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Globe South Sports Notebook

Hitchcock leaves legacy at Bentley

By Craig Larson
May 3, 2009
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Her magnificent softball career at Bentley University complete, capped by a one-for-the-books finale in which she rapped out hits in each of her final six at-bats against Franklin Pierce on Monday afternoon, Alex Hitchcock struggled to accept that it was over.

"She said, 'Coach, I don't want to take my uniform off,' " recalled Bentley coach Michele DeGregorio.

Hitchcock said the moment was "very sad, and I didn't want to take it off. We really wanted to go to the Northeast-10 tournament," but the Falcons fell one win short.

That passion, and winning attitude, more than any record-setting hit total or diving stop in the hole at shortstop, is what DeGregorio will treasure the most about the senior from Abington.

Hitchcock played a major role over the past two seasons in turning the Falcons from a doormat to a successful program.

With its doubleheader sweep of Franklin Pierce on Monday, Bentley finished 21-19, tying the school record for wins (set in 1989) and registering the program's first season over .500 since 1987, an about-face after an abysmal 2-40 campaign just two years ago.

"We have come so far," said DeGregorio, adding that her biggest fear after the 2007 season, her second year at Bentley, was that players like Hitchcock "would just walk away."

Hitchcock stuck around and starred, finishing with a program-record 169 career hits while batting out of the third spot in the order. This spring, starting all 40 games, she paced the Falcons with a .360 average, 64 total bases, 31 runs, and three triples in earning first-team all-conference honors.

"She was one of four seniors that after that two-win season, said 'that's never going to happen again,' " said the coach.

Hitchcock said she never stopped loving the sport.

"It was always fun, and I formed great relationships with my teammates," she said, adding that the group became very motivated to erase the memory of the two-win season.

DeGregorio, who won at least 30 games in 10 of her 12 seasons at Merrimack, including a 45-4 run to the NCAA Division 2 title in 1994, said that Hitchcock could have played "on any one of those teams. She's gifted, but she works hard, and she has a lot of passion."

At the plate, Hitchcock doesn't have the most fluid swing, DeGregorio said, but she has very good hand-eye coordination, and she took hitting drills very seriously. "Very unselfish too, if it was a 0-0 game, and we needed a bunt to move a runner along, she'd lay it down; it wasn't always about her getting a hit, even though she was our best hitter."

In the field, she was stellar, committing just nine errors this season in 40 games, a vacuum cleaner according to her coach.

Hitchcock and other seniors have left the program a legacy, one of commitment, discipline, and success.

"One of the freshman said, 'Just remember, in a couple of years, when we're making [the NE-10 tournament] consistently, we will always have [the seniors] to thank for that," said DeGregorio.

A double major (corporate finance and accounting, as well as liberal studies) carrying a 3.63 grade-point average who has accepted a job with a Charlestown CPA firm, Hitchcock is the 2008-'09 recipient of the Edward J. Powers Scholar-Athlete Award, honoring the university's outstanding senior scholar-athlete.

McCabe wins 300
A tip of the cap to East Bridgewater boys' track coach George McCabe, who recently earned his 300th career win with a victory over Coyle Cassidy. With family, friends, and his Vikings squad on hand, McCabe was honored prior to Tuesday's home meet against Harwich.

"He has all these unbelievable numbers, the 300 wins, the 18 league titles, and the greatest thing about him is his relationship with the kids," said East Bridgewater athletic director Shawn Tarpey, who worked as an assistant on McCabe's staff for two seasons. "And what I've taken from George, as a coach, is how much he interacts with the kids, how much he cares. He embodies what a coach is all about.."

Craig Larson can be reached at clarson@globe.com.