Boston High School: Milford

All steady atop boys' soccer Top 20 poll

September, 24, 2014
9/24/14
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The top eight teams have stayed the same for the second week in a row, which sets up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown between Needham and BC High at Saturday's Bay State Conference/Catholic Conference Challenge. Prior to that game, BC High will take on No. 12 Brockton on Thursday.

Brockton and Dartmouth are the two teams that dropped out of the top 10 this week after both teams lost to New Bedford in the past week. The Indians nearly dropped out of the top 20 after Tuesday's loss to Barnstable, but Dartmouth stays in the rankings at No. 18. Last year's state seimfinalist Silver Lake has moved up to No. 9 and 2012 finalist Amherst has taken over the No. 10 spot.

Two teams have moved into the rankings. Duxbury makes its first appearance in the Top 20 after a 6-0-1 start, while Nauset returns to the rankings after a three-game win streak over the past week. Milford, which has struggled over its past three games, and Wachusett, which fell to Algonquin on Tuesday, were the two teams to drop out, although the Mountaineers stayed in the last 10 out.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

Conference Breakdown:
Bay State - 3
Big Three - 2
Catholic - 2
DCL - 2
Patriot - 2
Smith - 2
ACL - 1
Cape Ann - 1
Dual Valley - 1
Midland A - 1
MVC - 1
OCL - 1
TVL - 1

Needham ascends to No. 1 in boys' soccer poll

September, 18, 2014
9/18/14
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Ludlow drops from the top spot in the ESPN Boston MIAA boys' soccer Top 20 poll this week after being beaten by unranked and defensing state champ Belchertown. In the Lions place is Needham, which was held to a scoreless draw against top 10 rival Framingham on Tuesday and faces No. 2 BC High this weekend. Concord-Carlisle stays at No. 3 with St. John's Prep and Masconomet rounding out the top five.

Attleboro's inconsistent form has dropped the Bombardiers out of the top 20 along with Nauset, Somerville, and Westborough. Amherst, which is now 5-0 on the season, has moved into the No. 13 spot, while Milford, Braintree, and Wachusett have all earned spots in the Top 20.

There is a very close race for the final few spots in the top 20 with unbeaten teams like Duxbury and Boston Latin sitting in the last 10 out and several teams, such as the four that moved out of the rankings this week, that have the potential to make a charge up the standings if they can find a run of good results.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

This week's poll by conference:
Bay State - 3
Big Three - 2
Catholic Conference - 2
DCL - 2
Midland - 2
Smith - 2
Cape Ann - 1
Dual Valley - 1
Hockomock - 1
MVC - 1
Old Colony - 1
Patriot - 1
TVL - 1
Milford High School has tapped Canton assistant Paul Seaver as its next head coach of the boys basketball program.

Ryan Lanigan of Hockomock Sports was the first to report the news.

Seaver, 24, is a 2007 graduate of Milford High, and has spent the last three seasons as a varsity assistant at Canton High under his good friend Ryan Gordy. Last season, the Bulldogs went 13-7, their most successful campaign in nearly two decades.

He takes over for Jason Potty, who resigned recently after one disappointing 4-16 season. A season ago, in 2013-13, the Scarlet Hawks captured their first MIAA Division 1 Central title in 15 years, snapping St. John's five-year run as district champs in a thrilling final at WPI's Harrington Auditorium. Long-time head coach Steve Manguso resigned from the Milford post following the season.

Seaver's father, the late Paul "Wally" Seaver, started his coaching career at Milford High, as a JV coach, before heading Franklin High for a decade. Wally died in February 2013 after a two-year battle with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Paul has since operated the popular Wally Seaver High School Invitational basketball tournament each summer, with all proceeds going to ALS research.

According to Lanigan, Seaver -- who turns 25 next week -- will be the youngest head coach in the Hockomock League next season.

Soccer tourney roundup: Newton North girls advance

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
10:57
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NEWTON, Mass. – Shannon Fitzgerald scored a brace and tacked on an assist as the No. 2 seed in Division 1 North (and No. 2 ranked team in the ESPNBoston.com statewide rankings) Newton North moved into the sectional semifinals with a 3-0 victory over No. 10 seed Andover on Sunday afternoon.

The final score was comfortable for the Tigers (15-0-2), but the start of the game was anything but easy, as the visitors stormed out of the gates and put pressure on the Newton North back line. Forward Veronica Alois, in particular, caused problems for the Tigers and helped the Warriors (11-5-4) earn three corner kicks in the opening five minutes.

