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WOMEN'S LACROSSE: Sheridan on record pace for Colby

Sport: Lacrosse (Boys)  Posted: March 30th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

WOMEN'S LACROSSE: Sheridan on record pace for Colby

Staff photo by Jim Evans
Staff photo by Jim Evans..HOT SHOT: Colby College’s Kate Sheridan, in white jersey, is on a pace to be the school’s career scoring leader. For her career, Sheridan has 114 goals and 43 assists.

WATERVILLE-- As part of her experience at Colby College, junior Kate Sheridan spent August through December last year studying in Ireland. She brought along a lacrosse stick, which got several quizzical looks from the locals.

"They had no idea what lacrosse was," Sheridan said. "They were like, 'Is that a hurley? What is that?' That was a little difficult to explain."

Sheridan's recollections bring up two questions: First, what is a hurley, anyway? And second, why did she bring a lacrosse stick to study in Ireland?

To answer the first question, a hurley is much like a lacrosse stick, except that the head is flat instead of netted. It's used in the game of hurling, a popular game in Ireland which is somewhat like lacrosse, but much more violent.

As to why Sheridan traveled with her lacrosse stick, part of the reason is that she is amazing at lacrosse. Seven games into her junior season, she already has 114 career goals. With 43 assists, she is on her way to breaking both the school records in goals (167) and points (222). So staying sharp at lacrosse was a key for her.

"I didn't want to be without it for four months," Sheridan said. "You could practice to an extent. I could play wall ball, practice by myself, run with it. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to be back in January. I wanted to actually play with people, not just a wall."

Colby is ranked fifth in the nation in Division III in the latest women's lacrosse poll, and Sheridan, who grew up in Hingham, Mass., is perhaps the biggest reason for that. After scoring 46 goals as a freshman and 43 as a sophomore, she has 24 in seven games this spring.

Add her 14 assists -- just two off her career season high -- and she's had a hand in more than five goals per game. She's also the most-used player for draw controls -- the lacrosse equivalent of faceoffs -- and has won 26 so far.

"I'm very impressed with her," Middlebury coach Missy Foote said. "You look at her statistics -- she's got everything. She's got goals, assists, draw controls, ground balls. She's got great presence."

In talking to Sheridan, you get the impression she doesn't even know her statistics, but others have noticed them. She has made second-team All-American each of the last two years, and the season preview on Colby's Web site says, "Sheridan has proved herself as one of the best players in the country."

"I'm honored," Sheridan said. "It's a very nice thing to say, but you can't take yourself too seriously."

Colby has gone 26-9 in Sheridan's two seasons, and finished last season ranked eighth in Division III. It was still an incomplete ending for the Mules. After dropping a 10-8 decision to Middlebury in the conference title game, Colby was not selected for the NCAA tournament.

"That was hard, especially because I don't think our team really expected it," Sheridan said. "We knew there was a chance we wouldn't be in, but we knew there was a better chance we would be in. We didn't know it was going to be the last game playing with those five seniors. We didn't know it was going to be the last game with our coach."

Under new coach Karen MacCrate Henning, Colby has started off 4-3 this season. The Mules have struggled at times defensively and, of the 28 players listed on their roster, 20 are freshmen or sophomores.

Sheridan, the youngest of four children, wants to keep playing after college and eventually coach lacrosse. She's majoring in human development, but isn't sure what she wants out of that part of life yet.

"I like it because I get a taste of everything: Psychology, sociology, education," Sheridan said. "I'm just testing out everything."

Matt DiFilippo -- 861-9243


Oak Hill graduate named captain and playing left field

Sport: Baseball  Posted: March 30th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Oak Hill graduate named captain and playing left field


Staff Writer

Bowdoin College senior Pat Duchette has taken on a couple of new responsibilities this season, so far successfully.

The Oak Hill High School graduate has moved from first base to left field to accommodate another bat in Bowdoin's lineup, one that has scored 103 runs in 11 games.

"My last experience in the outfield was my freshman year at Oak Hill," Duchette said. "It's so new to me right now."

Duchette is getting pointers from former Bowdoin outfielder and Maranacook graduate Jared Lemieux, who is an assistant coach.

"He's actually been very helpful," Duchette said. "Lem obviously was a great outfielder."

Duchette's outfield adjustment is compounded by a partially torn labrum in his left throwing shoulder. He decided against surgery since the recovery time is six months and would have wiped out his senior season.

"He is a tough kid," Bowdoin coach Mike Connolly said. "He's grinding his teeth and fighting through it."

Duchette's shoulder hasn't affected his hitting. He returned from the Polar Bears' 11-game Arizona trip batting .415 with 14 RBIs. And he's shown some pop in his bat with two home runs, four doubles and a triple.

"The first one was an opposite field home run," said the left-handed hitting Duchette. "I haven't hit a home run since my freshman year."

Connolly has Duchette batting cleanup in his potent lineup because of his consistent swing and the fact he rarely has a bad at-bat.

"The problem is the bad at-bats are the ones sticking out in my head right now," Duchette said.

Duchette's effectiveness doesn't end on the field. He's one of two team captains -- pitcher Pat Driscoll is the other -- for the Polar Bears and takes the job seriously.

"Being captains we wanted to make sure everybody was close together," Duchette said. "It's a very different role than it was in high school although there's still a sense of what I can do to lead this team."

Connolly is thrilled with Duchette's leadership qualities, calling him "one of the best leaders I've ever had."

"He has the ability to raise the play of all the kids," he said.

The Polar Bears returned from their spring trip at 8-3 and expect to contend for a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title. The progress of Driscoll, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, will be a key to their season.

"Personally, I feel we have one of the best hitting lineups since I've been here," Duchette said. "Pitching-wise, we have to have a couple of guys step up."

Connolly spends a lot of time scouring Maine high school games for players who fit their academic and athletic mold at Bowdoin. He began following Duchette his junior year at Oak Hill when he helped the Raiders to a Class B state championship.

"I always knew he could be a great player," Connolly said. "Now he's reached the point where he is a great player."

Duchette, who has a double major in economics and government and legal studies, hasn't ruled out playing baseball after college, nor is he thinking much about it.

"I want to go into the business world," he said. "Whatever presents itself, I'll probably just jump on it if the opportunity is there."

Gary Hawkins -- 621-5638


Prep nine have some high hopes

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Prep nine have some high hopes

By Gordon Vincent / For The Item

DANVERS - Expectations for the St. John's Prep baseball team always run high, and this year is no exception as the Eagles have several key players returning from last season's Catholic Conference champions.

As usual, St. John's coach Pat Yanchus - who has guided the Prep to two state titles - is taking a low-key approach to his team's chances, but the Eagles are generally involved in any discussion about potential championship contenders.

"I don't know how well we'll do. I guess we'll find out," Yanchus said. "We always look good in the gym."

St. John's finished the 2007 regular season with a record of 15-5 and was the number four seed in the Div. 1 North tournament. The Eagles won two games in the post-season before losing, 6-0, to eventual state champ Lincoln-Sudbury in the sectional semifinals.

The Prep lost three key contributors from last year's club, all of whom are playing in college. The Eagles said good-bye to ace pitcher Connor Burke (Brown), shortstop Sean O'Hara (Harvard) and catcher Rob Noe (Rhode Island).

Likely stepping into the number one pitcher's role is Jordan Edgett, a right-hander who is headed to Bowdoin in the fall. Edgett also plays second base.

David DeCelle also saw plenty of action on the mound last season and will increase his role in the Prep's rotation. He is also right-handed, as are all the pitchers who will likely take the mound for the Eagles this year.

Matt Warden pitched in about 3-4 games last season and should see his role increase this year.

Filling O'Hara's spot at shortstop is Danny Haugh, who played the corner infield positions last season. Haugh is also a pitcher and will likely be the Eagles' closer this season.

"He's got a good arm, but we're going to need him more at shortstop than on the mound this season," Yanchus said.

Chris Carmain is another returning player who will be a corner infielder and will pitch some.

Derek Coppola, the leading rusher on the Prep's football team last fall, returns to centerfield and will rely on his speed and athleticism.

Chris Welch played first base and designated hitter last season, and he will likely occupy one of the spots in the batting order again.

Moving into Noe's role is Trevor Manzi, last year's backup catcher. The Prep has a history of outstanding catchers, and good defense up the middle.

As usual, the Catholic Conference is the toughest in the state. All five teams qualified for the state tournament last season, and Boston College High won the Div. 1 South sectional title, defeating Xaverian along the way in the semifinals. Catholic Memorial lost to Walpole in the other south semifinal, while St. John's knocked out Malden Catholic in the Div. 1 North quarterfinals.

The Eagles also play their usual rugged non-conference schedule, with games against last year's Greater Boston League (and new Northeastern Conference entry) Peabody and crosstown rival Danvers, a perennial power in both the NEC and the Div. 2 tournament.

"We play the exact same schedule as last year," Yanchus said. "We have to get to .500 to make the tournament, and after that we'll see what happens."

Reagan bows from Hingham helm after 26 years

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Reagan bows from Hingham helm after 26 years
By Tim Coughlin
The Patriot Ledger

Coach Garrett Reagan has three state titles, six Super Eight appearances and more than 400 wins at Hingham

HINGHAM — Tradition is what Garrett Reagan started for Hingham High School hockey and, by all accounts, tradition is what he’ll leave behind.

Weeks after a season that saw the Harbormen earn the No. 2 seed in the Super Eight – the program’s highest-ever slot in the Division 1A tournament, essentially meaning a ranking of the second-best team in the state – Reagan retired from the familiar position on the bench he’s held as coach for 26 years, making it official with a brief speech to the team after school Friday.

That tenure was marked by three state titles, six Super Eight appearances, over 400 wins and four state ice hockey team sportsmanship awards since 1997, of which Reagan and the program seem to take the most pride.

“We’ve won our share of games, but I think we’ve done it with some real class,” said Reagan, 66, whose team is perennially among the least penalized in the state.

