Boston High School: Sam Bonvino

D1 softball semi: Milford 3, Central Catholic 0

June, 13, 2013
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.”

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.

Recap: No. 2 Milford 12, OA 0 (5 inn.)

May, 22, 2013
EASTON, Mass. -- Those in attendance for Milford softball’s 12-0 romp over Oliver Ames were hoping to get a glimpse at history. Instead, what they witnessed was a resurgent Scarlet Hawks lineup hitting its stride.

Reigning ESPN Boston Miss Softball award winner Shannon Smith has the Massachusetts all-time strikeouts record within her reach, entering Tuesday’s action 13 punch-outs away. Smith struck out nine Tigers batters before the game ended in the fifth inning, called due to the mercy rule.

With the victory, the Scarlet Hawks (18-1) clinched the Hockomock League’s Davenport division title in the school’s inaugural conference season.

Milford broke it open in the top of the fifth, when the Scarlet Hawks clubbed three home runs, including a back-to-back job by Smith and third baseman Caroline Fairbanks. Sam Bonvino kicked off the home-run parade in the inning, continuing her hot streak at the plate, with a three-run shot to left, clearing the outfield fence by 25 feet. Bonvino’s round-tripper came one out after Allie Piergustavo was robbed by OA left fielder Erin Lynch, who went crashing into the outfield wall outstretched to snag a certain home-run shot.

“Once one person gets a hit, it’s a chain reaction,” Bonvino said.

The fifth-inning outburst reinforced what Milford head coach Brian Macchi has preached to his team in recent weeks. After hitting a mid-season lull at the dish, the Scarlet Hawks’ bats have awoken, collectively.

“I told them that hitting is contagious and it’s about putting the work in, which we have all season long,” Macchi said. “You’re going to have times where maybe the bats aren’t there and it’s about battling through. But we said that we wanted to make sure that we’re headed in the right direction come tournament time and I’m confident in this group where they are right now and their approaches at the plate the last few games.”

Smith needs three strikeouts to tie the all-time state record and four to break. It is likely that moment will come Wednesday as Milford plays host to Marlborough.

“They know,” Macchi said, “the countdown is on, everybody was counting on the bench during the game. They knew she had 13 to go today and now there’s four more.”

Recap: No. 12 North Attleborough 1, No. 1 Milford 0 (10 inn.)

April, 30, 2013

MILFORD, Mass. – The gloves flying through the air and the mass celebration at home plate after the final out was made, confirmed what everyone outside the foul lines already knew – this was more than just a standard regular season Hockomock League game.

“That probably, in my career, is the team’s best regular season win. Did that ooze tournament atmosphere or what?” asked an excited North Attleborough head coach Bill Wallace after the final pitch.

North Attleborough (7-2) pushed home one run in the top of the 10th inning, only the second run allowed by Milford (10-1) in 11 games this season, and the Rocketeers threw out runners at the plate twice in extra innings to pull off a 1-0 upset over the defending Division 1 state champions. The Rocketeers’ victory ended the Scarlet Hawks win streak at 35 games going back to 2011.

“It was just a great game,” said Wallace. “That kid [Shannon Smith] is a darn good pitcher over there, but luckily I have a darn good pitcher over here too.”

With the game scoreless heading into extra innings, the International Tiebreak Rule was used, which begins the inning with a runner on second. It was the first time that either team had managed to get a runner past first base.

In the top of the tenth, Colleran dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Marissa Gifford to third. Senior catcher Meghan Wynn then smacked a grounder on a 1-2 pitch that third baseman Caroline Fairbanks knocked down with a diving stop, but Fairbanks was not able to get the throw home in time to prevent Gifford, who was running on contact, from scoring.

“I knew that in order to pull out the win that I had to be smart and make contact,” said Wynn about the last at-bat with the go-ahead run just 60 feet from home. “I know that she’s going to pitch smart and not give me anything to hit. I just have to watch the ball all the way to the bat.”

Milford had the heart of the order coming up in the bottom of the tenth and Smith, Milford’s University of Kentucky-bound senior, drew a walk to put the winning run on base with no outs. Fairbanks followed with a sacrifice bunt that moved both runners into scoring position. On the next pitch, Rachel Levine hit a hard grounder off Colleran’s glove to shortstop Jill Costello, who bobbled the ball but was still able to throw out Sam Bonvino at the plate.