There is a cliché in soccer that goals change games. In the 20th minute, Newton North proved it right again.

A long ball forward by Fitzgerald caught Tigers forward Angela Ward one-on-one with Andover senior defender Sarah Van Antwerp. The two players came together and van Antwerp went to ground, but the official waved play on and Ward took advantage of the breakaway to score what turned out to be the game winner.

Andover head coach Meghan Matson commented, “It stinks because we were dominating to start the game possession-wise and just our opportunities on goal. I think we did a really good job stepping up and winning the 50/50s and being a real defensive presence on the field.”

She added, “It was a non-call that from our perspective should have been a call but it is what it is and you kind of have to move on from there.”

The Warriors had to move on without Van Antwerp, who pulled her hamstring in the collision with Ward. Four minutes after her injury, with Andover still reshuffling its back line, Newton North struck again. Fitzgerald this time was the scorer. With a deft touch to take the ball inside a defender on the edge of the 18, she struck a shot inside the post to make it 2-0.

Newton North head coach James Hamblin remarked, “The first five minutes, I think we were all over the place. They were nervous, excited…I don’t know and to be fair Andover came at us. The first five minutes we couldn’t get out of our own half.”

He continued, “That old cliché - the goal turned the game and they had to take her out and we got the second while they got organized.”

After halftime, Newton North took control of the game with Andover keeper Emily Masterson forced into strong, diving saves at her near post to stop both Ward and Fitzgerald from finding the third goal. Matson acknowledged the improvement in her senior goalkeeper this season.

“This season our starting keeper was out with a concussion and she stepped in and she’s been incredible for us. She’s made some really clutch saves and it’s amazing to see the transformation in her confidence.”

Bay State Conference MVP Christina Callahan and fellow midfielder Amelia Williams started to get control of the center of the pitch in the second half and the Tigers grew increasingly willing to hit long diagonals to the forwards, as the clock ran down.

“We definitely have good power, strength, and speed up top,” noted Hamblin. “The front two of Ang and Shannon are excellent and we’ve had a rotating system on the other forward. We used our pace and power to get in behind them and it worked at times.”

Andover did create a couple of chances in the dying minutes as it grew increasing desperate to find a goal.

Alois took advantage of a slip to break into the box and rounded Tigers keeper Maddie Bledsoe only for right back Maya King to come across the field and make a last-ditch block. A minute later, Alois’ footwork created space at the top of the 18 for Meredith Van Antwerp, but her shot was right at Bledsoe.

As the game entered the final 30 seconds, the Tigers had one more flurry on offense, but Masterson made two sliding blocks in the 18 and one slide tackle well outside of the box. Despite the keeper’s best efforts, the ball fell to Fitzgerald who fired home her second and clinched the game.

Hamblin remarked,” I said to the girls at halftime that the next goal is huge. I said that if we get it, it’s game over. I would have liked for it to come early, not with 10 seconds left, but I thought the more we defended well then the more frustrated that they got and started hitting longer balls that we soaked up.”

Matson was disappointed that the final score was not indicative of how well Andover played against the still unbeaten Tigers.

You look at the score and see 3-0 and think that’s kind of a rough game, but it was definitely not indicative of how the game went,” she said. “To go down 2-0 like we did and keep attacking says a lot about their heart.”

Newton North will advance to Tuesday night’s semifinal at Manning Field in Lynn to take on Masconomet.