“It’s the process more than the wins and losses; working with the kids and the coaches. It’s just a lot of fun, all the time. Still is.”

No other team has won the James F. Mulloy sportsmanship award four times in that 11-year span. The Harbormen earned the award in what is now Reagan’s final year after setting a school record for the fewest penalty minutes in a season, while the first came with a Division 2 state title in 1997, the only time a team has claimed both honors in one year.

“He’s been a good role model for the players on how to play hockey and play it the right way,” said Hingham athletics director Bill Barges, who also announced plans for retirement, earlier this year, after 24 years of service.

Barges said Reagan’s emphasis on sportsmanship has fostered a dedication to players becoming the best they can every season, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his athletes.

“One thing that really amazes me is how he always seems to pull the best out of his players,” said senior captain Steve Sypek, who improved to become an All-Scholastic defenseman this year.

“We had a great year. We had high expectations going into it, but we really worked hard. Coach was a big part of it, caring for his players.

“I hope it was a memorable one for him. Hopefully we sent him out on a good note.”

Tony Messina, who’s been Reagan’s assistant for all but the first two of the last 26 years in helping form what Reagan called “90 years of experience” on the bench beside him, is expected to take over as head coach next season.

“He’s another excellent coach who could’ve been a head coach a few years back, but has been loyal to the program,” Barges said of Messina, who played four years at Hingham before going another four at the University of Vermont.

Messina’s hiring is expected to go through within the next month, as he has the recommendation of both Reagan and Barges behind him, no to mention the players.

“(He’s) the only candidate in my mind,” Sypek said. “The kids love him, love the whole coaching staff. It’s really tough to see coach Reagan go – he’s been such a staple – but it would be a smooth transition.”

As for Reagan, who explained his retirement as a product of “a lot of things with family and work (making) it a good time to do it; no intrigue or anything,” don’t expect his absence from the area ponds.

“I’m not going to disappear from hockey,” he said. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but not disappear by any means. I’ll still do hockey schools up at Pilgrim (Skating Arena), and we’ll see from there.”

Even if he isn’t at every game next year, when the Harbormen, one of the youngest squads in the Super Eight this year, are expected to contend yet again, Barges said his presence and the tradition he established will remain.

“Hingham hockey is on the map because of him,” Barges said.

“He’s part of hockey; its in his blood. I’m sure he’ll be watching the progress.”

Tim Coughlin may be reached at tcoughlin@ledger.com.

Pingree football trio set to play in college

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Pingree football trio set to play in college
By Mike Grenier
Staff writer

Will Taft arrived at the Pingree School in Hamilton three years ago pretty much convinced that football wouldn't be part of his high school experience.

He would go for Pingree's academics and the opportunity to play multiple sports, but at a school with just 150 boys, the idea of having a football program seemed far-fetched.

"It came down to Masconomet and Pingree for me," said Taft, now 18, recalling his options in eighth grade, "and football was a big part of the decision. I went to Pingree accepting the (possibility) that there wouldn't be football. It was hard, because football was my favorite sport."

As it turned out for Taft and other football-loving members of his class, freshman year was the only time they couldn't indulge their passion for the game. After much research, Pingree established a football program in 2005, and head coach Chris Powers and his assistants have already gotten more mileage out of it than they ever could have imagined.

Although the program is still in its embryonic stage, Pingree's first group of football graduates will include three local players who will play college ball next year. Taft, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker and tight end, is heading to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. Meanwhile, two-way lineman Jason Kramer (6-2, 218 lbs.) of Manchester will play for Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., and quarterback/kicker Carlos O'Donnell of Salem will go the local route to Beverly's Endicott College, where he hopes to play both football and basketball.

"You always hope to give kids the opportunity to move up and play in college, but it doesn't always work out," said Powers. "We're just fortunate to have the type of kids that can do it from a team that hasn't been around for very long. These are three solid kids and solid students who had good high school careers — and it opened doors for them."

What helped open those doors was Pingree's affiliation with the Evergreen League the last two seasons. League schools such as Tilton Academy, Kimball Union and Holderness have funneled players to colleges, including Division 1 programs, for years. It didn't take long for Pingree's top players to start making the recruiting lists.

"My surprise comes in the amount of interest and respect the coaches and the colleges gave to our players in just a short period of time," said Powers. "That all comes from getting the exposure in the Evergreen League."

Good vibes

Bates College will be getting an aggressive, opportunistic player in Taft, who made 911/2 tackles in eight games last season. Taft, who also excelled in basketball and baseball at Pingree, got the Bates coaching staff's attention last summer when he attended the New England Elite camp in Lexington.

"It was a lot better than I expected," Taft said of his football experience at Pingree. "We started off playing some JV games my sophomore year, then we got into a league and started competing with a lot of those teams. We were going against some kids who'll be playing at Wake Forest and Maryland.

"My sophomore year I wasn't focused on playing sports in college, but my junior year, seeing how competitive we were, I began to think it could happen. I talked to the Bates coach and I got a good vibe. I took an overnight visit there and felt like it was the place for me."

O'Donnell is an intriguing prospect for Endicott College. As a quarterback, he was 102-for-176 passing for 1,554 yards and eight touchdowns last season. He's also an extraordinary kicker who had three field goals in one contest against Portsmouth Abbey, including a school record 43-yarder.

But O'Donnell is hesitant to give up basketball to concentrate solely on football. He was the point guard for the 24-8 Highlanders this past winter and made 75 3-pointers.

"My understanding is that he will kick at the college level," said Powers. "But because of his speed, they may also try him at split end and cornerback, or he could make a run at QB. He's also a four-year basketball player, so we'll see what happens."

O'Donnell never would've believed a couple of years ago that he'd be in this position. He grew up playing soccer and figured he'd also play basketball at Pingree. Football, he said, was just a "big rumor" when he was a freshman.

"I had no football (experience) until I got to Pingree," said O'Donnell. "It was exciting to get that opportunity. For a small school like ours, I thought it would take a few years (to be recognized), but it was pretty good to be able to compete in just two years.

"I'm not sure what's going to happen at Endicott. They've seen me play football and I think I can definitely kick for them. I have to talk to the coaches there and decide about basketball."

Setting the tone

Kramer, a 6-2, 215-pound offensive tackle and defensive end, lived in Germany for three-and-a-half years and entered Pingree just as the football program was getting off the ground.

He viewed football as something different, a new endeavor. Making the adjustment from a foreign country, college football was about the last thing on his mind.

"We looked at all kinds of schools when we moved back here," said Kramer. "I'd played hockey (in Germany), but never football. It was a fresh start, one of those things where I just said, 'Let's see how I do.' I was always the big kid in the group and I really learned to like football."

Kramer attended the showcase camp with Taft at Minuteman Regional in Lexington last summer, and it eventually led to Hamilton College showing an interest in him.

Powers describes him as a disciplined player who has excellent footwork. Kramer projects as an outside linebacker or defensive end in college.

"It just shows you what kind of coaching we've got at Pingree," Kramer said of the young program turning out college prospects. "Coach Powers, Rob Van Tuyl and Josh Burns, who is the defensive coordinator ... all our coaches did a great job. And the level of competition is a lot better than people think. The schools we play send players to Division 1 and it's tough playing against those guys. It helps us get better."

Taft, O'Donnell and Kramer are setting the tone for younger teammates who may also get a shot at playing college football. Juniors Derek Pratt and Pat George appear to be next in line if they continue to develop at Pingree. Pratt, a Gloucester resident who accumulated nearly 1,000 yards rushing and receiving last season, is on the radar at Division 1 University of Rhode Island while George, a running back/linebacker, has drawn interest from Cornell.

"We don't have the tradition of other (prep) schools, but we're going after the same kids," said Powers. "We're another viable option for kids and we can play at a very competitive level."

Medfield 8, Hopkinton 5: Interesting boys lax result

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Medfield 8, Hopkinton 5: Interesting boys lax result
By Ken Castro/Daily News correspondent
The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Mar 28, 2008 @ 11:42 PM


John Thornton/Daily News staff
Medfield's Harry Bodozian escapes a Hopkinton defender during their Tri-Valley League opener at Fisher Field in Medfield.

MEDFIELD — Although the season-opening matchup with Hopkinton was statistically skewed in its favor, Medfield's fourth quarter proved to be the difference in an 8-5 win over the Hillers yesterday afternoon in Tri-Valley League boys lacrosse action at damp and chilly Fisher Field.

The Warriors, who outshot their opponents 41-10, were paced by attack Max Zuccarini's four-point day.

Despite the seemingly overwhelming numbers that favored Medfield, the Hillers managed to even the game at 3-3 at the outset of the third period.

Sophomore Matt Bletzer tallied just eight seconds into the final quarter pushing the Warriors lead to 6-4. Pat Bower followed at the 1:07 mark with an insurance goal. Zuccarini, who also collected a pair of assists, closed out the fourth-quarter scoring for Medfield when he slipped a shot from in close by Hillers goalie Charles Oliver with 2:20 left in the contest.

"They possessed the ball well, but our defense held them to three goals at halftime, and I thought we hung in there and played with heart and determination," said Hillers first-year coach Justin O'Leary. "I thought we were still able to convert and score five goals and we were able to hold them to under 10, and for the first game of the season, I think we can only get better. We'll take from this loss what we need to improve on and go from there."

After the Warriors jumped out to a quick 2-0 advantage, Hopkinton's Kevin Cassata halved the deficit with a goal with 3:34 left in the opening quarter. The Warriors, who led 3-1 after the first period, answered via Jack McDermott's short-handed goal just 37 seconds later.

Hopkinton's Luke Warren deadlocked the game at 3-3 in the third quarter when he scored on Medfield freshman goalie Sam Aronson.

"We were concerned that they scored any goals," said Medfield coach Bob Aronson. "And particularly being as low scoring as it was in the first half, we like to come out hard and fast and that was a bit of a problem for us."

Zuccarini gave Medfield a 5-4 edge with 45 seconds left in the third period.

