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Norwood’s Maloof leads SNHU to tournament

ALI MALOOF

ALI MALOOF

Maloof leads SNHU
to tournament

Southern New Hampshire University’s run to the semifinals of the Northeast-10 softball tournament and a program-record 29 wins was sparked by a pitcher who won 16 games and a hitter who led the Penmen with a .378 batting average.

Both feats were accomplished by Ali Maloof, a sophomore from Norwood who has already broken the school mark with 360 career strikeouts, including 211 this season. She was named the NE-10 Pitcher of the Year and to the all-conference first team.

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“She is the best pitcher I have ever coached in college, and an explosive player and great athlete who competes from the first pitch to the last on the mound and at the plate,’’ said SNHU head coach Deb Robitaille.

“You want her on the field in every game and in every big moment.’’

Maloof, the Globe’s Player of the Year her junior season at Norwood High, could have played for a Division 1 college, but the opportunity to pitch and be a full-time hitter was too good to pass up at Southern New Hampshire, a Division 2 program.

“A lot of college recruiters felt I was not bulky enough to be a pitcher and that I’d be better off as a hitter and outfielder,’’ said the 5-foot-6, 125-pound Maloof, who won 13 games her freshman season while leading the Pernmen with a .368 average on 60 hits.

A superb ice hockey player who also lettered in cross country in high school, Maloof compiled a 35-4 record, 0.58 ERA, and a .488 batting average in four seasons at Norwood High.

Her brother, Michael, a former Norwood High golf captain, is a 2011 Southern New Hampshire graduate.

“Ali’s success in college doesn’t surprise me. She was a great high school player with God-given speed, and I remember she learned how to throw the rise ball in about 45 minutes,’’ said Norwood High softball coach Carol Savino, who also coached Maloof with the Mass. Drifters fast pitch club program.

“She knew what she wanted for her softball future, and she made the right decision.’’

Maloof became intrigued with pitching at age 11 and was tutored by former Norwood High star Jackie Demling, a Division 3 All-American at Wheaton College.

“I’ve also developed a screwball to go with the rise ball and they’re my go-to pitches, but you also need great defense to be successful and ours was phenomenal,’’ said Maloof, who plans to return to the Mass. Drifters U-23 team this summer.

“I still can’t believe I was Pitcher of the Year, and it’s given me even more reason to want to live up to that honor and do even better next year.’’

Maloof, who cracked out two doubles and 10 triples this season, said her hitting philosophy is simple: Keeping her eye on the ball, her head steady, and going with the pitch.

She said her eye-hand coordination skills, honed as a center on the ice, has made her a better softball player.

“I remember when I first started skating at age four I liked to race other skaters. I’ve always been a competitor,’’ said Maloof.

Her teammates at SNHU included senior captains Kelsea Cheney (Abington High), a NE-10 third pick who hit .328 with 9 doubles and set the school record for career hits, and Kate Stanley of Kingston (Silver Lake), whose school-record 35 homers included 12 this spring. She also had a .573 slugging percentage.

Also on the roster are sophomore pitcher Rebecca Sherwood (Braintree High), who appeared in 10 games; junior outfielder Natalie Metta (Norwood High), who played in 22 games and batted .429 (6-for-14), and senior outfielder Nicole Newell of Abington (South Shore Regional), who saw action in 25 games.

“Having Kelsea and Kate hitting back-to-back was like the Red Sox having David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez,’’ said Robitaille, the NE-10 Coach of the Year.

“Kelsea played the best second base I’ve seen in my eight years here. She made one error the entire season, and even that was questionable. She was a great leader.

“Kate was a threat to hit the ball over the fence every time she stepped to the plate. She was our shortstop the last two years and showed her teammates how to play the game the right way.’’

Robitaille said Sherwood was ready for any pitching situation, Newell was a great role model for her younger players, and Metta provided solid outfield defense and was used often as a pinch runner.

Lauretto to coach
in summer league

Pembroke native Anthony Lauretto, assistant baseball coach and pitching coach at Newbury College in Brookline, has been named assistant coach for the expansion Plymouth Pilgrims of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.

Lauretto, a standout relief pitcher at University of Massachusetts Boston and president of the first graduating class at Pembroke High in 2005, joins the staff of Pilgrims head coach Greg Zackrison, an assistant coach at Massasoit Community College.

The Pilgrims open their home season June 7 at Forges Field at 6:30 p.m. against the Mystic Schooners. Plymouth’s roster includes Stonehill College infielder Dan Fratus , a Plymouth North graduate, and University of Hartford catcher James Alfonso, who attended Bridgewater-Raynham High.

“It’s pretty exciting, and I know the community is ready for summer baseball,’’ said Lauretto, who played six summer seasons with Mass. Envelope in the Boston Park League.

Bentley’s Stoddard wins golf honor

Bentley University sophomore Jon Stoddard (Duxbury High) was named Northeast-10 Golf Rookie of the Week after an impressive outing in the East/Atlantic Regional last week. He was fifth among NE-10 golfers and 39th overall in the three-day event with rounds of 82-75-75.

Marvin Pave can be reached at marvin.pave@rcn.com.
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