Boston High School: Westford

We updated our statewide MIAA Top 25 boys basketball poll last night. To view it, CLICK HERE.

A few notes and observations about this week's poll:

Shamrock Shake-up: After nearly a month away, Bishop Feehan, a preseason Top 20 selection, has made its return to the poll at No. 24 after sweeping Durfee and clinching at least a share of the Eastern Athletic Conference title. Let by dynamic juniors Mike Nelson and Frank Oftring, the Shamrocks are a favorite in Division 2 South, where they are looking to grab the No. 1 overall seed for the second straight season.

Grey Ghosts debut: Westford Academy is making its first appearance in the poll of the 2014-15 season. The Grey Ghosts are off to a strong start in the Dual County League, with their only two losses coming to No. 2 Cambridge.

Still the ones: Two-time defending MIAA Division 1 state champion Putnam remains the No. 1 team in the land, a spot they've held since March 2013. They've won six straight in dominant fashion since the loss to Corona Del Sol (Ariz.) at last month's Hoophall Classic, and next week it will have been two full years since they last lost to an in-state opponent. Rounding out the top five are Cambridge (2), Newton North (3), Catholic Memorial (4) and Danvers (5).

Snapshot: A Shot For Life photo shoot

July, 17, 2014
HANOVER, Mass. -- Yesterday afternoon, ahead of Aug. 2's second annual Shot For Life Challenge, we held a small photo shoot with several of this year's participants, at the University Sports Complex.

Last month, we unveiled the announced participants for this year's event, which has added a girls division and a dunk contest. Last year, 12 shooters from around Massachusetts convened at Hanover's University Sports Complex and shot jumpers for two hours, competing for the honor of being named the state's best shooter, and raising more than $10,000 for brain cancer research. Proceeds for this year's event go to brain cancer research at both Children’s Hospital in Boston and Dr. Curry Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Joining A Shot For Life founder Mike Slonina in yesterday's shoot were Catholic Memorial's Brandon Twitty, Mansfield's Ryan Boulter, Westford Academy's Samantha Hyslip and Archbishop Williams' Alana Gilmer.

Comcast: Medfield, Braintree advance to girls final

February, 16, 2014
WELLESLEY, Mass. -– Once Lauren Petit caught fire for the Medfield girls basketball team in the opening round of the IAABO Board 27/Comcast tournament at Babson College on Sunday, it was clear that Archbishop Williams didn’t know how to douse the flames as she lead the Warriors to a dominant 66-46 win and a spot in Monday’s final against No. 1 Braintree.

Medfield trailed 13-9 after one quarter but the senior point guard erupted for 16 of her game-high 28 points in the second, sending the Warriors into the locker room at halftime with a 29-16 lead.

“It was huge for us because we were struggling to score,” said Medfield coach Mark Nickerson. “We weren’t getting too much going offensively, and she came up and hit a few 3’s early to keep us in the game really when it looked like they might run away quickly. It kind of sparked the team. We were able to settle down and run some things, and were able to find some gaps when they had to come out and cover her.”

Coming out of the break, Medfield continued its surge and by the end of third they had extended their lead to an impressive 53-29 over the recently-hot Bishops.

During the third, Petit tossed one of her six assists to classmate Kristin Fechtelkotter slashing toward the hoop. The senior forward finished in easy fashion, joining Petit with over 1,000 career points.

“Those two girls have spent a good portion of a lot of our games on the bench in the second half, because we’ve been up on teams,” said Nickerson. “Those two girls are really special talents, and I don’t think they always get the credit they deserve because they’re numbers aren’t crazy, off the wall, but they’re putting up those numbers in 17, 18 minutes a game a lot of times.”

Added Petit: “I’m so excited that she got to 1,000. We’ve been teammates forever -– growing up, playing AAU and playing, I was just happy and proud for her to get it.”

Fechtelkotter was the only other Warrior in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Payton Ouimette chipped in eight points and Kate Thomas added six in the win.

While Petit made sure the offense never cooled, the Warriors (20-1) were just as impressive on the defensive end. Only Leah Spencer (10 points) reached double figures. Victoria Dean added nine points, but Williams was never able to mount any significant momentum against Medfield’s defense.

Braintree blocks Westford’s best shot: In the early going of the other first round game, Westford came out firing and looked like they were going to give the No. 1 Wamps a run for their money. Braintree’s significant height advantage became too much though as the Ghosts just couldn’t get comfortable on the offensive end and fell 57-29.

By the end of the game the Wamps had blocked 12 shots, and won the rebounding battle 41-16. Their length inside also clogged up passing lanes all night, leading to an impressive 16 steals in the win.

“With our length, we can of collapse our defense into the middle and that makes us pretty tough at times,” said Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell. “We say every game that if we win the rebounding battle, we win the game, and so far that’s been true."

The staunch defense held the Ghosts at bay, and the Wamps offense used a balance attack to run away with this one. Three different Braintree players reached double figures, led by Molly Reagan’s game-high 12 points.

The Herilhy sisters, Bridget and Brianna, both added 10 points apiece. Braintree got nine points from point guard Ashley Russell and both Keelah Dixon and Maura Russell chipped in with five points.

Russell also paced rebounding, grabbing a dozen boards while providing a high energy effort that included four assists, three steals and two blocks.

“She’s our leading rebounder coming from the point guard position,” said McDonnell. “Most of those come on the offensive end; she’s just incredible. She’s like the energizer bunny, you pull the string and she just goes and goes. Ashley sets the tone right away for us every single game. Not only does she have the work ethic, but she has a real knack for knowing where the ball is going to fall.”

Westford used a 5-0 run midway through the second to pull within seven, but Braintree erupted for 11 unanswered points in the final three minutes of the quarter to take a 31-15.

They never slowed from there, and by the time the Ghosts scored again –- on a free throw midway through the third, Braintree had made it a 17-0 run. When Westford netted their first field goal of the second half -– with under two minutes to go, the Wamps had opened up a 42-20 lead.

Samantha Hyslip was the most effective weapon for Westford, tallying nine points and grabbing five rebounds for the Ghosts, who will take on Archbishop Williams in the consolation game of the tournament tomorrow afternoon.

Recap: No. 5 Westford 70, No. 23 Newton South 54

January, 10, 2014
WESTFORD, Mass. -- The No. 5 Westford Academy girls’ basketball team proved Friday night it is often the less glamorous aspects of the game that can be the biggest different between victory and defeat.

Behind a strong defensive effort and a willingness to attack the glass at both ends of the floor, it came away with a 70-54 victory over No. 23 Newton South.

Seniors Hannah Hackley (20 points) and Sam Hyslip (19 points) combined for 28 rebounds, which was more than the 21 the entire Newton South (3-3) team amassed in the game. Westford (6-0) as a team finished with 43 total boards.

“Rebounding to me is like scoring to any other player,” said Hyslip. “I don't focus on points, I focus on rebounds. If I’m not rebounding than I’m not having a good game. Hannah probably has a similar mentality. We both just know we’re the ones who need to be low and have our hands up and we always have to get those boards because they’re key. How else are you going to switch from defense to offense or go back up on an offensive board, so I really think we have that mentality down.”

Defensively, Westford made it a point to stop Newton South’s Emily Chang and Jessa Rubera. Chang was on last year’s South team that made a deep run in the state tournament as a 17-seed. She tore her ACL in last year’s semifinal loss and is now sporting a brace on her knee. She showed no effects of the injury Friday night, scoring 16 points including a 3-pointer that was well behind the line.

