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Capsule outlook of the area’s high school softball teams

High school softball outlook

Coe-Brown

Division: II

Coach: Tim Tenasco (12th year)

Last year: 12-5, lost in first round

Returning starters: Lauren Jones, jr., P/2B; Amanda Riley, so., SS/C/P; Kianna Daudelin, so., P/1B; Holly Donohue,, so., CF

Outlook: The Bears have four strong veterans returning to the diamond, but around them are 10 players new to the varsity. “It’s the youngest team that we have had in seven years, so it will take some time to develop these girls into CBNA softball players,” Coach Tenasco said. Jones, a three-year starter, along with two-year starters Riley, Daudelin and Donohue, will shoulder much of the load in the early going as the newcomers adjust to varsity ball. “Our goals are always the same: to develop a competitive team and be able to be playing our best softball by the end of the season to compete for a state championship,” Tenasco said.

Teams to beat: Kennett, Hollis-Brookline, Portsmouth, Con-Val, MV

John Stark

Division: II

Coach: Rick Sweeney (1st year)

Last year: 9-8, lost in first round

Returning starters: Becca Titcomb, sr., 2B; Kendra Barrasso, sr., 1B; Sam Kazakis, sr., SS; Maddie Jenelle, jr., C; Jackie Kilar, so., 3B; Carly Cook, jr., OF; Kirsten Miller, jr., OF

Top newcomers: To be determined

Outlook: Despite only 13 players on the roster, the Generals have seven of last year’s nine starters returning, so John Stark should be in the mix for the playoffs. This team is strong offensively and the Generals hope solid hitting will lead it beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Teams to beat: Hollis-Brookline, Souhegan, Portsmouth

Merrimack Valley

Division: II

Coach: Sam York (4th year)

Last year: 14-4, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starters: Erin Frost, jr., 3B; Jacey Fedion, sr., OF/P; Rebekka Donovan, sr., OF; Brittany Fisher, jr., SS; Amber Cronan, sr., OF; Maggie Carey, jr., C/1B

Top newcomers: Brooke Ellis, jr., C/IF; Lindsay Balch, fr., C/1B

Outlook: Coming off a successful 2012 campaign, the Pride has a solid nucleus of veterans to build around, but MV is also starting the season with some new players in key positions. “With a new starting battery, we look to improve as the season progresses and make the tournament,” Coach York said. “Like last year, our division is wide open.”

Pembroke

Division: II

Coach: Russ Saucier (1st year)

Last year: 11-6, lost in first round

Returning starters: Katherine Arvanitis, jr., CF; Emma Gagnon, jr., LF; Ashley Henshaw, jr., P; Marissa Kibbee, jr., 1B; Hannah Mitchell, so., RF; Madison Pellerin, so., C; Hannah Seidner, so., P/SS; Kara Dugas, jr., 2B

Top newcomers: Lyla Boyajian, so., P/1B; Meghan Smith, so., C/2B; Sarah Swanson, fr., C/SS

Outlook: Eight starters return to the diamond for the Spartans, who are looking to take off right where they left off last season, winning seven straight to earn the sixth seed for the postseason. Henshaw and Seidner, who combined for all 11 wins last year, give Pembroke solid pitching depth. They’ll be backed by veteran fielders, with only third base being occupied by someone new. Offensively, the team has a nice blend of speed (Arvanitis, Gagnon, Amanda Clement) and power (Kibbee, Pellerin). And with just two seniors on the roster, this is a young but experienced team with its eyes on success.

Teams to beat: Hollis-Brookline, Coe-Brown

Belmont

Division: III

Coach: Bill Clary (3rd year)

Last year: 7-11, lost in second round

Returning starters: Elizabeth Yelle, sr., C; Alyssa Woods, jr., CF; Meghan Bailey, jr., 2B; Mary Kate Russo, jr., 1B; Chay Cadarette, so., C/OF; Cassie Contigianni, so., SS

Top newcomers: Courtney Clairmont, fr., P; Meghan Prescott, fr., P

Outlook: The sophomores will be moving into different positions – the Red Raiders lost several senior starters to graduation – however, they all have varsity experience. Contigianni will be making the move from outfield to starting shortstop, while Makayla Donovan and Kylie O’Connell will be splitting time at third base after both playing outfield last year. Bailey will be back for her third year as a varsity second basemen, third-year starter Woods is the security in center field, and Russo returns to first base after making a successful transition to the position last year. The catching duties will be split between Cadarette and lone senior leader Yelle.

Teams to beat: White Mountains, Gilford, Winnisquam, Campbell

Bishop Brady

Division: III

Coach: Shawn Brechtel (8th year)

Last year: 9-8, lost in first round in Division II

Returning starters: Meghan Kissinger, so., SS/P; Melissa Mallahan, so., 1B/OF; Cammie Marchand, sr., 2B/SS; Emma Olson, sr., SS/3B

Outlook: With five graduating seniors last year, the Green Giants are in a rebuilding year, with only three upperclassmen on the roster and eight underclassmen. “This will be a young team trying to establish an identity in a new division full of quality teams with established histories,” Coach Brechtel said.

Bow

Division: III

Coach: Peter Jenovese (3rd year)

Last year: 11-7, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starters: Madison Stanley, sr., C; Kylie Iasillo, sr., C; Maddie Palisi, so.; Miki Dowd, so.; Amy Zahensky, sr., C; Hanna Kearns, sr.; Megan Sackett, sr.; Julia Ladd, so.; Hannah Perna, so.; Kelsie Flynn, so.

