Nashua North, Nashua South softball teams trying to endure

It’s been a rough four weeks for Nashua high school varsity softball.
Second-year North coach Wake Stillman and first-year South coach Pete Perkins won’t deny that.

“It’s cyclical,” said Perkins of the Gate City’s struggling softball programs. “We’re going through a transition period in Nashua right now when it comes to softball. But we have some really good freshmen. They have some really good young players. I think in a couple of years, especially if you look at the middle schools that have a couple of really good kids coming up, one of us will be a much stronger program. I just hope it’s us.”

Heading into the spring, North was considered a dark horse in Division I. Led by sophomore shortstop Hannah Neverett, who earned First-Team All State honors as a freshman, the Titans had something other teams could only dream of.

Neverett, with senior catcher Hailey Reed, senior center fielder Cassie Page and junior second baseman Erica White, gives North strength up the middle defensively.

Unfortunately for the Titans, after starting the season 2-3 – with losses to Exeter, Alvirne and Winnacunnet, as well as wins over Bedford and Dover – the injury bug infected the roster, highlighted by the loss of Neverett to a sprained ankle. Nothing’s been the same since for Stillman’s Titans.

“We have a couple of injuries – far be it from me to make excuses – but we’ve got some people playing out of position,” Stillman said. “It’s not a coincidence that when we lost our All-State shortstop that things started getting a little rough for us. Because sometimes when you lose one player you end up having to move three people to fill one position. Then next thing you know you have too many people out of position. That’s what happened.

“Hopefully we’ll have Hannah back in the near future.”

With Neverett out of the lineup for two weeks, the Titans (2-10) have suffered a seven-game losing streak – falling to Timberlane, Concord, Londonderry, Salem, Spaulding, Manchester Memorial and crosstown rival Nashua South.

The latter game, a Friday night contest under the lights at Rivier University was South’s only win this spring. The Panthers (1-11) used timely hitting to capitalize on Titans’ miscues in the 18-10 victory.

Of course South had no expectations of overthrowing defending champion Timberlane Regional of Plaistow this season. Despite strong leadership from returning starters – senior Teddi Kramer, junior Jasmine Perez and sophomore Elyssa Willard, as well as seniors Shannon Talbot and Sam Goy – the remainder of the Panthers’ roster is freshmen. Perkins knew from the get-go it was a rebuilding year.

“We graduated a lot of our starters from last spring,” Perkins said.

“We are a young team. Youth and inexperience have been our biggest hurdle, but these girls, with the guidance of our upper classmen have been maturing rapidly. That growth just hasn’t translated in the record book.”

South’s seniors understood coming in that this is how their final season would play out. Kramer and Co. accepted their role as teachers and role models from the start.

“I knew that we were going to struggle,” Kramer said. “My honest opinion was that if I do good for myself. If I play well and hit well and then my team kind of follows my example, that’s just all I can do on the field. And same with the other seniors. We just want to do our job and set a good example for the underclassmen, because when I was an underclassmen I looked up to the seniors and I would want them to look up to us in a positive way.”

Losses to Keene, Winnacunnet, Concord, Merrimack, Exeter, Timberlane, Salem, Alvirne, Spaulding led into the win over North, but have been followed by losses to BG and Exeter.

Despite the negative record, Kramer was all positives after her finishing with four hits and four RBIs in her final Gate City rivalry game.

“I honestly cried a little bit,” said Kramer, who takes the diamond again at 4 p.m. Thursday when South hosts Bedford (2-8). “It was the best feeling ever. To win, and to win against North. I was just so proud of every girl on the field for doing their job and having their heads up and playing well. As a captain and winning our last North-South game in my senior year is the best feeling ever.”

It was a tough loss for North, but things may turn around quickly. At least that’s what Stillman is banking on with Neverett’s anticipated return this week.

“The season’s half over,” Stillman said. “Hopefully we can get healthy, win some games, and get ourselves ready for the postseason.”