Tournament Notes:
  • The No. 1 seed in D1 North also advanced on Sunday, as Central Catholic (the No. 1 team in the final regular season, ESPNBoston.com statewide rankings) defeated Lincoln-Sudbury, 4-2. It was the second game in a row that the Raiders have won by that score, after giving up only a single goal in the first 17 games of the season. Central Catholic will take on another DCL Large team in the semifinals – No. 5 Acton-Boxborough.
  • On Sunday, several of the defending state champions advanced in the tournament: In D1, the Needham boys scored late to beat league rival Weymouth, 1-0, in a rematch of last year’s sectional final and the Franklin girls scored five goals to beat league rival Milford. In D2, the Medfield girls went on the road to beat Foxborough, 4-2. In D3 girls, Weston will take on Hamilton-Wenham on Monday.
  • There is guaranteed to be a new champion in D2 and D3 for the boys, although each of the state champions from 2012 is still alive in the postseason. Groton-Dunstable was moved from D2 to D1 in the Central (D2 no longer exists outside of Eastern Mass.), and pulled off an upset of No. 2 seed Doherty on Sunday. Sutton was also moved during realignment, from D3 to the newly created D4 in Central, and will take on Maynard as the No. 2 seed on Monday.
  • To this point (although to be fair not all of them have taken the pitch yet) each of the No. 1 seeds are still alive. The biggest upset to this point happened on Sunday evening as the Walpole girls, the No. 19 seed in D1 South, knocked off No. 3 seed Oliver Ames, the Hockomock’s Davenport division champ and 2012 sectional finalist, on penalties after 100 scoreless minutes. It was the second straight PK victory for the Rebels, who also beat No. 14 Plymouth South on Friday. Walpole advances to face No. 6 North Attleborough, which beat Whitman-Hanson, 3-2, in overtime on a goal by Hana Caster. The Rocketeers had their own penalty let off on Sunday when a Panthers PK struck the post in a tie game with fewer than 10 minutes remaining.
  • The D1 South boys’ quarterfinals are set with four very intriguing match-ups. Top seed and top ranked Silver Lake crushed Milford on Sunday and will host another Hockomock League opponent, Mansfield, on Tuesday. The winner of that game will face the winner of New Bedford (beat Marshfield, 3-1), which spent several weeks ranked no. 1 this season, and Franklin (beat Taunton, 2-1), which took home a Kelley-Rex division title and has only lost once all season.* On the other side of the bracket, Needham will face Brockton (beat Bridgewater-Raynham, 2-0) in a rematch of last year’s first round meeting and the winner faces whichever team advances out of a Top 20 battle between Wellesley (beat Braintree, 4-0) and BC High (beat King Philip, 4-0).
  • In D1 North, there were a pair of upsets on the boys’ side with No. 13 Malden beating No. 4 Peabody, 1-0, in overtime and No. 12 Lowell advancing past No. 5 East Boston, 3-2, on penalties. Those two will face off in the quarterfinals. Top seed Somerville moved on with a comfortable 4-0 win and will take on a talented Bay State team, Brookline, which beat Lincoln-Sudbury, 1-0). Second seed Madison Park beat Chelmsford, 1-0, and will next face perennial power Acton-Boxborough, which beat Framingham, 1-0, in overtime. St. John’s Prep (beat Andover, 2-0), the No. 3 seed, will play No. 11 Lexington (beat Revere, 5-0) in the final second round match — all to be played on Tuesday.
*Franklin also lost, 2-0, to Attleboro, but the game was officially changed to a 1-0 win after Attleboro was forced to vacate its wins.

Snapshot: Milford softball's twice as nice

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
2:08
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MILFORD, Mass. -- On Monday evening at the Hoboken Club, the Milford High softball team was honored for its back-to-back MIAA Division 1 state championships.

During the proceedings, we handed out our 2013 Miss Softball Award to two-time recipient Shannon Smith. The recent graduate who's soon headed out for her freshman year at the University of Kentucky became just the second athlete in ESPN Boston's history to win two of our Player of the Year awards, joining Nicole Boudreau (Andover), who won consecutive Miss Basketball honors in 2011 and '12.

It also marked the end of an era, as the Scarlet Hawks graduate the program's three all-time hits leaders, with third baseman Caroline Fairbanks, center fielder Rachel Levine, and Smith all continuing their softball careers in college.

Here's a group shot from last night's festivities.
Milford softball head coach Brian Macchi has resigned from his position, he told ESPN Boston Thursday.

Macchi, who led the Scarlet Hawks to back-to-back Division 1 state championships in 2012 and '13, is vacating the job to become the assistant principal at Milford High School. He cited an increased workload and his respect to not hold a coaching position while serving as an administrator as the factors behind the move.

He informed the team of his departure during a meeting with players two weeks ago.

"I always tell the girls, when there's an opportunity there for you, you take it," Macchi said. "This was just a great opportunity for me. I've always hoped that I could one day move into a administration role and when this presented itself, I knew it was the right thing to do."

Macchi, a Milford graduate and former standout baseball player at Boston College, led the Scararlet Hawks on one of the most dominant streaks in Massachusetts softball in recent memory, compiling a 50-1 record during the last two championship seasons after a state semifinal appearance in 2011 and a state final trip in 2010. During his eight seasons at the helm, Macchi compiled a career record of 168-22.

He also coaches the Milford Post 59 Legion baseball team. During the summer, Macchi has been taking courses toward gaining his Massachusetts principal's certification while Post 59 is in the midst of a Zone 4 playoff run.

