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H.S. Baseball/Softball: Hopkinton right back to work

By JOE DUBALL and ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 19. 2018 11:47PM
Hopkinton High's Sam Crawford, shown last season, is off to a strong start. (BRUCE TAYLOR/UNION LEADER)



The consensus opinion among high school baseball coaches is you can never have enough pitching. It’s important for NHIAA teams as they consider pitch count rules and their schedules.

Many teams appear up to the developmental challenge this spring, including reigning Division IV champion Hopkinton. The Hawks, who are 3-1, have a pair of workhorses in sophomores Sam Crawford and Colby Marshall, but Hopkinton coach Dave Chase offered half a dozen names that he may turn to for innings. While Chase hasn’t needed his depth through the weather-beleaguered opening weeks of the season, the value of options, especially in Division IV, can’t be overlooked.

“This time of year, whether you’re Hopkinton High or the Red Sox … pitchers are usually ahead of the hitters,” Chase said. “We do bullpen sessions during (the offseason) that just focus on throwing strikes. If you put the ball in the strike zone, then obviously good things can happen for you.”

Hopkinton’s starters are Crawford, Marshall and junior Larsen Burack while Sam Rawson, Matt Rossignol and Kevin Newton-Delgado represent part of the depth Chase can call upon.

The proven commodities are Crawford and Marshall, both of whom were thrust into the thick of things as freshmen a year ago. Crawford hurled the Hawks to victory in the Division IV title game while Marshall showed glimpses of his potential while developing his raw abilities.

Both righties have rolled momentum into this season through a pair of outings apiece. Crawford is 1-1 with 13 strikeouts, including three of those during his six innings in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss against Pittsfield in a rematch of last year’s title game. Marshall has a win and 16 strikeouts in two outings, including his most recent against Derryfield of Manchester when he struck out five of the six batters he faced in his relief appearance.

“They’re both baseball guys,” Chase said. “Crawford is working year-round and Marshall does, too, besides taking this winter off. They might be sophomores, but it doesn’t matter. They just go right after hitters.”

Chase said his team is fortunate to have the pitching it does as the Hawks work out the kinks in other areas. Shortstop Mike Baer and first baseman Dustin Rose have shown to be steady non-pitching presences, but everything is otherwise in flux for Hopkinton, which has just a handful of upperclassmen.

Working to Chase’s advantage this year, and in past seasons, is the pipeline and alignment he’s created between the varsity team down through Hopkinton’s youth programs.

“We have a little bit of an advantage where I run a camp here that a lot of these kids have been coming to since they were six or seven,” Chase said. “That’s what a program is. These kids come up through it and would probably get a little lost if we were a big school. Most guys who come through this small school want to be baseball guys and stay with it for the most part.”

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EXPERIENCE IS often a common ingredient among successful high school softball teams, but it’s not a necessary one. Just look at this year’s Winnacunnet of Hampton team.

The Warriors, who are off to a 5-0 start in Division I, typically have four freshmen, two sophomores and two juniors in their starting lineup. The freshmen include Macie Harkovich, who has been the winning pitcher in four of Winnacunnet’s five games.

“I’ve coached a lot of these girls at the younger levels and I really expected them to shine once they got to high school,” Winnacunnet coach Dennis Bruce said. “The biggest surprise has been Macie. She throws a lot of ground balls and we have a really good infield. We’ve been playing tight defense.”

The Warriors have committed three errors in their five games, and haven’t had a hard time scoring either. They’ve outscored their five opponents 47-11 and put at least 11 runs on the scoreboard three times. This has all come against some pretty good competition as well. Winnacunnet’s first three games were against Concord, Exeter and Londonderry.

“Right there we’ve already seen some of the best pitching in the state,” Bruce said. “We’ve been very good at the top of the order.”

Winnacunnet’s top five hitters are all batting .400 or better. That group is led by freshman second baseman Hannah Thompson, who enters today’s game against Salem hitting a team-high .584. The others batting .400 or higher are sophomore center fielder Stephanie Reed (.400), junior third baseman Savanah Sigman (.438), freshman catcher Nicole Basil (.474) and senior pitcher/left fielder Brileigh Penniman (.471).

Winnacunnet, which hasn’t advanced past the preliminary round of the Division I tournament since 2012, is one of two unbeaten teams in Division I. Alvirne of Hudson is 3-0.

“We’re young, but a lot of these girls have faced good competition in the summer,” Bruce said. “I guess at this point I’d say I’ve been pleasantly surprised.”

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ONE TEAM showing it wants a say in the Division III baseball title conversation is Gilford. The Golden Eagles’ 3-0 start was set off in grand style by Adrian Siravo, who hurled a 14-strikeout no-hitter in an 11-0 season-opening win last week. … Exeter baseball had five Division I college-bound players in its lineup during Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Concord. Crimson Tide hurlers Griffin Gilbert and Sean McDonough accepted the challenge the Blue Hawks posed and responded by limiting the five sluggers to two hits and five walks over 20 combined plate appearances.
SOFTBALL TOP 10
BASEBALL TOP 10
1. Winnacunnet (5-0) 1. Bedford (5-0)
2. Alvirne (3-0) 2. Concord (4-1)
3. Goffstown (3-0) 3. Exeter (1-1)
4. Milford (3-0) 4. Goffstown (2-0)
5. Spaulding (4-1) 5. Portsmouth (2-0)
6. Londonderry (3-1) 6. Nashua South (3-0)
7. Pinkerton (3-1) 7. Bishop Guertin (3-1)
8. Timberlane (3-1) 8. Timberlane (3-1)
9. Salem (2-1) 9. Keene (3-1)
10. Souhegan (2-1) 10. Windham (2-0)

High School Baseball/Softball appears Fridays in the New Hampshire Union Leader during the season. To reach Roger Brown or Joe Duball, e-mail rbrown@unionleader.com or jduball@unionleader.com.


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