Girls’ softball teams to watch
(Listed with final 2011 record)
1. King Philip (26-0): The Warriors are gunning for their third straight Division 1 state title behind a loaded senior class: pitchers Meg Rico (committed to George Washington) and Meg Carnase (Colgate) have a stellar batterymate in catcher Olivia Godin (UMass). In the field, shortstop Alyssa Siegmann (Harvard) and first baseman Cayleigh McCarthy (Stonehill) are solid.
2. Milford (21-2): Junior pitcher Shannon Smith, who has already committed to the University of Kentucky, is talented enough to help carry the Hawks as they fight injuries early in the season.
3. Acton-Boxborough (19-6): Senior tri-captains Sarah Ropiak, Maddie Hatch, and Nicole Geoffrion are determined to lead a deep postseason run after the Colonials captured their first Division 1 North title last season.
4. Hopkinton (22-3): The Hillers have a new coach (Jeff Kearney) and feature six seniors who were on last year’s squad that advanced to the Division 2 state semifinals, including Holy Cross-bound outfielder Emily Jarvis, pitcher Nicole Mellor, and shortstop Jaclyn Foisy .
5. Concord-Carlisle (18-4): The Patriots were young when they were ousted in the Division 1 North quarterfinals last year, but coach Lisa McGloin has an ace in junior Galen Kerr.
6. Hudson (19-3): Junior southpaw Jurnee Ware can be nearly untouchable in the circle, as she showed when she recorded her 400th career strikeout, hurling the first perfect game of her career last week against Gardner.
7. Shrewsbury (16-6): Featuring seniors Danielle Deraney and Michaela Hummer at the top of its lineup, Phil Chevalier’s squad can score runs in bunches.
8. Holliston (14-7): Senior captain Molly Blake is a dual threat in the circle and the batter’s box, while junior outfielder Lindy Kyger is back to provide pop to the Panthers’ lineup.
9. Bellingham (17-5): Sophomore standout Meghan Cook will have her fingerprints all over the Blackhawks’ success after gaining valuable experience in the circle last year for coach Dennis Baker .
10. Franklin (10-9): The Panthers are young but could make some noise behind sophomore ace Elizabeth Criscione, who held King Philip scoreless for six innings in the season opener before falling, 4-0.
Other players to watch
Taylor Archer, Milford: The senior catcher, a University of Rhode Island recruit, will be a force in the batter’s box as soon as she returns from an ankle sprain.
Leah Flanigan, Ashland: The four-year starter at shortstop is one of the top infielders in the Tri-Valley League and will help ease the transition for first-year head coach Brian Richards.
Lexi Gifford, Natick: The senior three-sport star (soccer, basketball, softball) can play anywhere and will anchor the lineup for the Red and Blue before heading off to the University of Connecticut in the fall.
Olivia Godin, King Philip: The University of Massachusetts Amherst-bound catcher has never missed a game in her four-year career and has helped the Warriors to back-to-back Division 1 state titles.
Galen Kerr, Concord-Carlisle: The junior hurler is dominant in the circle for the Patriots: she threw a five-inning perfect game against Newton South last week in a 12-0 win.
Compiled by Phil Perry