"Being in the position that I will be in, I know the kind of commitment that I will have to bring to my job, so I didn't think it would be fair to continue coaching," Macchi said. "I'll still have the Legion ball to keep my competitive juices going, but in the district, there's a tradition that administrators usually do not coach. So I felt this was the right time."

Milford's Shannon Smith is ESPN Boston Miss Softball

June, 27, 2013
6/27/13
10:33
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ESPNBoston.com and its high school section announced today that Shannon Smith, senior pitcher for the Milford Scarlet Hawks, is the recipient of its third annual “Miss Softball” award, presented annually to the top player in Massachusetts.

This is the second straight season in which Smith has earned the Miss Softball honor.

The Miss Softball Award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of ESPNBoston.com staff, correspondents and state softball coaches. Smith will be presented with the award at a later date.

“I think we’ve all run out of adjectives to describe how great a high school softball player Shannon Smith has been,” said ESPN Boston High Schools co-editor Scott Barboza, who coordinates the site’s softball coverage. “Put simply, Shannon is a record-breaker and ends her career as one of the greatest all-time talents Massachusetts has ever seen.”

In her senior season, Smith broke the state’s all-time strikeouts record, finishing with 1,219 for her career while leading the Scarlet Hawks to their second straight MIAA Division 1 state championship game victory. Smith was 25-1 this year, with 358 strikeouts and an earned run average of 0.04. She was also one of Milford’s top offensive threats, hitting .489 with an .869 slugging percentage, along with a team-leading nine home runs and 35 RBIs.

In 2012, Smith went 24-0 with a minuscule ERA of 0.08. She allowed just 29 hits over 167 innings thrown with 359 strikeouts and 29 walks, while allowing only six runs all season, two of which were earned. Smith also threw four shutouts in the postseason on the Scarlet Hawks’ drive to the Division 1 state championship and an undefeated 25-0 record.

At the plate, Smith hit at a .460 clip with nine home runs and 40 RBIs.

Smith was also named Massachusetts softball Gatorade Player of the Year earlier this month, marking the third time the Milford ace claimed the award. Smith first won the award during her freshman campaign and again in 2012.

“Even for a player of her stature, when she started as a freshman and the bar was set so high, she set it higher every year,” Milford head coach Brian Macchi said. “Whether it was her pitching, at the plate, or her defense, she set goals and became a better player. The progression was amazing to watch.

“It’s sad to see her leave here, but I know she has the skill set and the drive to be very successful at the next level.”
The Hockomock League recently announced its boys' lacrosse All-Stars and season Most Valuable Player.

Here's a look at the list, courtesy of Ryan Lanigan and HockomockSports.com:

Editor's note: League all-star lists may be sent to editors Scott Barboza (sbarboza@espnboston.com) or Brendan Hall (bhall@espnboston.com).

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Pat Ward, Canton

ALL-STARS
Kurt Leavitt, Canton
Ben Lodge, Canton
J.C. Marcone, Canton
Conor O’Brien, Canton
Pat Ward, Canton
Tyler Ames, Foxborough
Alex Pacitti, Foxborough
Luc Valenza, Foxborough
Kyle Finamore, Franklin
Mike Patjane, Franklin
Jake Sargeant, Franklin
Mike Sullivan, Franklin
Connor Eshmann, King Philip
Brendan Murphy, Mansfield
Matt McIntire, Milford
Eric Overdahl, Milford
Josh Rosenblum, Sharon

D1 softball final: Milford 1, Agawam 0

June, 16, 2013
6/16/13
2:31
AM ET


WORCESTER, Mass. – For the second year in a row, the Milford Hawks are the Division 1 state champions and, also for the second year in row, it was a freshman that delivered the winning hit.

Jill Powers’ sixth-inning double plated Allie Piergustavo with the game’s lone run, as Milford (25-1) took home the trophy with a 1-0 win over Agawam (18-7) on Saturday night at Rockwood Field on the campus of Worcester State University.

Heading into the sixth inning, Milford had already managed six hits off of Brownies starter Allison Wheeler, but had left seven runners on base. With two outs, Piergustavo drew a walk to reach base for the third time in the game. Powers came up next and wasted no time, drilling the first pitch on a line to the fence in left center and head coach Brian Macchi did not hesitate to wave Piergustavo home from first.

Macchi noted that his freshman shortstop had made an adjustment ahead of that crucial at bat, which paid off with the game-winning hit.

