Salem basketball’s version of the “Jones and Kimball Era” ended a week and a half ago when the 17-3 Blue Devils were edged by Manchester Memorial at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) in the Class L semi-final 49-41. Perry told a crowded Davis Gymnasium last Monday night, “This will be very strange next December 1 when I come out for the first practice and there won’t be a Jones on the court. Between Jason, Jeremy, and Josh, I’ve coached at least one Jones for nine of 11 years here and it’s gonna feel strange. We took two Class L titles with Josh and Mike Kimball, and we thought we had a real good chance for a third one this year. Sean Bergeron and Mark Adamson came on like gangbusters at the end of the year, and especially Bergeron gave us that big man underneath to battle under the boards when we weren’t hitting our outside shots. We’re also going to miss senior guard, Sammy Shields. Most of the time I’d have Sam guarding the other teams’ top guard and Sam would come up with big stops or pick their pockets and get a lay-up the other way. It was our team motto “ Share The Ball,” and they did a super job of it. Meme Okeke is a senior that saw limited time, but he knew his role and was always there every day playing his butt off in practice to make all the starters batter.”
Salem will have their playmaker back as coach Perry thinks that junior guard, Alex LaRosa, will be one of the tops in Class L next year. Salem will also have sophomore forward, Joe Gallant back, and Perry gave Gallant the Most Improved trophy Monday because he just kept getting better and tougher every time Perry called on him, and especially at the end of the season. Junior Jason Kinney will be counted on next year to help Gallant bang the big boys under the hoop, and Jason will be seeing plenty of action during the summer Hoops for Hope League in Lawrence. Perry will have sophomore Matt Cannon coming back and probably starting as a small forward, and Salem will have junior forward, Kyle Henrick back helping out underneath, too. Perry will also have three very capable guards in juniors Tyler Hutchinson, Marcus Baldwin, and Dan Tiner. Hutchinson and Baldwin showed that tough defense is their strongest point, and Tiner could hit the three when given the opportunity. While coach Perry won’t have Josh Jones or Mike Kimball around for the first time in five years, he’s had two super ball players in LaRosa and Gallant to build around, and another trip to UNH is always a possibility when where talking Blue Devil basketball, because they take pride in working harder than any other team. Finally to coach Perry, Coach Roz says 5 a.m. practices on Saturdays are a no-go!
Coach Harold Sachs took 20 of his Blue Devil softball girls down to Taunton last Saturday for three scrimmages against Taunton, Coyle-Cassidy, and Dighton/Rehoboth for their first competition of the season. Sachs said, “Well, they hit us pretty hard. But they’ve been out for two weeks and we just got started this week. They also pitch from a rubber at 43 feet, and our girls aren’t used to that as we still pitch at 40 feet in New Hampshire, but we got five pitchers some work and got to see a little of what we have and what we need to get better at.” This past weekend coach Sachs and his Blue Devil girls got all bundled up and went over to Pinkerton for a three-way scrimmage with powerhouse Concord, Spaulding, and the Astros. There wasn’t a heckuva lot of hitting going on this day as the winds were chilly and swirling which gave the outfielders a lot of problem. The Blue Devils got behind 3-0 after two innings to Concord, and started hitting the ball in the last three innings, but they came up short to the Crimson Tide by a score of 3-2. Junior Nora Galvin started the second game against Spaulding and looked very good in holding them to one run, and Salem was able to tie it at 1-1 when sophomore Steph Cabral, Geena Terino, Amanda Vaudreuil, and Julia Gray combined to tie the score, and that’s the way it ended. Senior catcher Erica DiPinto will be a solid backstop for the Blue Devils this season, and the Blue Devils outfield that had Julia Gray, Ashley Relf, Geena Terino, Jenna Lapidula, Jade Morrison, and Beth Storie did a very nice job considering the swirling winds on the day that finished with wind-blown rain in the final game against Pinkerton.
Harold Sachs took this team to the Class L finals last June, searching for their third title in a row and ninth in 11 years, but they were edged out by Timberlane in a very close 1-0 game. The Blue Devils have three pitchers that should be in the rotation in senior Dominque Heres, junior Nora Galvin, and sophomore Stephanie Cabral, who went a combined 11-0 last season, but Sachs has also liked what he’s seen from sophomore Valerie Bauer in her short time on the mound, and freshman Brittany Hall is going to be heard from a lot over the next four years. Besides pitching, Galvin has looked pretty good over at first base, as has Julia Gray and junior Amanda Vaudreuil. Vaudreuil had also shown that she came play shortstop and be a good back-up for senior Jen Cabral because whoever catches the hot bats for Salem early will probably be in the lineup. Another underclassman who got red hot in the last of the season last year was sophomore Sarah Bracken, as she always gets her bat on the ball and is a speedy and smart base runner. Not-so-surprisingly is the fine work in the field and at the plate by freshman Sarah Frahm. Sarah has been seeing time at second base, shortstop, and at third, because coach Sachs always loves to have his varsity players play multiple positions, and Frahm should be a crackerjack in the Blue Devil infield. Sachs and the Blue Devils will kick off their 2009 season on Wednesday, April 15 when they’ll travel to Manchester West to take on the Blue Knights.
