Boston High School: Mike Carrozza

LOWELL, Mass. – Revere had already accomplished something by the first inning of Wednesday night’s Division 1 Eastern Mass. softball final that no other team had this postseason. The Patriots put up a run on Bridgewater-Raynham starter Sarah Dawson, after a streak of 28 consecutive scoreless playoff innings.

While the upstart Patriots came out swinging against the South champion Trojans, they were unable to sustain the momentum, as B-R busted out in a three-run third in a 3-1 to advance to Saturday’s state championship game against Central champion Holy Name.

“I had a thought that, ‘Oh, there’s the one,’ and I wasn’t letting up any more,” Dawson said.

The junior University of Pittsburgh commit settled down after surrendering her first and only run of the playoffs to date. Dawson, who threw a no-hitter in Monday’s South sectional final against North Attleborough, allowed just two base runners past the first innings. She finished with nine strikeouts on the game, while recording five of the final six outs of the game by punch out.

Revere starter Sabrina Palermo kept the Trojans off balance in the early going as well, facing just two batters over the minimum entering the fourth.

That’s when some timely hitting and opportunistic base-running paid off for B-R.

“We probably should have waited a little bit more – [we were] a little impatient,” Trojans catcher Emily Kurkul said her team’s approach at the plate. “We were going a little too quick. The second time through we were much more determined to stay back and look at pitches to get hits.”

Kurkul, who leads the state with 12 home runs on the season, boosted her slugging percentage further with a lead-off double in the fourth – B-R’s second hit off Palermo. The Trojans would then load the bases with walks by Jenny Heller and Stephanie Cavallaro.

Sophie Perez tied the score with a sacrifice fly to center, allowing courtesy runner Taylor Poulin (in Kurkul’s proxy) to score easily.

That’s when the inning took a turn. With two outs and a 1-2 count on Trojans first baseman Holly Greet, Palermo threw a wild pitch. Heller came down the line and slid into home, but the throw from the backstop went back into the infield, allowing Cavallaro to score all the way from second as well.

The run support was all Dawson would need as she closed the door on the Patriots, finishing the game by striking out the side in the seventh.

Revere scored its first-inning run with a two-out rally. Catcher Juliana Cecere singled before Kristina Stella doubled her home with a gap shot to left-center field.

It’s not how you start that counts: Although the Trojans found themselves in an unfamiliar position playing catch up, there was an awful lot of game to go.

“At that point, we’re not going into any kind of panic mode,” B-R coach Mike Carrozza said.

A big part of the reason why the Trojans weren’t about to worry was their ace. Although Dawson proved mortal in allowing her first postseason run, she wasn’t about to let the game slip away either.

“She was reaching back and she knows that she wants the game,” Carrozza said. “She knew that she was going to have to reach back a little bit and we started using the changeup a lot more in the third inning, just so they realized it was there.”

The changeup was the key component of Dawson’s arsenal on Wedesday, and B-R’s brain trust, with Kurkul behind the plate, sought to make sure the Patriots didn’t have the same kinds of swing the second time through the lineup.

“It’s a big part of the game – keeping them off balance,” Kurkul said. “You can’t just throw fastballs all the time, they’re going to hit you.”

Dawson’s changeup also came with a secondary benefit – seemingly adding velocity to an already plus-fastball. It proved an effective combination.

“I was able to spot it, put it in the dirt a couple of times,” Dawson said. “It made them swing, get them off-speed, get them off-balance.”

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.”

D1 South: B-R 7, Hopkinton 0

June, 8, 2014
Jun 8
TAUNTON, Mass. – The trio is back.

After experimenting with hitting All-State infielder Madi Shaw in the cleanup spot, Bridgewater-Raynham softball coach Mike Carrozza went back to his regular lineup for the Trojans’ Division 1 South semi-final game with Hopkinton on Saturday. With Shaw back leading off, center fielder Stacey Korotsky hitting second and catcher Emily Kurkul following third, the Trojans’ “trio” was unstoppable.

Both Kurkul and Shaw hit home runs while beating the Hillers, 7-0, while punching their ticket to Monday’s sectional final against North Attleborough.

“When I told them I was hitting lead-off again, they were so fired up,” Shaw said of Korotsky and Kurkul. “I think even that gave them a little oomph today. It’s good to be back.”

Kurkul provided the biggest hit of the day with a three-run homer to left, her 12th home run on the season, breaking up a scoreless game in the third inning.

“I was just looking to move my runners and maybe get at least one [run],” said Kurkul, a junior Merrimack commit.

Shaw was the fulcrum. While going 3-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases, the Fordham commit set the table effectively, including during the third. Shaw led off with a base hit before Korotsky turned a sacrifice bunt attempt into a hit as well. Kurkul followed with the blast on a Alissa Karjel fastball.

“It was a good, balanced effort,” Carrozza said. “Emily [Kurkul]set the tone early with that blast to left and then Madi, [Shaw] but the offense, we had runners on base in just about every inning.”

