles it out to left center,” said B-R coach Mike Carrozza. “Now we’re down 2-0 and playing from behind, which is difficult to do, but our girls came right back and scored a run in that inning and then we tied up the game."

B-R scored in the bottom of the first when Madi Shaw singled and came around on a throwing error for the first run scored against Silver Lake (8-0) all season. The Trojans tied the game in the third, finally scoring the first run against Barone this season.

In the fifth, Barone exacted some revenge against the Trojans (7-1), and she unloaded what would prove to be a game-winning blast deep to center field.

“After playing against (Dawson) last, and Emily plays on her club team, we know some of her pitches,” said Barone. “We also know she’s not going to walk a lot of people, so we knew it was going to be around the plate sooner or later.”

Coming of age for Critch: Critch has been tasked with replacing Barone’s older sister, Alex, who is currently playing at NCAA Div. 2 Eckerd College in Florida. No easy task, but the freshman has slid into the role without missing a beat.

Her offense is obviously impressive, as she’s already claimed the No. 2 spot in a powerful lineup for the Lakers, but her biggest impact is probably behind the plate where she’s tasked with catching one of the state’s elite pitchers in Barone.

“Maddie and Emily have a relationship and they trust one another, and I trust that relationship,” said Pina. “They work well together and I have complete faith in her calling a game and catching the kind of game we need to win.”

She certainly caught a good one on Friday, serving as Barone’s signal caller in a six strikeout, one earned run effort. Outside of Carley’s homer robbing catch, Critch may have made the play of the day for SL.

After B-R’s leadoff hitter reached on an error in the seventh inning, the Trojans attempted to sacrifice bunt the runner into scoring position. The ball popped into the air, quickly falling toward the ground. Critch dove from her crouched position, snagging the ball inches from the gravel for an out.

She rolled over and uncorked a throw to first base, doubling off the baserunner and effectively ending the B-R comeback attempt.

“Today, you saw Emily Critch, whose a freshman, grow up right in front of your eyes,” said Pina. “She gets up the plate in her first at-bat and homers, and she’s making the types of plays she’s making? You just saw a kid grow up in today’s game.”

B-R debuts at No. 1 in softball Top 25

April, 16, 2014
Apr 16
Bridgewater-Raynham starts the season ranked No. 1 in our statewide MIAA softball Top 25 poll.

The Trojans, who spent a good portion of last season in the top spot, lost just one game last season, coming in the Division 1 South final, look to take the next step forward behind a pair of All-State performers in pitcher Sarah Dawson and shortstop Madi Shaw.

For the complete poll, click HERE.

Here are a couple other points of note:

South up for grabs: While B-R nabs the top spot to start, the Division 1 South race should be compelling throughout, with all of the three top teams in our poll hailing from within the district. Silver Lake is on the Trojans' heels at No. 2 while North Attleborough checks in at No. 3.

Third time's a charm?: Burlington begins the season in the Top 25 for the third straight season. The two-time Division 2 state finalists and North sectional champions are looking toward a third straight trip to Worcester State, but hope to come away with some hardware after twice being knocked off by Central champion Grafton in the state final.

The Red Devils start the season at No. 7, while Grafton enters at No. 13.

South softball: Milford, Bishop Stang advance

June, 10, 2013

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, 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.

D1 South softball: B-R, Milford to meet in final

June, 7, 2013

TAUNTON, Mass. – Bridgewater-Raynham walked-off with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory in the nightcap of the Division 1 South softball semifinals at Taunton High’s Jack Tripp Field. Sophomore catcher Emily Kurkul lined a single to left center driving in the winning run and sending the Trojans to the sectional final.

“It was a great pitchers’ duel,” Trojans head coach Mike Carrozza said. “I mean it’s exciting. It’s a great atmosphere here playing in tournament ball. You know that you’re going to play all the best teams and the games are going to be really hyped up and the teams are bringing all their energy to the plate.”

Heading into the bottom of the ninth, Bridgewater-Raynham had managed only two hits off of the Lakers freshman starter Madisyn Barone. Stacey Korotsky made it three to start the inning when third baseman Abigail Alexiades had to hold onto a grounder, as the first baseman was late getting to the bag.

In close games like these, little mistakes can have big consequences. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner into scoring position, Kurkul stepped up to put an end to an exciting semifinal.

