Softball Preview: Senior standouts take one last ride together

Apr. 18—A four-year combination of Addie Lucier, Jenny Olson and Emersen Poulin at Salem High softball has already accounted for hundreds of hits and runs, a real shot at 75 career wins and even a state title in 2021.

The senior trio hopes to keep the proud tradition of Blue Devils softball alive and well as they prepare for what should be a wild spring in Division I on the diamond.

"We can't wait to get started. It's the best time of the year!" said coach Haley Chandler, whose club reached the state semifinals a year ago.

Lucier, who plays shortstop in the spring, has already committed to Division 1 national power Boston University and coach Ashley Waters, formerly of Amesbury.

The speedy Olson, a sensational slap-hitting outfielder, will play her college softball at D1 Stonehill.

Together, at the top of the Salem order, they provided one of the most dynamic 1-2 punches in the state.

Each hit well over .500 in 2023 — earning Eagle-Tribune All-Star status — and combined to score 52 runs for the 18-3 Blue Devils.

Poulin, who does her work behind the plate and also batted .327 last year, will be entrusted with handling the yet-to-be-tested but certainly promising Salem mound staff.

Juniors Maddie Beeley and Bailey Ruel each delivered some flashes of dominance in the circle, while working in part-time roles a year ago.

The focus now falls on them with the graduation of Ava McNamara, who carried the bulk of the load in 2023.

Where exactly does Salem fit among the top teams in the state, including the likes of defending champ Concord and runner-up Winnacunnet?

That will need to play out on the field. Of course, there could also be a new power player in the Granite State mix, along with the usual suspects.

Londonderry a threat

Londonderry High already featured UMass-bound Olivia Cutuli in the circle and was certainly expected to be a major factor. The Lancers have also added a game-changer in sophomore righty Elisabeth Kearney, who transferred back home from Central Catholic.

As a freshman with the Raiders, a team that went to the Mass. Division 1 state title game, Kearney pitched 49 innings, going 4-1 with 100 strikeouts and a 0.43 ERA.

Salafia, Owls certainly in mix

Timberlane returns five starters from last year's D-I state quarterfinal squad, including the lynchpin, Eagle-Tribune All-Star pitcher Alexa Salafia.

Salafia was 8-4 in the circle with 103 strikeouts, while batting .429 with an area-best six homers and 32 RBIs. She is certainly one of the more dynamic two-way players in the state, and will be backed up in the lineup by a pair of strong bats in Katie O'Leary and Chaunda Poulin.

Astros offense should be strong

Six starters return from a Pinkerton Academy team that finished up at 13-6 a year ago.

Shortstop Maddie Schoenenberger again provides the muscle for the Astros. She's built up quite the resume, earning a pair of trips to the Eagle-Tribune All-Star team and Division I all-state status.

Catcher Maddy Moore and corner infielder Julia Cahoon should be ready to make some noise in the heart of the lineup.

"We look to be very competitive in every game this season based on the experience we possess throughout the team and the energy and enthusiasm that the girls have displayed thus far," said Astros coach Tom Wall.

Madi Cunha returns on the mound for a staff, that receives an injection of youth with the additions of sophomore Mollie Wheale and freshman Julia Caruso.

Martin takes over for Jags

Windham welcomes veteran Brian Martin in as the new head coach, replacing the only coach the Jags have known, David Hedge.

Martin inherits a rock-solid roster with Windham, a 10-10 first-round playoff team in 2023.

Windham's junior class ranks right there anyone's in the state.

Dynamic middle infielder Anna Mitrou has already committed to play at Merrimack. Division I's Player of the Year as a freshman in 2022, Ari DeCotis is back behind the plate. She has committed to play D-1 softball at Siena.

And 2023 Eagle-Tribune All-Star Kelly Wright is a valuable weapon both in the circle, at the plate where she slugged .757 with a 1.317 OPS, and in the field where she made just two errors in 60 chances last year, splitting time between the mound and second base.

"With health and their work ethic we should be able to make some noise come playoff time," said Martin. "I feel one of the most important decisions a coach can make is naming captains, we hit a home run in that category (with DeCotis and seniors Bella Yantosca and Mia Akin)."

Aguiar, Pythons back for more

After being named first-team Division II all-state as a freshman on the mound, Caileigh Aguiar is back, hoping to push Pelham High to higher levels, coming off a 7-10, first-round playoffs campaign.

Senior captains Morgan Berton, Lauren Lacoss and Ava Bettencourt lead the Pythons into battle, as a solid group of underclassmen looks to find its footing at the varsity level.