"They're an excellent team, they're always athletic and they're well coached," said Aronson of the Hillers. "They did a nice job, they had 10 shots and scored five goals. We took 41 and only found the net eight times. Our shooting execution needs to improve, there's no question. Offense takes a little time to jell and we have a lot of young kids starting on offense and it's going to take awhile.

"I'm glad we got the win, but we should have finished a lot more. We probably controlled the ball 80 percent of the time. We're doing the right things. We had some great cuts, some nice looks and we just didn't finish."

Oliver, who was making his first varsity start in goal, kept Medfield at bay in the second quarter when he stopped a pair of successive shots while the Warriors were enjoying a man-advantage.

"He was a backup last year and he's the reason we stayed in this game," said O'Leary. "We didn't convert when we needed to."

"I told them '07 team is gone, this is 08's team and 08's team didn't have a win until today," said Aaronson. "Now we have a win under our belt and we can go forward."

(Bishop Stang) Experienced Spartans return nine starters in bid to win EAC title

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

(Bishop Stang) Experienced Spartans return nine starters in bid to win EAC title
March 29, 2008 6:00 AM
Photos by MIKE VALERI/The Standard-Times With a new on-campus softball field and the return of all nine of its starters, including senior captains Carissa Kennedy, Brynn Hussey, Meg Desrosiers and Kirsty Elder, plenty of eyes should be on the Bishop Stang softball team this year. The Spartans lost in last year’s South Sectional final to Coyle-Cassidy.

It's time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, and the Bishop Stang softball team has three things going for it — four senior captains, a long memory and a true home field for the first time.

Pitcher Meg Desrosiers, shortstop Kirsty Elder, second baseman Brynn Hussey and center fielder Carissa Kennedy are among the nine starters and 11 players the Spartans return from a team that finished 18-4 last season.

The squad, which dropped a 3-2 decision to Coyle-Cassidy in the finals of the Division 2 South Sectional a year ago, plays its first five games on the road. Playing most of their home games last season at Brooklawn Park in New Bedford, the Spartans will host their first-ever game on campus when Bishop Feehan visits for an Eastern Athletic Conference matchup on April 17.

"We can't wait to get started. We want to pick up where we left off last year and do even better this season," said Elder, who hit .341 with 15 runs batted in and two game-winning hits as a junior. "Everybody still has the Coyle-Cassidy game on their minds. It stayed with us in the offseason and we're going to use it to motivate us as a reminder of what might have been."

Desrosiers, who should be improved after working with pitching coach Jen Pfister in the offseason, said adjusting to the new mound — which has been moved back three feet to 43 feet to match the college standard — is going to be an easy transition.

"I don't have a problem with it. All of my pitches have movement and it's going to help my pitches break more," said Desrosiers. "I'm going to lose a little velocity, but I'm more of a location pitcher anyway."

Hussey, who hit .446 and knocked in a team-high 32 runs a year ago, said the Spartans are going to benefit from the experience they gained playing in the state tournament the last two seasons.

"We've made a lot of progress and we've taken our game to a whole new level. We played some great games in the state tournament last year and that's going to help us this season," said Hussey. "We know what we're capable of. The Coyle-Cassidy game could have gone either way. We were right there when it mattered in a big game and we're going to be a much-improved team this season."

Kennedy said having everybody back is a sign of even more good things to come.

"Teams don't return the numbers we have very often, so we're going to have to take advantage of that," said Kennedy. "We learned that we could play at a high level and be competitive against anybody last season. We're going to be a very experienced team and we're confident, but not too confident. If we all stay focused and do our jobs, everything else will take care of itself."

The Spartans have a solid group of juniors in pitcher Amy Leal, catcher Katie Quintin and outfielders Kat Rishmany and Julie Mills, and they have two good sophomores in third baseman Alyssa Quann and catcher Lauren DeFelice.

Coach Dan Sylvia is also excited about having sophomore outfielder Kendall Bukurus return for her first full season with the varsity.

A jayvee player last year, Bukurus made quite a splash after being called up for the state tournament. She had two hits and knocked in a pair of runs to fuel a 4-3 win over Westwood in the sectional quarterfinals, and hit the two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning that scored both of the Spartans' runs in the Coyle loss.

"Kendall was hitting the cover off the ball in the batting cage late in the season and I went with a hunch to play her," said Sylvia. "She gave us a tremendous lift in two of the biggest games we played all season and I'm looking forward to seeing what she can do for us this year.

Sylvia, who has done a great job molding the Spartans, said he's looking forward to his third season with the team.

"We're lucky to have everybody back and we've had a lot of young players come in and produce right away. We don't have the feeder system that other teams have, but we have kids who play year round and we've made a lot of progress in a short period of time," said Sylvia. "I'd put our defense up against anybody's and we're going to be a team that attacks the ball this season. We have kids who can hit, we have some nice depth on the mound and we're going to score a lot of runs."

Goal number one for the Spartans will be winning their first EAC championship. That means beating Coyle-Cassidy, a team they lost to by a combined score of 6-3 in three games last season — 3-2 in the sectional final, and 2-1 and 1-0 during the regular season.

"Coyle has a great program in place and they always field tough teams with outstanding pitchers and hitters," said Sylvia. "We were competitive with them last season, but we couldn't get over the hump and beat them. Hopefully we'll be able to do that this season, because we might not have another veteran team like this for awhile."

Bishop Feehan is another team to beat in the conference, as is Somerset. Sylvia said his team is ready to go.

"We want to build on what we accomplished last season and go even further this time around. We're going to hit the ball, move runners along and put games in the hands of our pitchers and defense," said Sylvia. "We're a veteran team and we're going to have to play like one. We still have a lot to prove, but we don't have that deer-in-the-headlights look anymore. Those days are long gone."

Contact Ed Collins at ecollins@s-t.com


Apponequet Lakers

Coach: Jim Cabucio (sixth year)

2007 record: 14-7

Key returners: Sr. OF Mary Ashley; Sr. P Samantha Crose; Sr. P Jen Lowrey; Sr. C Stephanie Freitag; Sr. 3B Kristyn Sarcia; Sr. OF Melissa Wilbur; Sr. 1B Alyssa Shea; Jr. 2B Christa Coscia.

Key newcomers: Jr. OF Chelsea Crepeau; Jr. C Amanda Davis; Jr. OF Dara McMahon; Jr. OF/P Rebecca Robert; Jr. SS Samantha Berube.

Outlook: The Lakers return a veteran team with seven seniors, and have two steady performers on the mound in Crose and Lowrey. Shea hit .395 a year ago en route to earning South Coast Conference All-Star honors and she's back to anchor the infield at first base. Defense will be a team strength, and a key to success will be how well the Lakers hit the ball with runners in scoring position.

Bishop Stang Spartans

Coach: Dan Sylvia (third year)

2007 record: 18-4

Key returners: Sr. P Meg Desrosiers; Sr. SS Kirsty Elder; Sr. 2B Brynn Hussey; Sr. OF Carissa Kennedy; Jr. P Amy Leal; Jr. OF Kat Rishmany; Jr. C Katie Quintin; Jr. OF Julie Mills; Soph. C Lauren DeFelice; Soph. 3B Alyssa Quann; Soph. 1B Bethany Reed.

Key newcomer: Soph. OF Kendall Bukurus

Outlook: The Spartans return their entire starting lineup from a team that dropped a 3-2 decision to Coyle-Cassidy in the final of the Division 2 South Sectional. The team has a solid senior foundation and a good group of younger players who picked up some valuable experience a year ago. Pitching, defense and speed will be team strengths. The offense should be even more potent, with a dangerous batting order that's filled with good hitters.

Dartmouth Indians

Coach: Armand Mickune-Santos (first year)

2007 record: 5-15

Key returners: Sr. SS Dana Sylvia; Sr. P Seanna McKee; Sr. C Christina Brum; Sr. 3B Catherine Stillman; Sr. 2B Bethany Berube; Sr. 1B Katelyn Soares; Sr. OF Rebecca Hsia; Sr. OF/C Chelsea Sylvia; Jr. P Ashlyn Mello; Jr. OF Courtney Gregoire.

Key newcomers: Sr. P Andrea Alves; Jr C/OF Alyssa McGrath; Jr. IF Lauren Pelletier.

Outlook: The Indians have a veteran team featuring nine seniors and four juniors. With a new coaching staff in place, this is their season to make a statement in the Old Colony League. Team strengths will be pitching and defense, with a lineup that has good power and some line-drive hitters. Sylvia will anchor the infield at shortstop and Brum is a solid catcher who knows how to handle pitchers. McKee returns as an experienced pitcher "” it will be up to her to set a good early tone for the team.

Fairhaven Blue Devils

Coach: Cathy Silva (sixth year)

2007 record: 7-14

Key returners: Sr. OF Jen Gadbois; Sr. OF Stephanie Nichols; Jr. P Amanda Camara; Jr. 1B Ashleigh Duarte; Jr. IF Brittany Goben; Soph. OF Emma Riley.

Key newcomers: Soph. SS Jayne Guerra; Fr. 3B Brittney Texeira.

Outlook: The young Blue Devils return a good pitcher in Camara, who has a decent fastball and does a nice job changing speeds. Duarte is back to anchor the offense at the cleanup spot, and the right side of the infield is brand new with Guerra at shortstop and Texeira at third base. Defense and hitting will be keys. The Blue Devils can't afford to give up big innings and they have to do a better job with runners in scoring position, especially with two outs.

GNB Voc-Tech Bears

Coach: Frank Gracia (13th year)

2007 record: 1-21

Key returners: Sr. SS Krysta Cunha; Sr. OF Stephanie Cormier; Sr. 2B Rachel Fonseca; Sr. 1B Ashley Desrosiers; Jr. C Cortney Rebello.

Key newcomers: Jr. OF Sarah Rivet; Soph. 3B Keri Sylva; Soph. 1B Brittany Bigos; Fr. P Jessica Collins; Fr. OF/2B Amanda Pedro.