“I was just thinking that I needed to hit the ball hard, hit the ball through the infield and score Stacey,” said Kurkul about her mindset at the plate in the ninth.

She added, “It was amazing when I knew she was home. I saw her rounding third - it was just the best feeling ever knowing that we had won.”

Silver Lake took the lead in the top of the first inning off of B-R’s sophomore starter, Sarah Dawson. Lead-off hitter Emily Colton lined a single to center and was bunted to second. Two batters later, Alexiades came through with a big two-out hit to make it 1-0.

The Trojans manufactured a run to tie it in the bottom of the fourth. Junior Madi Shaw led-off with a walk and was bunted into scoring position. After a ground-out moved her to third, Shaw came home on a passed ball to bring the score level.

Both Barone and Dawson were stellar in the circle. The Silver Lake hurler did not allow a hit until the fifth and struck out 11 hitters on the night. Dawson matched her almost pitch-for-pitch. The B-R starter allowed only one hit and five base runners after the opening inning and struck out 10 Lakers.

When asked if his team will need to make any adjustments in the sectional final on Sunday against Milford’s Shannon Smith, Carozza replied, “Probably we’re going to approach it like we approach every game and just try to put the bat on the ball, run, bunt, steal, and hopefully things will work out.”

The loss ended the season for Silver Lake and also the long career of head coach Michael Brennan, who announced his retirement after 25 years in charge. Brennan won 335 games with the Lakers and had taken the team to back-to-back sectional semifinals.

Milford 6, Franklin 0
The newly crowned Gatorade Player of the Year did not disappoint in the opening semifinal on Thursday evening. Shannon Smith struck out 11 Franklin hitters, homered, and drove in two runs as Milford beat its Hockomock League rivals 6-0 to advance to the sectional final in its first year in the South region.

Smith struggled early in her start on Tuesday against King Philip, but there were no problems out of the gates on Thursday. She struck out the side in the top of the first on just 12 pitches. Smith then lined a two-out solo homerun in the bottom of the first of Franklin started Elizabeth Criscione that just cleared the 195-foot sign in the leftfield corner.

Head coach Brian Macchi noted that he had spoken with the team prior to the game about trying to get an early run to seize momentum.

“We talked yesterday and today coming up here on the bus about wanting to win the first inning to just set the tone for the game,” he explained. “Shannon [Smith] was the story on the mound and the story at the plate, getting the job done for us today. She’s obviously a huge piece to our success and she came up big for us.”

Milford broke the game open in the third inning. Smith singled to right to score Sam Bonvino, who had walked to lead-off the inning, and courtesy runner Sarah Jacques scored from first on Caroline Fairbanks double to left center. Tuesday night’s hero Rachel Levine followed with another double to make it 4-0.

The Hawks added two more in the fourth to complete the scoring.

It was an impressive win and Macchi is proud of his team for competing through the much longer, and arguably tougher, South sectional to reach Sunday’s final against the top seed, Bridgewater-Raynham.

“I told the girls all season long that this was going to be one tough challenge in the South bracket and looking at all the teams that you have in there,” said Macchi. “We feel fortunate to be where we are. It’s been hard earned to get to this point and we’re looking forward to a big challenge on Sunday.

The final between the top two seeds in the South will take place on Sunday at 6 p.m. back at Jack Tripp Field in Taunton.

Player Perspective: B-R's Madi Shaw

May, 7, 2013
Ever since earning the starting shortstop job as a freshman two years ago, Bridgewater-Raynham’s Madi Shaw has developed the reputation as one of the state’s most feared hitters.

This year, the Trojans are off to an 11-0 start and claimed the No. 1 spot in our ESPN Boston softball Top 25 poll for the first time this week.

Shaw, a Fordham commit, comes from a long athletic line at B-R. Her father, Dave, was a star football player and went on to play at the United States Naval Academy, while her mother, Michelle, played field hockey. Her uncles are also Trojans football alumni.

As she has during her first two seasons, Shaw is leading the Trojans in nearly every offensive statistical category, pacing B-R with a .647 batting average, three home runs and 15 RBI.

“She set the pace as a freshman,” B-R head coach Mike Carrozza said. “She had the determination, she had the drive. I think at the time, she was a little bit raw, but she grew into the position.”

