Hopkinton High School has a young and talented softball team this spring, and coach Shannon Allberry-Yerardi is hoping the Hillers can find a spot in the state tournament again after going to the playoffs a season ago.
“We have a really good core of sophomores coming back this year, and we also took on a couple of freshmen who have been adding to our depth,” Allberry-Yerardi said. “We are going to have a lot of stuff to work on, but it seems like our pieces might be falling into place.”
Freshman Alex Riesenberger will log significant innings this year as a pitcher. Allberry-Yerardi said the first-year player is showing tremendous promise. Sophomore Holly Paharik is another talented young player who will start at shortstop.
“She has incredible composure and has the right attitude about the game,” Allberry-Yerardi said. “She is really strong defensively and offensively, she is an all-around great player.”
Senior co-captains Caroline DeSimone, Bailey Harrigan and Kelsea McCoy are leading the way for the Hillers. DeSimone is one of the team’s fastest players and hit home runs in each of the team’s first two games.
Junior Caroline Kane is back in left field this spring after missing last year with an injury.
“We are really excited to get her back,” Allberry-Yerardi said. “She brings a lot of good leadership characteristics and is incredibly coachable and willing to learn to get herself back on track. We are excited to see her this year.”
The coach said she wants her team to get back to the playoffs after winning 12 games and being knocked out by Wachusett a season ago.
“Getting back to the tournament is a big goal,” Allberry-Yerardi said. “And I would be lying if I didn’t say we wanted to win the league.”
In addition to the ultimate goal of a tournament berth, the coach also has some process goals in mind.
“I would like for us to really work on the mental game and putting previous plays or at bats behind us and moving past mistakes easily,” Allberry-Yerardi said. “I think we are doing that a little bit so far, but I want us to avoid the spiral of a bad inning where we kind of come unraveled.”
Norton figures to be among the Tri-Valley League’s top teams this year, and Allberry-Yerardi noted the Hillers’ rivalry with Holliston in the Large School Division. But she said Hopkinton’s ability to put runs on the board should keep the team in a lot of games.
“Our biggest strength is our offense and our ability to find the gaps and string multiple hits together,” she said. “I am looking for our team to be able to score a lot of runs this year. I think that is going to be our biggest weapon.”