Top newcomers: Regan Naughton, jr., 1B/OF; Audrey Gaboriault, fr., 1B/C

Outlook: The Falcons will try to blend a strong senior class with an experienced sophomore class to better their quarterfinal appearance of last season. Jenovese is counting on tri-captains Zahensky, Iasillo (First Team All-State last year) and Stanley (Honorable Mention last year) to lead the way. Dowd, Palisi and Flynn all started as freshmen, and slugger Perna got plenty of time as a freshman. “Bow looks to build on last year’s success and will look to go deeper in the tournament this year,” Jenovese said.

Teams to beat: White Mountains, Campbell, Conant, Bishop Brady, Farmington

Franklin

Division: III

Coach: Skip DuBois (17th year)

Last year: 13-6, lost in quarterfinals

Returning starters: Jillian Roberts, sr., 1B; Rikki French, sr., OF; Kaitlyn Brace, sr., 3B; Kat Styles, jr., LF; Mariah Gauthier, jr., CF; Lexi Colpack, so., SS

Top newcomers: Kelsey Bird, jr., P/1B; Shelby Joyce, so., C/OF/P; Kim Gerlarneau, so., OF; Lauren Hennessy, so., 2B/SS; Amber Vogt, so., C/3B; Bailey McIntyre, so., OF

Outlook: Having lost eight players, including five starters, due to graduation and other reasons, experience will be at a premium for this year’s Lady Tornado squad. With six sophomores and two freshmen on the roster, this will be the youngest squad Franklin has produced in seven or eight years, but according to Coach DuBois, “this group of sophomores and freshmen are the most athletic bunch of players to come along in quite some time and will help add to our overall team speed.” With 27 teams in Div. III, there could be some surprises and, although this is a rebuilding year, Coach DuBois expects this team will be competitive.

Teams to beat: Gilford, White Mountains, Somersworth

Hillsboro-Deering

Division: III

Coach: Tom E. Johnson (5th year)

Last year: 6-11, lost in play-in

Returning starters: Kaitlyn Bergstresser, sr., C/OF; Jocelyn Butler, sr., OF; Erin Delacy, sr., OF; Sarah Egner, sr., C; Brittany Perez, sr., IF/OF; Leah Rheault, sr., IF/OF; Dakota Anderson, jr., IF/P; Alyssa Bailey, jr., IF/P; Jenna Rheault, jr., IF/P

Top newcomers: Victoria Hebert, sr., IF/OF; Kymberlee Bergstresser, so., IF/OF

Outlook: With a veteran team, Coach Johnson is expecting his squad to play sound defensively and be a “reasonably good hitting team.” The question mark in the early going will be pitching. “If our pitching comes through, we could have a better than .500 season,” Johnson said.

Teams to beat: Conant, Campbell

Hopkinton

Division: III

Coach: Dan Meserve (7th year)

Last year: 8-9, lost in second round

Returning starters: Becca Shatney, so., P; Madison Bergethon, jr., C; Sloane White, so., 1B/SS; Kelly Scammon, jr., 2B; Courtney Benson, jr., OF

Top newcomers: Sarah Ewing, so., 3B/1B/C; Kasey Smith, fr., C/SS; Caroline Flood, fr., P/3B/1B; Lily Scammon, fr., OF

Outlook: The Hawks will field a young but athletic lineup this season, with Shatney (who pitched 16 games last year) shouldering much of the pitching load once again. Coach Meserve said that seniors Jessi Quinn and Emily Bogart “have proven to be great leaders so far and look to help bring the Hawks to the next level. With five starters returning and some solid new players, they could do just that.”

Teams to beat: Campbell, Bow, Conant, White Mountains

Winnisquam

Division: III

Coach: Kevin Dame (11th year)

Last year: 10-8, lost in second round

Returning starters: Elyssa Clairmont, sr., SS; Kendra Lonergan, jr., 3B; Rachel Willcutt, jr., C; Alyssa Clogston, so., 2B; Erica Doubleday, so., OF; Becky Rapoza, so., OF; Allie Trowsdale, so., P

Top newcomer: Marissa DeBlaise, fr., P/IF

Outlook: Though there are seven returning players, the team is the youngest in Coach Dame’s tenure. The underclassmen duo of sophomore Trowsdale and freshman DeBlaise is a promising starting pitching combination, while Clairmont and Willcutt look to continue their solid hitting form from the preseason. Defensively, the Bears have seven returning starters at their old positions.

Teams to beat: Gilford, Franklin, White Mountains, Campbell, Bow

Pittsfield

Division: IV

Coach: Nick Semales (3rd year)

Last year: 7-10, lost in first round

Returning starters: Bekah Adams, sr., SS; Katie Small, jr., 3B/OF; Emily Buchanan, sr., 2B; Krystal Small, jr., C; Patience Cyr, so., P/1B; Kim Cyr, so., LF; Stefani Gauthier, jr., CF; Katelyn Hunt, so., P/SS

Top newcomers: Sarah Adams, jr., IF/OF; Rachel Thompson, fr., U

Outlook: The graduation of Jen Tyrell left a void for Pittsfield, but the Panthers return eight other starters and will be looking to take it another step this season. Adams, the team’s captain, moves over to shortstop to anchor the infield behind the pitching duo of Patience Cyr, a three-year starter, and Hunt. “Having two quality young pitchers who(m) I can count on to attack the hitters this year, knowing that their defense is behind them to close the door, will be key for us to hopefully be playing into June,” Coach Semales said. Having established pitching and defense as the team’s strengths, the Panthers have spent much of the preseason focusing on offense. “The Panthers will be looking to take it one game at a time, and if everything is executed and comes together, then they have the potential to make a good run,” Semales said.

Teams to beat: Profile, Wilton-Lyndeborough, Newmarket

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