Colleran, who seemed especially fired up for this game, then struck out Taylor LeBrun to close out the victory and set off the celebrations at home plate.

“It feels great; I’m so excited right now,” said Colleran, who struck out eight while allowing only two hits. “They’re a really great team, so I just knew that I had to move the ball around and fool them because I know that every kid on that team can put it over the fence.”

The game had a playoff atmosphere from the first pitch and the Hawks starter was her usual dominant self. Smith, who recorded her 1,000th career strikeout last week, started the game by striking out two batters in three of the first four innings. She finished with 17 for the game and allowed only one hit in the defeat.

After 35 consecutive wins, Milford head coach Brian Macchi was philosophical about the team’s first loss since the 2011 state semifinal against Amherst and its first loss as a Hockomock League team.

“It was two great teams going at it and in my opinion the two best pitchers and it showed. Shannon pitched great, Meg pitched great and it was fun to be a part of,” Macchi said.

He continued, “It’s been a while since we’ve lost a game and come back to work the next day. For me as a coach, you lose to a caliber team like North, we can learn from this and come back tomorrow and go to work. It’s definitely a learning experience for us and we’ll turn this into a positive.”

While Colleran was excellent in the circle, North also made several plays to get out of potential scoring situations. After a single by Smith in the first inning, North first baseman Jackie Del Bonis snared a line drive by Fairbanks to end the inning. In the bottom of the sixth Costello picked a hard grounder by Bonvino to prevent the heart of the order from coming up. In the bottom of the eighth, second baseman Gifford made a perfect throw home to prevent the winning run from scoring.

Following North’s shocking loss to Attleboro last Thursday, Wallace was thrilled to see his team bounce back with a total team effort and to pull the biggest upset of the softball season.

“Wins and losses in April aren’t as important as wins and losses in June, but from a team standpoint, I think now they believe, you know what, we’re with the Milfords and the [King Philips],” said Wallace.

“We were all really bummed out,” said Colleran about the team’s attitude after the loss to the Bombardiers. “I think this is huge, especially a game when we think we are underdogs. It could kick start us and boost us through the rest of the season.”

Macchi was thrilled about the playoff atmosphere surrounding the game and noted that Division 1 South is going to be a stacked sectional from top to bottom. He is hoping that this loss will add motivation for the Hawks to keep improving.

“Today was a great test and something that we can build on,” Macchi explained. “I am looking forward to practice tomorrow with these girls and seeing how hungry they are.”

D1 softball: Milford 1, Malden 0 (9 inn.)

June, 17, 2012

WORCESTER, Mass. -- With ace hurlers Shannon Smith and Kiara Amos looking they were ready to pitch deep into the night, the quest became about looking up and down the bench and trying to figure out who would finally produce the big hit at the right moment.

Milford's Taylor LeBrun dug in for her turn in the bottom of the ninth with two outs and a runner at second and the freshman delivered, lining a single up the middle that scored Caroline Fairbanks with the game's lone run as the Scarlet Hawks capped off a perfect season by capturing the school's first Div. 1 state championship with a 1-0 victory over Malden.

"All year we've been extra motivated, the whole year we wanted to leave a mark," Smith said. "We wanted to be the first softball state champions in Milford High School history, we wanted to win the league, we wanted to win the Central title, we wanted to win all these things to finish our run in the Mid-Wach A League before we move onto a new league next year. We just wanted to really make an impact this year and we definitely did."

University of Kentucky commit Smith was dominant through nine innings, allowing just one hit and a hit batter while fanning 22. Amos, who will play for Providence College, scattered seven hits while striking out 10 and pitching her way out of trouble several times.

Fairbanks led off the Scarlet Hawks (25-0) half of the ninth with a single, then advanced to second with two outs behind her. Up stepped LeBrun, who promptly ripped a single straight through the middle of the infield and into center. Fairbanks hustled all the way around and slid across the plate just ahead of a good throw from center for the winning run.