Outlook: Cunha returns as the team captain and will anchor the infield at shortstop. Sylva is expected to start at third base, Pedro will also be in the starting lineup and Collins will do most of the pitching on a young team that could take some early-season lumps. Gracia likes what he's seen at the plate in the preseason, as the Bears will try to fuel their offense with bunts and stolen bases. Defensively, the team has to make plays, especially with two outs, and limit big innings.

New Bedford Whalers

Coach: Harry Lowe (sixth year)

2007 record: 21-3

Key returners: Sr. C Tristyn Desrosiers; Sr. 1B Chelsea Sampson; Sr. OF Alex Garcia; Sr. OF Alyssa Turgeon; Jr. P/3B Brieanne Braga.

Key newcomers: Jr. OF Cali Tetreault; Soph. P/IF Corrie McCue; Fr. SS Courtney Miranda; Fr. P/IF Cheyenne Howard.

Outlook: The Whalers had to replace 10 seniors, so they have a lot of new faces this season after dropping a 2-0 decision to eventual state champion Taunton in the Division 1 South Sectional final. Sampson and Desrosiers are two of the top hitters in the area, and they'll be counted on to power the offense from the third and fourth spots in the batting order. Braga will start on the mound and Miranda will start at shortstop in her first season with the varsity. The Whalers face a tough schedule, including matchups with Taunton, defending Division 2 state champion Hudson, Bishop Stang "” which returns the entire starting lineup from their South Sectional finalist team "” and Case, which is always among the top teams in the South Coast Conference.

Old Colony Cougars

Coach: Mary Anne Walker (second year)

2007 record: 14-4

Key returners: Sr. OF Brittany Fagan; Sr. OF Samantha Souza; Jr. C Megan Morrone; Soph. P Arielle Bernier; Soph. 2B Angela DaCosta.

Key newcomers: Soph. P Ashley Campbell; Soph SS/3B Katelyn Brunette; Fr. IF Meghan Cassidy; Fr. IF Jillian Corrigan.

Outlook: The Cougars will not be as experienced as they were a year ago, but Walker has hard-working, enthusiastic players who are eager to learn and improve. Fagan and Souza are veterans who will be counted on to provide senior leadership and take the younger players under their wings. Walker said three keys for the team will be playing together, hitting with runners on base and taking things one game at a time in the Mayflower League Small Division.

Old Rochester Bulldogs

Coach: Kate Souza (first year)

2007 record: 14-7

Key returners: Sr. IF Chelsea Santos; Sr. OF/C Abby Oldham; Jr. P/OF Jessica Nye; Jr. 3B/C Lauren Galavotti.

Key newcomers: Jr. IF/OF Jen Sheehan; Soph. IF Kayla Souza; Fr. P Emma Keough; Fr. P Jessica Thompson.

Outlook: The Lady Bulldogs have to replace five starters. Nye will be counted on to set a good tone on the mound and pick up where she left off at the plate (.581, 40 runs batted in). Nye is going to have to be sharp right away, because the team opens with back-to-back games against South Coast Conference powerhouses Dighton-Rehoboth and Case. The squad may take some early lumps, but the Lady Bulldogs should get better as the season progresses.

Wareham Vikings

Coach: Cindy Sylvia (eighth year)

2007 record: 17-5

Key returners: Sr. P Bonnie Thorne; Sr. 1B Megan Welch; Sr. C Angela Westgate; Sr. 3B/P Karen Fuller; Sr. OF Ruth Tripp; Sr. OF/IF Heather Holmes; Jr. 2B Caitlyn Ellwood; Soph. SS Melissa Welch; Soph. OF Jessica Gadbois.

Key newcomer: Fr. OF Taylor Nelson.

Outlook: The Vikings have some nice depth on the mound with Thorne and Fuller, and two power hitters in Megan Welch and Westgate. A number of players will be playing new positions, but that just speaks to the team's overall versatility. Melissa Welch is back to anchor the infield at shortstop, and Sylvia likes what she's seen in the preseason from speedy freshman outfielder and leadoff hitter Taylor Nelson, who's been turned around in the batter's box as a left-handed slapper.

Westport Wildcats

Coach: Kim Rego (5th year)

2007 record: 12-8

Key returners: Sr. P Brie Loranger; Sr. SS Lacy Freitas; Sr. CF Corrine Moniz; Jr. P Brooke Arsenault; Jr. 3B Rachel Dufault; Jr. 2B CeCe Blouin; Soph. C Janelle Levesque; Soph. IF/OF Kayla Vincellette.

Key Newcomers: Jr. P/1B Kara Lewis; Fr IF Kiah Murphy.

Outlook: Lewis, a transfer from pitching-deep Coyle-Cassidy, will help the team on the mound, with Loranger and Arsenault adding depth. The Wildcats have some players who can swing the bat and play defense. Loranger and Freitas will serve as veteran co-captains, and Rego likes the early-season enthusiasm and work ethic her players have shown at practice. A strong showing in the Mayflower League will be one of the team's top goals.

Boys Hoop Top 10s- GazetteLand

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Boys Hoop Top 10s- GazetteLand
By : mike moran
The last one was the final regular season edition. 

Power Poll (final regular season ranking)
1. Longmeadow (3)
2. West Springfield (6)
3. Central (1)
4. Cathedral (7)
5. Frontier Regional (8)
6. Northampton (2)
7. East Longmeadow (4)
8. Sabis (5)
9. South Hadley (unranked)
10. Taconic (9)

Division 1 (Record, final regular season ranking)
1. Longmeadow (19-5, 3)
2. West Springfield (16-7, 5)
3. Central (19-3, 1)
4. Cathedral (14-8, 6)
5. Northampton (19-2, 2)
6. East Longmeadow (14-7, 4)
7. Sci-Tech (13-8, 7)
8. Putnam (9-12, 8)
9. Amherst (8-12, 9)
10. Westfield (9-11, 10)

Division 2
1. South Hadley (10-15, 10)
2. Taconic (18-5, 1)
3. Drury (16-6, 4)
4. Hoosac Valley (13-9, 5)
5. Palmer (17-4, 2)
6. Mohawk Trail (17-4, 3)
7. Monument (12-10, 8)
8. Belchertown (12-9, 6)
9. Wahconah (11-10, 7)
10. Greylock (10-9, 9)

Division 3
1. Frontier Regional (24-1, 2)
2. Sabis (21-2, 1)
3. Pioneer Regional (19-4, 3)
4. New Leadership (17-6, 4)
5. Monson (13-9, 5)
6. Easthampton (10-12, unranked)
7. Granby (12-9, 6)
8. Turners Falls (13-9, 7)
9. St. Joseph’s (10-12, 9)
10. Lee (7-14, unranked)

GazetteLand Power Poll
1. Frontier Regional
2. Northampton
3. South Hadley
4. Belchertown
5. Amherst Regional
6. Easthampton
7. Granby
8. Holyoke Catholic
9. Hampshire Regional
10. Smith Academy
11. Hopkins Academy
12. Gateway Regional
13. Smith Vocational

Final GazetteLand Leading Scorers (just regular season)
1. Brian Clark, Frontier, 22.3
2. Jamie Bell, Frontier, 18.25
3. Mike Afflitto, Holyoke Catholic, 16.9
4. Jeff Donnis, Smith Academy, 15.4
5. Dana Light, Granby, 15.37
6. Chris Wetherby, Smith Vocational, 15.22
7. Scott DeLoach, Hampshire, 14.8
8. Dan Clark, Frontier, 14.6
9. Mike Kelly, Amherst, 13.55
10. Chris Demers, Easthampton, 13.18
11. Tyler Kendrick, Smith Academy, 12.8
12. Jeremy Lapointe, Granby, 12.74
13. Nick Bryda, Holyoke Catholic, 12.28
14. Tom Marsh, Belchertown, 12.25
15. Luke Wickles, Smith Academy, 12.1
16. Ryan Garvey, South Hadley, 12.08
17. Brendan Rios, Easthampton, 12.05
18. Brennan Cooper, Northampton, 11.65
19. Tyler Craig, Gateway, 11.63
20. Joe Courtney, Belchertown, 11.55
21. Dan Sullivan, Hopkins, 11.37
22. Aaron Stone, Hopkins, 11.25
23. Nick Kellogg, Northampton, 10.8
24. Branden Labrie, Hampshire Regional, 10.75
25. Mike Moynihan, Northampton, 10.3

Final Girls Hoop Top 10 & More - GazetteLand

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Final Girls Hoop Top 10 & More - GazetteLand
By Jim Pignatiello

Here are the final top 10s. In the brackets this time is the preseason ranking instead of the rankings from the last top 10.