Rubera finished the game with 21 points, 12 which came from three.

Late in the second quarter, Newton South cut the deficit to 29-28. It took advantage of Westford’s long-range misses to push its offense up the floor and create easy baskets. It tried to work the ball into the post, but with the defense keying in on Sam Hyslip, the most available shots were from the outside. With all the momentum seemingly with South, it became a point in the game where a team’s character was on display. Would Westford tighten up and let South take the lead? Would Westford go back to what was working and assert itself on the backboards? Westford was able to push back and go into halftime with a 38-30 lead.

“People know that Sam is very good, so they’re doing a great job of double-teaming her and sending help over every time she gets the ball,” said Westford coach Russ Coward. “What we sometimes forget is there is a nice mid-range shot there at the top of the free throw line that is wide open because teams try to take away the three and they try to take away the layup down low with Sam. What we talked about at halftime was get Sam up a little higher and have our guards and Hannah try to attack the middle of the lane, which for most teams is going to be soft. When we started attacking that are, I think it opened up a lot of stuff for everybody.”

South was able to get the lead Westford lead back down to four points in the third quarter off its timely three-point shooting. However, it could never overcome the deficit.

Entrapment: In the first quarter, Westford amped up its defensive pressure with a 1-2-1-1 full court press. It let South inbound the ball in the corners, and then two players quickly converged on the ball handler. South wanted to break the press by inbounding the ball to the middle of the floor and then passing it to the wing and having its wing players work the ball up the floor, but the Grey Ghosts did their best to take that option away and force the ball to go to the corners.

As the South players tried to pass out of the double team, the defenders would often slap the ball away or a help defender would be around to steal possession away.

Over the course of the game, South found ways to get the ball to its bigs, which allowed it to execute its press break the way it intended to. That forced Westford out of its system and into less pressure-based defenses.

“We’re so used to attacking and sometimes we don’t play as smart as we need to on defense,” said Coward. “When they’re passing the ball to their big kids, we don’t need to trap their big kids, we need to keep it away from Jessa Rubera and Emily Chang. We don’t want them with the ball, we want the big kids with the ball and try to steal the pass from them.”

Wakeup call: Two weeks ago, Westford beat, defending Division 1 State Champion Central Catholic in the finals of the Commonwealth Motors Classic. That win helped build the confidence of the team and set the course for the last two months of the regular season. However, after the game Friday, Coward said he felt his team might have came into the game “thinking we were probably a little better than we actually are, and it was nice to get smacked and kind of get a wakeup call here.”

Hackley acknowledged the importance of the Central win as a building block early in the season, but also agreed with her coach that the team was not where it could have been mentally coming into the game.

“We try not to take any games easy and we work really hard in practice,” she said. “We keep saying, even after we beat Central, ‘This isn’t the end, this is only the fourth game of the season. We have a lot more goals to reach.’ We didn’t come into the game not focused, but I think not as sharp as we needed to.

"We definitely learned from this, and I think it’s important to see and to have that confidence that even though we were able to get out of a close game, that should not happen because as we get into the playoffs it is not going to be easy to climb out of holes like that.”

Recap: No. 9 Lowell 21, Westford 0

September, 7, 2013
WESTFORD, Mass. –- With overwhelming speed and a knack for getting to the ball, Lowell’s defense was all over the field on Friday night. As a result, the Red Raiders (1-0) pitched a shutout on opening night, picking up the road victory over Westford Academy, 21-0.

The Lowell offense got a quick start in the first quarter, putting up two touchdowns in the opening minutes.

The Red Raiders went right to running back Ngaiiva Mason on their first drive; he had 39 yards in the series, 28 of which on a second down run to put Lowell on the seven yard line. Moments later, senior quarterback Brian Dolan (10-of-15, 105 yards, 2 total TD) kept it himself and put his team on the scoreboard first.

A few minutes later, following a Westford (0-1) fumble forced by defensive end Malik Settles, Lowell came up with great field position on the Grey Ghosts’ 31 yard line. On third down, Dolan hooked up with highly-touted receiver Jack Galvin (5 catches, 68 yards) for a 29-yard touchdown, bringing the lead to 14-0.

“Those guys work well together,” Lowell coach John Florence said about the friendship between Galvin and Dolan. “They’ve grown up together, they’ve played since junior high together and they’ve been friends, so they already had that kind of bond.”

Westford had an opportunity to put points on the board at the end of the first half, but a dropped would-be touchdown in the endzone resulted in a turnover on downs.

The Grey Ghosts ended the first half with just 35 total yards. The defensive theme stood true early in the second half as well, as Lowell was able to pick up two stops in the red zone to keep the shutout alive.

Following a long punt return by Mason that brought Lowell to Westford’s 13 yard line, the Red Raiders scored on a run via Mason two plays later to extend the lead to 21-0. However, Westford wasn’t quite done yet.

Grey Ghosts quarterback Luke Moran helped manufacture a 68-yard drive thanks in part to two receptions for 41 yards from Will Puduski, and a 28-yard reception from tight end Matt Cardeiro. Two plays later though, Lowell defensive back Musa Mansary picked a Moran pass off in the endzone to, at least at the time, take the win out of Westford’s sails.

“Coach called man coverage. He thought I was nice, so I just covered the kid up pretty well,” Mansary said after the game.

The excitement on the Red Raiders’ sideline was anticlimactic, however, as Mason fumbled the ball on the very next play—putting Lowell’s defense back on the field and giving Westford position at the Red Raiders’ six yard line.

“Offensive line and run blocking…we need to clean it up,” Florence said regarding the fumble.

The Grey Ghosts’ would get the ball all the down the one yard line, but couldn’t finish off the opportunity, as running back Ben Rodman simply couldn’t get through Lowell’s linebackers. It was a sense of relief from Mansary and the rest of the defense, and he had high praise for his teammates:

“Give a lot of credit to the linebackers: Shyheim [Cullen], Nicolau Coury, and John Healy. Those guys are the best,” he said.

The defensive emphasis was a long time coming for Florence’s team, as the coach has worked hard at improving his defense over the past couple of years.

“We’ve been stressing ball security at practice, but obviously it’s something we need to work on a little bit more," Florence said. "It was great to see the defense make those stops, defensive backs made some plays there, the linebackers, the d-line, it was really a team effort on defense there.”

He continued, “It’s something we’ve been building for three years. We’ve been stressing tackling, we do a tackling circuit almost every day in practice. With these guys who have been playing for a few years, they’re kind of feeling more comfortable with things.”

Mansary, a senior who has learned a lot from Florence over the past couple of years, said the coach and his staff constantly put an emphasis on getting eleven men to the ball and playing fast on defense. He was quick to give credit to his coaches for the team’s success on Friday night:

“Give the credit to all the coaches: Coach Florence, Coach Casey, Coach Harris. It’s all them, it’s not us. They prepare us every week to play like we’re champions, every week.”

Shepherd Hill, Central Catholic debut in baseball poll

May, 20, 2013
We updated our statewide MIAA Top 25 baseball poll this afternoon. To view it, CLICK HERE.

The next poll update will be Monday, May 27. That will be the final poll of the 2013 regular season. Following the May 27 update, the baseball poll will be updated once more, following the conclusion of the MIAA State Tournament.

