BILLERICA — Despite picking up a pair of clutch victories this past week, the Shawsheen Tech Baseball team was unable to achieve on of the goals they had set for themselves, as for the first time since the 2011 season the Rams failed to qualify for the state tournament.
The Rams, who suffered a six-game losing streak midway through the season, did not go down without a fight. Shawsheen won their first two games this past week, downing Mystic Valley and Greater Lowell last Tuesday and Thursday to improve to 8-10 with two games left.
But a loss to Greater Lawrence on Saturday dropped the Rams to 8-11 and with just one game left in the season, assured them of falling short of the .500 mark.
While disappointed to see his team miss the tournament for the first time in his coaching career, Shawsheen coach Brian McCarthy was proud of the way his team responded this week despite the odds being against them, starting with a 12-1 rout of Mystic Valley last Tuesday on the road.
“That was a great, total team win, and a much needed win too,” McCarthy said. “It was nice to get back into the win column with such a great, all-around performance from the boys.”
Shawsheen was led on the day by sophomore right-hander Chris DiSciscio went the distance on the mound, allowing one run on two hits, while striking out four.
“Chris had a good start that day. He was pounding the zone and using his solid defense behind him to work efficiently. He's turned in a few good starts for us this season,” McCarthy said. “We've had some good contributions from Chris, Vinny LoGuidice , and Cam Rich, all sophomore pitchers. That experience will hopefully pay off for us next year when they take the hill early in the season.”
Rich and LoGuidice starred at the plate in this one, as each of them had three hits, two runs scored and two RBI. Freshman Owen Duggan (one run, one RBI) and Connor Maguire (two runs, two RBI) had two hits apiece.
Winning in a rout was obviously fun for the Rams, but the biggest excitement of the week came two days later when Shawsheen overcame a three-run deficit while rallying for a walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Maguire drove in Duggan with the winning run on a base hit up the middle. Duggan had tied the game, 4-4, with a 2-run triple moments earlier. Senior Russ Cook, Cam Rich and junior DJ Williams also had key hits in the seventh inning for the Rams, who staved off elimination for one more day.
“That was a great game to be a part of. Greater Lowell was in the middle of a nine game win streak at the time,” McCarthy said. “I was real proud of the way our guys hung in there and hung around long enough to come back in spectacular fashion to get the win. Real clutch win for our guys. It was great to see a bunch of guys chipping in that day one way or another.”
Cook started the rally in the seventh the by crushing a ball to right field. He was followed later in the inning by Duggan’s two out RBI triple, before Maguire stepped to the plate next and smacked the first pitch he saw to win the game with an RBI single up the middle.
Not to be forgotten was the pitching performance of senior C.J. Zemetres of Tewksbury, who went the distance on the mound, striking out four batters, while allowing seven hits.
“C.J. pitched a heck of a game to keep us in it.,” McCarthy said. “C.J. has been such a great player, teammate, and person in this program for the past four years. He shows up every day, ready to set the tone, work hard, and make himself and the team better. We are so proud to have players like C.J. come through our school and baseball program.
“We are certainly going to miss him next year as he heads off to Nicholas College to continue his academic and baseball career. They are getting one heck of a young man.”
Obviously McCarthy would like for his team to be preparing to play in the post season, but despite narrowly missing out on the opportunity, he is able to look back fondly on a season filled with some great memories, while looking ahead to what appears to be a bright future.
“As we wrap up this season over the next few days, it's been a little bit of a mixed bag for us this year,” McCarthy said. “While it’s frustrating that we did not qualify for the post-season tourney, we knew going into this year that we were young and inexperienced pretty much all over the field. We struggled at times to play consistent ball for all seven innings, but on the flip side, our team was hungry and fought tough in a number of games.
“We played in five extra-inning games this year. And as I said to the team a few times, I love knowing as a coach, that we are never out of any game. We had that ability to fight, to stay alive. It was certainly not the win total we were hoping for this year, but there are plenty of bright spots to look back on and be proud of.”
Much like the baseball team, the Shawsheen Tech Softball team entered this past week with an outside shot at qualifying for the state tournament for the third consecutive season. And much like the baseball team, the Rams gave it their best shot, winning a big game early in the week to keep their post season hopes alive before eventually falling short of the tournament with a loss later in the week.
Shawsheen started their week with a clutch 9-4 win over CAC rival Mystic Valley last Thursday on Senior Day at the Charles H. Lyons Athletic Complex.
Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the fifth inning, the Rams bats came alive with a six run rally to blow the game open and then held on for the win to at the time improve their record to 6-9 with three games left and keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
Mystic had just retaken the lead with two runs in the top of the seventh inning, but the Rams wasted little time in responding. Freshman Kayla Mirisola of Tewksbury led off the inning with a single, before junior Grace Clark doubled her home. Mystic attempted to throw Clark out at second, but threw the ball over the second baseman’s head. With no one was backing up the base, the ball rolled to the fence allowing Clark to score and give the Rams the lead. Five of the next six Rams batters had hits which accounted for the big inning.
“Four players had RBIs in the inning,” Shawsheen coach Scott Ialuna said. “It was great to see everyone on the team contributing.”
There were several offensive stars on the day for the Rams, with seniors Becca Smith of Tewksbury and Sam Wareham leading the way with three hits each. Ialuna was happy to see the seniors step up on their special day.
“Becca has been doing it all year, and Sam has been helping us out all season,” Ialuna said. “I am very happy that they were able to make the most out of their Senior Day.”