Power Rankings
1. Northampton (2)
2. Central (1)
3. Minnechaug (3)
4. West Springfield (4)
5. Holyoke (7)
6. Palmer  (NR)
7. East Longmeadow (NR)
8. Monumen Mountain (NR)
9. Lee (NR)
10. Ludlow (10)

GazetteLand Power Rankings (No preseason rankings)
1. Northampton
2. Amherst
3. Easthampton
4. Belchertown
5. South Hadley
6. Granby
7. Hampshire
8. Hopkins Academy
9. Holyoke Catholic
10. Smith Academy
11. Frontier Regional
12. Gateway Regional
13. Smith Vocational

GazetteLand Scoring Leaders
1. Genn Roy, Granby, 17.8
2. Alyssa Leonard, Amherst, 16.7
3. Patty Stefanelli, South Hadley, 16.6
4. Katelyn Cavanaugh, Belchertown, 16.2
5. Stephanie White, Easthampton, 14.4
6. Alannah Driscoll-Sbar, Northampton, 14.0
7. Kaitlyn Veit, Holyoke Catholic, 12.3
8. Kierstin Delvalle, Belchertown, 11.7
T9. Ashlee Moussette, Hampshire, 11.6
T9. Jenny Bell, Northampton, 11.6
11. Allyson Rannikko, Easthampton, 11.5
12. Sarah Pettengill, South Hadley, 11.1
13. Brighid Courtney, Northampton, 10.8
14. Kelly Omasta, Hopkins Academy, 10.4
15. Jenna Klaes, Amherst, 9.6
16. Briana Yusko, Hopkins Academy, 9.3
17. Lauren Livingstone, Granby, 8.8
18. Briana Delvalle, Belchertown, 8.4
19. Sam Fournier, Hopkins, 8.2
20. Lindsay Gondek, Smith Academy, 8.2

Noteworthy GazetteLand Career Points
Genn Roy, Granby, 1,637 (senior)
Patty Stefanelli, South Hadley, 1,108 (senior)
Brighid Courtney, Northampton, 897 (senior)
Stephanie White, Easthampton, 889 (senior)
Jamie Messer, Northampton, 783 (senior)
Alannah Driscoll-Sbar, Northampton, 754 (junior)
Jenny Bell, Northampton, 716 (junior)
Alyssa Leonard, Amherst, 677 (sophomore)
Iris Santoni, Northampton, 676 (senior)
Kelly Omasta, Hopkins, 668 (senior)
Allyson Rannikko, Easthampton, 604 (junior)
Katelyn Cavanaugh, Belchertown, 579 (junior)

Division 1
1. Northampton (24-2, 2)
2. Central (21-2, 1)
3. Minnechaug (18-4, 3)
4. West Side (14-8, 4)
5. Holyoke (13-9, 6)
6. East Longmeadow (16-5, NR)
7. Ludlow (12-8, 7)
8. Amherst (13-8, 5)
9. Agawam (8-12, 10)
10. Pittsfield (10-11, NR)

Division 2
1. Palmer (21-4, 10)
2. Monument Mountain (19-4, 3)
3. Commerce (19-3, 6)
4. Wahconah (14-8, 9)
5. Mahar (17-6, 5)
6. Mohawk (18-4, 8)
7. Easthampton (16-6, 4)
8. Belchertown (12-10, NR)
9. South Hadley (13-8, 7)
10. Hoosac Valley (14-7, NR)

Division 3
1. Lee (19-5, 3)
2. Granby (14-9, 1)
3. Lenox (14-9, 6)
4. New Leadership (13-10, 2)
5. Sabis (12-9, 4)
6. Hopkins (8-14, 8)
7. Monson (12-9, 7)
8. McCann (12-9, NR)
9. Ware (11-8, 10)
10. Putnam (19-2, NR)

Past, future of boys hoop teams broken down

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Past, future of boys hoop teams broken down
By : mike moran

The following is an inside look into the past season and immediate future of the 13 boys basketball teams we cover. Check back next week for final Top 10s.

Amherst Regional
Finished: 8-12, 4-6 Valley League
2007-08: Stayed in contention for the postseason with big wins over Holyoke, Sci-Tech and Commerce. Improved by six wins from previous season because players knew their roles.
2008-09: Needs to replace five seniors, including leading scorer Mike Kelly (13.5 ppg) and point guard Peter Lappas. Ben Brassord (5.9 ppg) and Jonah Herscu (5.7 ppg) should develop more offensively and be able to carry the team. A postseason appearance is not out of the question with only two seniors and four juniors next year.

Finished: 12-9, 11-5 Bi-County East
2007-08: Lost five of first six games to start the season but found their rhythm. Very well could have been 16-4 as four of those five losses were by four points or less. Had a balanced offense with steady defense. Lost in first round of the tournament at home to Monument.
2008-09: Loses three seniors, including leading scorer Tom Marsh (12.2 ppg) but the O’s should be fine. Joe Courtney (11.5 ppg) and Bryan Eldridge (9.0 ppg) are very capable on both sides of the ball and should be better with one more year of growth. Ben McCullough takes over for his brother at point. He is probably the better of the two on both sides of the ball.

Finished: 10-12, 9-9 Hampshire East
2007-08: Despite missing Pat Hopewell for nearly three-quarters of the season the Eagles remained in the hunt and qualified for the postseason. That was due to the emergence of Brendan Rios and Chris Demers’ play in the post. It didn’t take long for Hopewell to fit in when he came back and the team defeated host Granby in the first round of the tournament. The Eagles then had Pioneer Regional on the ropes before falling in the quarters.
2008-09: The team needs to replace Demers (13.2 ppg), point guard Justin Laliberte and Hopewell. Rios (12.1 ppg) will be ready to carry the offense but someone else needs to step up.

Frontier Regional
Finished: 24-1, 18-1 Hampshire West
2007-08: Won state Division 3 championship. Brian Clark (22.3 ppg) was one of the top players in the area. Jamie Bell (18.3 ppg) and Dan Clark (14.6 ppg) did everything while Gary Grandonico and Brennan McKenna simply ran the show. Received excellent role play from Jon Pepyne and Matt Chamberlin.
2008-09: Not all is lost. The team returns a nice core of Grandonico, Pepyne and Chamberlin. Now it’s a matter of filling in the blanks with seldom used Nate Haines, Sean Kelley and Stephen Grybko. Erik Abramson could be surprise after playing most of the year on JV. He could have started for half the teams in the league.

Gateway Regional
Finished: 3-17, 1-15 Bi-County West
2007-08: It’s not easy competing in the West when you have Sabis and NLCS twice as well as double-doses of Hampshire, Southwick and Holyoke Catholic.
2008-09: Leading scorer Tyler Craig (11.6) will be gone but big man Ethan Cook (9.5 ppg) should be back. If he develops more he could easily average a double-double. Still, qualifying for the postseason will be very difficult.

Finished: 12-9, 9-7 Bi-County East
2007-08: It was supposed to be a rebuilding year. However Dana Light (15.4 ppg) was very good, Jeremy Lapointe (12.7 ppg) added a secondary source of offense, mostly from 3-point range, and Brian Boudreau was steady at point. The Rams also played tremendous defense.
2008-09: Lapointe is the only senior and while the team might not have a replacement shooter, his offense should certainly be spread out among Jason Labrie, Clinton Sapowsky, Toby Rock and Zach Benoit.

Hampshire Regional
Finished: 7-13, 7-9 Bi-County West
2007-08: Inconsistent all season. The team was hurt when two starters left in early January, and one was injured and couldn’t play from the start. If either Scott DeLoach (14.8 ppg) or Branden Labrie (10.8 ppg) had an off night, the team struggled offensively. A lack of experience possibly led to defensive struggles.
2008-09: A fresh start is all this team might need. The team was very young in 07-08 and simply being a year older can certainly add at least three more wins and a postseason appearance. This will also be the second varsity season for Kyle Fredette, Tom Leveille, Andrew Stolarik, Alex Brunelle, Jared Bean and Labrie.

Holyoke Catholic
Finished: 8-12, 6-9 Bi-County West
2007-08: Lack of depth hurt. Had trouble defending. Had one win vs. teams with plus-.500 record. Mike Afflitto (16.9 ppg) and Nick Bryda (12.3 ppg) carried the team offensively throughout the season. Junior transfer Nick Barrett (7.8 ppg) became healthy midway through the season and added a third scoring option.
2008-09: The Gaels lose a few seniors, including Afflitto, but should be OK with Bryda and Barrett. The team needs to play better defensively to have a chance against better teams.

Hopkins Academy
Finished: 7-13, 5-13 Hampshire West
2007-08: The Golden Hawks opened the season 4-0 but then struggled to stay consistent. Lack of inside presence hurt. Mix of experience and inexperience may have played a hand in inconsistencies.
2008-09: Four starters - Bill Hahn, Zach Hunter, Dan Sullivan (11.4 ppg) and Karl Kapinos - return so the team should be fine. Once again a year of experience should help but more so this season as 07-08 newcomers will be familiar with teammates and system.

Finished: 19-2, 10-0 Suburban
2007-08: Was a very balanced team on both sides of the ball. A total of 17 players checked into the at least one game for the Blue Devils, making the basketball team deeper than the football team. Had experience and talent, which sometimes had to overcome the team’s tendency to start slow.
2008-09: Loses all five starters but returning players should fair well. The next starting five could very well be Jesse Coulon (7.9 ppg), Bill Frothingham, Ellis Cooper (7.8 ppg), Jake Konowitch and Chris Osepowicz.

Smith Academy
Finished: 8-12, 7-11 Hampshire West
2007-08: A 2-8 start didn’t help the Falcons, who could certainly score. Stopping teams however was the problem. It made for interesting, high-scoring games, like a 93-88 overtime win over Easthampton and a 96-91 double-overtime win over Greenfield.
2008-09: Must replace leading scorer (Jeff Donnis, 15.4 ppg), second-leading scorer (Tyler Kendrick, 12.8 ppg) and third-leading scorer (Luke Wickles, 12.1 ppg). Of 10 players who played, six in fact were seniors. Needs to fill in depth and work on defense.

Smith Vocational
Finished: 2-17, 2-10 Tri-County
2007-08: The Vikings won when Chris Wetherby (15.2 ppg) registered a triple-double. Mike Kubasek was a second scoring option but it wasn’t enough.
2008-09: Must find a way to replace Wetherby and build depth.

South Hadley
Finished: 10-15, 1-9 Suburban
2007-08: The Tigers became the first team to win the sectional title with a sub-.500 record. Injuries and inexperience hurt against Division 1 opponents during regular season. Was healthy and experienced for postseason. Colin Lacey (8.4 ppg) and Ryan Garvey (12.1 ppg) were tremendous for the Tigers, who won their fourth title in five years.
2008-09: The team lose Lacey, Garvey and a few valuable role players. Should be strong though at guard with Roberto Agrait, Greg Daviau and Zach Garbacik. Will be small but athletic at forward with Scott Rainaud and Miguel Santiago. Brian Chieco should be healthy and playing in the middle. Will need to develop role players again.