A few notes and observations about this week's poll:

Prep stays on top: For the fifth week in a row, St. John's Prep is the No. 1 team in the land, following an excellent win over BC High that swept the season series and kept them ahead in the Catholic Conference. With a game today against Malden Catholic, Prep can wrap up the Catholic Conference title outright.

The top five remains unchanged, with BC High, St. John's of Shrewsbury, Walpole and Peabody rounding out the top five, in that order. Meanwhile, Newton North jumps back into the Top 10, climbing five spots to No. 6, while Amherst makes its first appearance in the top 10 after beating No. 7 East Longmeadow in extra innings.

Shepherd Hill jumps into the poll: Making its debut at No. 15, and perhaps a bit overdue, is Shepherd Hill, with quite the impressive resume. The Rams hold wins over Northbridge and Auburn (twice), and are led by sophomore sensation Brady Ravenelle, who is batting .690 and leads the state with 35 RBI. This also marks the first time in our poll's three-year history that three teams from the Southern Worcester County League.

Central Catholic (20), Westford (21) and Medford (24) -- all respective champions of their leagues -- make debuts this week, while Hockomock Kelly-Rex champ Taunton makes its return at No. 25 following a one-week absence.

Here's how the poll breaks down by league affiliation:

Bay State - 3
Northeastern - 3
Southern Worcester County - 3
Valley League - 2
Atlantic Coast - 1
Cape Ann - 1
Central Mass. Conference - 1
Dual County - 1
Eastern Athletic - 1
Greater Boston - 1
Hockomock - 1
Merrimack Valley - 1
Mid-Wach B - 1
Old Colony - 1
Patriot - 1
Valley Wheel - 1

Recap: Westford 14, Lincoln-Sudbury 9

April, 8, 2013
WESTFORD, Mass. -- Westford Academy's girls' lacrosse strolled about field with the confidence and swagger of a team who had been there before.

Sliding the exact right moment on defense and always finding perfect gaps on offense all well joking comfortably during breaks in play one would never suspect the Grey Ghosts (4-0, 2-0) were grabbing the program's first ever victory against Dual County League (Large) rival and defending division champ Lincoln-Sudbury.

Driven with five goals and an assist from senior Bailey Mongillo, host WA led for all but the first 53 seconds as it cruised to a 14-9 victory over the Warriors (1-2, 1-1).

“We are taught to be the boss,” said Ghosts coach Julie Olivier. “We do not worry about what other teams do and execute our plan. They are confident we know what we are talking about and they listen.”

Junior attack Jenna Klinka added four goals and an assist for the Ghosts, while opponent Eliza Guild netted three goals and assisted a pair.

Westford jumped out to an early 2-0 lead at 23:37 after winning the first two draws. Junior Stacey Shackleton bounced in a free position effort at 24:07, while Mongillo broke in from behind the crease to hook in the second score.

“I just like to draw the defender and can use the crease to my advantage as a barrier,” said Mongillo. “Coach has us work on our bread and butter shots or our strength shots. Every girl on the team has a certain thing they like to do.”

L-S managed to draw within a score four different occasions, but never could pull even.

Guild ripped a free position under the keeper's net then seconds later won and scored off the draw to cut their deficit to 9-8 with 18:12 remaining.

“They were all cutting to the net at once,” said L-S coach Deb DeJesus. “All the defenders come in so we can not get the ball in to who we want to get it to. It is a matter of just getting used to playing with one another.”

Westford outscored the Warriors five to one to finish, including the next four goals.

Shackleton went center net on a free position score to initialize the streak with 15:36 left. Westford junior Cathryn Sennott ducked a defender and hit senior Taylor Freud in motion for the 13-8 advantage at 6:28.

Defensive Prowess: Westford dominated the game despite losing the battle for draws 13 to 11. The difference for the Grey Ghosts was their man-to-man defense and its to ability to effectively collapse both in the open field and off a Warriors free position.

Seven saves from vocal senior keeper Erin Shaughnessey aided the cause.

“We have been preparing for different flavors of games and when to change it up,” said Olivier. “The girls have been working hard on when to put the pressure on and when to pull it back.”

Tough Starts, Different Results: Both teams opened with difficult schedules.

WA began its season by defeating Division 2 favorite Duxbury (2-1) 14-12, while L-S dropped a 9-8 decision to Division 1 South runner-up Needham (3-0) on Saturday.

“A lot of write-ups on teams like Notre Dame (Hingham) and Westwood,” said Olivier. “There is no one here heavy on the radar. I am OK with that.”

“We have the athletic ability to compete with them and it is just a matter of practicing,” added DeJesus.

Mr. Football Watch: Week 6

October, 8, 2012

Drew Belcher, Jr. QB, Reading
Called his own number for the winning touchdown with less than a minute left, as the Rockets rallied past Burlington, 22-15.

Brian Dunlap, Soph. WR, Natick
Caught six passes for 121 yards and two scores in the Red Hawks’ 42-7 rout of Dedham.

Troy Flutie, Jr. QB, Natick
In the Red Hawks’ 42-7 romp of Dedham, completed 12 of 16 passes for four touchdowns, and added 41 yards rushing with a score.

Jon Hurvitz, Sr. RB, Duxbury
Reached the end zone twice, the second time putting the Dragons ahead for good, in a 20-16 thriller over Xaverian.

Marshall McCarthy, Sr. LB, Duxbury
Recorded 13 tackles and two sacks, both for forced fumbles, in the Dragons’ 20-16 win over Xaverian.

Alex Moore, Sr. RB, St. John’s Prep
Racked up over 200 yards from scrimmage and all three of the Eagles’ scores in a 20-7 win over Bridgewater-Raynham, rushing for 159 yards and two TDs, and three catches for 73 yards and a third score.

Nick Peabody, Sr. QB, Barnstable
Threw for three touchdowns in the Red Raiders’ 19-14 win over New Bedford, bringing his season total to 18 touchdown passes.

C.J. Scarpa, Sr. QB, Andover
In the Golden Warriors’ wild 51-42 win over Tewksbury, completed 17 of 24 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns.

Jakarrie Washington, Sr. WR, Everett
Scored five times for the Crimson Tide (three rushing, two receiving) as they avoided a scare against Cambridge, 51-30.

Quron Wright, Sr. RB, Holy Name
Had his lowest total of the season in a 38-20 loss to Doherty, but still went over 100 yards (18 carries, 105 yards, 2 TD) and crossed the 1,000-yard barrier. He needs 370 yards to break the school’s all-time rushing yardage record.


Andrew Benson, Sr. QB, East Bridgewater
In the Vikings’ 39-26 win over Hull, carried 17 times for 296 yards and four touchdowns, and added a 20-yard touchdown through the air.

Chance Brady, Jr. RB, Haverhill
Ran for 204 yards and two scores in the Hillies’ 30-23 thriller over Chelmsford.

Jaleel Brown, Jr. RB, Springfield Putnam
With feature back Wayne Lowery leaving the game with an ankle injury, Brown came through with 165 yards rushing and three scores to help the Beavers in a 40-19 win over Chicopee Comp.

Kayjuan Bynum, Sr. QB/LB, Springfield Putnam
Racked up 299 passing yards and three touchdowns, to go along with nine tackles, in the Beavers’ 40-19 win over Chicopee Comp. Through five games, Bynum leads the team in tackles (46) and forced fumbles (four).