"My hat's off to that team, they're a great team but tonight we found a way to scrap and get one," exclaimed Milford coach Brian Macchi. "And that's what we needed to win this game was to get one. Taylor LeBrun getting it done, only a freshman but playing beyond her years, getting a big hit there. She got the big hit earlier in the year when we played King Philip too so this girl has come up with some big hits for us this year and hopefully its bigger and better things to come from her as she gets older."

Milford had runners in scoring position in three different innings, but none posed a bigger threat to Amos than the fourth. Three straight singles by Samantha Bonvino, Smith and Fairbanks loaded the bases with no outs. A failed squeeze attempt led to Bonvino being cut down at home, then Amos bore down and struck out the final two hitters to escape the jam.

"That was a big out. We had a couple of balls mishandled and they ended up loading the bases," Malden coach John Furlong admitted. "I wasn't sure if he was going to try a squeeze with bases loaded because of the force but once they did, we had the play and everyone rotated like they were supposed to. Then Kiara again stepped up and punched out two big hitters like she had to, just like she did the last couple of nights when she had to. I expect that out of her. You get nervous but not too nervous because she's in such total control of the game. She's phenomenal. There will never be anybody like her come through our city, probably even our league, probably ever again."

Meanwhile, Smith was proving to be untouchable. The junior was named the Gatorade Player of the Year two weeks ago and she showed why on the biggest stage. Smith struck out the first three hitters she faced and set down the side on strikes five of her nine innings. She also fanned ten straight from the fifth inning through the eighth and set down the final 16 batters she faced.

Amos managed the lone hit for the Golden Tornadoes (24-2), reaching with a second-inning single. She took second on a sacrifice bunt by Jessalynne Brown but Smith blew away the next two hitters to strand her. Amos reached again with two outs in the fourth when she was hit by a Smith fastball, but the junior left her there once again with another big strikeout.

"It was tough. They had some good swings and they have some good sticks," Smith praised. "They adjusted, they tried to hit my curveball by pushing their hands out so I adjusted too. So it was just a game of back and forth adjustments, battling the whole time. They battled, I battled, so that's pretty much what it was."

Added Macchi about Smith, "She wanted this. She's wanted this from the last out last year when we lost in the state semifinal game. She's wanted this from when we lost in the state final game two years ago. She puts the work in and she deserves this and she definitely is prepared for any situation she's in. She definitely did an unbelievable job for us tonight and she's a huge reason why we were able to win this game tonight."

Just getting to this point had been a wild and crazy adventure for Malden. Saturday marked the team's third straight extra innings affair and the Tornadoes can take solace in the fact that they put together the greatest season in school history.

Along the way, the city noticed and jumped on board with support at a level that made Furlong harken back to his younger days.

"People in Malden were asking today what it was going to be like," Furlong said. "I said it's going to be a 1-0 or 2-1 game because both pitchers are so dominant. Shannon made some unbelievable pitches when she needed to and Kiara did the same when she needed to. We had some situations where they had runners in scoring position and she made some big pitches. We just didn't get the bat on the ball tonight. She didn't make any mistakes where she threw the ball down the middle or anything. Everything was on the outside or inside. That's why she's going to Kentucky and that's why Kiara is going to Providence. If you didn't come tonight, you missed a good game."

"It's been a wild trip," he added. "The city of Malden has been outrageous with's made me so proud because I grew up in Malden and it's like when I was a kid. Everyone was out beeping horns and posters and stuff like that. It was good for the girls and great for the city."

D1 Central softball: Milford, Holy Name to meet

June, 9, 2012
HUDSON, Mass. -- The juggernaut known as Milford just keeps on rolling.

The Scarlet Hawks scored three runs in the third inning to break a 1-1 tie with Leominster and roll on to a 5-1 victory tonight in the semifinals of the Division 1 Central Mass. tournament. No. 1 Milford (21-0) faces No. 3 Holy Name (16-4) Saturday night in the finals beginning at 7 p.m. at Worcester State University. The fifth-seeded Blue Devils completed their season at 14-8.

While Scarlet Hawks' pitcher Shannon Smith has grabbed much of the attention on this team, and rightfully so, it was the bat of Rachel Levine that turned most heads.

