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Unbeaten Greater New Bedford softball’s veterans have championship aspirations on their minds

Greater New Bedford senior catcher Lena Tsonis is hitting at a .481 clip with six home runs and 24 RBIs.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

When Lena Tsonis dug into the batter’s box in a South Coast Conference showdown against Dighton-Rehoboth, the Greater New Bedford Voc Tech senior was determined to deliver a big hit.

Tsonis launched a go-ahead two-run homer in a 7-5 victory.

“Before that hit I didn’t have much on my mind,” said Tsonis, a hard-hitting catcher. “I knew in that moment I had to produce because I’m a senior.”

The dramatic comeback was a measuring stick win for GNB, which was eliminated in the Division 2 South semifinals by D-R last June.

“I told the girls at the beginning of this year to remember that loss and that we will know that we will have to go through them to go further in the tournament, " said Greater New Bedford second-year coach Craig Soares.


Led by Tsonis and fellow seniors Madison Medeiros and Kylee Caetano, the ninth-ranked Bears have found their footing after the 2021 COVID-abbreviated season with a flourishing 15-0 start.

“I’m not a believer in having captains,” said Soares. “Everyone is equal but we try to get the seniors to take charge and they have.”

The three seniors have stepped into their larger roles without missing a step. Medeiros owns a 14-0 record in the circle, posting a 1.97 ERA and 165 strikeouts.

The Bears’ ace credits the presence of Tsonis behind the plate and Caetano at shortstop in contributing to her success.

“I’m grateful I have Lena catching for me, I have confidence in her knowledge and her ability to frame my pitches and Kylee is like a vacuum at shortstop,” said Medeiros. “They are both big hitters and I have confidence in them, especially in clutch situations.”

The leadership group has helped ease the transition period for Soares, who coached the junior varsity program for eight years before his promotion to the varsity position last year.


“They’ve stepped up and understand that everyone on the team has a role to play and everyone is here to give 100 percent effort,” said Soares, who is a member of the school’s athletic hall of fame.

Soares, who played on three ASA men’s modified fastpitch softball national championship teams in the 1990s, started as a JV baseball coach before switching to softball in 2013.

“The biggest difference between playing baseball and softball is hitting,” Soares said. “You have to understand that in baseball the ball is coming in overhand but in softball you have to focus on keeping your hands on top of the ball because that ball is coming up on you.”

Soares’s experience playing softball at a competitive level seems to have had a positive influence on the Bears at the plate: Caetano is batting .661 with 39 hits, four home runs and 23 RBIs and Tsonis is at .481 with six home runs and 24 RBIs.

Those senior leaders believe GNB has what it takes to make a run in the realigned MIAA Division 3 statewide tournament.

“That win over D-R was very important for us,” said Caetano. “It gave us the motivation to want to keep winning and it really showed us that we can beat any team and come back from any deficit.”

Madison Medeiros (2) is unbeaten in the circle for Greater New Bedford.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe
Kylee Caetano (9), celebrating with teammate Gabriella Consoli (12) after they both scores against Fairhaven, has a sizzling .661 average.Matthew Healey for The Boston Globe

Extra bases

Tony Pina has presided over a state finalist team in 2014 and unbeaten teams that advance to the South finals in 2016 and 2017.


In his eyes, this year’s Silver Lake team is the most balanced team he has coached in seven seasons.

The No. 10 Lakers (12-1) have reeled off 10 straight wins, outscoring opponents by 9.6 runs per game. Behind strong pitching from senior captain Caroline Peterson and an offense hitting at a .400 clip, the Lakers have found success, but are far from content.

“I still think we’re trending up in how we do things,” said Pina. “Every game, the team finds new ways to impress me. It’s nice to know that they’re drinking the Kool-Aid, so to speak, and can see their efforts translate into tangible and measurable things.”

Freshman Madyson Bryan (.500 average) leads Silver Lake in homers (4) and RBIs (28). Freshman shortstop Delaney Moquin is at .400, with 17 RBIs. A pair of returning starters, senior second baseman Jayme Carr and sophomore third baseman Samantha Waters lead off, both are hitting over .500, with 18 RBIs apiece.

“We really focus on the small things, the little things that add up,” said Pina. “Our mental approach to our at bats and even within at bats, finding yourself in a position where you can get an advantage and not battle from behind.”

▪ Concord-Carlisle coach Lisa McGloin earned her 400th career win Thursday, a 8-2 Dual County League win over Wayland.

▪ Amesbury (11-0), Greater New Bedford (15-0), and Sturgis East (8-0) remain the three teams without a loss in Eastern Massachusetts.

Games of the week

Beverly at No. 6 Peabody, Wednesday, 4 p.m. — The upstart Panthers (8-2), led by Jazmine Sullivan, look to snap the nine game winning streak of the Tanners (9-1) and close the gap in the Northeastern Conference North Division.


Hingham at No. 10 Silver Lake, Thursday, 4 p.m — The Harborwomen (8-1) earned their first win in program history over the Lakers (12-1) with a 13-8 victory on April 12. Both teams enter the Patriot League Keenan Division contest with one loss and each offense averages over 12 runs per game.

No. 20 Somerset Berkley at No. 9 Greater New Bedford, Friday, 3:45 p.m. — The top two teams in the South Coast Conference face off for a second time. The Bears (15-0) won 6-3 on April 25, as Kylee Caetano finished 4 for 4 with two RBIs to lead the way.

No. 17 Abington at No. 18 Walpole, Friday, 4 p.m. — Nonleague foes clash for the second time, as the Timberwolves (9-1) look to avenge a 3-2 loss on April 22 at the hands of the Green Wave (9-1). Gaby Hockney’s game-winning RBI proved to be the difference in the first meeting.

Newton North at No. 13 Reading, Saturday, 10 a.m. — Ella Maher leads the Tigers (9-3) into a nonleague contest with the No. 13 Rockets (12-2). Spearheaded by Jackie Malley and Analiese Grady, the Rockets have outscored opponents by 11.4 runs per game this season.

Colin Bannen can be reached at colin.bannen@globe.com.