We caught up with Shaw after practice Monday for this Q-and-A:

Q: Looking back on freshman year, stepping into a starting role as a first-year player, was there ever a time your felt overwhelmed?

A: “The scariest thing was just getting to know all the girls. I think that’s what was scary to me – just being the youngest on the team and fitting in with them. But I think after practices and the first couple of games, we all fit in together and I think that has carried over into last year, this year.”

Q: How did Fordham emerge as your college choice? How did that come together?

A: “I switched summer teams in August, and just started going around playing tournaments all over the country. The Fordham coaches had watched me down in Florida, they get go my contact information and we started talking. When I visited the campus, I just fell in love with it, and I love the girls on the team, the coaches. I’m thinking about going into business and it’s a great business school, so it’s was just a good all-around school for athletics and academics.”

Q: What did the win over King Philip in last year’s tournament mean for this team heading into this season?

A: “That’s what we’re building from, the North Attleborough win, the KP win. We want to do that again, we don’t want to just keep it in the past, we want to bring that to now.”

Q: Given that, does this group feel any pressure to surpass last year’s result in the tournament?

A: “I think we all feel differently. I think the newer girls feel the pressure because they know the reputation that we’ve gained and the older, returning players want to be back there. I think we individually put pressure on ourselves to keep winning, keep things going in the right direction. I, personally, like that pressure because I feel it helps me play to my potential. I think [pitcher Sarah] Dawson is like that, too. We’ll come into the circle before each game and she’ll look at me and say ‘I don’t want to let anybody on base.’ I think that’s the mentality we have as a whole, as a team, all the time.”

Q: With an undefeated season so far, and beating teams the way you have, how do you think this team can deal with adversity when it might arise?

A: “We know that every single team is coming out to beat us, that’s what they want and we know that. I think that’s a motivator, I think that makes us play even harder because we don’t want to have any losses—especially, when you have all those teams coming in who it’s their goal to beat us.”

Preseason MIAA softball All-State Team

April, 9, 2013
MilfordBrendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comReigning ESPN Boston Miss Softball Award winner Shannon Smith hopes to lead Milford to back-to-back Division 1 state titles.
Megan Colleran, Jr., North Attleborough
Anna O'Neill, Sr., King Philip
Lauren Ramirez, Sr., Dracut
Kendal Roy, Jr., Grafton
Shannon Smith, Sr., Milford

Tori Constantin, Sr. 2B, King Philip
Stephanie Cornish, Sr. 3B, Abington
Alexis DeBrosse, Sr. SS, New Bedford
Caroline Fairbanks, Sr. 3B, Milford
Nicole Lundstrom, Sr. C, Dighton-Rehoboth
Bella Picard, Sr. SS, Blackstone Valley Tech
Madi Shaw, Jr. SS, Bridgewater-Raynham
Dakota Smith-Porter, Sr., P/SS, Turners Falls
Reilly Weiners, Sr. C, Agawam

Olivia Antczak, Soph. P, Central Catholic
Allie Colleran, Jr. SS/OF, Concord-Carlisle
Megan Cook, Jr. P, Bellingham
Haley Currie, Sr. 3B, Burlington
Sara Dawson, Soph. P, Bridgewater-Raynham
Kaleigh Finigan, Sr. 3B, St. Mary's (Lynn)
Bridget Furlong, Sr. 2B, Malden
Courtney Girouard, Jr. P, Fairhaven
Galen Kerr, Sr. P, Concord-Carlisle
Taylor LeBrun, Soph. C, Milford
Rachel Levine, Sr. CF, Milford
Michaela Mazure, Soph. INF, Burlington
Shannon McLaughlin, Jr. P, Tewksbury
Paige Mulry, Jr. C, Boston Latin
MacKenzie Navarro, Jr. 1B, Taunton
Alicia Reid, Sr. CF, Abington
Kelsey Saucier, Jr. P, Holy Name
Rachael Smith, Jr. P, Winchester
Lauren Tuiskula, Sr. P, Leicester
Jurnee Ware, Sr. P, Hudson

B-R's Shaw commits to Fordham

December, 11, 2012
Bridgewater-Raynham junior All-State shortstop Madi Shaw gave her verbal commitment to Fordham University during the weekend.

The two-year starter powered the Trojans to their first-ever Division 1 South sectional crown. Shaw hit .471 with eight home runs and 34 RBI for the Old Colony League champions last year.