The junior belted a home run, a triple and double, along with 3 RBIs, to ignite the Milford offense. With the game knotted at 1-1, the Scarlet Hawks scored three times in the third which was all Smith (1 run, 1 hit, 10 Ks) would need. Taylor Archer made it a 2-1 contest with a ground rule double to right. Levine followed with a two-run double to left. Her home run came in the sixth, belting a solo shot over the right field fence to extend the Scarlet Hawks' advantage to four runs.

"I've been working about with the inside pitch because I don't like to hit it and then I get it and hit a home run so it feels good," said Levine.

Levine's triple in the second inning put Milford on the board first. One out later, she scored on Taylor LeBrun's deep fly to left. Leominster tied the game in the top of the third. Junior Dominique Zarrella walked and moved to second on a ground out. Stephanie Storro then hit a routine grounder to first but the ball got past first baseman Samantha Bonvino allowing Zarrella to score from second. But in the bottom of the frame, Milford's offense went on the attack and the three runs scored was all Smith needed as she kept the Blue Devils in the check the rest of the way.

In a pitcher's duel between Shepherd Hills' Molly Covill and Holy Name's Kelsey Saucier, offense would be at a premium. But in the Naps' fifth, Ama Biney, a sophomore, lasered a two-run single to centerfield which was all her team would need as they blanked the Rams 2-0 in the Division 1 Central Mass. semifinal.

"I was just trying to do whatever I could to help my team," said Biney, who finished 2-for-3 at the plate, including a double. "In that inning, with runners on, I was just trying to make contact."

No. 7 Shepherd Hill (14-9) had a chance to take an early lead. In the second inning, with a Samantha Miller standing on third, Emily Handon executed a suicide squeeze. However, Saucier was able to field the ball cleanly, tossing it to catcher Keara LaVallee in time to tag Miller out.

In a Division 3 semifinal, top-seed Assabet Valley (19-1) needed extra innings to edge No. 4 Quaboag 2-1. In a re-match of last year's Central Mass. final, won by the Cougars 9-1, it was the Aztecs who had the final laugh this time out. However, it did not come easy.

Assabet took a 1-0 lead in its half of the fourth thanks to a Brittney Lutz single that scored Jen Casavant, who led off the frame with a single.

The Aztecs appeared poised to keep the shutout in tact. In fact right up to the final out. In the final inning, the Cougars (18-4) appeared done after the first two batters were retired. But a triple off the bat of Allyson Smith was followed by a single from Danielle Sweet to tie the game after seven innings. Despite some of the wind taken out of their sails, the Aztecs never got down on themselves. In their half of the eighth, Chelsea Campana delivered an RBI walk-off single. Assabet will meet Blackstone Valley Tech Saturday at 3 p.m. in the final at Worcester State University.

"We had lost to Quaboag last year in the final so we wanted to come out and show them who we are," Campana said. "Blackstone, we know, will be a great competitor. We have beaten them three times this season already but it seems to get closer and closer each time that we play them. We're just hoping for another great game."

Recap: No. 1 Milford 3, No. 11 A-B 2

May, 25, 2012

MILFORD, Mass. -- It was only fitting for Milford ace Shannon Smith to finish her season face-to-face with Colonials' starter Sarah Ropiak.

Dominating all year for their respective state softball semi-finalist teams, the Scarlet Hawks hurler started and finished her schedule scraping for a win against A-B's top senior. As was the case in their season opener, the junior again grabbed a slim one-run tilt for top-seeded Milford (20-0) with a 3-2 triumph over guest No. 11 Acton-Boxboro (12-5) on Thursday.

“Being behind [is] something that has not happened too us much this season,” Milford head coach Brain Macchi said. “Shannon threw some pitches that were important for us to get out of jams. She is putting in the work during the offseason (and) coming in physically and mentally strong.”

Smith tossed eight strikeouts for Milford, while Ropiak finished two hitters. The Colonials' senior allowed two additional smacks, with 10 hits and one walk.

Macchi looked for aggressive at-bats from his girls, but has preached all season the importance of pumping up the pitch count.

