The Salem Blue Devil softball team appears to be right where they want to be going into the Class L tournament, which starts this Wednesday (June 3). The Blue Devils finished up at 15-4, which means that they will host the Nashua South Panthers this week as they finished with an 8-11 mark, which was good for the number 12 seed. Salem won their regular season game in runaway fashion with the Panthers and should probably be meeting the 15-4 Dover Green Wave who are seeded number four as they beat Salem in a dogfight, 2-1 at the Garrison City about two weeks ago
Manager Harold Sachs and his Salem softball girls got their bats going last week in their last two regular season games against a pair of .500 teams in Winnacunnet and Goffstown. Thursday afternoon the Blue Devils hosted the Grizzlies in their last regular season game and the visitors were able to grab an early 2-0 lead after three innings. Dominique Heres was the starter for Salem and she settled down and let her defense do the rest. The Blue Devils tied it up with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning when junior Amanda Vaudreuil singled and came home on a massive triple by freshman, Sarah Frahm. Frahm scored on Ashley Relf’s second single of the game and then the Blue Devils blew it open with 11 runs in the fifth and sixth inning to win it 13-2 in runaway fashion.
Earlier in the week, Harold Sachs brought his Blue Devil girls down to the beach at Hampton to face the 9-8 Winnacunnet Warriors and he used 16 different players, with junior hurler, Nora Galvin earning the victory by only allowing three Winnacunnet hits and one run. Julia Gray is hotter than a pistol at the plate in the last three weeks, but someone might be closing in, and that could be her freshman teammate, Sarah Frahm, who had another three hits in this game, scoring two runs and driving in a pair. Freshman centerfielder, Stephanie Long continues to kill the ball, as she wrapped out two hits and two RBIs, while Amanda Vaudreuil and Sarah Bracken each pounded out three hits. Sachs has always said he wanted his teams to be rising to the occasion when playoff time rolled around, and that’s exactly what he has with this young group right now. In a year where anyone of eight teams can legitimately win the whole thing, I like the Blue Devils’ chances the best, because they were all an angry bunch two weeks ago when they lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Sarah Morse up in Dover and I can’t see that happening again!
The Salem girls didn’t receive the same kind of good news on Saturday afternoon when they headed north for Concord for a semi-final match-up against the Crimson Tide, who they lost to in the regular season, 5-4 after leading 4-2 in singles, but were swept 3-0 in doubles. Coach Killipon said it was agonizing, because his club had just come out of one of the biggest upsets ever at Salem, when they beat Exeter in the opening round. Killion admitted, “Beating Exeter 5-4 was one of the three biggest upsets we’ve ever had in my 20 years of coaching, because I thought Exeter was a better team than us. Now we play at Concord and I know that we have the better team, but some of our players might not have had the needed rest that they would have had, because the Senior Prom was the night before the match, honestly, I think that hurt a little bit.” Salem and Concord were knotted up at 3-3 after singles play. After Andrea Rullo lost 1-8, sophomore Danica Blakslee worked extra hard for a 9-7 victory, before freshman Rachel Ward came through with a huge 8-5 win. Senior co-captain Caitlin Peters has almost been an automatic win all season long, but the number four Concord player, (who is almost a clone of Peters), was able to defeat Peters 8-6, even though their were a few questions about the scoring a couple of times in this contest. Cassie Hailson then lost a 3-8 set, but Breanna Edelstein won 8-5 to it in the hands of the three Blue Devil doubles teams. Peters and Hailson were strong in running away with an 8-1 decision, but Rullo and Ward came out on the short end of a 3-8 contest, while Blakslee and Julianna Blaisdell fell 4-8, giving the Crimson Tide the 5-4 win and sending them to the finals against Manchester Central, which they lost 5-1.
Two weeks ago the Exeter Blue Hawks’ girls tennis team left Griffen Park in Windham with a 6-3 win over coach Curt Killion’s Blue Devil girls and that left Salem with a 10-4 regular season mark and a number six seed heading into the Class L tournament. The win secured the number three seed for Exeter and gave them a nifty 12-2 record which had them hosting the number six seeded Blue Devils last Thursday indoors at Hampton. Killion’s Salem girls would shock the Blue Hawks with a 6-3 upset, (the same score Exeter beat them two weeks ago), and now the Blue Devils will take on number two Concord (12-2) next.
