Hungry for success
If you don’t think high school coaches and players don’t carry the frustration and anger of early round tournament upset losses during a spring sports season, guess again.
Last year, Milford High was upset in the Division II quarterfinals, while Wilton-Lyndeborough was 15-3 in Division IV and didn’t make it past the quarters, either.
It was stunning.
“Redemption began March 18,” said Spartans’ coach Jim Rines said, noting the time for mourning is done. “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Yes, that big day back in 2017 when Milford won its second straight state title seems a while ago.
Milford should again be a big contender in Division II, especially with the return of slugginger Raven Comtois. Wilton-Lyndeborough’s Lexi Balam, is also back to lead the Warriors’ potential comeback.
The area’s other Division II teams, Souhegan and Hollis Brookline, are starting from different points. The Cavs under new coach Frank Lukovits, a noted ASA coach, will be looking to move forward from a 3-13 rebuilding year. The Sabers won 10 games and are bringing eight starters back. Competition for both Souhegan and Milford among contenders will be defending champion John Stark.
In Division IV, the heavy favorite is defending champ Epping, which brings a ton of players back. But Wilton-Lyndeborough, which lost by a run to Colebrook in last year’s quarterfinals, returns six starters. Remember, the Warriors had a taste of the final four two years ago.
“Not getting there last year is really motivating them,” longtime Warriors coach Denny Claire said.
COACH: Jim Rines (sixth season).
LAST SEASON: 16-1, lost to CBNA in quarterfinals.
RETURNING PLAYERS: Raven Comtois, sr. c-of-1b; Abby Stillwagon, jr. cf; Abby Sites, sr.3b; Jenna DeAngelis, jr. p-ss; Shannon Harbison, jr. of-p; Amanda Atkinson, jr. ss-2b; Cora Holtshouser, jr. of-2b.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Brenna Parker,jr.1b; Kaitlyn Houghton, jr. 2b; Alice Fortin, fr. of-in.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “We have had 360 days to get over our 2018 season,” Rines said.
COACH: Tony Doucet (second year).
LAST SEASON: 10-7, lost to Coe-Brown in prelims.
RETURNING STARTERS: Mary Rothhoff, jr.c; Megan Tupaj, jr.1b; Lucy Stover, sr. 2b; Jenna Speer, jr.3b; Cameron Whitney, jr. p; Ava Van Ballengooyen, so.of; Callie McBride, jr. of; Carrie Speer, sr.of.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Margo Redway, sr.of; Julia Kalinowski, sr.of.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Olivia Harnish, fr.p-ss; Danielle Drobat, fr.3b.
COACH’S COMMENTS: “We graduated one senior (shortsop Madison Robicheau), and while it will be difficult to replace her, we’re returning eight starters,” Doucet said. “With a couple of talented freshmen added to the group, we expect to improve on last year.”
COACH: Denny Claire (32nd year)
LAST SEASON: 16-4, lost to Colebrook in quarterfinals.
RETURNING STARTERS: Janel Bachand, sr. c-inf; Lexi Balam, sr. p; Emma Skelly, sr. of; Rachel Christino, sr. inf; Sam Yurcak, so. inf-of., Brooke Lane, fr. inf.
OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Sophia Sistach, so. of; Tiffany Cuddihy, so.
PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Maddy Chase, so.; Caitlin Witt, fr.; Madison Raymond, fr.; Karen Vich and Abby Dowling (eighth grade).
COACH’S COMMENTS: “Staying healthy will be a big key,” Claire said. “The key will be getting last year’s non-starting players and this year’s new players ready to play at the varsity level. This team has one goal, and that’s to get to Plymouth.”