And then there was B-R starter Sarah Dawson. The junior Pitt commit cruised through with four strikeouts while not surrendering a walk, as she continued her streak of scoreless postseason appearances this year.

“Sarah was dominant again in the circle, hitting her spots,” Carrozza said. “When your pitcher’s dominant like that, it frustrates the offense on the other side.”

Kurkul’s homer would have been enough, but the Trojans (22-1) continued adding to their lead with Shaw’s one-out blast in the fourth before striking for three more in the fifth. Kelsey Leuenberger scored on a wild pitch and Taylor Poulin added run-scoring single before Shaw picked up her second RBI of the game on her third hit of the day.

Return to full strength: Shaw was frustrated as she missed two weeks at the end of the regular season due to injury but is rounding into form in the postseason. But after a performance like Saturday’s, Shaw’s back to normal.

“It was excruciating sitting and watching,” Shaw said. “I’m feeling more myself though.”

While Shaw has been a key cog to the Trojans’ lineup throughout her four varsity seasons, the protection in the lineup offered by Kurkul has been a key to B-R’s success this season. Although Shaw hit fourth in the Trojans’ lineup earlier this postseason, her return to the leadoff spot was welcomed by her teammates, creating the opportunities for Kurkul to drive in runs.

“She’s a threat, everybody’s afraid of her,” Shaw said.

KINGSTON, Mass. – Emily Kurkul’s been on a tear.

Actually, that doesn’t even do it justice. What Bridgewater-Raynham’s junior catcher has accomplished at the plate this season is downright Ruthian. Entering Wednesday’s rematch against state No. 1 Silver Lake, Kurkul had clubbed 10 home runs through 17 games. She did it again against the Lakers, delivering the only run of the game while swatting her 11th of the season, leading off the fourth inning of the Trojans’ 1-0 win.

The loss is the Lakers’ first of the season and avenged B-R’s earlier 3-2 loss – their lone loss of the season.

“I’ve just been seeing the ball really well lately,” Kurkul said. “I’m just trying my best to hit singles and then the home runs come. I’m not aiming to hit home runs at all.”

It’s been quite a week for Kurkul, who announced her college commitment to Merrimack on Monday. Yet, despite wielding a white-hot bat, her approach at the plate has remained consistent. That plate discipline was also evident throughout B-R’s lineup as the Trojans collected nine hits against Lakers sophomore ace Madi Barone.

“You try to stay off her high fastball, that’s her out pitch,” B-R coach Mike Carrozza said of attacking Barone. “You have to stay a little more relaxed in the box. I think the first time we were a little too hyper with our swings. The mindset today was just to get the ball in play and try to advance runners.”

Meanwhile, Trojans pitcher Sarah Dawson was out to prove the early season loss to Silver Lake was an aberration. While throwing a complete-game, two-hit shutout, the Pitt commit had her full arsenal of pitches working.

“I thought she was a different pitcher today,” Silver Lake coach Tony Pina said of Dawson. “I thought she was determined to kind of prove that B-R is deserving of everything good that’s said about them and she did not disappoint. From the first inning, she was throwing smoke today.”

With a little extra mustard on the fastball, Dawson kept the Lakers off balance with a mix of changeups, screwballs and curves.

“I just wanted to be better,” Dawson said. “I didn’t want to let my team down. I wanted to do what I do well and throw the ball like I know that I can. I felt like I didn’t do that as well as I could the last game.”

While dealing with its first setback of the season, Silver Lake has two games remaining on the regular season, participating in the Peter Looney Grand Slam Tournament, hosted by Apponequet.

After splitting the season series with the state’s top two teams, there’s also a strong potential for a rubber match in a Division 1 South tournament duel. And, just like Wednesday, there’s not a whole lot that has divided the teams.

“We lost to a home run,” Pina said. “But I thought our defense played well today. They had baserunners everywhere and they were a hit or two, or an error or two away from breaking this open, so that’s what we can take from this game.”

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.”

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.

D1 South softball: B-R 5, D-R 4

June, 2, 2013

BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – Trailing by a run in the home half of the seventh inning in their Division 1 South tournament game Saturday, Bridgewater-Raynham softball head coach Mike Carrozza needed the bottom of his lineup to save the day.

No problem.

“As a team this year, we’re batting over .400,” Carrozza said, “so everyone, one to nine, can hit the ball.”

The Trojans had the Nos. 6, 7 and 8 hitters at-bat in the seventh. They set the rally in motion and No. 9 hitter, second baseman Sophie Perez took care of the rest, slapping a two-run single through the hole for a 5-4 walk-off win against No. 16 seed Dighton-Rehoboth.

It might not have been the type of game B-R (21-0) was looking for, after committing a season-high three errors, resulting in a pair of unearned runs, but it was good enough.

“A couple times we had the bases loaded, or second and third, and they made nice plays to get us out of those innings,” Carrozza said. “I told the girls to never say never. We came back in I don’t know how many of those games at the end of last year.”