A lofted center field triple by sophomore Sam Bonvino brought home teammate senior Lindsey Read from first for the winner in the fourth, while a frozen rope by junior Carolyn Fairbanks dropped through the glove of leaping center fielder Lindsey Chen to score the first run for the Mid-Wach A Conference champs.

After forcing 28 pitches in the second, a foul-line dribbler by junior Rachel Levine knocked in Fairbanks from second for a 2-2 tie in the third.

“From day one of the season, we talked about having the pitcher work and work and work,” Macchi said. “Sarah Ropiak is a great pitcher and she is going to be around the strike zone. We are trying to put the ball in play and make their team make plays.”

Fairbanks went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, while Levine also banged out a 2-for-3 day with one RBI.

The Dual County (Large) leaders lost their previous matchup 1-0 at home off a wild pitch. Allowing 17 strikeouts in their last battle, coach Mary Matthews looked for stronger at bats in the rematch.

Facing a one run hole, Ropiak finished A-B's fourth straight single to open the third with a blooper for an RBI along the first-base line.

The Colonials pulled ahead off a fielder's choice rip by Lindsey Chen in their following at-bat.

“We accomplished the goals we wanted to accomplish [to] not to give up an unearned run, not to fall apart after something goes wrong, and
to have quality at bats,” Matthews said. “Last time we played them [Smith] just mowed us down. Bunt if you have to [or] slap if you have,
but fight, fight, fight just so you have a chance.”

Maddie Hatch and Kirstin Pfister (one run) led A-B, going 3-for-4.

Smith has won 19 of Milford's 20 games this season, including her eighth no-hitter yesterday in a 2-0 blanking of Leominster. The junior did not avoid hits this afternoon, but looked to work the corners and limit deep knocks.

Smith allowed only singles with nine Colonial hits.

“A lot of the hits where they scored runs were little bloopers,” Smith said. “Stuff they were getting off the end of the bat. Keep hitting the corners so they can not hit anything too deep and go yard.”

MILFORD, Mass. -- Milford softball accomplished more than just handing King Philip its first loss since the 2010 season with a 2-0 Patriot’s Day matinee win over the Warriors.

The Scarlet Hawks proved KP’s road to a potential third state Division 1 title might just run through them.

Milford pitcher and University of Kentucky commit Shannon Smith dazzled again, striking out 17, including a streak of nine straight in the fourth through sixth innings. More than that, the Scarlet Hawks scratched out five hits against Meghan Rico – a prodigious amount against the reigning ESPN Boston Miss Softball.

“I preached to them in practice that you have to put the ball in play against Rico, you have to make them make plays,” Milford head coach Brian Macchi said.

The Scarlet Hawks (5-0) struck for both of their runs in the second inning, catalyzed by Caroline Fairbanks’ lead-off single.

After a sacrifice bunt by Sam Bonvino, freshman catcher Taylor LeBrun put Milford on the board with an RBI single to right. After LeBrun advanced to second on a wild pitch, she came around to score on Elizabeth Stallone’s double.

The Warriors (4-1) managed just two hits off of Smith, but both came as lead-off hits in the fourth and seventh. Rico’s hit off her counterpart in the fourth would be the last ball KP put into play until the seventh, when Hailey Mullen singled to center to start the final frame.

However, a caught-stealing and two final strikeouts from Smith finished out her fourth shutout of the season.

“She’s just gotten stronger and stronger as the season’s gone on,” Macchi said.

The Warriors’ last loss in 2010 also came against Milford and the experience of bouncing back from one hasn’t occurred to many of KP’s players.

So the true test for Warriors then will be in what happens next.

“What we need to learn is how to respond in a situation like this,” KP head coach Jim Leonard said.


The Scarlet Hawks have been without their usual starting catcher, ESPN Boston All-Stater Taylor Archer during the last couple weeks, but LeBrun hasn’t lost a stride.

LeBrun showed her ability both behind the plate and at bat in Monday’s win.

First, she did it with the bat, with a slashing, run-scoring single.

“It was an outside pitch, right where I wanted it,” LeBrun said. “We’d been working on slashing in practice all week, so I felt I was very well prepared to do it, so I was confident in the box.”