Smith and Wareham were not alone in their offensive exploits, as junior Jess Stevens had a pair of hits and two RBI, while Mirisola had two hits and one RBI.
But it was on the mound that Mirisola shined the brightest, allowing 11 hits, while striking out nine and allowing four earned runs. Mirisola did not walk a batter.
“Kayla’s last couple outings have been great,” Ialuna said. “Her control has been fantastic, and she does a good job of keeping the balls down. Anastasia Bessler (of Mystic) is capable of putting any mistake over the fence, but Kayla didn’t give her anything good to hit the whole day. I am very proud of the way she has pitched down the stretch.”
Unfortunately for the Rams, things did not go as well the next day as they dropped a 13-0 decision to non-league rival Arlington Catholic on Friday afternoon in a road contest. Clark and Wareham had the only hits of the game for the Rams.
“That was a tough one,” Ialuna said. “We were just beaten by a better, more athletic team. They made the plays, and we didn’t.”
While the Rams fell short of their goal of qualifying for the post season, Ialuna was anything but disappointed with his team’s effort throughout the season, and he is looking forward to seeing his team return to the state tournament next season.
Despite losing seven seniors overall, including Marisa Brangiforte of Tewksbury as well as co-captains Smith and Bella Richard, the Rams will bring back a talented group of underclassmen. They will be led by their four juniors, Jess Stevens, Grace Clark, Ashlyn Bisso of Tewksbury and Taylor Sacco, along with freshmen pitchers Mirisola of Tewksbury and Sandra Watne of Wilmington.
“This was definitely a growing year. We lost quite a bit last year, including two pitchers and three quarters of our infield,” Ialuna said. “Due to injury, I believe we had seven different people play shortstop this year alone. It is hard to build continuity when you are constantly rotating players, but we made the most of it, and the players did the best they could.
“We will miss our seniors next year, especially my two captains, Becca Smith and Bella Richard. They have been with me my entire tenure as head coach, and will be sorely missed next year. The team got a lot of experience this year that can only help next year. Due to injury, Kayla and Sandra carried most of the workload on the mound this year, so that can only help the team going forward. When not pitching, they contributed quite a bit at the plate and in the field as well. Our returning juniors will provide valuable experience next season.”
With two more wins this past week, the Shawsheen Tech Boys Lacrosse team clinched a share of their fourth consecutive Commonwealth Athletic Conference championship, finishing their regular season with an overall record of 15-3, which includes an 13-1 mark within the CAC.
After winning the title outright the past two seasons, the Rams tied for the crown this season with Essex Tech after the two teams split a pair of games this season, giving each other their only league loss of the season.
The Rams knew heading into the week that they would have to sweep their two games with Northeast and Whittier if they wanted to tie for the league title, and they did so in dominant fashion.
Shawsheen started their week with a 13-3 win over Northeast last Wednesday in a road contest, led by six goals from senior attack Owen Sullivan. Junior midfielder Conor Rooney of Wilmington added three goals and two assists for the Rams, while freshman midfielder Dylan Timmons of Wilmington had two goals and two assists.
Junior midfielder Dave Fraser of Wilmington and sophomore midfielder Dan Lee of Tewksbury each added a goal and an assist, while sophomore goalie Jonah Varallo made 15 saves in net to pick up the win.
The Rams closed out their regular season the next day with a 16-3 home win over Whittier, once again led by an outstanding offensive performance from Sullivan, who had eight goals on the day, giving him a team high 54 on the season. Fraser chipped with three goals, while Lee had two goals and an assist and Rooney and Jacob Martins each had a goal and an assist. Dale Sweeney also added a goal for the Rams.
The Rams will next take the field in the first round of the Division 3 North Sectional Tournament against a yet to be determined opponent. Tournament pairings will be announced Friday with games set to begin Sunday or Monday.
The Shawsheen Girls Lacrosse team closed out their regular season with a pair of wins of their own this past week, giving them an 11-5 overall record on the season, including a 10-2 mark in the CAC.
The Rams fell just short of clinching a fourth consecutive CAC title, finishing second to Mystic Valley, who handed them their only two league losses of the season.
Shawsheen started their week with a blowout win over CAC rival Northeast last Thursday at home, led by a balanced offensive attack which included four goals from freshman Devin Sweeney and three from senior Kara Ippolito.
Senior captain Megan Brown chipped in with two goals, including the 100th of her career, while senior Hailey Winn, junior Jade Sweeney and freshman Abbie Wood added one goal apiece.
The Rams wrapped up their regular season on Tuesday night with a thrilling 8-7 win over non-league rival Lowell Catholic as the teams played through the pouring rain on the Rams Senior Night.
Shawsheen got three more goals from Ippolito, while Devin Sweeney, Jade Sweeney, Winn and junior Celina Barczak of Wilmington each added a goal of their own. Senior goalie Julia Ryan had 17 saves to earn the victory for the Rams, which avenged a 13-12 overtime loss to Lowell Catholic earlier in the season.
Prior to the game the Rams seven seniors were honored for their commitment to the Shawsheen Lacrosse program. This year’s Shawsheen seniors are Megan Brown, Christa Davis, Kara Ippolito, Brooke Johnson, Maddie Rumley, Julia Ryan and Hailey Winn.
The Rams next game will be in the first round of the Division 2 North Sectional Tournament against a yet to be determined opponent. Tournament pairings will be announced on Friday with first round games slated for Sunday or Monday.