Sports Spotlight: Big Test for BHS Nine—Overcome Inexperience
Mar 28, 2018 12:32PM ● Published by Kenneth Hamwey
Bellngham Bulletin Sports Editor Ken Hamwey
Eight seniors have graduated from last year’s baseball team, six of whom were starters, making the 2018 season a challenging task for Bellingham High coach T.J. Chiappone. His nucleus will comprise seven returnees—two seniors and five juniors.
“Our squad will have limited experience and it’ll take time for us to jell and build team chemistry,” Chiappone said. “This will be one of our youngest and most inexperienced squads in years.”
Second baseman Brent Crayton and relief pitcher Tim Murphy are the senior returnees. Crayton’s return may be delayed because he’s recovering from a fractured ankle suffered halfway through the basketball season. When he’s ready, his solid fielding and leadership will be welcomed assets. His fielding percentage last year was .938. Murphy, a left-hander, will be aiming for innings out of the bullpen.
Michael Reissfelder headlines a group of juniors. A right-handed pitcher, he had a 1-2 record last year in five starting appearances. “Michael will be a strong spot,” Chiappone said. “He’s solid on the mound, has good control and mixes his fastball, curve and change-up well. He’ll get lots of innings. He hit for a .344 average and can play third base or shortstop when he’s not pitching.”
Ben Youkilis and Corey Chiappone are left-handers ticketed to be starters. When they’re not pitching, Youkilis will play first base or the outfield and Chiappone will be in the outfield. “Both likely will get significant innings,” the coach said, “and John Keeler and Jake Bassett, who both saw limited time last year, will handle the catching chores and likely will alternate.”
Chiappone’s prime concerns are inexperience and a lack of pitching depth, but he emphasized that “the coaches are looking forward to the challenge.” Last year, the Blackhawks finished 11-9 and bowed to Ashland in the first round of the tourney. This season, BHS will open at Hopkinton on April 6.
Softball Squad Aims to Bounce BackBellingham High’s softball team will focus on making a comeback. Last year’s team, which finished 8-12 and missed qualifying for the tourney for the first time in 10 years, was thwarted by injuries and inexperience. The Blackhawks won only two of their first 10 games but bounced back in the second half of the season by winning six of their last 10 contests.
“Our goal is to get back to the tourney,” coach Dennis Baker said. “We’ve got a team-oriented group returning that should provide timely hitting, defense and pitching.”
Two seniors that Baker will be counting on are Kelly Corbitt (outfield/first base) and Kailey MacGregor (catcher). “Kelly is a four-year starter who injured her shoulder last year and played only seven games,” Baker said. “She hits for power and will bat cleanup. Kailey hit .290 in eight games. She’s a solid defender and has a strong arm. She’ll bat fifth.”
Three other key players include juniors Katie Reed (shortstop) and Maddie Mantegani (center field) and sophomore Kasey MacGowan (pitcher).
Katie will bat third,” Baker noted. “She hit .390 last year and had a good on-base percentage. A consistent contact hitter, she’s a solid defensive player. Maddie was our top hitter last year, batting .430. She’ll hit in the leadoff position. She’s got speed, she’s consistent and she gives 100 percent all the time. Kasey won seven games last year. A right-hander, she’s poised, has great location and relies on off-speed pitches. She’ll be hitting in the No. 2 slot.”
The squad will open its season on April 6 at Hopkinton.
Strong Season Is Likely in Boys TrackCoach Peter Lacasse’s roster for the boys outdoor track team will be in the 50-plus range, the largest turnout he’s ever had during his eight years at the helm. The numbers should lead to more success than last year, when the Blackhawks finished 2-3 in dual meets.
“We should have a strong season,” said Lacasse. “We expect to contend for the title in the TVL Small Division, and we should be in a group of four or five squads that battle for the league meet crown. I’m optimistic about our prospects.”
BHS will be led by four captains—seniors Josh Jones and Justin Laferte and juniors Ethan Carr and Cam Picard. Jones will throw the shot and the discus and run the 4x100 relay; Laferte will run the 400, 800 and 400-meter hurdles; Carr runs the 800, mile and two-mile; and Picard will throw the javelin, compete in the long jump and run the 200, 400 and relays.