“Jill Powers has worked hard all season and it was funny that the inning before we were talking about staying back and thinking about driving the ball up the middle,” Macchi said. “She did it at the right time and it’s the biggest hit of her life to this point.”

He added, “Tonight, the bottom of the lineup getting the job done with Jill Powers knocking in Allie Piergustavo, it’s just a great way to end it.”

In the 2012 final, catcher Taylor LeBrun had the walk-off base hit as a freshman and Powers matched those heroics this season, although she admitted after the game that she was a little confused at the excitement over her hit.

“I was just in shock after I hit it, I was like why is everyone cheering so loud,” said an ecstatic Powers. “I was just thinking about knocking that run in; I wasn’t thinking about what point in the game we were at.”

Agawam’s only offensive threat came in the top of the first. Faith Rheault, who also delivered a stirring rendition of the National Anthem prior to the game, lined a base hit to right and advanced to second on a passed ball. After the second strikeout of the inning, star catcher Reilly Weiners drew a walk, but Taylor Marcotte bounced back to the pitcher to end the rally.

Agawam would not get another base runner for the remainder of the game.

Milford senior pitcher Shannon Smith, who is the state’s all-time strikeout leader and headed to the University of Kentucky next season, added to her impressive performances this postseason with 13 strikeouts. Smith allowed only three runs all season and none in six tournament games, while eclipsing the 1,200-strikeout mark for her career.

In the top of the seventh, protecting a one-run lead, Smith struck out the three, four, and five hitters in the Agawam lineup. It was a fitting end to a remarkable career.

Smith talked about her mindset heading into the final inning of her career.

“I knew those hitters were going to be amped,” she said. “I knew they were going to be trying to hit a homerun…and I just wanted to keep pitching my game, make sure the team stayed level-headed and focused for three outs, and then start the celebrations.”

Smith added, “Winning one is great, winning two is even better, but finishing my entire high school career with a state championship win – that’s probably the best possible situation that you could ever have.”



Macchi praised Smith’s contributions to the program both on and off the field.

“Just to watch her work day in, day out for these four years – she wanted to cap it off with a win today,” he said. “It just cements her legacy in Milford High athletics and the game of softball in the state. She’s been an outstanding student-athlete to coach; it’s been an absolute honor to watch her play.”

The Hawks had several chances to take the lead earlier in the game. Milford had at least one base runner in scoring position in every inning but the first, but struggled to get the clutch hit that it needed.

In the second inning, Piergustavo crushed a double over the center fielder’s head, but Caroline Fairbanks, who went 2-for-3 in her final game, was thrown out at the plate on a very close call. In the fifth, the Hawks had runners at first and second with one out, but Wheeler wiggled out of the jam by getting Smith to fly out to right and Fairbanks to ground to short.

In the end, it was an unlikely contributor that broke the deadlock and gave Milford the one run it needed.

The five seniors on the team have each played since their freshmen seasons and have led Milford to three state championship games, back-to-back state titles, and an incredible 50-1 record over the past two years. Macchi reflected on the impact of that group and the fulfillment of its preseason goal.

“I told them that they had a chance to leave a lasting impression and they did that today,” he noted. “They had a mission at the beginning of the season – mission accomplished. We are always going to be a group together…from this point on we’re going to be known as 2013 state champs and it sounds really good.”

D1 softball semi: Agawam 2, Marlborough 1

June, 15, 2013
6/15/13
12:50
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MONTAGUE, Mass. -- To get to this point, it goes without question that a little luck is needed.

For Agawam, on Friday night, the Brownies received their fair share and then some after pulling out a thrilling 2-1 victory over Marlborough in the Division 1 state semifinal played at Turners Falls High School.

With only three hits to its credit, Agawam won this tilt on the strength of its defense, its cool customer of a pitcher (freshman Allison Wheeler) and a lack of execution by the Panthers.

The Brownies (18-6) is back in the finals for the first time since 1995 when they lost to Bishop Fenwick. They will face Milford on Saturday at 7 p.m. from Rockwood Field in Worcester. Agawam and Milford are no strangers to one another. In last year's state semifinal, the Hawks dominated the Brownies, 13-0.

"Our defense got us here and our defense won this game," said Agawam head coach Kathy Georgina. "Allison [Wheeler] pitched great again. We are ready for Milford. This time we aren't walking in blind like last year. We know Shannon Smith is an excellent pitcher. We know what she can do and we know what we can do."

