Travers’s bat, defense leads Norwich softball
The arrival of Whitman’s Kelly Travers at Norwich University in Vermont and the resurgence of the women’s softball program go hand in glove.
The sophomore center fielder was batting .352 for the Cadets and had already equaled last season’s total of 23 runs batted in earlier this week.
“Kelly is an extraordinary young woman, on and off the field and a team leader,’’ said Norwich head coach Greg McGrath, whose squad reeled off a school record 19-game winning streak that ended with a doubleheader loss to the Hartford-based University of St. Joseph last weekend.
Travers, who bats from the left side, helped Norwich rebound on Monday by going 3 for 7 with three RBIs in a doubleheader sweep of Rivier University that clinched a Great Northeast Athletic Conference playoff berth.
Norwich is 22-7 overall and 17-3 in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference going into Saturday’s home doubleheader against St. Joseph’s College of Maine.
“Kelly swings with a combination of power and contact and can go the opposite way, and if she gets her pitch she can turn on it,’’ said McGrath of the former Whitman-Hanson Regional High girls’ ice hockey and softball captain. “Defensively, she has good speed and a long reach and can track down a fly ball. Our pitchers have confidence in her when the ball is hit her way.’’
Travers, who also flashed a quick glove during her four varsity seasons as goalie for the Whitman-Hanson/Pembroke co-op team, first thought about attending Norwich at the suggestion of her high school hockey coach, Chris Googins , a Braintree native who played left wing for the Cadets men’s team in the late 1980s.
“I was hoping to play hockey at Norwich and had a brief tryout as a walk-on, but softball seemed a better fit and I contacted coach McGrath,’’ said Travers, whose numerous honors in high school included the Outstanding Female Athlete Award, selection as a league all-star in both sports, and a girls’ hockey MVP when she led her team to the state Division 2 final at the TD Garden her sophomore season.
Introduced to softball as a 5-year-old, Travers played second base and then shortstop for Whitman-Hanson coach Sandy Lombardi, but was moved to the outfield out of necessity by McGrath.
“I love it. It’s a rush when the ball gets hit to you,’’ said Travers, who further honed her defensive skills last summer as an outfielder with the Braintree-based Bay State Thunder, a girls’ fast pitch travel and tournament team. “I feel a lot of responsibility at the position and I’m always anticipating how plays could develop in front of me.’’
Last season, when Norwich went 21-16 overall and qualified for the conference playoffs with a 15-11 record, Travers led the Cadets in seven offensive categories including average (.372), homers (7), slugging percentage (.673), and RBIs.
She was a second-team GNAC pick and was named her team’s offensive MVP and co-Rookie of the Year.
Opposing hurlers, now aware of her hitting prowess, have tended to pitch around Travers this season, so she has adapted to a more patient approach at the plate.
“She just waits for a better pitch,’’ said McGrath, “and it’s paying off.’’
Travers, who still skates in the summer with friends, played in the Whitman-Hanson/Pembroke alumni game with her “dream team’’ buddies from the Division 2 state finalist team.
It was like old times for Travers, who once made 54 saves vs. Duxbury High: the alums emerged victorious.
Westwood’s Kucher is NEWMAC top player
There may not be a hotter hitter in college baseball than Babson College senior third baseman Chris Kucher of Westwood, whose selection as New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Player of the Week was a prelude to additional offensive fireworks.
Kucher received the honor after hitting .522 over six games. He proceeded to hit a pair of homers and had a career-high and program-record-tying seven RBIs Tuesday in a 16-10 victory at Curry College. Teammates Trevor Boyce, a senior from Canton, and Joe Zanca, a sophomore from Braintree, added to the barrage: Boyce went 5-for-6 with two RBIs, while Zanca added two hits and three RBIs.
Through 28 games, Kucher was leading the Beavers with a .433 batting average and had a .673 slugging percentage.
Seavey to be inducted into SID hall of fame
Jim Seavey, director of sports information at Massachusetts Maritime Academy and a Bridgewater resident, will be inducted into the College Sports Information Directors of America Hall of Fame June 13 in Orlando, Fla. On June 6, he will receive the Eastern College Athletic Conference/Sports Information Directors Association’s Irving T. Marsh Award for excellence in his field. That ceremony will be held at the Radisson Downtown Hotel in Manchester, N.H.
A 1986 graduate of Marquette University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Seavey came to Massachusetts Maritime in July 2008. He had served in various athletic communications roles at three NCAA Division 2 schools, including nine years as associate director of athletics for external affairs and communications at Stonehill College in Easton.
For the third straight week, Bentley University senior Caitlin Fahey of Bridgewater has been selected Northeast-10 Conference Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week. Last weekend, at the Wildcat Invitational at the University of New Hampshire, she finished first in the 800 meters with a personal best 2:11.28, putting her ninth on the NCAA Division 2 performance list. . . . Bridgewater State University junior Laura McHugh of Mansfield was chosen Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week. She won the 200-meter dash at the Eastern Connecticut State University Invitational and ran on two winning relay teams.
Marvin Pave can be reached at email@example.com