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H.S. Baseball/Softball: Gilford a good example of pitching dominance

By ROGER BROWN and JOE DUBALL
New Hampshire Union Leader

May 17. 2018 9:23PM




Sure, the NHIAA scoreboard has seen its share of double-digit run totals on a daily basis, but taking a step back reveals pitchers have reigned supreme to this point in the high school baseball and softball seasons.

There have been 408 games where a winning baseball or softball team from any of the NHIAA’s four divisions held its opponent to a run or fewer. That number includes 220 shutouts while 56 ball clubs (33 softball and 23 baseball) have produced multiple blankings. Exeter baseball and Milford softball are tied for the most shutouts by any baseball or softball team with seven.

Such dominance may not be anything groundbreaking if you were to do the same math for past seasons. However, with no-hitters and double-digit strikeout totals being registered on a weekly basis, pitching is being brought to the forefront.

From a baseball perspective, first-year Gilford High coach Eric Duquette, who coaches AAU ball with the Concord Cannons and is the former head coach at NHTI, sees an obvious source for the elite efforts off the mound.

“These kids are focusing on their craft more than ever and year-round,” Duquette said. “They’re working with pitching coaches on top of their high school coaches, and you’re seeing the difference.

“I think everybody has been in the same boat with this long spring. We’ve all been inside and you hit when you’re inside. Still, everybody is coming out after all those swings and getting dominated by these arms.”

Duquette has an impressive stock of arms pacing the Golden Eagles, who sit 13-0 on the season. Gilford ace Adrian Siravo pitched two no-hitters in April while No. 2 starter Isaac Wallace has a 0.00 earned run average through 24 innings. Gilford’s staff as a whole, which includes reliever Cody Boucher and a couple other arms, has a 1.03 ERA while generating the most shutouts (five) of any team in Division III.

“With us, it all starts with attacking the strike zone and coming in with a game plan,” Duquette said. “Everybody knows the numbers and how the batting average dips when counts go 0-1 or 0-2. The focus always comes back to strike one. We don’t walk guys and we play decent defense.”

Division III has some of the most appealing one-two pitching punches in the state. Besides Siravo and Wallace, there is White Mountains of Whitefield’s Braxton Brown and Griffin Crane, Belmont’s Griffin Embree and Brett Auclair, Somersworth’s Colby Grant and Dylan Paine, and Raymond’s Andrew Dupuis and Alex Sweeney.

“Every team in the top of the standings in this division has at least one and sometimes two very good pitchers,” Duquette said. “It’s not about teams being weak at all. Everything goes in cycles and this is a year where there are a lot of quality arms. That extends beyond our league too.”

Division I has its share of top staffs with Exeter, Bedford and Pinkerton each posting impressive numbers. Exeter and Bedford each have 10 wins while allowing a run or fewer while Pinkerton had a streak of consecutive shutouts end at four on Wednesday. Goffstown, Portsmouth and Littleton all boast six or more games of yielding a one or no runs.

Unlike baseball, the impressive pitching in NHIAA softball boils down to one arm for each team. Concord’s Abby Rochette, Londonderry’s Ila Brown and Milford’s Jenna DeAngelis are prime examples as each has logged more than three-quarters of their team’s innings out of the circle. Rochette has made her presence known with three no-hitters while producing all but one of Concord’s six shutouts. Brown and DeAngelis, who both tossed no-hitters in the last week, transitioned into No. 1 roles for their teams this season.

Other hurlers making noise while their teams are in the thick of the playoff hunt are Izzy Nelson (John Stark), Stephanie Berube (Pembroke), Maddie Labrie (Mascenic of New Ipswich), and Haile Hicks (White Mountains).

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THE WINDHAM softball team will honor Windham resident Melina Spinazola before today’s home game against Portsmouth. Spinazola suffers from a rare disease called Epidermolysis Bullosa, which causes skin tissue inside and outside the body to blister and make everyday activities difficult.

Since purple is the disease’s designated color, the Jaguars will wear purple shirts during warmups, purple wristbands and purple ribbons in their hair. Spinazola will throw out a ceremonial first pitch and will be presented with several items before the game, including a jersey and a varsity letter. She will also serve as the program’s first bat girl.

“The team has adopted Melina as a sister and wants to let Melina experience what they are able to experience every day,” Windham coach Dave Hedge said.

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MANCHESTER’S THREE Division I baseball schools — Central, Memorial and Trinity — will all have to gain ground during the final week of the regular season to qualify for the 13-team Division I tournament.

Spaulding is currently in the 13th position with a 6-7 record. Memorial entered Thursday’s game against Pinkerton at 5-8, Central is 4-10 and Trinity is 3-10.

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ST. THOMAS Aquinas senior Abbey Bass may have turned in the most dominating pitching performance of the NHIAA softball season Wednesday when she accounted for every out by striking out 21 batters in STA’s 10-0 triumph over Portsmouth.

Bass, who will pitch for Division III Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., next season, allowed four hits and walked one. Her previous high for strikeouts in a game was 17.

It was an extra-special night for Bass, who collected the 500th strikeout of her high school career in the bottom of the third inning. She currently has 513 strikeouts in her three seasons in the circle for the Saints.

Wednesday’s victory was the fifth in a row for St. Thomas, which improved its Division II record to 10-2.

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AMHERST’S Bryce Reagan and Bedford’s Grant Lavigne are the top local high school prospects for this year’s MLB draft, which will be held June 4-6.

Reagan, a middle infielder, played for Souhegan High School last season, but is now at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He has committed to the University of Texas.

Lavigne, a first baseman/corner outfielder, is in his senior season at Bedford High School.

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

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TOP 10 BASEBALL

1. Bedford (16-0)

2. Exeter (14-2)

3. Pinkerton (11-4)

4. Concord (11-5)

5. Portsmouth (12-1)

6. Goffstown (12-2)

7. John Stark (11-2)

8. Plymouth (10-3)

9. Gilford (13-0)

10. Bishop Guertin (10-6)

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TOP 10 SOFTBALL

1. Milford (13-0)

2. Londonderry (14-1)

3. Winnacunnet (13-2)

4. Spaulding (12-2)

5. Concord (11-5)

6. Pembroke (11-1)

7. John Stark (11-2)

8. St. Thomas Aquinas (10-2)

9. Plymouth (11-3)

T-10. White Mountains (12-0)

T-10. Campbell (10-0)


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