“It’s a great academic school, and I just feel in love with the campus,” Shaw told ESPN Boston. “The coaches and the girls were great, too.

“The whole process has been exhilarating. I’m just so happy that I found the best school for me.”

ESPN Boston MIAA softball All-State team

June, 22, 2012
Starting Rotation – First Team
All-StateKiara Amos, Sr., Malden
The Providence College signee led the Golden Tornadoes to their first-ever state finals appearance after claiming the Eastern Mass. title. Amos went 15-1 for Malden, notching 195 strikeouts in 105 innings thrown all while boasting a 0.47 ERA. The right-hander set another first for Malden’s program as its first-ever Div. 1 college scholarship player.

All-StateMeghan Rico, Sr., King Philip
Rico concluded her high school career as one of the most decorated players in the state, a winner of two state championships and last year’s ESPN Boston Miss Softball. The George Washington signee went 17-3 for the Warriors this season, striking out 274 in 142 innings thrown while surrendering just 10 earned runs all season.

All-StateSarah Ropiak, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
Headed to Brown University next year, Ropiak was a three-time Dual County League All-Star and earned MVP honors in the large division this season. The right-hander posted an ERA of 0.69 while leading the Colonials to a Division 1 North final appearance.

Kendal Roy, Soph., Grafton
The second-year sensation lifted the Indians to their first-ever state championship with a win over Abington in the Div. 2 final. Roy went 18-1 with an ERA of 0.72 in 126 innings thrown with 176 strikeouts while allowing just 11 walks.

All-StateShannon Smith, Jr., Milford
The University of Kentucky commit was near unhittable this season while leading the Scarlet Hawks to an undefeated season and the Division 1 state title. This year’s ESPN Boston Miss Softball Award recipient was also named Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year for the second time (2010, ’12) in her career.

Starting Nine – First team
Katie Caruso, Sr. SS, Newton North
Caruso won the Bay State Conference’s triple crown, leading the league in batting average (.662), home runs (10) and RBI (47) while also clubbing a conference-best 51 hits. The Bay State MVP was also a standout on the Tigers’ hockey team. The four-year starter will continue her playing career next year at Southern New Hampshire University.

Lexi Gifford, Sr. SS, Natick
While Caruso may have been named Bay State Conference MVP, Gifford has been the league’s most valuable lead-off hitter during the last four years. The UConn signee hit at a .615 clip while driving in 33 runs for the Red & Blue this season. Gifford was also a true three-sport athlete at Natick, as a four-year letter-winner in soccer, basketball and softball.

All-StateBri Chiusano, Sr. CF, Mansfield
One of the most feared lead-off hitters in the state and a superb slap hitter, the Hockomock League All-Star showed off her power as well with four home runs this season. The Coastal Carolina signee finished second in the Hock in hitting with a .521 batting average.

All-StateOlivia Godin, Sr. C, King Philip
The UMass-Amherst signee was a four-year starter for the Warriors, helping guide the program to back-to-back state titles in 2010-11. The backstop hit .299 this season with three home runs and 18 RBI.
All-StateAlexis DeBrosse, Jr. SS, New Bedford
Already a three-time New Bedford Standard-Times Player of the Year award winner, the three-time Big Three All-Star hit .521 for the Whalers this season. The three-sport athlete also hit five home runs with 26 RBI and a slugging percentage of 1.099.

All-StateJulie LeClair, Sr. 3B, Coyle-Cassidy
Comprising one half of the state’s best left side of the infield, along with shortstop Patty Borges, the St. Anselm signee led the Warriors to the EAC crown with a league-best .527 average. The three-sport athlete also clubbed a league-leading five home runs along with 32 RBI.

All-StateBella Picard, Jr. SS, Blackstone Valley Tech
The nation’s leading hitter resided in Upton this year with the Beavers’ shortstop hitting an astounding .877 (57-for 65). The converted soccer player also tied for the state lead in home runs with 10 while driving in 43 runs.
All-StateMadi Shaw, Soph. SS, Bridgewater-Raynham
The second-year shortstop powered the Trojans to their first-ever Division 1 South sectional crown. Shaw hit .471 with eight home runs and 34 RBI for the Old Colony League champions.

