James Roche shines for Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce baseball coach Jayson King knew he was adding a talented player when James Roche, a .324 career hitter at Northeast-10 Conference rival Bentley, decided to play his final college season as a grad student with the Ravens.
“We saw what he could do in our conference games against Bentley,’’ King said of the Arlington High graduate. “Well, we got everything we expected, and a lot more.'’’
Elected captain even though he was a newcomer, the right-handed hitting Roche set a program record with 17 homers, hit a career-high .361, and led the Ravens with 61 runs batted in.
His performance helped Franklin Pierce finish 38-19-1, tied for NE-10’s Northeast Division title, and advance to the NCAA Division 2 regional semifinals.
Roche was named to three postseason all-star teams, was the consensus East Region Player of the Year, the NE-10 Player of the Year, and also received a regional Gold Glove Award from the American Baseball Coaches Association.
“It was a tough decision to leave Bentley and my teammates, but I wanted to enhance my chances of playing in the NCAA’s and of being drafted,’’ said the 6-foot-3, 205-pound center fielder, who also chipped in with 57 runs, 22 stolen bases, 19 doubles, and a .661 slugging percentage.
The former three-sport standout at Arlington High has a good chance of being selected in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft Monday, according to his coach.
“I think he'll do well as a pro,’’ said King, who starred on the diamond at Framingham State. “He hit some majestic homers for us and he got better as the season progressed.’’
Roche’s walk-off, two-run homer April 3 lifted Franklin Pierce to a 6-5 victory over Southern New Hampshire, leading to his selection as the NE-10's Player of the Week.
“It’s definitely my goal to play at the next level,’’ said Roche. “All I want is that one shot.’’
steps up for Trinity
Trinity College’s Midge Daniel described last weekend’s NCAA Division 3 women’s lacrosse championships as the “the best 48 hours of my life.”
The sophomore from Wellesley is usually the first defender off the bench for coach Kate Livesay, but, pressed into a starting role before the tournament, she helped lead the Bantams to their first national championship.
A lacrosse and soccer captain at Wellesley High, Daniel stood tall in five tourney games — victories over Bridgewater State (16-1) and Buffalo State (17-6) in the first two rounds, and Colby (7-5) in the Elite 8 before Trinity knocked off second-ranked Cortland (7-5) and top-ranked Salisbury (8-7), respectively, in the semifinal round and the final, held at Montclair State.
“I wasn’t expecting to start, but I was ready because we play a zone defense as a unit and I had confidence in my teammates,’’ said Daniel, also a backup goalie on the soccer team the past two seasons who will study this fall in Spain, at the University of Barcelona.
“My job was to defense the crease and pressure the ball behind the net and also transition out of our defense.’’
It was a job well done, according to Livesay, whose fifth-ranked team finished 21-1 while also winning the regular-season and tournament titles in the New England Small College Athletic Conference.
“I don’t sub defenders in very often, so Midge’s playing time was limited,’’ said Livesay. “She had a chance to get comfortable at her position against Bridgewater, then she did an unbelievable job against Buffalo State because of her strength and athleticism. Midge’s stick skills have been evolving, and her confidence and competitiveness just grew.’’
Daniel said her team’s milestone accomplishment “hasn't hit me completely. It was just an amazing experience.’’
honored at Maritime
When Belmont's Holly McLaughlin was a freshman at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the women’s softball program was forced to suspend play for the season because of a lack of numbers.
“I was determined not to have what happened ever happen again,’’ recalled McLaughlin, who was honored earlier this month as the school’s Female Athlete of the Year.
McLaughlin was named an All-Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference pick as a sophomore, and was a Buccaneers’ softball cocaptain the past two seasons.
“All of us, teammates and coaches alike, have worked extremely hard and I know that the program will continue to grow,’’ said McLaughin, part of a female student body at the academy that numbers slightly more than 100, with about 60 percent participation in at least one varsity sport.
The Belmont High graduate was a .292 career hitter who played the majority of her games at third base.
But she moved in behind the plate with 20 games remaining after the starting catcher suffered a season-ending injury.
“It may be a cliché to say that someone leads by example,’’ said head coach Lindsay DeStefano. “But Holly truly did that throughout her career.’’