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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bishop Guertin’s Perez anxious for softball tourney run

By GEORGE SCIONE

Leah Perez didn’t like being a cheerleader. She had every intention of playing varsity softball by the time Bishop Guertin suffered a 3-0 first round loss to Manchester Central on the Cardinals’ home diamond last spring. Unfortunately, cheers were all she was able to offer BG that game.

Wednesday, No. 5 BG (12-6) will be hosting No. 12 Alvirne (8-10) in a 4 p.m. first-round home game. This time, Perez is not only in uniform, but also one of BG’s leaders. ...

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Leah Perez didn’t like being a cheerleader. She had every intention of playing varsity softball by the time Bishop Guertin suffered a 3-0 first round loss to Manchester Central on the Cardinals’ home diamond last spring. Unfortunately, cheers were all she was able to offer BG that game.

Wednesday, No. 5 BG (12-6) will be hosting No. 12 Alvirne (8-10) in a 4 p.m. first-round home game. This time, Perez is not only in uniform, but also one of BG’s leaders.

It’s been a rough journey to get to this point, but the junior outfielder can’t wait to take her place in the outfield grass against the visiting Broncos. Last year as the postseason began, she was still recovering from a blown out knee.

In the second game of the 2013 girls soccer season, Perez was chasing down a ball on the pitch. At the same time, an opponent was chasing Perez down. One kick to the back of Perez’s knee, and she hit the ground. The diagnosis, an unhappy triad – tears of the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament and meniscus.

At first, the injury was too much for the then-sophomore to handle, but it didn’t stop her from working her way back.

“It was a rough winter and spring,” said Perez of having to watch her classmates compete. “It was a rough year for me when I tore my knee up. It was kind of stressful and I was really discouraged because I really wanted to play softball. I was watching my team play and I was cheering them on, but it’s not the same as being on the team with them. I just worked really hard to get back to where I was before. I never gave up.”

The effort put in during rehabilitation didn’t go unnoticed by anyone in the BG athletic program. Certainly not her Cardinals teammates and coaches.

Varsity coach Nicole Adamson wasn’t surprised at how quickly Perez returned to the diamond.

“A lot of kids will have a really hard time coming back from that,” Adamson said. “And even if they do come back, they typically take a while to strengthen once they’ve recovered. But Leah worked so hard. She was very determined. She had it in her mind as soon as she found out what was happening, and what the diagnosis and time frame was, that she was going to work hard and going to commit herself to being back on the field as soon as she could because she wanted to be with her team.”

And her team is happy to have her back.

DIVISION II

Third-seeded Souhegan (12-4) highlights the locals in Division II.

The Sabers – led by seniors Val Mukai and Abrie Davis; junior Lauren McCormick and the pitching of sophomore Hannah Cochrin and freshman Hailey Yabroudy – will open their tournament run at 4 p.m. Wednesday in Amherst against No. 14 ConVal (6-10).

The teams had a regular-season split, with the Cougars picking up a 9-7 road win on April 25 and the Sabers returning the favor with a 6-3 win on May 23 in Peterborough.

Ninth-seeded Milford (9-7) and 13th-seeded Hollis Brookline (6-10) open on the road at 4 p.m. Wednesday, as the Spartans travel to North Conway to face eighth-seeded Kennett (10-6) and the Cavaliers visit fourth-seeded Windham (12-4).

DIVISION III/IV

Campbell in Division III and Wilton-Lyndeborough are both looking to return to Plymouth State University by tournament’s end. The third-seeded Cougars (13-3) begin their title defense at 4 p.m. Thursday in Litchfield.

That second-round game will be against the winner of Tuesday night’s first round affair between No. 19 Inter-Lakes (4-12) and No. 14 Monadnock (9-7).

The second-seeded Warriors (14-2), last spring’s Division IV runner-up, open their 2014 tournament at home Wednesday in a 4 p.m. matchup against 15th-seeded Canaan-Pittsburg (4-12).