Reilly Weiners, Jr. C, Agawam
Weiners helped lead the Brownies to the Division 1 West sectional title this season. The backstop led all Div. 1 players in Western Mass. with 35 RBI while knocking out 38 hits on the season, including three home runs.

Bullpen – second team
Megan Colleran, Soph., North Attleborough
Megan Cook, Soph., Bellingham
Mackenzie Coopinger, Sr., Lynn Classical
Audrey Dolloff, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
Courtney Girouard, Soph., Fairhaven
Trish Hansen, Sr., Mansfield
Shelby Higgins, Sr., Lowell
Kelly Norton, Sr., Abington
Shannon Orton, Sr., Case
Lauren Ramirez, Jr., Dracut
Jurnee Ware, Sr., Hudson

Bench – second team
Patty Borges, Sr. SS, Coyle-Cassidy
Tori Constantin, Jr. 2B, King Philip
Caroline Fairbanks, Jr. 3B, Milford
Courtney Hoban, Sr. OF, Boston Latin
Emily Hoffman, Sr. C, Malden
Nicole Lundstrom, Jr. C, Dighton-Rehoboth
Michaela Mazure, Fr. INF, Burlington
Kelsey Perron-Sovik, Sr. CF, Fairhaven
Christina Raso, Sr. SS, Burlington
Dakota Smith-Porter, Jr. P/SS, Turners Falls

John Furlong, Malden

D1 EMass softball: Malden 5, B-R 4 (9 inn.)

June, 13, 2012
LOWELL, Mass. -- The role of hero is one Melissa Light doesn’t seem to mind playing for the Malden High softball team.

After providing a walk-off single on Monday that gave the Golden Tornadoes their first ever Div. 1 North Sectional championship, Light delivered a game-winning hit again on Tuesday in Malden’s EMass. Final game against South Sectional champ Bridgewater-Raynham.

“She had struggled the last couple games, but last night and tonight she really came through,” said Golden Tornadoes coach John Furlong. “Last thing I said to her last night was ‘make sure you touch first base when you hit this ball,’ so I said it to her again tonight. We started laughing, but she ended up hitting the ball hard and we got the run.”

Light’s infield single, which bounced off pitcher Audrey Dolloff, knocked in Emily Moran in the bottom of the ninth at Martin Field in Lowell, propelling the Golden Tornadoes to a comeback win over the Trojans, 5-4, and sending them on to Saturday’s state title game.

“In the last game, I knocked in the winning run so this was just as exciting as that one,” Light said. “Before that though, I’ve never done anything like this. It’s something I’m always going to remember and keep with me. It’s not just me, though, it’s everybody. Without everyone doing all the little things there’s no way we win this game.”

The first team in school history to play for a state title, they’ll play Central Sectional champ Milford -- who cruised past Agawam, 13-0, in the other semifinal game -- at Worcester State at 7 p.m.

The walk-off single capped off a 3-for-3 day for the Golden Tornadoes nine hitter. Trailing 4-0, she got their offense rolling in the bottom of the sixth, leading off with a triple deep to right center field.

Emily Hoffman drew a one-out walk and Hannah Caberone (2-for-4) singled to left, scoring Light.

Malden starting pitcher Kiarra Amos struck out, and B-R looked like they might get out of it when Dolloff went to 0-2 with two outs on Jessalyne Brown. Brown, however, bounced a ball up the middle that Rachel McCall was able to knock down, but wasn’t able to record an out.

Emily Furlong, the seventh hitter of the inning, smashed a double deep toward left centerfield, and all three runners came around to score, tying the game at four.

Early on, it looked as though the Trojans would be the ones squaring off against Milford on Saturday as their 4-0 lead through five innings looked like it would be more than enough for Dolloff.

Before the sixth inning rally, Dolloff had surrendered just three hits and only Erika Hanson had reached scoring position.

The Trojans, who finish at 21-4, scored twice before Dolloff even stepped into the pitcher’s circle.

McCall drew a one-out walk and Chelsea Correia followed with a single to left. Dolloff grounded out to second but the other two advanced into scoring position.

Alyssa McKinnon delivered a two-RBI single up the middle.

McKinnon set the Trojans up to score their third run when she led off the top of fourth with a wall-ball triple to centerfield. Sophie Perez brought her home one pitch later with a sacrifice fly to left.