Andrew Deloury, Sr. WR, Andover
Caught seven passes for a ridiculous 226 yards and three scores in the Golden Warriors’ 51-42 win over Tewksbury.

Brendan Flaherty, Sr. RB, Beverly
Became the school's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with his 47th score in a 49-0 blanking of Peabody

David Maaghul, Jr. QB, Cambridge
Had an impressive showing in the Falcons’ 51-30 loss to Everett, throwing for 274 yards and four touchdowns. On the season, he already has over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns passes.

Justin Mount, Sr. ATH, Westford
In the Grey Ghosts’ 42-7 win over Newton South, carried three times for 60 yards and two scores, and added 24 receiving yards.

Matt Phelan, Sr. QB, Northbridge
In the Rams’ 28-21 win over Grafton, completed 9-of-17 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns, and added 79 yards rushing on 16 carries.

Jimmy Sullivan, Jr. QB, Nauset
In the Warriors’ 28-20 win over Scituate, completed all five of his pass attempts for 121 yards and two scores, and added 88 yards rushing.

Juwan Williams, Sr. ATH, Springfield Central
Filled in marvelously for his cousin at quarterback, in the Golden Eagles’ 40-7 rout of East Longmeadow. Through the air, he was 4-of-5 passing with 114 yards and two touchdowns; on the ground, he carried 10 times for 94 yards and two more scores.

D1 Baseball: Lowell 1, Westford 0

June, 3, 2012
LOWELL, Mass. -- As a blanket of dreary clouds rolled in overhead, Lowell’s Matt Tulley toed the rubber and stared in at Westford’s Luke Morse, Sunday’s opposing pitcher.

A hit batsman, throwing error, and single put Westford players on every base with only one out in the sixth inning. Neither team could get on the board up until that inning. A pop fly, at the very least, a ground ball to either the second baseman or shortstop would plate a Westford run.

With the count 1-2, Morse swung and hit a soft ground ball back to Tulley. He flipped it to his catcher, Mike Hart, for the force out to keep the score tied at zero. After working the count full against Danny Cerullo, he threw a fastball down the middle that Cerullo took and started jogging down to first base. Except it was strike three. The inning was over, the crisis was averted.

It was that kind of a game for Westford: the Grey Ghosts got runners in scoring position, but could never get any to cross the plate. It took a 129-pitch effort from Tulley, but Lowell hung on for the 1-0 victory to move on to the Division 1 North Quarterfinals.

“I don’t let anything bother me,” said Tulley. “No matter what the situation is, I don’t let it bother me, no matter what it is.”

The only run for Lowell (18-4) came in the seventh inning. After Morse walked Andrew Marasa and Joe Parisi to start the inning, he was relieve in favor of John Troy.

Marasa got picked off second base after Matt Sullivan, the catcher for Westford (11-10), threw down to second after noticing Marasa took too big a lead off the bag. He then got RJ Gray to fly out to center for the second out of the inning.

Roger Roman came up next and sent a ball into centerfield a single. The ball got by Mike Bibinski and kept rolling towards the warning track. This allowed Parisi to score all the way from first and Roman to roll into third.

It was a tough game for Bibinski, who went 1-for-5 at the plate with four strikeouts to go along with the fielding error.

Tulley had nine strikeouts heading into the final frame, and added another before being relieved by R.J. Noel.

If it was up to the senior righthander, he would have stayed in the game. However, the team knew Noel was more than capable of getting the final two outs in the game.

“I definitely wanted to throw the complete game, but it was a certain situation where R.J. is quick to the plate, and I was getting up there in pitches, so it was smart decision,” he said.

Rainy Day Fund: Due to inclement weather over the weekend, many of the remaining playoff teams have to play again on Monday, a back-to-back scenario rarely seen in high school baseball.

While having an extra day of rest would be preferred, Lowell coach Dan Graham doesn’t think the immediate turnaround will be a detrimental to his team.

“It’s not a bad thing,” he said. “I’m sure some of these kids are anxious. I’m sure they’d like to get some more at-bats right now. I think it will be a good thing for us to get right back out here tomorrow and play.”

Lowell plays against Malden Catholic on Monday at 4 p.m.

Morse leaves it all on the field: Morse deserved the standing ovation the fans gave him when he came out of the game in the sixth inning. He did everything he could to keep his team in the game against a powerful offensive team.

There was a stretch between the second and sixth innings when he allowed only two hits and four runners to reach base.

He ended his six-inning outing allowing four hits, three walks, one earned run, and two strikeouts. He pitched out of jams in the first and second innings where, each time, Lowell had runners on second and third with one out.

“He threw the ball well, credit him,” said Graham. “He was starting kids off offspeed, getting it for strikes and getting ahead in the count. He had enough on his fastball where, if you show them offspeed early, you can sneak fastballs by people.”

“I feel like we should’ve got out of those first couple innings with a run or two, which probably could have changed the complexion of the game. We probably would’ve settled in and been a little more comfortable at the plate. You’re not going to win many state tournament games putting up only one run. But we feel fortunate that it didn’t come back to bite us at the end of the game.”

Draft Tracking: By the time Lowell’s Division 1 North Quarterfinal matchup versus Malden Catholic is over Monday night, the Major League Baseball Player Draft will be underway.

The Red Raiders have two potential draftees in Tulley and infielder Chad Gens. Don’t look for them to be distracted from the task at hand though.

“I don’t think they’ll be distracted,” said Graham. “I don’t think they’re going to be bringing their cell phones into the dugout or anything waiting for a phone call. That’s really out of their control. They’ve played the season up until this point, so if it happens for them, great, if it doesn’t happen for them, it’s not like they’re finishing their college careers here. They’re just finishing the tail end of their high school careers. They have a lot of baseball in front of them.”

Tulley knows that even if he doesn’t get that phone call in the next few days, it won’t be the end of the line for him. The Virginia Tech commit will work to make the most of his time in the land of Division 1 college baseball.

“I’m just going to let it play out,” he said. “I hope I do (get drafted). It would be an honor. If it doesn’t happen, then I’ve got three years at Virginia Tech, and I’ll try my best to do it then.”

Combine notes from the month of May

May, 29, 2012
In between baseball and girls lacrosse games, I had the chance to check out a few football combines this past month. Emptying out the notepad, here are some leftover nuggets:

Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association Combine
Gillette Stadium
Foxborough, Mass.
May 6

Earlier this month, we checked in with several of the state's top prospects who were at the combine, including Xaverian's Maurice Hurst Jr., Mills/Hopedale's Jon Baker, and Dighton-Rehoboth's Chuddy Nwachukwu. Today, with new information, I'm bringing to light some new information about some players with hidden potential.

