players to watch
Alex Barone , Silver Lake: This season is already a bit different for the senior catcher than the previous three: Her younger sister, Abby, is a freshman pitcher for the Lakers. Her junior year production at the plate (.425 average, five home runs, 25 RBI) may be hard to duplicate, but she has much influence on the other side of the ball, too. Duxbury coach Rod Laniewski calls her “an excellent signal caller.”
Stephanie Cornish , Abington: The senior third baseman is transitioning her talents one last time from the hardwood to the diamond, where she has led the South Shore League in RBIs the past two years. Coach Ernie Ortega calls Cornish the thunder in the middle of the order to Mackenzie Gillis and Alicia Reid’s lightning, as well as the Green Wave’s unequivocal leader. “They responded well to her,” Ortega said. “She’s really stepped it up.”
Hilary Dole , Notre Dame (Hingham): The Cougars felt the sting of disappointment with a first-round exit from the state tournament last year, but Cole wasn’t on the field: she’s just a freshman. The Abington resident struck out 21 batters in her first two starts and wields a big bat, too.
Jess Pieterson , Norton: A transfer from Coyle Cassidy, where she spent most of 2012 on the JV, the junior has emerged as the Lancers’ No. 1 pitcher and cleanup hitter. In her debut against Cathedral, she threw a no-hitter, struck out 14, went 3 for 3 at the plate and drove in two runs.
Maddie Shaw , Bridgewater-Raynham: With a lofty .471 average and a strong, accurate arm at shortstop, the junior has already made a verbal commitment to Fordham. Coach Mike Carrozza will count on her for production in the heart of the lineup — she smacked eight home runs and drove in 34 runs in 2012 — for a relatively young Trojan team. “A lot of people are expecting big things from me,” she said. “And I expect a lot as well.”
Girls’ softball teams to watch
Dedham: The young but talented Marauders lost some pieces from last year’s team that reached the Division 2 South quarterfinals. Catcher Sam Girard, who batted cleanup as a freshman last year, is back in the four-hole this time around. The tandem of Meaghan Paton and Amanda Carilli, both juniors, will handle pitching duties.
Duxbury: It’s now or never for a core group of Dragons who made varsity as freshmen three years ago: catcher Caroline McSherry, shortstop Christina Curley, center fielder Alex Leaverton, and second baseman Erin Gallagher, among others. McKayla Lannan (17 strikeouts vs. Pembroke Monday) and Jamie Neilson (a transfer from Marshfield) create a formidable pitching duo. “There’s high expectations since they’ve been together so long,” said coach Rod Laniewski. “I look at our team as being veterans.”
Notre Dame (Hingham): The Cougars, optimistic after a 13-3 regular season in 2012, are testing themselves with a more difficult schedule in Jack Finn’s second year as head coach. Junior Megan Barrett is the veteran of the pitching staff, while freshman Hilary Dole comes in with a high ceiling. The team will look to its pair of captains — catcher/first baseman Kate O’Leary and center fielder Emma Dunbar — for leadership.
Norton: It’s been five years since the Lancers last made the state tournament, but with seven returning starters, this season could break that streak. They outscored Cathedral, Medway, and Medfield by an aggregate of 44-3 in the first three games behind junior pitcher Jess Pieterson and Tri-Valley League all-star Kathy Remick. Catcher Ashley Cibotti and captain Maggie Morris, who hit over .500 last year, will also be key cogs on offense.
Silver Lake: The Patriot League Kennan Division perennial power will serve that role yet again with coach Michael Brennan at the helm for his 25th season. Senior catcher Alex Barone will be a leader at the plate and in the field, while her freshman sister Maddie and junior Jessica Smith (back for her second year on the varsity) will handle pitching duties. Watch for third baseman Abby Alexiades to also produce on both sides of the ball.