Sports

Cavs ready for tourney challenges

Friday, May 24, 2013

By JOE MARCHILENA

Staff Writer

There are upsets and then there is what the Hollis Brookline High School softball team experienced in 2012.

The Cavaliers weren’t just the No. 1 seed in the Division II tournament last year; they were undefeated at 17-0 and had just beaten their first-round opponent, Windham, 18-0 during the regular season.

But somehow, the 16th seeded Jaguars pulled off the upset and sent HB home early.

“It’s hard thinking about it because we were undefeated,” senior Sarah Drazin said. “We didn’t know the feeling last year, the feeling of being down. We weren’t really down in any games at all.”

That’s changed this season. The Cavs finished the 2013 regular season at 12-4 in Division II, and more than once, they’ve had to rally for wins. And on a few occasions, like last Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Milford and Wednesday’s 12-11 loss to Portsmouth, those comebacks came up short.

“This year, we’ve had to learn how to battle back and stay up through hard times,” Drazin said. “I like that we are able to come back from being down a few runs. A bunch of teams I’ve been on haven’t been able to come back.”

It certainly helps having players like Drazing and fellow senior Charli Bradshaw. The duo are the first HB softball players to sign a letter of intent with a Division I college, as Drazin will play at Central Connecticut State and Bradshaw will head to Jacksonville University.

“Both of them, in between the lines, they are phenomenal softball players,” HB coach Tim Girzone said. “They are tough outs at the plate and they both play defense. I could play either of them at all eight positions, with the exception of pitcher. They are well-rounded and tough kids.”

Girzone believes his players have had to be tougher this season. Now that they’ve been at the top of the division standings for a couple of years – the Cavs reached the championship game in 2011 – the coach believes HB has a bit of a bull’s eye on its back.

“When you have success, teams are going to bring their best game at you, week in and week out,” he said. “Everything we get, these guys earn and they work for.

“It’s been a different feel having a couple of loses to learn from and come back from, to rebound and refocus us. I feel it’s helped us. You never want to lose, but when you do, hopefully you grow.”

One player who has taken those important steps is sophomore pitcher Ashley Skey.

“She is a huge part of what we do,” Girzone said. “She’s a sophomore and she’s one of the toughest kids I’ve seen. She has a mentality out there, she’s a battler. She is tough and without her, you can have all the catchers and center fielders and hitters in the world, but she is at the core of what we do.”

Skey is one of a handful of underclassmen who Girzone sees as being important to the Cavs future. And with seniors like Drazin and Bradshaw leading the way, HB is hoping to make another run in the postseason.

“Everything that we get, we have to fight a little more. I think (they’ve handled that) well,” Girzone said. “We’re pretty young. We have five seniors, but there is a core out there who is young. I think these guys are certainly learning from every win and loss.”

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