Athletic Standard CEO Thomas Newman passed along some information regarding the tests his company ran during the combine, pasted below. I've added each player's school in parentheses:

The following Athletes all tested in the 95th percentile in the nation for vertical jump (Horsepower and the first indicator of genetic potential):

Sean Antonuccio (Masconomet)
Junior Oyaronbi (St. Clement)
Frank Ansah (Worcester South)
Terrance Gibson (Taunton)
Berny Platel (Fitchburg)
Shaun Callahan (Norwood)
Nick Patten (Medford)
Sean Eldridge (Bristol-Plymouth)
Isaiah Douglas (Bishop Feehan)
Dominque Leite (Brockton)
Alex Jette (North Attleborough)
Babila Fonkem (Abington)
Elias Camacho (Canton)
Jamal Williams (Taunton)
Justin Mount (Westford)
Shadrach Abrokwah (St. John's of Shrewsbury)
Quron Wright (Holy Name)
Kevin Makie (Mansfield)
Kaylan Philbert-Richardson (Archbishop Williams)
Thomas Johnson (Pembroke)
Daniel Kegbeh (Holy Name)

Lateral Speed (huge component for separation or locking down on defense)

Jhalen Bien-Aime (Boston Latin)
4.218 - Laser pro agility
4.01 - Stop Watch Conversion time

Additionally, it should be noted this kid was so raw any speed coach will bring this down to a sub 4.0 pro or a 3.8 stopwatch time. Great kid by the way, real gentleman

Watch List (these kids have one standout feature):

Andrew Benson (East Bridgewater)
6-foot-1, 175 lbs.
Vertical - 27.75
Pro Agility - 4.421

It doesn't appear that he will grow much more but depending on his football skills this would be a solid pick.

Ricardo Calixte (Brockton)
5-foot-10-3/4, 198 lbs.
6-foot-4 wingspan nearly (this kid will grow over the summer)

Vertical - 28 inches - Normalized Index 406
Pro-Agility - 4.43 - Normalized Index 330

I would keep a close eye on him because if he gets any taller or heavier he will easily tip into the strong D1 prospect.

Calixte's story is an interesting one. He has the athletic frame and raw tools to be an impact on defense (he also ran a 4.75 second 40-yard dash), but has played sparingly to this point -- allegedly, he didn't suit up for Friday night games last season due to religious obligations. The only points to his name in last year's box scores is a two-point conversion run. Micah Morel is probably the Brockton prospect with the highest ceiling right now, but keep an eye on Calixte.

Impact Performance Football Combine
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Buzzards Bay, Mass.
May 26

Impact Performance Training owner Ross Jatkola put on his first combine on the turf at Mass. Maritime's Clean Harbors Stadium, attended primarily by athletes from the Cape Cod area.

Pound for pound, Dennis-Yarmouth was arguably the toughest team in the state last fall. The Dolphins' run to the Division 2A Super Bowl title this year, blowing out many of their opponents despite being routinely undersized (sometimes comically so), and everyone playing both ways, is testament to this. A lot of credit goes to Paul Funk and the remarkable building job he's done over the last decade to a program that won just six games in the 1990's. But credit also has to go to Jatkola, a D-Y grad and former University of Albany tight end who also works as the Dolphins' strength coach.

Cape Cod football is on the rise in Massachusetts -- a record five Cape teams made playoffs last year, with four of them winning Super Bowls -- and this was a good chance to see some of the rising stars in action. About three dozen competed, with Barnstable's Bryan Hardy winning the pro agility and Bourne's Josh Curry winning the 40-yard dash.

For the complete results CLICK HERE.

A few observations:

Peabody pleases
If I'm picking four quarterbacks for our preseason All-State team, Barnstable's Nick Peabody is probably on the list -- I would have said this in January. He has ideal quarterback size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) puts a lot of zip on the ball, and has big-game experience (leading the Red Raiders to their first playoff appearance in 10 years). I know we have to take these things for what they're worth, but the way he threw the ball around in 7-on-7 drills reaffirmed my disposition. Saturday morning, he was putting the ball in tight spots all over the field, hitting teammates on 15-yard out patterns seemingly on a dime.

Linemen to watch
Two Class of 2013 linemen to keep an eye on are Barnstable's Tom Grimmer and D-Y's Joe Tyo. Grimmer is built low to the ground, going about 5-foot-11 and 250 pounds, but has good balance and posture. He won the bench press event, doing 26 repetitions at 185 pounds.

Tyo could be a late-bloomer. He's a raw prospect at 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, didn't start on the interior defensive line until Week 3 of the 2011 season, and needs to build more upper-body strength. His frame has yet to fill out. But he also ran a 4.9 second 40-yard dash, and demonstrated terrific footwork in pass-blocking drills.

Next In Line?
It's too early to predict the next Matt Montalto, D-Y's 2011 ESPN Boston All-Stater at quarterback who will be suiting up for Bentley University this fall. But when the time comes, his cousin, Michael Dunn, could fit the bill. The freshman won the vertical jump at 9 feet 3 inches, and I'm told he'll be used in an "athlete" slasher role going forward for the Dolphins.

DCL Baseball All-Stars announced

May, 24, 2012
Courtesy of Bedford High Athletic Director Keith Mangan, below are the all-stars for the Large and Small divisions of the Dual County League.

Newton South first baseman John Jennings, a UMass commit, took MVP honors in the Large division. Waltham's Notre Dame-bound catcher Jack LeClair, a Notre Dame commit, took MVP honors in the Small division.

The league will be hosting an all-star game on Tuesday at Lowell's Lelaucher Park. The Small All-Stars will play at 4 p.m., followed by the Large All-Stars at 7 p.m.

Athletic directors, coaches and administrators are encouraged to send league All-Star lists to editors Scott Barboza at or Brendan Hall at

MVP - John Jennings, Sr. 1B, Newton South

Jesse Feldstein, Jr. C, Newton South
Peter Sikalis, Sr. C, Acton-Boxborough
Tom O'Brien, Sr. 2B, Westford
John Troy, Sr. SS, Westford
David McCullough, Sr. 3B, Lincoln-Sudbury
Dan Cellucci, Sr. SS, Lincoln-Sudbury
Malcolm Nachmanoff, Jr. OF, Boston Latin
Mike Lenane, Sr. OF, Boston Latin
Mike Bibinski, Sr. OF, Westford
Brian Carroll, Jr. OF, Lincoln-Sudbury
Sid Warrenbrand, Soph. RHP, Lincoln-Sudbury
Ryan McDonald, Sr. LHP, Acton-Boxborough
Pat Naughton, Soph. LHP, Boston Latin
Will Alden, Sr. RHP, Westford
Thulani Denaro, Sr. LHP, Acton-Boxborough

MVP - Jack LeClair, Sr. C, Waltham

Anthony Cacciatore, Sr. OF, Waltham
Joe Dwyer, Soph. 1B/DH, Waltham
Sean Kelly, Sr. OF, Waltham
Nick Neshe, Soph. P/1B, Waltham
Richie Scanlon, Jr. P, Waltham
Curtis Tirone, Soph. IF, Waltham
Kyle Laughlin, Sr. C, Bedford
Devin Liang, Sr. P, Bedford
Derek Amodei, Sr. DH/1B, Concord-Carlisle
Gibson Holland, Sr. OF, Concord-Carlisle
Phillip Mitchell, Jr. OF, Concord-Carlisle
Vincent Wnukowski, Sr. IF, Concord-Carlisle
Chris DiMico, Sr. OF, Wayland
Matt Goddard, Jr. 3B, Wayland
Andrew Herstine, Sr. DH, Wayland
James Goulart, Jr. OF/1B/P, Weston
Gage Hartman, Sr. OF, Weston
Brooks Parker, Soph. P/IF, Weston
Noah Tocci, Jr. C, Weston

L-S, Westford battle in 'Coaches vs. Cancer'

May, 19, 2012
SUDBURY, Mass. -- Occasionally, the literal and figurative lines separating sports from real life disappear, as they did Friday night at Feeley Field.

While No. 5 Lincoln-Sudbury was scratching and clawing its way to a 2-1, eight-inning victory over Westford, there were symbols all around reminding everyone that what happened on the baseball diamond was not the life or death situation some make it out to be.