Then, in the seventh inning, LeBrun popped up and fired a strike to cut down KP’s lead-off runner attempting to steal second.

“We told our catcher, Taylor LeBrun, to keep on her toes,” Macchi said. “You never know what they might try to do to try to get us a little on our heels. But she made a very nice play on the throw down and Lindsey Read made a terrific play on the pick and tag.”

Macchi continued, “It’s been seamless behind the plate [with LeBrun] and offensively she’s coming along and seeing the type of pitching we’re going to see.”

Smith had all her pitches working, in addition to a particularly punchy fastball which cracked the mitt throughout the afternoon.

Even for one of the state’s premier pitchers, it was an exceptional performance. Smith kept the Warriors guessing throughout the game, changing their eye level with a steady stream of rise balls. More than that, Smith was able to work the corners and paint it with strikes.

“Sometimes batters get excited in the box and their hands move a little bit faster than they want them, too, and that makes it hard for hitters to get that outside pitch, so I was trying to work that outside corner.”

Recap: No. 2 Milford 1, No. 3 A-B 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now all the Hawks need is to stay healthy.

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

No. 1 KP prevails over Milford in extras

May, 25, 2011
PLAINVILLE, Mass. – They could’ve gone all night and there likely wouldn’t have been a resolution.

No. 1 King Philip eventually pulled out a 1-0 win over No. 3 Milford Tuesday night in Plainville with two of the state’s best softball pitchers going head to head. The Warriors’ Meghan Rico and Scarlet Hawks ace Shannon Smith played dueling banjos, placing zero after zero on the board through seven innings.

Milford threatened to score in the top of the eighth, but it was King Philip (19-0) who earned the walk-off win with Tori Constantin laying down a perfect suicide squeeze scoring Hailey Mullen from third, dealing the Scarlet Hawks their first defeat of the season.

“It’s always rewarding to see when all the practice you put in leads to really good execution,” said Warriors head coach Jim Leonard, who led his team to a win over Milford in last year’s Division 1 state title game. “The girls have worked very hard, giving up Sundays and extra time in order to get things done. A team like that, we knew it was going to come down to one play and having them make the right play at the right time.”

Rico started the game on fire, retiring the first 10 Milford (15-1) batters in order via the strikeout. The George Washington commit finished the game with 16 strikeouts and allowing just two hits.

However, she had to rely on her defense to get out of a pickle in the eighth inning.

Softball tie-breaker rules place a runner on second base to start each extra-inning frame. After the first batter struck out, the runner advanced to third. With one out, Milford’s Sam Bonvino laid down a suicide squeeze attempt, only to see the ball pop straight up. Warriors catcher Olivia Godin snared the ball and fired to third to double up the retreating runner, ending the inning.

“They’re great hitters,” Rico said of Milford’s lineup. “I was really nervous coming into this game, but my defense was strong, our hitting was strong.”

KP scratched across the game-winning run thanks to some skillfully executed small ball.

With Mullen on second to start the inning, Godin put down a sacrifice bunt. Constantin followed that with another perfectly placed bunt between Smith and Scarlet Hawks first baseman Caroline Atkinson, who was shading in anticipation of the bunt.

“I knew getting up there that I was going to have to squeeze with Hailey [Mullen] on third,” Constantin said. “I just set in my head that I had to get it done no matter what.”

It appeared the Warriors might come up with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh. With one on and one out, Meg Carnase lined a single over the second base bag into center. KP center fielder Alyssa Siegmann looked as though she might have the legs to score from second base, but when rounding third, she was met by Leonard who was holding up the sign to stay just there.

“We had good hitters coming up and we have a lot of confidence in our hitters,” Leonard said, explaining his rationale for not waving Siegmann homeward bound. “You don’t want to take the bat out of their hands. You’ve got runners on second and third with [third baseman Anna] Kelly coming up.”

Kelly put a jolt into Smith’s 2-2 offering to the opposite field. However, she didn’t get quite enough as ball fell into the right fielder’s glove, several feet shy of fence.

“She put a few more feet on that ball and it’s all over,” Leonard added.

Smith took the hard-luck loss after striking out 11, while allowing seven hits and three walks.

KP stranded nine runners on base.