There were some drastic changes in the results from two weeks ago. And it all started with Salem sophomore Danica Blakslee facing Exeter’s number two singles player, Emily Meade, who beat Blakslee 8-3 two weeks ago. Danica played like a grizzled veteran in battling her way to an 8-6 over Meade, to tie the match at 1-1 when Exeter’s Beecher DiNapoli ran her unbeaten record to 15-0 on the season with a win over Angela Rullo. Salem freshman, Rachel Ward lost her number three singles contest 8-3 to Amber Evans in the middle of May, but Ward was barely edged 8-6 in a marathon of a contest to give the Blue Hawks a 2-1 edge. Now it was the captain’s turn to take things into her own hands, senior Caitlin Peters. As most of you know, Peters just began playing tennis last season, but she has been hell-bent on getting to the finals this spring and she defeated Clara Campbell 8-3 to tie everything up at 2-2. Coach Killion decided to switch things around a bit at number five and number six singles, and it obviously worked. Freshman Cassie Hailson stepped up to number five singles and had her biggest win ever when she beat Exeter’s Michelle Moreau 8-5, before Breanna Edelstein dealt Exeter a crushing blow by crushing Cara Covey 8-4, which gave coach Killion and the Blue Devil girls, a 4-2 lead heading into the three doubles contests. DiNapoli and Meade won the number one doubles set 8-1, but Blakslee and Ward, who lost 8-2 two weeks ago to Evans and Campbell pulled off the ultimate upset to win 8-3 and clinch the victory for the Blue Devils. Caitlin Peters and Cassie Hailson didn’t want to take any chances to their won their number three doubles set with an 8-2 bombing of Covey and Moreau and it was a very happy bus ride back to Salem for the Blue Devils and coach Curt Killion.
The defending Class L champion Salem Blue Devil boys tennis team, fell 6-3 to the Pinkerton Astros last weekend at Griffen Park in the quarter-finals. Pinkerton was able to take an early 4-0 cushion over Salem in the first four singles sets when Mark Mangini knocked off Joel Vastl 8-6, and Sam Eaton defeated Chris Correia 8-4, before Dan Kish blanked Brian Peltz 8-0, and Mike Soltys handled Jordan Faulconer 8-2. There was some slight hope for Salem though, as Nick Noshirwani made a tremendous comeback to take his set 9-8 and win the tie-breaker 7-3, and Nick Letizio then defeated his number six singles opponent 8-4. Now Salem only trailed 4-2 heading into doubles action, and they would need a sweep if they had any thoughts on making the dramatic comeback. The Astros Mangini and Eaton were able to beat the Salem duo of Vastl and Correia 8-4 to clinch the win that sends them to the semi-finals, as Faulconer and Mike Michakcyzk took an 8-4 win at number two doubles that gave the Pinkerton Astros the 6-3 victory.
Manager Dan Keleher was happy with the way his young Blue Devil team wrapped up their 2009 regular season with a nifty 5-4 come-from-behind win over defending Class L champion Goffstown last Saturday afternoon. Senior Josh Heil came through with another clutch hit when he singled home C. J. DeMarco and Jordan Estevez, with one out in the top of the seventh inning to give Salem a 5-4 lead. Junior hurler Darren Brown, (who came in in relief of starter Nick Poore in the last of the sixth inning), had to overcome two Salem errors in the last of the seventh when Goffstown had runners on first and third with only one out. Brown bore down and got a liner to leftfield for the second out, and earned the win when he got the last batter to fly out to right.
Goffstown took a 1-0 lead in the last of the third inning when Josh Lafond led off with a double off of Nick Poore and took second base on a wild pitch. With one out Poore walked the next batter but a sacrifice fly scored Lafond. Salem tied it up at 1-1 in the top of the fourth when Jordan Estevez led off with a walk, and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Matt Gioia, and moved to third on an infield ground out, but scored on Joe Morin’s single. Salem took the lead in the top of the fifth inning when Jordan Estevez singled in Shaun Yelle, and Matt Gioia singled in Connor McGuire for a 3-1 Blue Devil lead. Goffstown came back to knot the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly and an RBI double. The Grizzlies took a 4-3 lead in the last of the sixth inning on a leadoff double, a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt for a 4-3 lead, but Keleher’s boys answered the call, exactly like they will this Wednesday afternoon in the Class L opening round of the tournament when they’ll match up against the Timberlane Owls.
The Blue Devils started off last week with an 8-4 loss at home against the 9-9 Winnacunnet Warriors, but right-hander Jake Lambert definitely pitched well enough to win it. The Warriors grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning and made it 3-0 in the fourth inning before Salem got on the scoreboard, when Shaun Yelle singled home Matt Gioia. Winnacunnet then got a three-run homer by Matt Crane with two outs in the top of the fifth inning and this one really hurt. Darren Brown singled home C. J. DeMarco in the last of the fifth inning to make it a 6-2 game, but the Warriors added a pair of runs in the top of the seventh to now lead 8-2. Darren Brown doubled with two out in the seventh inning, and Joe Morin doubled Brown home. Sophomore catcher, Josh Treff then doubles Morin home, but that was the extent of the late inning magic, and the Blue Devils went down 8-4.