“The captains are all veteran returnees,” Lacasse said. “They’re three-year competitors and they’re very strong in their respective events.”
Other key contributors include junior Dan Gavin in the shot put and discus; junior Philip Jones in the 800 and mile; sophomore Brandon Murphy in the 800 and mile; and junior Brandon Williams in the 800, mile and two-mile.
“Dan will be an asset in his events,” Lacasse said, “and Philip is very consistent. Brandon Murphy is in his third outdoor season and will be one of our top milers. Brandon Williams was strong in cross-country and he’ll be very capable in the distance events. Our team strengths are in the middle distance and jumping events.”
The boys will open their season at Ashland on April 4.
BHS Girls Lacrosse Team Has ExperienceWhitney McKay has one specific goal in mind as she begins her second year as the varsity coach of the Bellingham High girls lacrosse team, which won two games last year. She wants her squad “to be competitive every game and to improve in practice every day.”
With only three returning seniors on the roster, McKay will be relying on a half dozen sophomores who gained experience last year. “As freshmen, these girls were new to the game and also new to the varsity level,” McKay said. “Now, they’ll be more seasoned and have added experience. They’ll also understand the game more.”
Caela Hurley is one of those sophs who’ll be counted on in goal. “Caela had a great save percentage last year,” McKay noted. “She plays like she been competing for a long time. She’s got confidence and a high lacrosse IQ.”
Two other key contributors will be senior midfielder Bella Mancini and soph attack Grace Costello. “Bella is a workhorse,” McKay said. “She knows the game and she’s very effective in transition. Grace has a lot of finesse, she’s agile and is a student of the game.”
The Blackhawks will open their season at home against Norwood on March 29, then travel to Blackstone Valley Tech on April 2.
Big Turnout for Boys Lacrosse TeamCoach Steve Linehan begins his second season at the helm of the Bellingham High boys lacrosse program with lots of optimism. The coach greeted 40-plus candidates on opening day, a number that’s double last year’s turnout, and he’s upbeat that the 2018 squad will churn out some victories. Last year’s contingent won only one match.
“We’re hoping to win considerably more games than last year,” Linehan said. “We’ve got players who are skilled and athletic and are good two-way competitors. We’ve made progress.”
Senior midfielder Jared Vitale is the Blackhawks’ captain; he’ll be joined in the midfield by junior Mic Flynn and senior Colin Day. “Jared is a quality leader who is a solid two-way player,” Linehan said. “Most of our offense will run through Mic, who’s athletic, runs well and is excellent in transition. Our most-skilled player, Mic can score. Colin, now in his second year of lacrosse, is athletic and strong, can score and is solid on defense.”
Four seniors who’ll be counted on for steady contributions are goalie Jake Prophet, defenseman Lyall Chambers and midfielders AJ Pelletier and Tyler Marcet. “We’re expecting this group to contribute and provide leadership,” Linehan said.
The Blackhawks will open their season at Norwood on March 29, then return home for a match against Blackstone Valley Tech on April 2.
Optimistic Outlook for Girls TrackThe girls outdoor track team at Bellingham High had 25 candidates report for pre-season practice and that’s twice the number that competed last year. The increased participation numbers give rise to some optimism, especially for coach Gordon Cole.
“We’ll be competitive in the Small School Division of the Tri Valley League,” Cole said. “There’ll definitely be some victories because the girls have worked hard.”
The squad, which will open its season on April 4 at Ashland, will be led by captains Hannah Levy (sprints, triple jump), Maddie Vadenais (high jump, long jump, 200, 400) and Lindsay McNulty (100, 200, 4x100 relay). Another key contributor is Haylee Morrison (triple jump, sprints).
“Hannah has great speed and is our best sprinter,” Cole said. “Maddie gives 100 percent and has good spring in the jumping events. Lindsay is our second best sprinter; she’s motivated and organized. All three are excellent leaders. Haylee is a freshman who’s got lots of strength and outstanding speed.”