The high school boys’ tennis team has jumped out to another strong start, winning four of its first five matches, while the softball team under new coach Donald Herman has also started strong with a 4-2 record.
After going undefeated last year in the regular season, the girls’ lacrosse team has jumped to a 6-1 record, while the baseball team this week shook off a disappointing start and won their first game of the season. The girls’ tennis team has also started strong, beating Bishop Stang this week but losing to Dennis-Yarmouth to even their record at 2-2.
All in all it’s been a strong showing for all the spring sports teams out of the gate.
As varsity football coach, Donald Herman holds a preseason training session every year affectionately dubbed hell week that includes long days of drills and training to condition athletes and prepare them for the upcoming season.
When he took over as coach of the softball team this year, he left hell week behind, but not his high standards for discipline, rigorous training and drills.
“They aren’t just girls, they’re athletes, too. And they are very talented athletes,” the coach said of his team this week.
Coach Herman has an aversion to sloppy play; he likes to emphasize the fundamentals. Poor tackling and penalties draw his ire on the gridiron, and poor defense on the softball diamond stirs the same reaction. “We have some things to work out on defense — for some reason we aren’t making the routine plays. We will work on that,” he said.
But he added: “I think our players understand that. On the boat home [after a game] the other day, the players were working on defense with some of the coaching staff . . . that’s good to see,” he said, adding: “We have a great bunch of girls, a good team. I like what I have seen so far.”
His disciplined approach has already paid dividends. The Vineyarders have surged to a 4-2 record after splitting a pair of games with Algonquin Regional at home Saturday, losing 3-9 in the first and winning 7-2 in the second. They followed it up by notching a dramatic come-from-behind 7-5 win at home Wednesday afternoon against Dennis-Yarmouth.
Caroline Davey picked up the loss in the first game Saturday, while Martha Scheffer got the win in the second game and had a solo home run in the first game. Alicia Oliveira had a three-run base hit in the second game that almost cleared the fence for a grand slam.
“I was especially pleased because we were down three of our biggest players Saturday. Gail Herman was off looking at colleges, and Crystal Miske and Jillian Sedlier were playing in a basketball clinic. I was happy we split the two games even though we weren’t at full strength,” the coach said.
A decent-sized crowd gathered on Wednesday to watch the Dennis-Yarmouth game. The Vineyarders fell behind 5-3 before Emily Forbes had a two-run double in the third to tie the game. Emilyanne Williston then led off the sixth inning with a double, and scored when Miske knocked her in. Kate Hines had a hit to chase in Miske, sealing the 7-5 victory.
The Vineyarders played a talented Sandwich team last night at home, and have home games against powerful Eastern Athletic Conference foes Coyle Cassidy tomorrow and Bishop-Feehan Monday.
The team then goes on the road for four consecutive games.
Tomorrow’s game against Coyle Cassidy is at 11:30 a.m.
Coach Ned Fennessy admits he did not predict such a strong start for his 4-1 squad. “I knew we had a strong team . . . but it’s a young team, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,” he said. “Needless to say, I am happy with their play so far.”
The boys played four matches this week, beating Eastern Athletic Conference rival Somerset last Thursday and Bishop Stang on Saturday before losing to non-conference foe Cape Cod Academy on Monday and then rebounding with a hard-fought win over Dennis-Yarmouth on Wednesday.
Reid Yennie has emerged as the team’s number one singles player, while freshman Kent Leonard has settled in as the number two singles player. Justice Yennie, another freshman, has split time as the number three singles player and also as part of a doubles team.
The coach has had to do some shuffling with the doubles-pairings due to illnesses and other absences. Cocaptains Winn Grimm and Thomas Tilton-Heylin, who play doubles, have missed several matches, allowing the coach to plug in some younger and largely untested players. He is pleased with the results.
“We have a lot of talented younger players — largely because many are coming from the Vineyard Youth Tennis center . . . they are ready to play. It’s an exciting time for tennis on the Vineyard,” Coach Fennessy said.
Wednesday’s match against Dennis-Yarmouth showed the grit of his young team. While Leonard won his match in straight sets (6-1, 6-1), Reid Yennie battled back after the first set (4-6) against Dan Badinovich, and won the second (6-4) and third (6-4) to secure the win.
Meanwhile, the doubles team of Kyle Moran and Thomas Tilton-Heylin battled against Shane Davis and Sam Zurn and lost in three sets (6-3, 4-6, 6-4).
The boys next play at home tomorrow against Coyle Cassidy at 11:30 a.m.
Coach Chris Greene likes to challenge his team. An example of this was Saturday’s game at Westford Academy, annually ranked as one of the best teams in the state. The Vineyarders lost 17-8, but the coach said his team played well and learned a number of lessons.
“It does us no good to beat up on some of the newer or weaker teams around the state. When it comes time for the playoffs we need experience and we need toughness,” he said. “And in fact we played well in this game, we were down only 6-3 at the half.”
Erik Dolliver had four goals and two assists in the loss; Brooks Billingham, Chris Costello, Shane Schofield and Louis Jacobs-Walsh also had goals. Goaltender Nelson Dickson faced 28 shots with 11 saves.
On Tuesday the team bounced back with a big 13-5 win against Bourne on the road, on the strength of four goals by Dolliver and three by Costello. Max Conley had two goals and two assists. Dickson was solid between the pipes, making 14 saves. Coach Greene said Colby Gouldrup and Darren Gazaille were a key factor in the victory, winning 11 out of 16 faceoffs.
The Vineyarders played powerhouse Barnstable last night; scores were not available at press time. They next play Falmouth on the road tomorrow and are next at home on Thursday against Sandwich.
The team locked horns with Norwell, the 2009 state champions, last Thursday and came out on the losing end of a lopsided score. Maddie Hughes scored first to give the Vineyarders an early advantage, but the powerful Clippers racked up six unanswered goals to take a 6-1 lead.
In the second half Molly Fischer and Hayley Pierce each scored twice, but the Clippers exploded for 10 more goals to pull away for a 16-5 win. Coach Betsy Dripps praised her goaltender Maggie Johnson, who despite the final score blocked a dozen tough shots.
Things didn’t get any easier on Saturday against Falmouth, a strong Division 1 team, although the Vineyarders were more than up to the task, coming away with a 10-5 win. Fischer scored two early goals, both on assists from Pierce, who scored two goals of her own to help give the Vineyard a 6-3 lead at halftime.
The Clippers scored twice in the second half, but the Vineyarders tacked on four goals of their own. Pierce had another goal to secure a hat trick for the game, while Maddie Hughes and Cat Todd also scored. Fischer ended with four goals.
The team traveled to Bourne on Tuesday and battled to a 12-9 win against the Canalmen. Fischer had three goals in the first half, while Hughes was a force in the second half, scoring four times to finish with five goals. Alayna Hutchinson, Kate Cecilio and Pierce also had goals.
The Vineyarders are now 5-0 this season in the Maritime League. They play at home against Norwell on May 2.
The team won its first game of the season against Cape Cod Academy 8-1 behind a strong pitching performance by Ryan Fisher. The Vineyarders scored four runs in the fourth inning. Anthony Piland went three for four with two doubles, Fisher pitched four innings of shutout baseball
The Vineyarders record now stands at 1-5.