Hollis Brookline softball aims for state title
HOLLIS – The game was postponed and a steady rain continued to fall on Tuesday afternoon at Hollis Brookline High School.
The school’s undefeated softball team will be busy this week, with two tough games against Con-Val of Peterborough on Wednesday and a make-up contest with Goffstown on Thursday.
The natural tendency, for first-year coach Tim Girzone, would be the give his girls an unscheduled day off on Tuesday. Maybe, before heading home, they’d complete a quick work out in the gym or a little light lifting in the weight room.
But at 3 p.m., with rain pelting down, they were out on the field practicing.
Was Girzone, who has coached football at Hollis Brookline since the program’s inception in 2003, simply bringing a little of that football mentality to the softball diamond?
Was the fact that the Cavaliers felt compelled to defy the weather and work out anyway an indication of the hard work and dedication that usually runs hand and hand with an undefeated season? That’s possible, too.
But the bottom line is the girls were just having fun doing something they love to do, rain or shine.
Hollis Brookline came within one run of a state title last spring, losing in the final to Laconia 5-4. It was the first final appearance in school history.
This year’s team is poised to take the final step. They are 16-0 and have outscored opponents by a whopping 170-25 margin, a total inflated slightly but not entirely by an opening 37-1 win over a weak Hanover team.
Girzone knew baseball when he took a physical education teaching position at Hollis Brookline 10 years ago. The intricacies of softball came during a seven-year apprenticeship under former softball coach, teaching colleague and friend Nicole Adamson, who left to teach at Bishop Guertin last spring.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone as knowledgeable about softball as Nicole,’’ Girzone said. “She asked me to be her junior varsity coach and I spent years learning the game from her.’’
But as Girzone knows, all the coaching skills in the world won’t help if the talent isn’t there. And right now Hollis Brookline has a roster full of players who dedicate themselves to the sport.
His catcher, junior Charli Bradshaw, dreams of playing softball at the Division I level. Girzone quickly learned he could trust her with calling the game from behind the plate. She’s developed a strong working relationship with both senior pitcher Kirstin Bergen and talented freshman Ashley Skey.
“One of my favorite parts of catching is watching the batters and deciding what pitch to call,’’ Bradshaw said. “My coach when I was little (Jim Hardy) taught me how to call a great game.
“Kristin and Ashley are so different. They both have different strengths and we try to use them to our advantage.’’
Bergen knew the Cavaliers had the makings of a good team this spring.
“We only lost two or three starters,’’ Bergen said, “and we knew there were some good freshmen coming up.
“We have a lot of girls who have played a lot of softball. We started early and just stuck with it.’’
Hollis Brookline has one of the top hitters in the division in junior center fielder Sarah Drazin.
Besides Bergen, the other seniors are starting left fielder Lia Bobek, who is headed for Rivier in the fall, and Sam Spargo, who plays third and is the backup catcher.
Players like juniors Kayla Sliger and Lori Lavey and sophomore Nicolette Anderson should help keep the Cavs in contention next year.
Hollis Brookline is willing to pay the price to take another shot at a title. Even if it means getting a little wet.