There’ll Be Some Senior Moment
Holliston’s captains are, from left, Emma Wood, Lucy Maurao, Amelia Harris, and Josie Quinn.
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
Senior leadership will be front and center for the Holliston High softball team this season.
Coach Don Quindley, who’s in his fourth season as the Panthers coach, has four senior captains and he’ll be relying on all of them to help the Panthers achieve the four goals he’s outlined for the 2023 campaign.
“We want to improve daily, repeat as Tri Valley League Large Division champions, qualify for the tourney and advance as far as possible,’’ he said.
Success in the tourney is what every team strives for, but for the Panthers, their stay in the playoffs last year was short-lived. Although they had a 15-5 regular-season record, their tourney opener against Somerset-Berkeley ended in defeat.
So, as a new season is about to unfold, Quindley will be counting heavily on his captains — Emma Wood, Lucy Maurao, Josie Quinn, and Amelia Harris. “They’re the core of our nucleus,’’ he emphasized. “They’re different in their leadership styles but they’re like coaches on the field.’’
Wood is the squad’s No. 1 pitcher. Her statistics last year included: a 12-5 record with an earned-run average of 3.04, 114 strikeouts and 29 walks. She hit .557, scored 20 runs, knocked in 33 and hit one home run.
A three-year varsity player, Wood was a first-team TVL all-star last year and she’ll be playing next year for Rhode Island College.
“Emma has a great work ethic, lots of desire and dedication, and a high softball IQ,’’ Quindley said. “Her control and location with her pitchers are excellent. She relies on an effective change-up, a fastball and a drop.’’
Last year, against Westwood, Wood threw a perfect game in an 8-0 victory. “It was one of the best games I’ve ever experienced,’’ Quindley said. “She totally dominated. Not one player had to make a spectacular play to preserve the outcome. She kept the hitters off balance and was on her game that day.’’
Maurao, who can play either first or third base, also was a league all-star last year. She hit .480, scored 25 runs, had 23 RBIs and 2 homers.
“Lucy is driven, so determined,’’ said Quindley. “She’s an aggressive power hitter who can find the gaps. A smooth, outstanding fielder, she’s got a strong arm and will hit cleanup. She’ll start the season at third base.’’
A two-year veteran, Quinn plays shortstop and she’s adept in all facets of that position. On offense, she hit .385, scored 26 runs and had 21 RBIs.
“Josie is very energetic and very positive,’’ Quindley said. “She’ll make plays at shortstop whether they’re routine or spectacular and she’s got a strong arm. She’s also a student of hitting and very solid in her batting approach.’’
Harris is the Panthers’ centerfielder. Last year her numbers included a .360 batting average, 21 runs scored and 10 RBIs.
“Amelia is our leadoff hitter,’’ Quindley said. “She’s got great bat control and a tremendous ability to place the ball. A contact hitter, she can find the gaps. Her speed is good, she reacts quickly in the outfield and she’s a capable fielder.’’
Quindley is acutely aware of what the Panthers need to right their tourney disappointment.
“The keys are to move on from last year, strengthen our non-league schedule, and focus on what’s happening in the moment,’’ he emphasized. “We were all disappointed last year but that’s in our rear-view mirror now. Stronger non-league games will better prepare us so we’ve added games against Attleboro, Framingham and Nashoba.
“A must for success is to concentrate on the moment. It’s all about focusing on one at-bat at a time, one pitch at a time and one game at a time.’’
Peaking at playoff time is crucial but for many teams it’s not easy. Quindley believes the formula involves three situations. “It’s about being physically healthy, being relaxed and being mentally ready to compete,’’ he said.
Holliston’s captains lead in a variety of ways and Quindley admires what each brings to the table.
“Emma leads by example and relies on a vast amount of experience,’’ he offered. “Lucy is vocal, brutally honest, focused and determined. Josie is one of the most energetic competitors I’ve had and she’s supportive of everyone. Amelia leads by example, is confident and very sincere around her teammates.’’
Quindley knows that his four captains will be catalysts but he also understands that more help is required. He’ll be counting on junior Vanessa DeSimone (third base) and sophomores Kaylee MacDonald (catcher) and Caroline Harris (outfield).
“They’re smart players and they’re extremely coachable,’’ he noted. “Vanessa is gritty, Kaylee is an instinctive player and Caroline is versatile, able to play either the outfield or the infield.’’
Quindley, who teaches English and is the department chairman at the high school, is optimistic that his four goals will be achieved. He views the TVL Large Division pennant race as a battle between Medfield, Hopkinton, Norwood and Holliston. “Our opponents have tradition and they’re well-coached,’’ he said.
The Panthers will open their season on April 4 at home against Ashland but at Local Town Pages deadline there was a possibility the contest could be moved to Ashland. No matter where the game is played, fans no doubt will see a Holliston lineup with plenty of ability from top to bottom.
And, they’ll also see a team steeped in senior leadership.