Against Marlborough, Agawam dodged a number of bullets to survive. The Panthers (17-7) finished the game having left eight runners on base, including seven in scoring position.

Trailing 2-1, Marlborough squandered a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead in the fourth.

With two runners on, Victoria Petrie lined a Wheeler fastball to right for a single. Lead runner Jessica Acosta, who was on second base, was waved around third. But right fielder Mary Kate Reidy threw missile to catcher Rielly Wieners. Just a few feet from home plate, Acosta stopped dead in her tracks and retreated back to third.

"We didn't get flustered," Georgina said. "Allison [Wheeler] showed tremendous maturity out there. That out we got [in the fourth] was a huge break for us.

Meanwhile, trailing runner Jen Bombard had already touched third at that point and went a few feet towards home. But once the senior saw Acosta coming back, Bombard spun around and headed back to second. Acosta barely got back to third safely with Wieners chasing her, but umpires ruled Bombard out because she never stepped back on third in her attempts to return to second base. Now with runners on the corners and two out, Wheeler struck out Erin Coughlin to end the inning.

In the seventh, Marlborough threatened again. Victoria Falco opened by singling to right. A steal and wild pitch moved the junior to third with two out, representing the tying run. But Wheeler got Erin Coughlin to ground out to end the game.

The Panthers jumped on Wheeler for a run in the first after Wieners threw the ball into center field trying to nail Bombard, who was stealing. Marissa Flynn, who reached on an error to start the game, scored easily.

The Brownies, after having trouble with Marlborough pitcher Molly McGuire early, finally got to the hard-throwing senior in the third. A Panther error and a Paige Circosta single put runners at the corners. Wieners then atoned for her earlier mistake by ripping an RBI single to left to tie things at 1-1. Taylor Marcotte followed with a ground ball to second. Flynn, Marlborough's second baseman, tried to go the easy route and throw out pinch-runner Jess Lingenburg streaking toward second. But Flynn's throw was off the mark and went into the outfield allowing Circosta to score the go-ahead run.

"We were able to get out of some tight jams because Allison hit her spots when she needed to," Wieners said. "She missed a couple of times but she really battled through it. Her mental toughness got us through this game. It's all about heart and our ability to manufacture runs when we needed to and do what it takes to get it done."

Marlboro, which finished with nine hits, will come away from this affair knowing the chances it left on the base paths, especially in the fourth and seventh innings. The Panthers also saw another chance to add runs snuffed out in the second. Again with runners on second and third and two out, Flynn smashed a hard grounder just to the right of second base. But Marcotte, Agawam's second baseman, dove to snare the ball and managed to throw out Flynn from her backside by a half step.

"Overall I thought we hit the ball well but just didn't get the clutch hits tonight," said Marlborough head coach Kyle Westcott. "We got a lot of runners on but didn't score when we needed to. It was an unbelievable season. No Marlboro softball team had ever won a district championship prior to this year. It was an amazing group and I'm proud of all of them."

D1 softball semi: Milford 3, Central Catholic 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boys Volleyball State Final: Agawam 3, Milford 1

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
1:51
AM ET


WELLESLEY, Mass. -– When you’ve been around the game as long as Agawam head coach Pat Demers –- an octogenarian -– there isn’t much you haven’t seen or done.

But in her 15th year coaching the Brownies, Demers won her first ever state championship, a 3-1 win over Milford at Babson College.

The Scarlet Hawks took game one 25-21 but the Brownies took the next three, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 to win the MIAA Boys Volleyball State Championship.

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Ryan Lanigan for ESPNBoston.com Agawam downed Milford to capture the 2013 MIAA Boys Volleyball State Championship.
Demers has taken her team to the postseason in all 15 years she has coached the Agawam boys, including quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals, but told her team they needed to go all the way this time.

“I’m getting to be an old lady,” said Demers, who is 81 years old.

Senior Sawyer Frederick led the way with 26 kills for Agawam, including eight kills in each game three and game four and the game-winning kill.

“Absolutely unbelievable,” said Frederick of his feelings. “It’s a crazy feeling obviously, I’ve never had it.”

The Brownies finished the regular season at 17-2 and earned the top seed in the West bracket, before winning five playoff games to be crowned state champions.

“I told everybody at the beginning of the season that I’ve got the materials to take us to states and damned if they didn’t,” said Demers. “I’m very proud of them, they worked hard.”

Milford –- which lost in last year’s state championship –- jumped out quick 3-0 lead in game one, all points that were attributed to Agawam errors.