The Westford players sported pink undershirts they made for the "Coaches vs. Cancer" fundraiser they had weeks before. Most of the L-S players sported pink wristbands during the game. About 100 feet away from the concession stand, a woman stood at a Coaches vs. Cancer table, collecting donations and selling raffle tickets for a cause she believes in.

Before the game, L-S coach Kirk Fredericks presented Coaches vs. Cancer with a check for a $4,000, on behalf of the school.

These were all done to generate support and raise money for the American Cancer Society. It’s in times like these when one can see that games, at any level, are just that: games.

“Every year I watch the Jimmy Valvano speech (from the 1993 ESPYs) and that really touches me,” said Fredericks, one of the main organizers of the baseball team’s fundraising efforts. “As a matter of fact, I have it on tape because it kind of brings you back down to reality. When you’re going through every day life and you get up and you complain about your boss, or you complain about some kid you have in class.

"My daughter has had a rough two years in life. She doesn’t have cancer, but you go in the hospital and there are kids there that are living in the hospital. It makes you realize how lucky you are. We lost a kid from L-S a couple years ago to leukemia, who was in the baseball program. We have a kid now who is hopefully at the tail end of his battles, so things just make it mean a little more to you.

"Our seniors wanted to raise some money to put towards that cause and if we can have a part in that, then great.”

The team raised money by selling discount cards to various restaurants around the Sudbury area. During the game, raffle tickets were sold for the opportunity to win a signed photograph of Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

The total amount raised by the sales at the game and by the players in school will be added to the donation total, once it is tallied.

L-S works extra innings: On the field, it was the grind one would come to expect by two Dual County League teams.

Westford (9-9) scored its only run of the game off L-S (14-3) pitcher Sid Warrenbrand in the top of the first inning.

John Troy singled to right with one out, then stole second two batters later. He scored from second on a Riley Cox single to make it 1-0.

Troy also did well for himself on the mound also, not allowing a L-S hit until the fourth inning. He walked Matt Cahill to open the inning, then faced Michael Walsh.

Walsh hit a grounder to short, which slowed down considerably in the infield grass. By the time the shortstop could make a play on the ball, Cahill was mere feet away from second base.

Cahill slid head-first into the bag, beating the throw, making everybody safe, and giving L-S its first hit of the game.

He then moved to third, but a 6-4-3 double play gave his team two outs. He scored two pitches later on a Troy wild pitch.

L-S plated the final run of the game after Troy fell apart in the eighth inning. Michael Biggins singled to right to open the inning, then Cahill reached base safely after Troy’s throw to second pulled the shortstop off the bag, making both runners safe.

He then hit Walsh with a 3-1 pitch, which loaded the bases. Warrenbrand’s hit dropped in the outfield to send the fans home happy, and allowed him to finish the game he started.

Warrenbrand shining: Warrenbrand is only a sophomore, but did not pitch like one Friday. After he gave up the run in the first, he left 10 Westford runners on base, three of which reached third base.

His biggest scare came in the sixth inning, when he walked Riley Cox to start the inning. A William Alden single put runners on first and second with nobody out.

He came back and struck out Thomas O’Brien looking, then got Luke Morse to ground out to him, which advanced the runners, but made two outs in the inning.

Connor Murphy came up to hit, but Warrenbrand struck him out swinging, ending any hopes Westford had of scoring in the inning.

He gave up a single to start the seventh inning, but came back and forced a fly ball out and a double play to end the inning.

“He’s been struggling a little bit lately, and struggled in the early part of the game, threw a lot of pitches,” said Fredericks. “He’s been getting better as the game goes on. I think what you saw was that he’s a competitor and he’d come off the mound in each of those last three innings he pitched, and he came off like he just won the state championship. Then he goes and gets the game-winning hit. Sometimes you’re the hero, and sometime’s you’re the goat, but today he was the hero.”

Warrenbrand was relieved in the eighth by David McCullough.

MIAA announes Coaches of the Year

May, 15, 2012
The following coaches will be honored at the Second Annual Coach of the Year/Student Athlete Banquet on May 30, 2012. Each coach below has been named Coach of the Year by the MIAA for their respective sport:

Robert Mahoney, Notre Dame (Tyngsborough) -- Girls Volleyball
Amelia Davis, Algonquin -- Gymnastics
Kevin Burchill, Braintree -- Girls Ice Hockey
Jack Stoddard, Duxbury -- Boys Golf
Alex Naumann, Everett -- Boys Ice Hockey
Michael Foley, Framingham -- Swim
Fred Jewett, Hingham -- Indoor Track
Jim Leonard, King Philip -- Softball
Phil Maia, Lowell -- Cross Country
David Duffy, Needham -- Football
Frank Carey, North Reading -- Baseball
Rick Kates, Notre Dame (Hingham) -- Outdoor Track
David Gianferante, Notre Dame (Hingham) -- Girls Golf
Kim Penney, Reading -- Girls Basketball
David Curley, Rockport -- Boys Soccer
Ed Scollan, Westford -- Boys Basketball
Leslie Frank, Westwood -- Girls Lacrosse

Recap: No. 9 A-B 15, No. 3 L-S 9

May, 10, 2012
ACTON, Mass. --- The Dual County League Large awarded tri-champions last year as Westford Academy, Lincoln-Sudbury and Acton-Boxborough all shared the honor at the top. This year may prove to be the much of the same as A-B defeated L-S 15-9 on Thursday night to lock the three teams up at the top once again in one of the most completive leagues in Massachusetts.

A-B (11-3) led 5-4 at the half in a back and forth beginning that featured strong goalie play from L-S senior Dan Shaughnessy and A-B junior Rick Kronnenwett.

With under a minute to go in the half Kronnenwett made two big saves for the Colonials on a scoring bid from L-S junior midfielder Dan Delaney. The saves helped preserve the lead and momentum for A-B at the half.

“Rick has been great,” said Acton-Boxborough head coach Pat Ammendolia. “We inserted him midway through the year and he has really stepped up. His legs and feet are swollen with ball marks from saves and he has been just doing a great job for us.”

A-B midfielder Joe Cormier (two goals, assist) won the opening face-off of the second half and teammate Kyle Soroka (three goals, three assists) beat his man in transition and scored the opening goal at the 11:26 mark to give the Colonials a two goal lead. The 6-4 lead was the largest lead of the game to date for either team.

Soroka would come back and score again at the 8:48 mark in the third, followed by a tally from Cormier to give A-B an 8-4 lead midway through the third quarter.

L-S would battle back and score two man-up goals to cut the deficit to 8-6 but it would be all A-B from there on out in the third as they would take an 11-7 to the final quarter.

“It was infectious,” Ammendolia said. “One guy will make a great play and then another guy will make a great play and it snowballs. I thought we played a little timid in the first half but we came out and scored one right away and I thought that broke our hesitance.”

A-B would control the possessions and add four more goals in the final quarter to seal the win and create balanced chaos at the top of the DCL Large once again this season.

Despite the loss L-S (9-5) remains one of the most dangerous teams in Division 1 as they boast one of the state’s top young, explosive rosters.

Delaney led the Warriors in scoring on the night as the Fairfield commit scored two goals to go along with one assist. Sophomore midfielder Greg Roder also added two goals for L-S in the loss.

