The Norwood High baseball team was the 10th seed in the Division 1 South tourney, the Mustangs’ 10-10 regular-season mark matched by the 11th and final seed, Barnstable.
Not exactly a position of strength, especially in view of their 1-6 mark over the final seven games of the regular season.
But at the very least, the tournament offered a fresh start.
“I think we were 9-4 at one point, we realized we were going to get into tournament, we lost focus for the last 6, 7 games,” said junior lefthander Sean Mellen. “I think we just all realized what was ahead of us, we realized we want to get back to where we were last year,” when Norwood reached the state final, “and we knew we had the talent to do it.”
First, the Mustangs took down seventh seed New Bedford, 5-2, then number two seed Silver Lake Regional, 2-1, setting up a showdown with Bay State Conference rival Walpole, “an opponent we wanted to have,” said Norwood coach Kevin Igoe.
The Walpole squad had crushed Norwood, 7-0, three weeks earlier.
Behind a complete game shutout from pitcher John Ryan, and a revitalized lineup, the Mustangs blanked Walpole, 4-0, “giving us confidence moving forward,” noted Igoe.
“Walpole is really tough to beat,” said Ryan, who will play baseball at Nichols College next spring.
“Them being our rival, that always gets the intensity up at the beginning. Once we play Walpole the games mean a lot to us, and we always want to beat them.”
And from there, the Mustangs continued to receive stellar pitching.
Appearing in five of Norwood’s six postseason games, Mellen was 3-0.
In the state final, Mellen went the distance in an 8-1 win over St. Peter- Marian, fanning 14 in a 118-pitch effort. It is a performance that will resonate with the Mustang faithful for quite some time.
“Everyone wants to play and pitch in that game and I was lucky enough to pitch, so that was the best memory I had throughout the tournament,” said Mellen.
“It’s definitely a good feeling because we had a good crowd supporting us all the way, they went out and supported us all tournament long; we didn’t want to disappoint them.”
Braintree High takes Super 8 championship
In the inaugural Super 8 baseball tourney a year ago, Braintree High took a less-than-ideal route to the title game. The Wamps lost their opener to Silver Lake Regional, dropping into the losers bracket.
So when Braintree defeated St. John’s High in this year’s opener, 7-3, coach Bill O’Connell pegged the victory over the Shrewsbury school as the defining moment for his squad.
“We felt they were a very talented team, and had a very good pitching staff,” said O’Connell.
“We took that as a huge confidence builder, beating them at home. The first game is most important, getting in the winning bracket.
“We really felt like we could do this thing, we’re a good team and can play with the big boys. That propelled us into Bridgewater-Raynham and we played very well” for the rest of the tournament, O’Connell said.
Four more wins, culminating with a 7-2 win over St. John’s Prep at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton on June 18, and the Wamps were the Division 1A state champions.
Middleborough wins Division 2 baseball crown
The Middleborough High baseball team certainly had a flair for the dramat
After securing a first-round bye as the second seed in the Division 2 South bracket, the Sachems ripped off four consecutive walkoff wins — against Milford, Oliver Ames, Nauset Regional, and Medfield — in the sectional tourney en route to the state title, courtesy of their 4-3 win over Danvers on June 18.
Three walkoffs into the improbable run, Middleborough (21-4) trailed Medfield, 8-0, after two innings in the South final.
After clawing back to a four-run deficit, senior Cody Braga stepped to the plate with a runner on and crushed a home run to left field that not only cut the lead in half, but sparked an eventual 9-8 win.
“That at-bat is still kind of a blur,” said Braga. “It opened a light for our team to give us more confidence to keep going for it.
“The game was important because it proved to us if we can come back down 8-0, we can come back from anything and to keep our head up.”
Bill Lawrence said Braga has been “our leader all season long.
“When he hit it we said ‘Oh God, here we go, back in this.’ ”
Norwell High girls take Division 2 lacrosse title
From the start of the season, the Norwell High girls’ lacrosse team was not lacking in motivation.
Their season-ending loss to Newburyport in last year’s state semifinals was a sore spot. And an 11-7 loss to Medfield on May 2 did not sit well either.
But in a rematch against Medfield in this spring’s state semifinals, the Clippers (18-5) rode six goals from Caroline Walsh and three more from Stephanie Croke to a 14-9 victory.
Three days later, Norwell toppled Groton-Dunstable Regional, 16-7, for the Division 2 state title in a game played at Harvard University.
“For the seniors and juniors it was a difficult way to leave tournament last year . . . so abruptly,” said Norwell’s coach, Kara Connerty.
“To not reach that final game last year, which we wanted to do, and then the Medfield competition” on top of that, Connerty said, “we talk about peaking in tournament all season, it showed how much we improved since we faced Medfield earlier on.”
These student-athletes were stellar in their state tournaments:
► Maddy Barone , Silver Lake: The junior ace was 5-1 in the Lakers’ run to the Division 1 softball state final against St. Peter-Marian, fanning 48 batters in 46 innings while allowing 12 earned runs. She finished the season 22-3.
► Christian Bean , Middleborough: A shutdown reliever, he pocketed four wins in the Sachems’ march to the Division 2 baseball state title. He also delivered the first of the team’s four walkoff wins in the first round against Milford.
► Scott Creedon , Braintree: The junior emerged as the ace of the staff during the season and was in 2-0 in the Super 8. In the finale against St. John’s Prep, he went the distance, allowing two runs in a 7-2 win.
► Stephanie Croke , Norwell: The junior netted 23 goals in five lacrosse tourney games as the Clippers captured the Division 2 state title. She paired up with senior Caroline Walsh for 47 of Norwell’s 77 goals in the postseason.
► Emma Davis , Cohasset: The Wake Forest-bound senior defeated Amherst Regional’s Allison McCann 6-4, 6-4 to become the first tennis athlete in state history to win four individual titles. Davis ended her high school career undefeated, 84-0.
Joshua Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.