Our favorite girls basketball moments - Cape Cod Times

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Our favorite girls basketball moments - Cape Cod Times
March 25, 2008 6:00 AM

Our writers all had different ideas about how to present their favorite moments in the sports they covered. Here on the Web, we're going to give them to you as they intended. So, past tense or present tense, listed by name, by school or by date, these are what our reporters remember about the winter season:

# In one of the key matchups of the season, Jill Lyon scored 20 points and Morgan Kendrew 18 to lead Barnstable over archrival Falmouth, 58-40. The victory qualified the Red Raiders for Division 1 South Sectionals.

# Ellery Gould of Sandwich surpassed 1,000 career points in a hard-fought 55-52 win over Barnstable, and she later broke the all-time Blue Knights scoring record in a loss to Marshfield.

# Senior center Ania Hammar scored 17 of her team-high 18 points in the second half to go along with 13 rebounds and four blocked shots to lift Falmouth to a 54-51 Atlantic Coast League victory over Sandwich.

# Katie Covell sank two free throws with 4.9 seconds left to give Nauset a hard-fought 56-54 victory at Harwich.

# Nantucket improved to 15-1 with a 61-49 victory over Dennis-Yarmouth. Angela Paterson secured game-scoring honors with 28 points.

# Nantucket earned one of its most impressive wins of the season with a 49-44 win over Chatham to improve its record to 16-1. Angela Paterson led the Whalers with 16 points, while Hanniford added 12. Aileen Fredericks sank two free throws in the final 13 seconds to secure the victory.

# Molly Fischer scored 16 points, including three 3-pointers, to lift Martha’s Vineyard to a 48-37 win over Wareham. Kelly Hines collected 10 rebounds and three blocked shots for the Vineyarders.

# Lauren Gonsalves scored 19 points to lead Harwich to a tight 52-49 win over Dennis-Yarmouth. Elise Driscoll added 14 points for the Rough Riders, while Colleen Beckler contributed nine rebounds. Freshman Kelsey Lotti led D-Y with 17 points, including five 3-pointers.

# The duo of Taryn vanEsselstyn and Taylor Masaschi combined for 31 points to drive Chatham to a 61-25 romp over Upper Cape. The Blue Devils finished the regular season with a 16-5 record.

# Sandwich secured one of its more important victories with a 72-59 win over Nantucket in the regular-season finale for both teams. As usual, Ellery Gould paced the Blue Knights with 23 points and Jess Thomas added 20, while Amy Jordan (eight points) was the defensive spark.

# Mashpee defended its Lady Falcon Holiday Tournament with an easy 53-23 conquest over Provincetown. Center Leah Tiexeira led the Falcons with 20 points, while Elizabeth Stickley contributed 12, Johnica Farmer nine and Julienne McCuish eight.

# Angela Roellke exploded for 37 points to lead Upper Cape to a 57-39 win over Bristol Aggie. Roellke connected on all five of her 3-point shots for the Rams, who were helped out by Molly Cosgrove’s nine points and Diandra Conceicao’s 13 rebounds.

# Senior Cassidy Cryer scored the game-winning basket with no time remaining to pace Cape Tech to a 39-37 victory over rival Upper Cape to improve its record to 9-11, after posting a 0-20 mark last season. Roni Lavelle led the Crusaders with 12 points, while Cryer added 10. Cosgrove led all scorers for Upper Cape with 21 points.

# Despite 33 points by Rayven Tillman, Cape Tech pulled out another close game in a 59-57 three-overtime triumph over Sturgis on a key jump shot by Brianna Thompson with 11 seconds remaining in the third OT. Cryer’s 18 points led the Crusaders.

# After being honored in pre-game ceremonies on Senior Night at Provincetown, the trio of Holly Rose, Brandi Webber and Shelby Zawaduk combined for 23 points to lead the Fishermen to a 48-17 romp over Sturgis and clinch a MIAA Div. 4 South berth for the winners, who improved to 10-10.

# Rayven Tillman scored a game-high 19 points to lift Sturgis to a 37-31 win over Bethany. Kaylee Bosen added 10 points for the Storm, who held a three-point lead at halftime.

# Led by Diandra Conceicao’s 17 points, 13 rebounds, eight steals and six blocked shots, Upper Cape posted an impressive 53-25 victory over Old Colony. Angela Roellke added 15 points and Molly Cosgrove 13, including a 3-pointer.

# Courtney Donovan erupted for 21 of her game-high 25 points in the second half and also collected 12 rebounds to pace Bourne to a 56-45 victory over Case. Ryann Chase added 15 points in a winning cause.

# In Bourne’s 66-20 romp over Greater New Bedford Voke, Courtney Donovan led the way with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.

# Katherine Marvullo hit two key jump shots in the fourth quarter to lead Dennis-Yarmouth to a 47-42 win over Nauset on Senior Night in South Yarmouth. Marvullo and Liz Balboni led the Dolphins with eight points apiece. D-Y captured the previous encounter, 53-49 thanks to 11 points by Tiki Walker, 10 for Sandy Fitzsimmons and nine by freshman Kelsey Lotti.

- John Garner Jr.

Our favorite boys basketball moments - Cape Cod Times

Sport:   Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Our favorite boys basketball moments - Cape Cod Times
March 25, 2008 6:00 AM

Our writers all had different ideas about how to present their favorite moments in the sports they covered. Here on the Web, we're going to give them to you as they intended. So, past tense or present tense, listed by name, by school or by date, these are what our reporters remember about the winter season:

Junior CJ Nicholas put up an all-star season, led by a 38-point effort, with only one 3-pointer, a 73-64 loss to Bridgewater-Raynham. He also scored 31 against Taunton, 26 against Attleboro and 25 against Dartmouth, all losses for the undermanned Red Raiders.

Senior all-star Eric Robbins went on a three-game tear, scoring 30 in a 73-71 win over Old Rochester, 26 and 26 in losses to Seekonk and Dighton-Rehoboth. He also had 27, including the game-winner with 27 seconds left in a 57-55 win over Martha’s Vineyard.

Sophomore Tim Savage scored on a layup as time expired to beat Old Rochester, 73-71.


Senior point guard and four-year starter Nick Clarke had 25 points and five assists in a loss to Nantucket, going 9-for-12 from the line. Clarke had 18 points, 12 on 3-pointers, and dished out six assists in a win over Sturgis. In a loss at Provincetown, Clarke scored 22 points and had three assists. He led the team in scoring and assists.

Sophomore Brian Morris had 19 points and 19 rebounds in a close, season-ending loss to Harwich.

Mayflower League all-star Dom Richmond scored 20 or more points in 15 games, with a high of 33 points (and 15 rebounds) in a 2-point loss to Old Colony.

Jake Roderick lit up the board for 43 points in a season-opening win over Bristol Aggie.

Bryan Connell had a 22-point, 13-rebound, 8-assist performance against Blue Hills.

Senior Jeremy Santiago, in his first year with the Dolphins, scored 20 points, including the buzzer-beater, overtime game-winner that beat Nantucket.

Senior Jason Clark scored 25 points against Dighton-Rehoboth, including five 3-pointers. He also went 6-for-6 from the foul line in the final quarter. For the year, Clark had 39 3-pointers and was 74 percent from the foul line.

Senior center Phil Ford led all scorers with 20 points in the ACL All-Star game. He also had 12 rebounds in the first game against Nauset.

Senior Alex Xiarhos had 14 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Dolphins to a win over Nantucket the second time the teams played.

Sean Fitzpatrick scored an old-fashioned three-point play following up a missed free throw with 37 seconds left to force overtime in a Bridgewater-Raynham Christmas tournament win over Sharon. Fitzpatrick had 16 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. Falmouth beat B-R the next night to win the tourney.

Sophomore DK Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the corner with four seconds left to force overtime in a home loss to ACL North champion Plymouth North, the Clippers’ only home defeat of the season. Jamie Heide scored 24 points on a bad ankle in the game. Both teams were 8-0 heading into the matchup.

Ryan Santos hit a baseline jumper off an out-of-bounds play with 1.3 seconds remaining to beat Whiman-Hanson by one point the game after the loss to Plymouth North.

Senior Sam Clarkin-Wilcox set up Sean Fitzpatrick’s foul-line jumper with nine seconds left for a 47-45 win at Sandwich. Fitzpatrick had 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Knox scored 18 points as Falmouth beat Plymouth South on Senior Night in the last regular-season home game.

Josh Soby scored 17 points in a tourney semifinal loss to Hyde. Soby also scored the game winner with 14 seconds left off a feed from Bob Schneider that beat Cape Cod Academy.

In a tourney quarterfinal victory over Rocky Hill, team defense keyed the win, led by Mike Deasy and Alex Desnoyers.

Ben Bianco scored 20 first-half points and finished with 27 in a close loss at Hull.

The Rough Riders, aided by the leadership of captains Mike Stelma, Jon Thompson and Mike Trabucco, were named the MIAA Div. 4 boys Sportsmanship Award winners.

Senior point guard Nick Viera had three games of 27 points, including in a triple-OT loss to Wayland. He also had 27 points against Harwich and Old Rochester on the Vineyard’s senior night. He averaged 16.4 points, 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

Junior Mark Reppert scored 24 points in a first-round tourney win over Westwood. He had a 21-point game against Wareham during the regular season. He averaged 13 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2 steals.

Senior Bubba Brown compiled six double-doubles. He had 16 points and 11 rebounds in a loss to Arlington Catholic, and 19 points and nine rebounds in a last-second loss to Pembroke.

Senior guard Joey Lopes scored his 1,000th point in a tourney loss to Westport. He had the best game of his career that night, scoring 34 points, including eight 3-pointers, and had four assists. Lopes also had a 28-point game with 7 3-pointers in a one-sided win over Harwich.

Junior Joel Michaelson had 19 first-half points and finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds in a win over East Bridgewater.

Michael Martini had three consecutive double-doubles, averaging 15 points and 13 rebounds in a 1-2 week against Cohasset, Hull and Norwell.

Freshman Larry Green had 15 points, 9 assists and 5 steals in a win over Nantucket in the opening game of the season.

Senior Jordan Ferreira scored his 1,000th point on a 3-pointer in a 74-57 victory over Blue Hills. He also had a 30-point game in a win over Easthampton in the Martha’s Vineyard tournament.

