Boston High School: Meg Colleran

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

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
12:07
AM ET


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.”

D1 South: North Attleborough 5, Franklin 1

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
9:01
PM ET
TAUNTON, Mass. - North Attleborough scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and that turned out to be enough for Gatorade Massachusetts Softball Player of the Year and Hockomock League MVP Meg Colleran, who got plenty of help from her defense against free-swinging Franklin.

The Red Rocketeers (18-3) advanced to their first Division 1 South sectional final in program history with a 5-1 win over the Panthers in an all-Hockomock semifinal on Saturday afternoon at Jack Tripp Field.

“We didn’t strikeout many times. She’s the strikeout queen, Gatorade Player of the Year and we only struck out twice so we’ll take the good points,” said Franklin coach Kate Fallon. “We put the ball in play. It just stunk that we gave them three runs in the first inning.”

Against a team willing to swing at the first pitch, Colleran threw her fewest pitches in a game this season (60) and had her fewest strikeouts (two). The Panthers approach did cause the UMass-bound senior to come up with a different mentality.

“We were just trying to get outs any way that we can,” said Colleran. “They were swinging at the first pitch, so I think me and [catcher Mycala Moody’s] strategy was just put it somewhere where we’re going to get easy groundball outs, easy fly ball outs so we could get back in and hit.”

The strategy was aided by the Rocketeers putting up three runs in the first inning.

Marissa Gifford led-off with a walk against Franklin senior starter Lily Criscione, which was followed by an infield single by Moody (3-for-4). Colleran lined a single to right that scored one run and she advanced into scoring position on the throw. MacKenzie Sherman and Danielle Gorman each followed with RBI-groundouts to give North a solid lead.

“All three of our tournament games, we’ve scored in the first inning,” said North Attleborough coach Bill Wallace. “That lead is huge because late in the game, if they want to bunt or do something, we’re getting outs versus trying to cut down lead runners.”

Of the first inning, Fallon said, “It was a tough start; you can’t spot them three and try to comeback. We weren’t ready to go in the first inning and then we settled in and I thought we played great innings two through five.”

She admitted that the Panthers plan at the plate was to attack early in the count. She said, “Just be aggressive -- you’re the 18th seed and you ‘don’t belong here’ and just get in there and swing.”

The Panthers (14-10) were able to put the ball in play a lot against the Hockomock’s leader in strikeouts. In fact, the Rocketeers had to make 19 outs in the field (with no errors) and several were of highlight reel-caliber. Julianna Johnson made a diving grab in the second to rob Olivia DiGiacomo of extra bases and third baseman Lindsey Paquin snared a grounder Sabrina LoMonaco in the seventh that seemed destined for left.

“It’s a testament to our coaching staff being loyal to the kids and not panicking,” said Wallace. “[The players] stepped up this year. This is the farthest this program has ever gone.”

Colleran added, “They’ve put in the work all year long and some games they don’t get as much action maybe, but today they had all but two outs and they did a really, really good job. If you don’t have confidence in your defense then they’re not going to have confidence in you.”

Franklin got its lone run in the top of the sixth. With one out, leadoff hitter Erin Hanley was hit by a pitch then promptly stole second. She advanced to third on a deep line drive to center and was able to come home on a wild pitch to make it 3-1.

The momentum did not last long as North tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the bottom half of the inning. Gorman smacked a single to left and Rachel Murphy followed with a bunt single. After a strikeout, Emily Knobel bunted and it was thrown away to load the bases.

Gifford grounded to second but the ball was bobbled and then thrown into left and two runs came home to score. Moody got her third infield single of the game by beating out a bunt to reload the bases, but Criscione limited the damage by striking out Colleran (who was also one of the league’s leading hitters).

Criscione also came up in the seventh and blasted a one-out double to straightaway center, but was doubled off on a hard liner back to Colleran by DiGiacomo to end the game.

There was some disappointment from Fallon that the Panthers could not get past the semifinal stage for the second straight year, but she recognized what a great achievement it was to make it to this stage as the No. 18 seed.

She said, “There’s no quit. There’s no quit. Even Lily, ended her career with a double over the centerfielder’s head. I can’t ask for anything more from them. I’m proud of them.”

Jack Tripp Field has not been a favorite venue for the Rocketeers in recent years with several playoff runs ending in the semifinal stage, as well as a first round loss to Taunton last year. But earlier this season, North beat the Tigers and Colleran admitted that it may have given the team a little more confidence going into Saturday.

“Being able to get a win at this field probably helped us out,” she said. “We’ve been wanting to do this for a while and it feels really good to finally be here.”

North Attleborough will face top seed Bridgewater-Raynham in the sectional final on Monday at 5 p.m. in Taunton.

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.”

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