Boston High School: Taylor Archer



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.

TAYLOR SQUARED


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.”

ON TOP OF HER GAME
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
4/10/12
1:15
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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.

DIFFICULTY ADJUSTING
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.”

PUTTING DEPTH TO USE
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.”

Preseason MIAA softball All-State team

March, 30, 2012
3/30/12
3:02
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Today we kick off our high school coverage of the spring season with our preseason MIAA softball All-State team, as selected by ESPNBoston.com staff and state high school coaches.

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

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

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

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