In the fifth, Madi Shaw (2-for-4) started the inning with a lead-off double for B-R and was followed by a McCall single.

Correia lifted a fly ball into left field that scored Shaw, giving the Trojans their 4-0 lead.

Amos settled in after that, allowing just two hits the rest of the way.

“The first inning, I obviously panicked because I gave up two quick runs and I thought it might be a rough game for me,” Amos said. “I’ve learned to pick myself up and just keep doing what I have to do. Even when they scored the two more runs, I knew I just had to keep going.”

The extra-inning affair marked the fourth straight for Bridgewater-Raynham in the tourney.

They found themselves on the other side of one-run games in their South Sectional quarterfinals win over Mansfield, semifinals win over North Attleborough and their finals win over defending state champ King Philip.

Unfortunately for them, it was only a matter of time before a close call didn’t end in their favor.

“When I first saw it, I said ‘here we go again,’” said Trojans coach Mike Carrozza. “It was kind of comical in a way but we’ve played and had to come back in all of those games. Sooner or later it’s tough on the girls.”

Tuesday proved to be the day it got tough on his girls, who weren’t able to get Dolloff in after she reached third base in the top of the eighth.

Without production from the back half of their batting order, the Golden Tornadoes may have never mounted their come-from-behind effort against the Trojans.

“My one through four [hitters], I’ll take with any other team but my five through nine is better than anybody out there,” Furlong said. “If you look at the production tonight, you see our RBI came from our five through nine.”

The Nos. 5-9 hitters combined to knock in four of the five runs in the win. They also scored two of them, while accounting for nine of Malden’s 12 hits.

"It just carries through the rest of the lineup. The kids at the top see it and they starting hitting, too."

TAUNTON, Mass. – The moniker “Cardiac Kids” was taken long ago, but it certainly applies to what Bridgewater-Raynham softball has become in its postseason journey.

The Trojans have played nearly seven games worth of innings in securing their last three wins in the Division 1 South tournament. Running through a gamut of Hockomock League teams and extra-inning affairs, the Old Colony League champions ran through Mansfield (11 innings) and North Attleborough (12) before playing in another instant classic against top-seeded King Philip on Sunday.

Mired in a pitchers duel between B-R’s Audrey Dolloff and the Warriors’ Meghan Rico, the Trojans again found a way to outlast their opponent, scoring the only run in the 12th inning of the Division 1 South sectional final.

After a day of rest, B-R will face the North district champion in the Eastern Mass title game in Lowell.

Who knows what else the Trojans might have up their sleeves?

“At this point, I feel we can go the whole way, I feel we can win the whole thing,” said B-R shortstop Madi Shaw, who score the game-winning run. “We are a tough team, we battle every single inning, we never give up.”

Sunday marked B-R’s first sectional title under head coach Mike Carrozza in three finals appearances.

Dolloff has carried the Trojans (21-3) through their run, throwing every inning in each of the extra-inning games. The senior right-hander was particularly sharp against the defending state champions, using a devastating changeup to strike out seven.

Carrozza said that Dolloff thrives in such situations and seem to only get better as the innings wear on.

“She just kept getting stronger, she kept hitting her spots, she kept setting down the lineup. The defense was working very well behind her.”

Shaw became the only player to cross home plate after dropping a two-out base hit into right field in the 12th. Rachel McCall’s walk pushed Shaw to second. With catcher Chelsea Correia at the plate, a passed ball on Rico’s 2-2 offering advanced Shaw to third. An errant throw down to third found its way into left field and Shaw came around to score.

One pitch later, Rico got Correia swinging on her 17th strikeout of the day.

“Unfortunately, in these types of games, when you have two good powerhouses going, it always the mistake that costs you the game,” Carrozza said.

Carrozza has preached many times this postseason about how his pitcher is able to get sharper as games progress.

Dolloff had a simple explanation as to how she prepares herself to take the ball each time out.

“I’m a senior and I just don’t want to stop playing.”

With extra-inning games becoming a daily proposition, Dolloff dismissed whether fatigue could play a factor as the Trojans look to advance to Saturday’s state championship.

“I don’t feel it right now, but I probably will tomorrow.”

The Warriors’ inability to score in bunches during the season caught up with them on Sunday.

Although KP had a lot of healthy looking hacks in the box, the Warriors were largely unable to string together hits.