McKelvie Scores: Tyler McKelvie’s six goals earned the senior one of three game balls presented by Coach Ammendolia at the end of the game. (The other two went to Soroka and Kronnenwett ).

McKelvie proved that he did not need much room on the evening to get his shot off and also proved efficient burying six goals with three coming in each half.

“We were fired up to play them,” said McKelvie. “We lost in overtime the first time and clearing killed us. This time we cleaned it up and just did our jobs.”

The senior sniper also scored six goals in A-B’s 19-9 win over Westford Academy last week and leads the Colonials in scoring with 46 goals and 10 assists on the season.

Improved Clearing: The knock on A-B this season has been their struggle in the clearing game. L-S really took advantage of A-B in that department when the two teams met at the beginning of the season in a 14-13 overtime win for the Warriors.

Despite the occasional lapse on Thursday night it is evident that A-B has definitely improved their clearing game and looked fast in transition and composed off of saves.

“I would not say that we clear every day at practice but we do on most days,” Ammendolia explained. “They have been getting better and it is a credit to the kids. I just guide them and it all comes with their hard work at practice.”

Right Time to Be Hot: A-B has now won 10 out of their last 11 games after starting the season 1-2. They have defeated ESPN Boston Top 25 teams Weston, Westford Academy and L-S soundly over the past week and only lost to No. 2 ranked Concord-Carlisle by one goal, 8-7, at the end of the game.

“I think we are a lot more calm and comfortable with the offense and with our off hands,” McKelvie said. “It is nice to just go out there and play.”

Roundtable: Darcey vs. Stamatov, Best Lefties

April, 13, 2012
We're back with another installment of "Roundtable", our weekly takes on the hot topics of the spring season. This week, we discuss who is the best boys' lacrosse goalie in the state; which lefthanded pitchers will make the most noise; the state's best slap hitter; and who had the best individual performance of the season's first two weeks.

Joining us this week are correspondent Bruce Lerch, New England Prep Stars founder and editor Ryan Kilian, producer Ben Larsen, and Brockton Enterprise staff writer John Botelho. Without further ado:


ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Scott Barboza: That's a tough one. In many regards, they're similar players in that they're both not afraid to step up into the play when its warranted. They're not going to just clear and retreat when the opportunity presents itself. Stamatov had one clearing pass to the midfield during the third quarter against Barnstable that was a thing of beauty. And, of course, we all know that Darcey is capable of scoring when he carries the ball past midfield. This all makes no mention of their ability to stop the ball either. Either way you dice it, they're among the very best in a deep field of MIAA goaltenders along with Duxbury's Henry Buonagurio, Concord-Carlisle's Doug Gouchoe and Billerica's D.J. Smith.

Ryan Kilian, New England Prep Stars: Connor Darcey is the best goalie I have seen in New England Public High School lacrosse over the past two years. Darcey is the real deal. He possesses confidence, quickness, and exceptional hand-eye coordination.

The goalie position in Massachusetts in the Class of 2012 is as strong as it has been in many years. Doug Gouchoe of Concord-Carlisle (Air Force), Greg Stamatov of Foxborogh (Villanova), Jared Fong of Weston (Gettysburg), and Miles McCarthy of Catholic Memorial (Williams) are all exceptional athletes with bright futures at the next level and all have a unique set of skills that they bring to the table.

Darcey is also a born leader and that is an essential trait that all great goalies, like the above mentioned, share.

Bruce Lerch, correspondent: Both players have excelled for their respective teams and made a big splash over the summer participating in the Warrior 40 at Harvard Stadium. Both have also drawn the attention of Division colleges, as Darcey is committed to play for Penn State while Stamatov will take his talents to Villanova. Darcey was a key factor in Wellesey's 16-0 regular season a year ago, while Stamatov helped propel Foxborough to its best season ever by reaching the Division 2 semifinals. Darcey was rated eighth in ESPN High School's national goalie rankings back in February, but even if you have the second pick in this draft, you won't come away disappointed as Stamatov was not too far behind at No. 14.


ESPN Boston High Schools Editor Brendan Hall: I think any time you throw a perfect game at any level, you should be highly commended as such. So here’s my kudos to Lynn English’s Ben Bowden, who had a clean sheet for the Bulldogs in their 5-0 win over Marblehead. Bowden struck out 14 in the full seven innings, and got some assistance from the infield behind him late to seal the deal. He is an imposing player to watch at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, equipped with a high-80’s fastball, so it’s hardly the last time we’ll hear from him.

That said, I’m always impressed when a pitcher goes into the triple-digits in pitch count this early in the season – and even moreso when it’s as efficient as Milford’s Jarrod Casey was on April 3. In the Scarlet Hawks’ season-opening 3-1 win over Westborough, the reigning Mid-Wach A MVP and returning ESPNBoston All-Stater threw 125 pitches and struck out 15 batters; he also belted an inside-the-park, two-run homer to give them all the insurance they needed.

John Botelho, Brockton Enterprise: The Bridgewater-Raynham softball team has shown plenty of early fireworks this season. Senior Audrey Dolloff twirled a four-hitter and struck on eight on opening, all while going 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and four RBI for the Trojans. Freshman Emily Kurkul has homered in all three games so far. Most recently, Dolloff tossed a no-hitter against Durfee, and her performance might not have even been the best one on the field that day for B-R. Sophomore Madison Shaw went 4-for-4 with two homers, a double and seven RBI as the Trojans cruised.

Ryan Kilian: The best individual performance that I have seen on the lacrosse field so far was Westford Academy attack Jay Drapeau scoring six goals and dishing out one assist in a 12-11 opening day win over Billerica. The sophomore scored the game winner in the fourth quarter and was exceptional dodging from X all afternoon. Drapeau also did this against a very formidable defense led by Tommy McLaughlin (UMass) and one of the state’s best goalies in DJ Smith (UMass).

Ben Larsen, It would be hard to top this one. Noah Parker, a terrific talent hidden at St. Mary’s of Westfield was perfect in a six-inning game against Pioneer Valley Christian. He threw only 57 pitches, striking out 14. At the plate, he narrowly missed hitting for the cycle, going 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI.

Bruce Lerch: On the lacrosse fields, several players have produced nine-goal games in the early going. Kobie Sullivan had seven, nine and eight goals in Fairhaven's first three games. On the girls side, Wayland's Amy Cunningham, Amy also struck for nine against Bedford. But my top effort goes to Masconomet's Jake Gillespie, who potted nine in the Chieftans' second game of the year against a BC High defense that includes a pair of Division 1 recruits.


Brendan Hall: The Class of 2012 is littered with Division 1-bound lefties, between Oliver Ames' Ryan O'Shea (Central Michigan), East Longmeadow's Steve Moyers (Rhode Island), Pentucket's Alex Ministeri (Coastal Carolina), Auburn's Connor Fuller (Fordham), Xaverian's Tim Duggan (Fairfield) and Acton-Boxborough's Ryan McDonald (Bryant). One we might be adding to that list in a year's time is Wellesley senior Tim Superko.

Superko is already off to a great start in 2012, with wins in his first two starts in dominant fashion -- 23 strikeouts in 12 innings, an ERA of 0.75, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly four, and a strike percentage of 67. I'm obviously working with a stat system pretty sophisticated for the high school level, but I can assure you Superko could care less. He's a competitor, unafraid to challenge hitters in the middle of the order, but also very coachable. Raiders coach Rob Kane raves about Superko's curveball, and he sets it up well with his heat. From the plate, he's not that bad either; so far he's hitting .500/.562/.786 with five RBI, two triples, seven runs and three stolen bases.