Junior Delroy Lawrence had a dominating 10 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks in a 73-58 victory over Blue Hills. He had 49 blocks on the year. He also had a 23-point game against South Shore.

Junior Josh Butler scored 12 points and hauled down 13 rebounds in a win over Cape Cod Academy. He had 21 points in the tourney loss to Avon.

Mark Munroe hit a 3-pointer wth 1.2 seconds remaining for a 63-62 victory over Whiman-Hanson.

Brett Conrad, who led the team scoring 17 ppg, had 20 points and 11 rebounds in an overtime win over Burncoat, and 17 points and 12 rebounds as the Warriors beat Bishop Stang.

Connor Seymour’s 18 point, 13 rebound double-double pushed the Warriors to a 68-62 tourney win over Milton. He also had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the win over Burncoat.

Guard Mike Quill had 22 points and seven assists in the season-opening win over Latin Academy, and 21 points and seven assists in a victory over Plymouth South.


Junior Cody Silva had double-doubles in three consecutive games. The streak started with 23 points and 15 rebounds against Bethany Christian, continued with 23 points and 12 rebounds against Norfolk, and ended with 13 points and 14 boards vs. Sturgis.

Junior Ben Fortier, who averaged 17.1 ppg to finish second in the Lighthouse Conference to Nantucket’s Jordan Ferreira (17.3), had four consecutive 20-point efforts: 24 against Bethany Christian, 25 against Mystic Valley, 26 again vs. Bethany Christian and 23 vs. Norfolk Aggie. He also had a 23-point effort against Sturgis.

Two-time ACL all-star Connor Green scored 27 points, including the free throw that forced overtime in 65-64 loss to Martha’s Vineyard. He also hit a game-clinching 3-pointer in a two-point win over Barnstable, and scored 22 points in a 16-point victory over Whitman-Hanson.

Senior Christian Champney finished his high school career in huge fashion as he led the Storm to the Norfolk Aggie tournament title. He scored 28, including 7-of-9 3-pointers, in a 49-42 win over the host team, then scored 27 the next night in the 56-40 title tilt victory over New Testament. In that game, he missed his first four 3’s, then connected on 6-of-7.

Junior Mark Ode had 14 points and dominated the boards, hauling in 19 rebounds in the win over New Testament.

Ryan Delgado, who averaged 17 ppg, had 29 points in a loss to Blue Hills. Delgado had eight games with 20 or more points.

- Russ Charpentier

Bowdoin's 1-2 mound punch

Sport: Softball  Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Bowdoin's 1-2 mound punch

Bears' 1-2 mound punch — Bowdoin College sophomore Julia Jacobs has a 19-7 career mark, while teammate Karen Reni (10) has 32 career mound victories. (Photo courtesy of ciphotography.com)

Pitchers Julia Jacobs and Karen Reni lead the 14-2 softballers into NESCAC schedule

BRUNSWICK — The Bowdoin College softball team recently returned from its annual Florida spring trip sporting a sterling 14-2 record, the best 16-game start in the program's history.

Pitchers Julia Jacobs and Karen Reni have combined on 13 of those wins with a 1.12 earned run average (injured freshman Kara Nilan is 1-0 and hasn't allowed an earned run).

In 2006, the duo combined to win 26 games as the Polar Bears finished 26-15 — the most wins in Bowdoin softball history. Jacobs and Reni each had 13 wins, also Bowdoin single-season records.

"When Kara went down (to injury) in the second game in Florida, Julia and Karen really asserted themselves and pitched every day," said fourth-year Bowdoin coach Ryan Sullivan. "During the off-season, they hit the gym and looked stronger in Florida. When they made mistakes, they made corrections and found ways to get it done."

Karen Reni
Junior economics major Reni, from Ashland, Mass., is either at the top or near the top of several all-time Bowdoin College pitching records.

Her 7-1 record this season has given Reni 32 career wins, surpassing the mark of Jessie Poulin (30 wins from 1999-2002). The 356 innings she has pitched are also a record, along with 51 complete games in her career. She is just two off the career starts mark with 51 (record is 53 held by Erin Hanley).

"This group of girls may be young (two freshmen, six sophomores, seven juniors and one senior), but many of us have played together for two years, so we feel that we are experienced as a team," said Reni, who twirled 57 innings in Florida, allowing opponents to hit just .188, while posting a 1.58 earned run average. "In Florida, we started off a little bit slow, but we came on at the end of the trip (10 straight wins) and are excited to get into our NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference) schedule."

Unlike power-pitcher Jacobs, Reni relies on her "dropball" to get outs, but both pitchers admit that their approach is similar.

"Our coaches have emphasized going after batters and waiting until they prove to you that they can hit your pitch before changing anything," said the sophomore Jacobs.

"We are very similar in that we both like to go right after the batters," said Reni. "Julia has a great 'riseball'. When I pitch, the shortstop and third baseman usually get a lot of groundballs, while Julia gets a lot of pop ups and strikeouts."

Julia Jacobs
Jacobs, from Ridgewood, N.J., is a psychology major. A Second Team All-NESCAC in 2007, Jacobs hasn't missed a beat this season. She is 6-1 with a minuscule 0.58 ERA in 48 innings and has tossed three shutouts already in eight starts. Opponents are hitting .167 against her.

"I was interested in playing Division Three softball, and academics was very important to me, so when I visited Bowdoin, I found a great place to go to school and a team that seemed headed in the right direction," said Jacobs. "This team has a lot of young talent and girls who want to win. That was an important factor for me in coming here."

Jacobs' 19-7 career mark places here sixth all-time in wins at the college with two-and-a-half years left in her college career. Jacobs throws hard and uses a devastating riseball to get her strikeouts (56 this season).

"This year, I tried to change my style, but I use speed instead of 'junk pitches' and I've added a change-up that has helped to keep batters off balance," said Jacobs. "One of the things our coaches stress is throwing strikes and staying ahead of hitters. Karen and I have been able to do that, and we have received both great fielding and timely hitting from our teammates."

"Their styles are different with Karen being taller with a different release point and she tends to keep the ball down ... where Julia throws more strikes up in the zone," said Sullivan. "One of the keys for us is that they have enough differences so when we play a doubleheader a team has to see two different styles of pitching. From Karen's dropball to Julia's riser, we feel that we have that this season."

During the Florida trip, temperatures stayed around 80 degrees, allowing the players to easily loosen up prior to a game. This weekend, the team jumps right into the NESCAC fire against perennial conference power Tufts with a single game slated for today and a doubleheader on Saturday.

All three games will be played on the Jumbos' home field outside of Boston with temperatures expected to be in the 40s.

"The game certainly changes when it gets cold," said Reni. "It takes longer to warm up. The ball feels different in your hands as well, but it's a good thing for us to be starting out with Tufts. We feel that we have to play against the best, and they have been the best in our conference for a long time."

"We have a lot of momentum coming off of our Florida trip, so we need to play confident and know that we are a good enough team to compete against anyone," said Jacobs.

The two pitchers have leaned on each other the past two years and have formed a tight friendship both on the field and off.
"It is so motivational having someone there who can see what you are doing wrong and pick you up when you are down," said Jacobs. "When I pitch well, she is excited for me, and when I struggle or seem off, she has a way of talking me through it."

"People think we are a click on this team because she is who I lean on when things are tough and good," said Reni. "It's been awesome to have someone who can read my mind and know the right thing to say."

"When Karen first came to Bowdoin, she didn't have an upperclassman to lead on," said Sullivan. "Last year, Karen helped Julia during her freshman year, while this year they are my co-pitchers. Their approach to the game differs, but during the game they support each other very well and offer each other more than just encouragement. They rely on each other a lot."
Last season, Bowdoin finished 26-15, but missed the playoffs as the third-place team in the NESCAC Eastern Division (the top two go to the playoffs).

This season, Sullivan has warned his team about the pitfalls of looking past a NESCAC opponent.

"Tufts has been a top team and won it all last year, but the fun thing here is that there are a lot of good teams with Trinity, Bates and Colby. And, if we look past somebody, we will get caught," said Sullivan. "Last year, we seemed overwhelmed at times, but this year we seem more prepared and have a lot of confidence, plus our pitching is really good and should help us as we get into our NESCAC schedule."

Bowdoin's first chance to play in front of its home fans is April 4 against Bates College.

Oliver selected to NCAA Leadership Conference

Sport: Baseball  Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Oliver selected to NCAA Leadership Conference
The Courier-Gazette

Wade Oliver of South Thomaston is one of two Monk athletes chosen to represent Saint Joseph's College at this May's National Student-Athlete Development Conference.

A pair of standout Saint Joseph's College athletes have been selected to represent the college at this May's National Student-Athlete Development Conference hosted by the NCAA. Juniors Ryan Prescott (Pittsfield, NH) and Wade Oliver (Owls Head, ME) will join 700 other student athletes at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL May 25-29 for the conference.

The NCAA National Student-Athlete Development Conference provides NCAA student-athletes with a forum to openly discuss issues that may affect them on their campuses and in their communities, while also providing them with the opportunity to enhance their leadership, communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills.

Prescott is a two-sport standout, participating in cross country as well as lacrosse. He also is a member of the St. Joe's club hockey squad. Prescott was named the 2007 GNAC Men's Cross Country Runner of the Year after winning the conference meet in October.

Oliver was selected to the North Atlantic Conference Baseball First Team in 2007 after hitting .364 with 34 runs, 25 RBI's and 13 stolen bases to help lead the Monks to the conference tournament title and a berth into the NCAA Regionals. The nimble outfielder was also named as the 2006 NAC Rookie of the Year.

Oliver and Prescott were chosen to represent Saint Joseph's College at the conference as both demonstrate outstanding leadership skills in the classroom and on the playing field.