“We just didn’t get enough base-runners today,” KP head coach Jim Leonard said. “You go from scoring 13 runs yesterday [versus Silver Lake] to this.”

A stone’s throw from home, the Trojans brought a full fan section to the game. Camped out around the center field picnic tables at Jack Tripp Field, B-R Nation remained equally as vocal during the first inning as they were the last.

Kudos. Just don’t forget the pizza for the next extra-inning game.

D1 South softball: B-R 4, North 3 (12 inn.)

June, 10, 2012
TAUNTON, Mass. -- Basically Saturday’s Division 1-South semifinal softball game between No. 3 North Attleborough and No. 2 Bridgewater-Raynham came down to a matter of who would blink first.

In this case it was the Red Rocketeers as the Trojans scored an unearned run in the last of the 12th and won 4-3.

As a result, Bridgewater-Raynham (20-3) will play top-seeded King Philip at 3 p.m. Sunday, also at Taunton, for the sectional title.

“We didn’t start having the energy until that last inning and that’s when we scored,” said winning pitcher Audrey Dolloff. “We just have to keep the energy up.”

Given the length of the game, keeping the “energy up” was a challenge for both teams. But Dolloff’s pitching was a major reason why the Trojans were able to hang with the Red Rocketeers (18-5) until they broke the 3-3 tie.

Dolloff, a senior, allowed nine hits and only one earned run, replete with one walk and eight strikeouts.

Overall, she threw 113 pitches and got stronger as the game progressed.

Over the last seven innings, for example, Dolloff faced just two batters over the minimum and allowed only two balls to be hit out of the infield.

“I felt good the whole game,” Dolloff said. “But I don’t normally think about it until a game’s over. I just go and pitch.”

B-R coach Mike Carrozza was more expansive when discussing the performance of his ace pitcher.

“I think Audrey was a little tight on the mound early in the game even though she’s been pitching for four years,” he said. “But once that girl starts progressing and as the innings go on, she just gets stronger and stronger.”

Dolloff also benefitted from North Attleborough’s swinging at pitches early in the count. And to be specific, she retired the side on nine or fewer pitches in seven innings.

“I think they had the mindset that they weren’t going to let her get her stuff later,” Carrozza said. “So they tried to go first-ball or second-ball swinging.

“Pretty much the pitches I was calling she was hitting them. She was hitting her spots. And as the game progressed she got stronger and stronger.”

In that decisive 12th inning, Emily Kurkul reached on a fielder’s choice and moved up on Juila Milardo’s sacrifice bunt.

Madi Shaw then hit a routine grounder to first base which was booted by Jackie Delbonis for an error.

Carrozza, who was coaching third base, gave Kurkul the “green light” as she rounded third and slid home ahead of Delbonis’s throw for the winning run.

“To win the game, you have to make all kinds of decisions,” Carrozza said. “I had a double steal on the inning before. You have to make something happen. Their pitcher [Megan Colleran, who fanned nine in 11 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits] is a good pitcher.

“They were playing solid defense so at that point you have to make something happen. That’s what we did and we prevailed.”

North Attleborough grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Megan Wynn’s RBI single. But B-R tied it in the bottom half when Shaw (who began play batting just over .700) went the other way and lined a home run over the left-center field fence.

The Red Rocketeers scored a pair of unearned runs in the second as a result of two B-R errors. But that 3-1 lead lasted only until the third when the Trojans tied it on Chelsea Correia’s RBI single and Dolloff’s triple.

“That was big,” Carrozza said of his team’s scoring two runs. “You have to get on the board to get a little momentum going back – especially in the finals.

“It pretty much was a good game with great play on both ends.”

Recap: No. 4 B-R 9, No. 16 New Bedford 8

April, 27, 2012

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Interesting things have happened when Bridgewater-Raynham and New Bedford square up on the softball diamond this season.

The last time out, the Whalers crawled out of a 12-0 hole with two at-bats left to grab a quirky 13-12 victory over the Trojans.

This matchup didn’t have the extreme one-sided swing that the previous heavyweight nonleague match had, but nonetheless it had its fair share of up-and-down drama with the Trojans coming out on top 9-8 on a blustery Friday afternoon.

The two teams combined for 16 runs in the games first three innings only to see the pitching from Audrey Dolloff and Brittany Carvahlo calm things down to surrender three total hits – two for the Trojans and one for the Whalers – in the final four innings of play.