The late-innings comeback was old hat for the reigning South sectional champions, who endured more than a couple extra-innings affairs on their run to the crown.

On Saturday, Jordan Rodrigue and Julia Milardo got the rally going with back-to-back singles to start the seventh. After a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt from Jenny Heller moved the runners along, Perez dug in.

“I knew we didn’t need much,” said Perez, a sophomore. “I knew I just need to get a single, score a run get it tied. That was my job. I saw a nice outside pitch and went with it.”

She pulled a 2-2 offering into left field, allowing Rodrigue and Milardo to score easily. Perez’s teammates mobbed her near second base.

It wasn’t the first big hit Perez (2-for-4, 3 RBI) delivered on the day. She drove in the Trojans’ first run of the game, during a two-out rally in the fourth, on with an RBI single.

“She stayed short on the ball and drove it through the hole,” Carrozza said of Perez’s game-winning hit. “That’s what it’s all about, getting the ball in play and trying to move your runners.”

Coming off a season in which the Trojans fell just short of a state championship appearance, the group has greater goals set for this playoff run.

“That’s the plan,” Perez said, “working hard at practice [Sunday] and then beating Taunton on Monday.”

B-R capped an Old Colony League championship season with a perfect record, but knew they’d have their hands full with Saturday’s opponent. The Falcons (15-9) were a 16th seed only by number, coming out of an uber-competitive South Coast Conference.

The Trojans, who committed just eight errors on the regular season, had three errors, putting undo pressure on sophomore starter Sarah Dawson, who was making her first postseason appearance. Dawson averted further damage as D-R threatened in the fourth with the bases loaded, the result of another B-R error. In total, three of the four Falcons’ runs were unearned against Dawson, who struck out eight to earn the complete-game win.

Assuredly, B-R will hope to bring its A-game when it meets former OCL rival Taunton in Monday’s quarterfinal game (3:30 p.m., at B-R).

“I feel like we can do anything,” Perez said.

While D-R certainly played well enough to win, head coach Dave Driscoll, the veteran of multiple state championship teams in his tenure, took nothing but positives from his team’s season-ending loss.

“This year hasn’t always been a textbook year for us, but we overcame some adversity today,” he said. “We gave up a lead, but they came back. Our pitchers struggled some this year, but they battled today. I told all of them to be proud of wearing a Falcon uniform today.”

However, Saturday marked the end of a remarkable career for the Falcons’ four-year catcher, Nicole Lundstrom. The already two-time ESPN Boston All-State selection and Syracuse signee closed out her career with a 3-for-3 performance with two RBI and a walk.

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.”

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.”

B-R hammers home OCL softball title

May, 26, 2011

TAUNTON, Mass. -- What a difference a couple of hours makes.

Taunton and Bridgewater-Raynham faced off twice in a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday to decide the Old Colony League softball title. In the first game — which was the continuation of a suspended game that had also been postponed earlier — the Tigers and Trojans traded zeros for eight innings before B-R broke through in the bottom of the ninth, scoring on a wild pitch for a 1-0 win.

The Trojans didn’t have to sweat things out again in the nightcap, batting around in the first and fourth innings and plating four runs in each frame while pounding out a 12-0 victory over Taunton.

With their second win, B-R captured its first OCL title since 2005, when they shared the crown with the Tigers. It also marks the first time since ’05 that Taunton hasn’t captured the league title.

Trojans ace Audrey Dolloff put in yeoman’s work in the circle, turning in six innings of shutout ball before throwing a complete-game shutout in Game 2. The B-R bats showed up in the nightcap as well, churning out 19 hits.

“What had a lot of opportunities to score in the first game, but we didn’t put across runs,” Trojans head coach Mike Carrozza said. “Pretty much, in the second game, the kids came right out hitting. It got contagious.”

Freshman shortstop Maddie Shaw paced the B-R (12-3, 4-1) offense, going 3-for-5 with a home run, two doubles and three RBI. Six different Trojans hitters drove in runs, including Jordan Roderigue and Devin Doherty who had two RBI each. Catcher Chelsea Correia went a perfect 5-for-5 with five singles and an RBI.

The Trojans feasted on a depleted Taunton (9-9, 4-2) pitching staff. Tigers ace Christina Meister has already been lost for the season to injury, so it was left to freshman Jessie Aleixo to pull the team through two crucial league games. She performed admirably, throwing six shutout innings in Game 1.

But things had clearly changed in Game 2 when 10 B-R batters collected hits.

Still, the Trojans’ biggest offensive fireworks came of Shaw’s bat in the fifth inning. She used an inside-out swing to send an opposite field home run over Jack Tripp Field’s right field fence of 185 feet.

“Coach told me just keep my eye on it, wait on it, just do everything I’ve been doing this year,” Shaw said.

From there, Dolloff went about silencing the Tigers, striking out 11 while allowing only three hits.

“I’ve thrown more playing in summer tournaments,” Dolloff said reflecting on her 13 innings of service. “You just go out there and do it.”