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BHS Baseball, Softball Teams Eye Return to Playoffs

Mar 28, 2019 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson

TJ Chiappone (left) and Dennis Baker

written by KEN HAMWEY, Bulletin Sports Editor

Coach TJ Chiappone and his Bellingham High baseball team have three goals this season:  work hard daily to improve, aim for the Tri Valley League Small Division title and hope to qualify again for a playoff berth.

“Our goals are realistic but it’ll be a battle and a challenge,” Chiappone, pictured left, said. “We’ll need a lot of effort and commitment.” Last year, the squad went 10-8 but lost in the first round of the tournament to Medway.

The Blackhawks will be led by a trio of senior captains — pitchers Corey Chiappone, Michael Reissfelder and Benjamin Youkilis. When they’re not on the mound, Chiappone will play the outfield; Reissfelder will be at shortstop; and Youkilis will be at first base or in the outfield.
Chiappone had a 3-1 record last season and an earned-run average of 3.61. He led the team with a .381 batting average and also finished on top in hits, runs, stolen bases and extra-base hits. “A left-hander, Corey mixes his speeds well and relies on a fastball, curve and change-up,” said his father. “Offensively, he’s a consistent hitter and can hit for power.”

Reissfelder led the team last year in innings pitched (34 2/3) and was second in batting average (.328), hits, and runs scored. “A right-hander, Michael has good control and will rely on a fastball and change-up,” Chiappone said. “He’s a solid hitter, so we’ll count on him for offense.”

Youkilis is a left-handed hurler who posted a 4-2 record, had a team-best E.R.A. of 2.26 and was tops in strikeouts (37). A .328 hitter, he tied for the team lead in RBIs with 15. “Ben is a power pitcher who throws his fastball at above-average speed,” Chiappone said.  “At the plate, he’s very disciplined and has a great eye for the ball [led in walks with 10].”

Two seniors who will be counted on are John Keeler (third base, catcher) and Jacob Bassett (catcher, outfielder). Keeler hit .288 and had two home runs and 15 RBIs, and Bassett hit .283. “John is a threat at the plate with his power,” Chiappone said; “and we’ll need Jake’s offense and defense. He can hit for power.”

Other returnees include senior Owen Fitzgerald (catcher, pitcher, outfielder), sophomores Matt Wilson (pitcher, first base) and Jake Houston (middle infielder) and junior Joey Randazzo (first base). “We’ll be relying on them to contribute this season,” said Chiappone, whose club will open its season at Blackstone Valley Tech on April 4.

Softball Squad an Experienced Contingent

The Bellingham High softball team finished strong last year, winning eight of its last 11 games to qualify for the Division 3 Sectional Tournament, where it bowed in the first round to Monomoy, 2-1, in 10 innings.

Coach Dennis Baker’s 2019 squad, which compiled an 11-8 regular season record last year, is experienced (seven returnees), is talented, has a high softball IQ and is team-oriented.
“Our goals are to improve daily, to compete for the Tri Valley League Small Division title and to qualify for the playoffs,” Baker, pictured above, said. “We’ll be very competitive. Our pitching will be strong, our defense is solid and we’ll strive for timely hitting.”

The senior captains include Maddie Mantegani in centerfield, Katie Reed at shortstop and Kellie Morrison at second base.

“Maddie was a TVL all-star last year,” Baker noted. “She hit .426 and led the team in RBIs. An all-around player, she gives 100 percent and sets the tone as our leadoff hitter. She did not commit an error last year. Katie is a four-year starter who’s an aggressive hitter (.350). A solid defender, she’s athletic and will bat third. Kellie is a consistent contact hitter who fields well and plays hard. She got some key RBIs last year.”

Junior Kasey MacGowan, who compiled an 11-5 record last year, is the Blackhawks’ top pitcher. “She has good off-speed pitches, she throws strikes and she challenges the hitters,” Baker said. “Her fastball and change-up are her best pitches. She pitched all 10 innings in our playoff game last year.”

The Blackhawks will open their season in a non-league encounter at Fontbonne Academy (Milton) on April 8 and will start its league season at Dover-Sherborn on April 10.

Boys Lacrosse Team Making Progress

Steve Linehan is starting his third year as the boys lacrosse coach; his goals are to improve on last year’s 6-12 record (best in the program’s history) and to qualify for the playoffs.

“We have some solid leadership and some talented players,” Linehan said. “Qualifying for the tournament is a realistic goal. We’re now just starting to reap the benefits of the youth program that’s in its sixth year.”

The Blackhawks will be led by senior captains Mic Flynn, a midfielder, and Kyle McCann, a defender. Flynn was a first team Tri Valley League all-star last year, and McCann earned honorable-mention honors. “Both are solid competitors on the field,” Linehan said. “They lead by example and they’re also vocal leaders.”