Copyright © 2008 MaineCoastNOW.com

Putnam's pitch on target

Sport: Baseball  Posted: March 29th, 2008 by Tom Nolette

Putnam's pitch on target
By Ernie Clark
Saturday, March 29, 2008 - Bangor Daily News

Longtime baseball coach Murray Putnam shouts out drills to his players during an early morning practice at Southern Aroostook High School in Dyer Brook Tuesday. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett) 032908_MurrayPutnam1.jpg
Southern Aroostook baseball coach Murray Putnam instructs players, including Cody Robinson (left), during a morning practice Tuesday in Dyer Brook. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)

DYER BROOK, Maine - During preseason practice for high school baseball pitchers and catchers this week, Dakota Sleeper heard the same lessons Southern Aroostook Community School players have absorbed for decades.

And as the promising pitcher and shortstop listened to Murray Putnam speak, Sleeper was fully aware of how such lessons already had enhanced his game.

"He’s a great motivator," said Sleeper. "Last year I was a freshman, and he pretty much walked me through all the mechanics of pitching. He gained a couple of miles per hour on my fastball and taught me a curveball.

"He teaches old school, and I love it."

Sleeper’s sentiments are sure to ring familiar to hundreds of earlier Southern Aroostook players, for in an era when coaching longevity is a threatened concept, the 61-year-old Putnam begins his 40th year as a varsity baseball coach still true to his game and his core beliefs.

"He started so long ago, he’s sort of his own institution," said Jason Tarr, a school principal in Houlton who played for Putnam on two state championship teams during the mid-1980s. "He built the program and had a lot of success, and he’s certainly been a mentor to a lot of people, myself included."

Such enduring relationships are founded in the fundamentals of the coach-player relationship that have enabled Putnam to build and maintain one of Eastern Maine’s most consistently competitive small-school baseball programs.

"The biggest thing I learned from Murray was discipline," said Tim Prescott, who played for Putnam at Southern Aroostook during the mid-1970s and has been the varsity boys basketball coach at Presque Isle for more than two decades. "I always think he looked at discipline as a positive. I don’t think like he thought about what discipline does to kids, but what discipline does for kids."

That discipline has helped the dean of the state’s schoolboy baseball coaching fraternity and his teams earn 10 Eastern Maine championships, five state titles and 423 career victories since he first stepped onto the diamond at Oakfield Community High School in 1968.

"He was strict, and he had high expectations," recalled Tarr. "But we also knew he was going to be fair and that if we did what he expected of us we probably were going to be playing for championships."

Honesty is the best policy

While the program’s most recent state title came in 1999, the Warriors have not faltered, overcoming the declining enrollment trend common in northern Maine to compile a 74-24 record over the last six seasons.

Chalk it up to a focus on the basics of baseball and life.

"The vast majority of youngsters reflect in a positive way on being dealt with flat-out honestly," said Putnam, who also is his school’s assistant principal, teaches a history class, and for the last 35 years has served as Southern Aroostook’s athletic administrator.

"There’s a lot to be said for being flat-out honest," said Putnam. "What I’m going to tell you, you might not like to hear, but it is the truth as I know it and the truth based on these criteria because I already know a [baseball] scenario and I know how the scenario will play out over and over again."

That honesty has led to a fierce loyalty between Putnam and his players. Ask Putnam his greatest coaching success, and he’ll cite the successful educators and state troopers and bankers and railroad workers and ministers who have worn the Warriors’ purple and white.

"Most of them have possessed a very good and positive work ethic," he said. "I think for the most part that through their efforts and contributions to the varsity baseball program here at Southern Aroostook that a huge part of the benefit for them has been that most have realized the rewards of hard work."

And to a man, his players past and present have appreciated an honesty that has precluded Putnam playing favorites. Whether it be during a game or practice, or during team-building preseason trips south, he is not one to tell a player merely what he wants to hear but what he sees as the reality of a given situation.

"He’s passionate, he’s consistent and it didn’t matter who you were, what your last name was or which town you were from," said Jon Porter, who played on state championship teams under Putnam in 1988 and 1989 and is now Southern Aroostook’s principal. "It was a matter of him being consistent. He expected you to show up on time, to play as hard as you could and do the little things so you didn’t beat yourself mentally. He expected physical errors and understood that mistakes happen, but he focused on not making those mental mistakes."

From rural roots

Putnam grew up on a potato and dairy farm 10 miles south of Houlton with 10 brothers and sisters, many of whom shared a passion for athletics.

His mother was an elementary school teacher, several others in his family also became educators and so did Putnam after graduating from Ricker Classical Institute and Ricker College in Houlton.

"I really wasn’t sure what I might do most of the way through college," he said. "It’s the kind of thing that just grew on me. I didn’t feel any sense of obligation to do it, but I did feel a sense of whatever you do, do it to the best of your ability."

Putnam began teaching and coaching in 1968 in nearby Oakfield, a community where baseball long has been important.

"The Oakfield area, in particular in the post-World War II era, was renowned for summer ball and town team ball like what you’d see in the rest of rural Maine at the time," he said. "A number of the folks I met when I first came here out of college had experienced that, and a number of those folks had children and in some cases nephews and in some cases even third-generation children who could identify with what baseball meant in a rural setting."

Putnam instituted a Pony League program for younger players in the area, and also quickly found success at the high school level. By 1970, Oakfield ended a 16-year title drought by winning the Katahdin Valley League title.

Three years later, the landscape changed, as Oakfield, Island Falls, Smyrna, Merrill, Dyer Brook and Crystal merged into the Southern Aroostook Community School District as part of the state’s school consolidation efforts of the era. Southern Aroostook Community School opened in April 1976 to finally bring all those students together in the same building, and while the school district continued to grow, so did the baseball program.

The Warriors broke through to win back-to-back Eastern Maine championships in 1977 and 1978, and at the same time community members worked to provide the baseball program a permanent home by building a new diamond at the new school.

"We built it with local help. There was no godsend, no huge money drop from anywhere, but a whole lot of folks generously gave of their time," Putnam said. "We managed to build a good facility, and I had the good fortune after the first year we used it when the board of trustees elected to name it. That was quite an honor."

Welcome to the Murray W. Putnam Baseball Field.

Tradition of excellence

Many top-notch players have competed on Putnam Field throughout the last 30 years, as Southern Aroostook has gone on to win eight more Eastern Maine titles as well as state championships in 1984, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1999.

But don’t expect Putnam — a 2002 inductee into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame — to pick a favorite.

"When someone asks me to name my best catcher or shortstop, I respond to that by saying they’re all my catchers or they’re all my shortstops, because I believe you don’t say things that could be divisive or alienate any youngster," he said. "I don’t compare eras. I’ve had the good fortune to coach three generations, and they are all uniquely partly the victim and partly the product of the era they’ve lived in."

But make no mistake about it, the postseason is a defining time of year.

"To me, it has long been, and I think the vast majority of youngsters I’ve had the good fortune to deal with would share this, special to play in the postseason," Putnam said. "When you get into the postseason, that’s another entity and a whole lot of things can happen there because no matter what it says on paper, it isn’t played on paper, it’s played on the arena of play."

Perhaps that was no more evident than in 1987, just one year after high school baseball converted from a league format to Heal points for organizing its playoffs and Southern Aroostook had joined a newly added Class D.

The state final was a rematch between Southern Aroostook and North Yarmouth Academy, which had edged the Warriors 5-3 in 1986.

"I had the nucleus of the same club from the year before, and so did they," said Putnam. "I knew we wouldn’t rip the cover off the ball against [NYA pitcher Eric Fenton, who later played hockey at the University of Maine], so I was willing to be a risk taker to the extent that after one walk, we laid down two bunts.

"They were well placed, which isn’t guaranteed, but they misplayed both of them, and we had one solid hit. We scored three runs in that inning. That was all we got, but that was enough. We held them."

That 3-2 win was a bit out of the ordinary for a program once nicknamed the Lumber Company, but it represented Putnam at his strategic best.

"If it’s obvious that the only way you’re going to generate offense is to try something different than you had before, I’ll do that," he said. "Am I one who’ll get on the diamond and run helter-skelter? No. You just have to focus on the task at hand, and too many people don’t do that."

The changing arena

As Putnam adapted to that particular baseball situation, he also has adjusted to many other changes throughout his career — like giving up throwing batting practice in 1999, a task he did ambidextrously.

He has also had to work with a smaller student population. When Southern Aroostook first opened, it had about 230 students in grades 9-12. Today, that number is about 130.

"There are negatives to that," he said, "but that said, it’s probably superseded by the fact that if a youngster truly wants to put forth an effort and take part, there’s probably a uniform here for him. I think that’s one of the unique features of small school systems, certainly in rural Maine and I might suggest in rural America."

There’s also the more complicated family structures of recent times that can place additional pressures on adolescents who might loom slightly larger in life in baseball uniforms but ultimately are still just kids.

"Every one of the youngsters who came through the door here today, and I submit in every other school system, they came to school from some dwelling that doesn’t by definition make it a home," he said, "and in many cases that values system is shot to smithereens."

Yet Putnam firmly believes the values coaches share with their players in practice and games can provide an avenue to success throughout the school day.

"I think we could show very objective evidence that during the time that youngsters are involved in co-curricular activities, their comportment, behavior in school and certainly what is reflected in an academic sense is higher," he said. "I’m not saying it’s 100 percent, but I’ve seen numerous cases."

Putnam expects approximately 20 student-athletes to turn out Monday for the first day of full-scale practices.

And while the focus of his initial pep talk will include virtually nothing about winning and losing, it likely will include everything about what enables the winning and losing to take care of itself.

"In the first place, never, not one time, have I ever verbally or otherwise harangued youngsters about ‘you need to win,’ meaning you’ve got to achieve some kind of regional and-or state championship and if you don’t you ought to go put a gun to your head or jump off a bridge. Never has that been part of my comportment," he said.

"But I have, as I did with the [pitchers and catchers], said there are a number of things that we can do, and among our goals should be to be better off than you think you are right now, to be quicker, to be stronger and to think more of that seldom-used four-letter word called team."
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