Madi Shaw delivered the go-ahead run with an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth and her relay throw from shortstop nabbed the tying run at the plate in the Whalers’ last at-bat.

“Both of us know that our teams can hit the ball,” Whalers head coach Harry Lowe said. “You’ve got two good pitchers on the mound, it’s not like they are bad pitchers, but you’ve got two teams that have girls that swing from the heels. … Whoever is going to make the last play is going to win the game. They got the double in the last inning just like we had the double the first time.”

Trojans head coach Mike Carrozza rememberd being on the losing end of the last meeting between the two teams, and he most recalled the feeling not being a very good one.

“It wasn’t (a fun game) to be a part of after being up 12 runs and losing going into the fifth inning,” he said. “New Bedford just kept battling. Today we weren’t going to be denied and the kids kept fighting back inning after inning. We did what we had to do and we got the win.”

Shaw has started to come into her own for the Trojans in her sophomore season and this game may have highlighted that more than others.

The only time she didn’t impact the game at the plate was when she was walked in the fourth inning. When she swung the bat, she was 3-for-3 with three extra-base hits for six RBI. She connected on a game-tying 3-run homer in the bottom of the first, a game-tying 2-run shot in the second and the go-ahead RBI double in the sixth.

Shaw also saved a run for the Trojans in the field in the Whalers’ half of the seventh, when she erased Hannah Greany at the plate with a relay throw from short to help B-R cling to the 9-8 lead.

“Today was a real big game for her as far as the defensive end and the offensive end of it,” Corrozza said.

Before she gets into the on-deck circle Shaw can be found warming up off the tee to try and keep her swing nice and level, but she believes she is also starting to pick up some of the leadership qualities in only her second year with the team.

“I’m always talking all the time, even last year when I was still a little awkward freshman,” she said. “As it’s building, I do feel that I may have to (the leadership) over my senior year.”

Preseason MIAA softball All-State team

March, 30, 2012
Today we kick off our high school coverage of the spring season with our preseason MIAA softball All-State team, as selected by staff and state high school coaches.

Kiara Amos, Sr., Malden
Trish Hansen, Sr., Mansfield
Meghan Rico, Sr., King Philip
Sarah Ropiak, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
Shannon Smith, Jr., Milford

Taylor Archer, Sr. C/3B, Milford
Patty Borges, Sr. SS, Coyle-Cassidy
Alex Burgess, Sr. OF, Chelmsford
Bri Chiusano, Sr. OF, Mansfield
Lexi Gifford, Sr. IF/OF, Natick
Olivia Godin, Sr. C, King Philip
Nicole Lundstrom, Jr. C, Dighton-Rehoboth
Christina Raso, Sr. SS, Burlington
Reilly Weiners, Jr. C, Agawam

Meg Carnase, Sr. P, King Philip
Katie Casey, Jr. P, Braintree
Katherine Clark, Sr. P, Coyle-Cassidy
Allie Colleran, Jr. SS, Concord-Carlisle
Meghan Colleran, Soph. P, North Attleborough
Stephanie Cornish, Sr. SS, Abington
Abby Curran, Sr. IF, Bishop Fenwick
Alexis DeBrosse, Jr. 2B, New Bedford
Audrey Dolloff, Sr. P, Bridgewater-Raynham
Maggie Hoffman, Jr. P, Avon
Kaleigh Finigan, Jr. C, St. Mary's (Lynn)
Natalie Leone, Jr. 2B, Ashland
Rachel Levine, Jr. CF, Milford
Abby Johnson, Sr. SS, Chelmsford
Galen Kerr, Jr. P, Concord-Carlisle
Jackie Kielty, Jr. P, Middleborough
Kayli Moniz, Sr. SS, Fairhaven
Breanna Monroe, Sr. OF, Shrewsbury
Shannon Orton, Sr. P, Case
Kaci Panarelli, Jr. C, Shrewsbury
Meghan Rich, Sr. P, Chelmsford
Julie LeClair, Sr. 3B, Coyle-Cassidy
Cayleigh McCarthy, Sr. 1B, King Philip
Madi Shaw, Soph. SS, Bridgewater-Raynham
Alyssa Siegmann, Sr. SS, King Philip