“It was definitely nerves,” said Demers. “It’s the first time they’ve ever been here. They were here last year so they knew they’ve got the jitters over with. I said to them, ‘it’s your turn to have the jitters so get rid of it right now.’”

The Brownies quickly shook off their jitters, leading for almost all of game two before picking up their first win at 25-21.

Milford opened up game three with an 8-2 run that included five kills from Milford junior Michael Antonellis –- a career-high 22 for the match –- but a Frederick block kill helped cap a 9-2 run for Agawam to give the Brownies at 11-10 lead. The teams traded points back and forth before three straight Milford errors gave Agawam a 23-19 lead.

“We’ve always had a thing we get ourselves in a hole and we have to crawl back,” said Demers. “If you get ahead, you better damn finish it off and keep the lead.”

Junior Bailey Cecchi finished game three with a big kill for the Brownies to put Agawam up 2-1.

Milford looked to stay alive in game four, building a six point lead twice, 17-11 and 20-14, but the resiliency of Agawam kicked in again, as the Brownies finished game four on an 11-3 run to win, which Demers credited to her team going back to basics.

“We started to get a little bit confused as to what we needed to do to bring it home it faster,” she said. “When we tried something new, it didn’t work. I said go back to basic volleyball: pass, set hit, get the serve over first.”

As Frederick slammed home the game-winning kill, the Agawam players mobbed one another on the court as Demers enjoyed her first ever title.

“It’s unreal,” said Frederick. “It feels great. Honestly my team and I came together and accomplished it for coach. I’m sure she feels amazing and I’m glad to give it to her.”

A Déjà vu Nightmare: For Milford, this year was supposed to be their redemption tour after suffering a heartbreaking loss in five games in last year’s state championship to Cambridge.

They even returned a group of strong core players in Kane Wittorff, Michael Soares, and setter Tim MacMannis.

But in late April, optimism quickly went away when Wittorff –- arguably their best hitter -– went out for the season with a knee injury.

“The kids had a lot to prove,” said Milford head coach Linda Zacchilli. “When Kane went down, a lot of their peers and anybody that was following us they felt like the season was over -– we still would be successful but not make it to the championship match. I think they had something to prove and they weren’t going to just lay down.”

Milford lost their first match without Wittorff, a 3-1 loss at the hands of the eventual North champions, Lawrence.

But the Scarlet Hawks adjusted quickly and won the last nine games of their season, only dropping two games in the process.

After rattling off three straight wins to win the Central, Milford avenged their lone regular season loss by beating Lawrence 3-2 in the state semi finals.

All that was left was what alluded them one year ago –- a state championship.

“Last year, when we walked out of the gym, this is all we wanted,” said Antonellis. “We got here, we did what we needed to do but we fell a little short.”

Milford will now hope that they have a chance to make the third time a charm next year.

“I don’t care what anyone says, we’re coming back here next year,” said Antonellis. “We’re all going to work so hard to come back and we’re going to make it happen again.”

South softball: Milford, Bishop Stang advance

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


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

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

Smith explained her approach against the Old Colony League champs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West softball: Agawam, Mt. Everett claim titles

June, 10, 2013
6/10/13
12:51
AM ET
AMHERST, Mass. -- For those who live outside the greater Springfield area, you probably have never heard of Allison Wheeler -- yet.

Wheeler is a freshman pitcher for the Agawam Brownies but certainly does not play like one. At Sunday's Division 1 Western Mass. final, Wheeler, showcasing outstanding movement with all of her pitches, silenced the Longmeadow offense in the form of a 1-0 victory at UMass.

With the win, the fourth-seeded Brownies (17-6) claim their second consecutive district title. They now move on to Wednesday's state semifinal versus Marlborough here beginning at 5 p.m. Last year, Agawam fell to Milford in the semifinal round.

"Allison has really come into her own this season," Brownies coach Kathy Georgina said. "Today she put the ball where she needed to. We had played Longmeadow twice before (earning a split) and we had studied their hitters. We had them all mapped out and Allison put the ball where she needed to so they couldn't hit it. For a freshman, her maturity and composure is truly amazing."

Entering this tilt, all talk focused around two young upstart pitchers who offer little to opposing offenses. Wheeler's counterpart, sophomore Jillian Stockley, also performed well in this one. But Wheeler was a tad better. The right-hander issued a first-inning single and then proceeded to keep the second-seeded Lancers quiet for the remainder of this tilt. She also picked up seven strikeouts. Stockley gave up five hits and fanned eight giving her 225 for the year.