Manager Dan Keleher will only have two players returning from last year’s baseball team who went to the Class L championship game, but came up one run short to Goffstown. Keleher had a starter and two more kids who chose not to come out for the team this year, but he says, “We’ve got a lot of hungry underclassmen off the J.V. and freshmen team that are taking advantage of the opportunity.” This group is made up of mostly kids who played for coach Bobby Larsen on the J. V. team, and who all played together during summer ball. There are 18 kids who will be making up the varsity roster and all of them are going to get several big chances to show the coaches what they have, as the Blue Devils are scheduled to host Merrimack Valley, Bishop Guertin, Londonderry, and Sanford, Maine this week in scrimmages, and all are at Salem High School. These four contests will give Dan Keleher a clearer picture of what he can send out on the field to start the Class L season next Wednesday, April 15 when the Manchester West Blue Knights come to town for a 4 p.m. game.
The two kids who saw varsity action last spring were shortstop Josh Heil and catcher Josh Treff, who is only a sophomore. Both will be integral parts of this team this spring. Keleher has his eyes on three starting pitchers to start with another couple of kids waiting for their chance to hurl for the Blue Devils. Darren Brown will be one of those pitchers, as the hard throwing righty also plays the outfield and possesses a hot bat. Nick Poore is a talented lefty who can also play left field and more than hold his own at the plate. Jake Lambert got an inning of relief work for the varsity last spring, and he should be one of Salem’s big starters this season. Two other players who will be in the line-up and may do some pitching are junior Jared Scali and sophomore Matt Cannone. Keleher also has liked what he’s seen from infielder Sam Fazioli, with the glove and at the plate. One of Salem’s fastest players only played freshmen ball last spring, but outfielder Brandon Dunn is a flash on the base paths, possesses a strong arm, and has very quick hands, according to his coach. Two very good ball players could be battling it out for second base, as Connor McGuire and Matt Gioia are going to be contributing to the team’s success in one way or another. Jordan Estevez will be seen a lot at shortstop and has very good speed, and the Blue Devils will also be using junior Shaun Yelle and C. J. DeMarco any chance they get. Steve Day and Jimmy McCarty can play both the infield and the outfield, and McCarthy is a lefty pitcher if Keleher should need him. Jerry Acosta and Mike Patane will round out the Blue Devils varsity roster as both should be available for pitching from the bullpen.
With a very young team like this, I asked coach Keleher if he would be happy if the team started off at 5-5 and then got stronger as the season grew old, but he said, “We may have our growing pains early, but most of these kids all played together for coach Larson last year and it’s just a step up. I will say that 5-5 after the first ten games would be unacceptable because we believe they have a lot of talent between them and we want to see that as quick as possible.”
On March 15 the strong Level 5 girls gymnastics team from Windham’s Gym-Ken Gymnastics took third place honors at the State Championship meet. Competing against more than 80 girls from 15 gyms from across the state, the local team made a strong showing.
“The girls have worked very hard this year and the coaches have been so proud of them,” said head coach Ruth Licata, of Windham. “We’re really looking forward to our next season with such a strong team.”
In order to compete at the state level, each girl must achieve a score of 33.0 or above on one of two state sectional meets. All five of Gym-Ken’s Level 5 girls made the grade at the first sectional.
In the state championship team competitions, scores are tallied by taking the top three scores from each team for each event - vault, bars, beam, and floor - and coming up with a grand total.
For the team to take third place, in field of 15, with only five teammates to pull scores from is an amazing feat, Licata added. “They should be proud of their efforts and all their successes this year.”
11-12-year-old age group, from a field of 26 competitors:
Madison MacPhee of Salem, first place on vault with a score of 8.85; third place on bars with a score of 9.1; Second place on beam with a score of 9.125; third place on floor with a score of 9.150; and first place in the all-around with a score of 36.225.
Lindsay Maffei of Windham, fourth place on vault with a score of 8.600; bars 8.300, beam 8.675, floor 8.925 and all around 34.500 for a ninth place win.
10-year-old age group, from a field of 30 competitors:
Erica Muse of Salem, vault 8.900 for a third place win, bars 8.950, beam 8.375, floor 8.850 and an all-around score of 35.075 for 16th place.
The girls at Voters Gymnastics recently competed in the USAG State Meet for Levels 4, 5, and 6 in Bow.
Level 4’s Gina DiZazzo (Salem), Skyler Endyke (Londonderry), and Cassidy Corbett placed ninth on vault, fifth on beam, and eighth on floor in her age level.
Level 5’s Katarina Birch (Pelham) placed 11th on beam and second on bars in her age level. Arianna Getty (Pelham) placed eighth on floor and 12th on beam in her age level.
Congratulations girls on a terrific competing season!