Other key players include seniors Cade Linehan (defensive midfielder) and defenseman Ken Morrissey and junior attackmen Jake Schultz and Matt Pelletier. “Cade and Ken prop up our defense,” Linehan said. “Cade is a solid player and Ken is a top-notch defender. Jake and Matt are very capable offensive players.”

The Blackhawks, who have 18 matches scheduled, will open their season on the road against Oliver Ames on April 1.

Boys Track Squad Eyes More Success

Peter Lacasse (left) coached the Bellingham boys track team to a 5-1 record in dual meets last year and a second-place finish in the Tri Valley League. The 2019 season, which gets underway on April 2 at home against Norton, should produce more positive results.

“I’m confident that we’ve got the talent to challenge for the TVL Small Division championship,” Lacasse said; “and we could have a dozen individual qualifiers for post-season meets and also some who’ll compete in the relays. We’re experienced in a variety of events and we’ve got a strong core group that’s been competing since they were freshmen.”

The captains are all seniors—Ethan Carr (800, mile, relay); Cameron Picard (javelin, long jump, 100, 200, relay); and Dan Gavin (shot put, discus).

“Ethan is a strong contributor and a strong runner,” Lacasse said. “A solid leader, he’s our best middle-distance runner. Cameron is the best javelin thrower in the league. He finished eighth in the All-State Meet last year, compiling a personal best of 161 feet, 7 inches. He’s improved and strives to be technically sound. Dan’s bests are 42 feet, 6-1/2 inches in the shot put and 100 feet in the discus. He has quiet confidence and he’s respected by his teammates and throwers around the league.”

A trio of seniors who work hard and keep progressing are Mitch Olson (hurdles), Dan Unegbu (100, long jump, triple jump, high jump, 4x100 relay), and Phil Jones (400, 800, relay). “Mitch is being counted on and he has the confidence to do well,” Lacasse said. “Dan is versatile and he qualified for All-States last year. His best triple jump is 42 feet, 7 1/2 inches. Phil is a really great kid who works hard and competes intensely.”

BHS Girls Track Team Aiming for .500

The Bellingham High girls track team might be on the verge of reaching .500 this season, thanks to a turnout that totals 38.

Coach Gordon Cole’s squad, which finished at 1-5 last year, has balance, experience and speed. “We now have enough girls to cover each event,” he said. “Our turnout is the best in my four years as head coach. We have girls with ability in the sprints, the middle-distance events and the throwing events. I believe we can achieve a .500 record.”

The three senior captains include Hannah Levy (100, triple jump, 4x100 relay); Madison Vadenais (high jump, long jump, 4x100 relay); and Jordan Houston (800, mile). “Hannah is fast, works hard and leads by example,” Cole said. “Madison is strong in the jumps, a good leader who’s patient. Jordan is a top miler; she has speed, endurance and a good finishing kick.”

Three sophomores with promise will be counted on — Emily Jannel in the high jump; Makayla Champagne in the shot put and discus; and Lilly McFall in the javelin and 100. “Emily had a 4-foot, 8-inch high jump indoors,” Cole noted. “She’ll be strong in that event because she’s strong, has good spring and is technically sound. Makayla also is strong and her technique is very good. Lilly will top 100 feet in the javelin this season. She was at 98 feet last year. Emily has lots of drive and she’s fast in her approach.”

The girls will open their season at home on April 2 against Norton.

Boys Volleyball Starting Its First Year

Boys volleyball will begin its inaugural season this spring, and Steve Mantegani, who coaches the girls squad, was chosen to direct the boys. Here’s what he said about the new spring sport as he was awaiting candidates to report for pre-season practice:

“As a new team, we are hoping to start to build the program and not worry about our record.  We have 16 matches set for the season with primarily Tri Valley League schools.

“We are hoping to have 10-15 athletes to fill the varsity roster and slowly build the program to add a junior-varsity team in the future.  It is a great crossover sport for basketball and any sport that employs quick reaction, hand/eye coordination, and explosiveness.

“The challenge for getting candidates to try out is the unknown because most athletes have not played the sport except in gym class.  Boys volleyball is fast-paced like the girls game, but more of a power game because of the height and strength of the boys. We have a lot of work to do to prepare to compete.”

The first match of the season was at home against Medfield on March 29, which was played after the Bulletin deadline.

Hall of Fame Nomination Deadline Is April 30

The Bellingham High Athletic Hall of Fame Committee has extended the deadline for filing nominations for prospective inductees. Nomination forms must be submitted by April 30. Forms can be obtained by going to the high school website —

When completed, forms can be mailed or submitted to Helen Whiting, the Hall of Fame secretary, or BHS Athletic Director Michael Connor at the high school on 60 Blackstone St. The date for the second induction ceremony is Friday, Nov. 29.






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