Superko is heading to Philips Andover for a post-graduate year next season. I expect him to have a Division 1 scholarship offer in his lap by this summer's end.

I'd also keep an eye on the aforementioned Ben Bowden from Lynn English. He's got an ideal power pitcher's frame, and if the reports about him topping out at 89 miles per hour in his perfect game are true, then he has a chance to rise quickly on the radar. But to be a reliable starter at this level, you need a quality changeup, and Bowden's is pretty nice.

Boston Latin sophomore Pat Naughton is certainly another one to look out for over the next two years. He fanned 17 Wayland batters in an outing last year as a freshman, and is already off to a good start this year with 14 K's in the Wolfpack's season-opening win over Latin Academy. Also keep an eye on Reading junior Scott Tully, who committed to Notre Dame last February, as well as Malden Catholic junior Joe Velozo.

John Botelho: One of the best lefties in the state hasn't even thrown a pitch yet. Oliver Ames' Ryan O'Shea, a 6-foot-3 southpaw already signed on to play at Central Michigan next year, will take to the mound for the first time next week. Hall of Fame coach Leo Duggan aired on the side of caution as O'Shea was battling shoulder soreness. He has a chance to come back and be the best pitcher on an O-A team that has still gone 3-0 without him in the lineup.

Brockton's Joe Sever has a live arm and features impressive off-speed stuff. The ace of the Boxers' staff this year, he has a chance to catch a lot of eyes with the schedules Bill Maloney's squad plays.

Bridgewater-Raynham features a pair of hard-throwing lefties who should cause problems for hitters throughout the regular season. Senior captains Pat Chalmers and Shane Holmes have more varsity experience than many of the guys they'll square off against this year - Chalmers was pitching on varsity at B-R as a sophomore and Holmes spent his freshman and sophomore years on the varsity squad at East Bridgewater before transferring to B-R as a junior. Chalmers took a no decision in his first start, but struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings. Holmes picked up the first win for the Trojans, a complete-game two-hit 12-strikeout performance against Milton.

Ben Larsen: Undoubtedly, Steve Moyers is the guy to follow. He has been unbelievable in his first three years as the ace of the East Longmeadow rotation and he’s hoping to reach the 30-win plateau for his career, which is no small feat in the short Massachusetts season. That said, Michael Walkowicz of Amherst has been the Cy Young in the early going. In two starts, he has a 17-strikeout, one-hitter and 12 Ks in a loss to Northampton.

Bruce Lerch: I find myself greatly intrigued by the seemingly rubber of Franklin southpaw Tyler Buck. As a junior, Buck tossed multiple gems during the Panthers run to the Div. 1 state championship game, including a 166-pitch effort to upset BC High in last year's D1 South semifinals. After starring for Franklin's Legion team over the summer, I'm interested to see how far the Panthers ace can take them once again.


Brendan Hall: I'm going with the Dual County League. Four members of the 10-team league currently sit in our MIAA Top 25 poll, including No. 1 Lincoln-Sudbury. And we're not even including Acton-Boxborough, which began the season as our preseason No. 10 before dropping to 0-5. Talk about a misnomer -- the Colonials' five losses are to No. 1 L-S, No. 5 Needham, No. 6 Notre Dame (Hingham), No. 17 King Philip, and No. 23 Walpole. Also throw in unranked Wayland, which has one of the state's best goalies in Quinnipiac-bound senior Rachel Massicotte.

Let's now throw in the DCL's other three currently-ranked teams -- Concord-Carlisle, Weston and Westford -- and we're talking six teams that can be troublesome. I expect L-S to rise above it all, but the rest of the way down may or may not be a crap shoot.

Bruce Lerch: While most league's across the state in girls lacrosse are fairly top-heavy, I would say that top to bottom, the Middlesex League's large division may have the largest number of competitive teams as all five made the playoffs in 2011. Winchester is annually among the state's top programs and is among the favorites to challenge for the Div. 2 crown once again. Reading went 15-5 before running into state finalist Lincoln-Sudbury. Lexington is a perennial tourney team who, aside from last season, routinely rolls up 15-plus wins a year. Belmont also won 15 games in 2011, and Woburn qualified for the postseason as well. As of the time I am writing this, the five teams hold a combined record of 8-0-1 through the first two weeks of the season.

Ben Larsen: The Valley Wheel in Western Mass. is off to a strong start with no team worse than 2-0, including Agawam on top with four wins already. Perennial power Longmeadow and last year’s upstart Minnechaug are bound to contend with powerful Agawam in this loaded league but don’t count out East Longmeadow and South Hadley from at least making some noise.


Scott Barboza: I'm looking no further than Mansfield's Bri Chiusano. The Coastal Carolina signee is the most dynamic lead-off hitter in the state and, as she showed earlier this week against King Philip, she also has some pop in the bat while taking a full swing. You have to take pause and applaud anybody who can launch a home run off of Meghan Rico after all.

Bruce Lerch: Bri Chiusano of Mansfield, who showed Tuesday that she can do a bit more than slap by cranking a three-run homer off of King Philip ace and reigning Miss Softball Meghan Rico. A four-year player for the Hornets manning centerfield and batting at the top of the lineup, Chiusano makes life miserable for opposing pitchers with her quick hands and tremendous speed and has an uncanny ability to survey how the defense is playing her and place the ball accordingly. The senior was named to ESPN Boston's preseason All-State team and will play for Coastal Carolina next year.

Ben Larsen: Typically a speedy singles hitter who uses his speed to get on and wreak havoc on the basepaths, Westfield’s Billy Smith got into the power game Monday, blasting a three-run homer in the Bombers’ rout of Belchertown. Smith, who also served as the Westfield football team’s quarterback this past season, has started out slow but is undoubtedly a player to watch moving forward.


Brendan Hall: My brethren on the Cape will call me Captain Hindsight with this one, but maybe Dennis-Yarmouth baseball is better than we've given them credit for after knocking off Plymouth North 8-2 on Wednesday. I think it was universally agreed that North, routinely one of the best hitting teams in Division 2, would be the favorite again in the South region even after losing key bats like Matt Walsh. But maybe D-Y should get more notice, with talented players like Matt Montalto, Matt Peterson and Miles Tuohy-Bedford. The Dolphins (2-1) got off to a hot start last season, including coach Paul Funk's 100th win, before coming back to Earth. Can they keep the hot start going this year?

Scott Barboza: If I told you I'd called Reading boys' lacrosse's overtime win over Westford Academy, I'd be lying. The Grey Ghosts entered this season with a lot of attention, particularly with the addition of Alex Eaton, in an already loaded Dual County League and the No. 6 ranking in our preseason Top 25 poll. Meanwhile, Reading was tough to read coming in because the Rockets lost some key cogs from last year's squad. What the Rockets did is prove that they should again challenge for the Middlesex League title.

Bruce Lerch: In boys lacrosse, certainly the most eye-opening result of the early season came when Melrose upset Lexington, 11-6. This is just the fourth year of the Red Raiders program, and in their first three years Melrose went a combined 9-44. Meanwhile, Lexington is an annual state championship and Middlesex League contender and reached the postseason in each of the three years since Melrose started its team. It was certainly a program defining victory for the Red Raiders.