"We just fought the whole way and wanted this so bad," Wheeler said. "My defense made some big plays for me and I owe a lot to my catcher Rielly Wieners. She keeps me calm. I love her and I'm so excited that we get to keep going."

Stockley's lone mistake came in the Brownies first inning. Danielle Stratton led off with a bunt single. Faith Rheault then reached on an error. After a sacrifice bunt from Paige Circosta advanced both runners, Wieners hit a fly to left that was deep enough for Stratton to tag up and score on.

"I think our experience played out in getting that first run," said Georgina. "We came here and weren't nervous. I think they were a little nervous maybe in that first inning and we took advantage of that to get that run across."

From that point forward that would be the only offense put forth by both clubs as Wheeler and Stockley took over and made life difficult in the batter's box. Agawam managed to get two base runners to second in the later innings but Stockley left them stranded there.

"We knew going in we had to get some timely, clutch hits," said Longmeadow coach Steve Marcil, after his team finished at 17-5. "Wheeler pitched very well. We just didn't get a lot of good swings on her. Agawam played a great game. Danielle [Stratton] is probably the mentally-toughest kids I've ever coached. She has a plan for every pitch and every at bat. She's all business. She's just a phenomenal competitor and a great kid."

Mount Everett 3, Turners Falls 0
History says to beat a reigning state power like Turners Falls you need to be as close to perfect as one possibly can. be. The Indians have earned that reputation having won six state championships.

On Sunday, Mount Everett played near-flawless and certainly did enough to thwart the defending two-time Division 3 state champions 3-0 in the Western Mass. final played at UMass.

Much of the credit goes to Eagles hurler Alicia Bazonski. The hard-throwing righty curtailed the Indians' powerful bats throughout. After surrendering two first inning singles, the junior righty issued no more the rest of the way. At one point she set down 13 Indians in a row. Bazonski also registered six strike outs.

"This feels really good," said Bazonski, clutching her team's first district title trophy. "We knew Turners is a really good hitting team so I was just trying to keep them off-balance as much as I could. Fortunately, I was able to."

Mount Everett (22-1), the top seed, advances to Tuesday's state semifinal to be played here against Central Mass. champ Assabet Valley beginning at 5 p.m.
Having lost to the Indians in this game two years ago, Mount Everett, located in Sheffield, finally gained a little payback.

"We've been close a few times at winning this but always fell short," Eagles head coach Kurt DeGrenier said. "We live in a very tiny community so our whole community truly deserves this. Alicia [Bazonski] is the total package. I'm glad we've got her and nobody else does. She never gets rattled and never gives in. Turners has the best team in Western Mass for the last 20 years so beating them today is very special."

Mount Everett jumped ahead 1-0 in their half of the second against Indians ace Dakota Smith-Porter (CG, 4 hits, 2 Ks). Samantha Hoover walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice and scored on Emily Coon's bloop single that landed on the foul line beyond third base. On the play, Indians left fielder Amber Caouette bobbled the ball allowing Hoover to sprint home.

While No. 2 Turners Falls (20-3) bats continued to grow listless against Bazonski, the Eagles threatened to add to its lead in the fourth.

Bazonski opened with a walk. With Kayla Krom pinch-running, Hoover laid down a sacrifice bunt moving Krom to second. Alex Hoover then sent a flare to left. Caouette charged the ball, played it on a hop, and fired a laser to Indians catcher Morgan Ozdarski who tagged out Krom. On the play, Hoover took off for second but Ozdarski alertly fired a strike to second baseman Jenna Putala, who placed the tag on a sliding Hoover to end the inning.

In the sixth, the Eagles made amends after scoring a pair. Haley Finn singled. Morgan DeGrenier laid down a bunt. Ozdarski picked it up and threw it into right field. Brittany York, the right fielder, let the ball go past her with Finn crossing the plate. DeGrenier, taking third on the double error, scored moments later on Natasha MacLeay's ground out.

"I felt one run wasn't going to be enough," Bazonski said. "We knew we needed to get some more and we did."

Bazonski retired the Indians in order in the top of the seventh to deny them a chance for a third straight state crown.

"We hit a few balls hard and they made the catches," Turners Falls coach Gary Mullins said. "Their pitcher was tough and we couldn't handle it. We made three errors today and I don't think we've made three errors in over a month."

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

June, 7, 2013
6/07/13
3:02
AM ET


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.

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