Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze & Observer 04-25-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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SMITHFIELD SCITUATE FOSTER GLOCESTER | VALLEY BREEZE & OBSERVER | APRIL 25-MAY 1, 2019 SPORTS & RECREATION 13 Chieftains take Div. III by storm Softball team savors 6-0 start (with five mercy-rule wins) in new division By KAYLA PANU Valley Breeze & Observer Sports Writer PROVIDENCE – It was sup- posed to be a rebuilding year down in Division III, but with an influx of freshmen and seemingly everything going its way, the Ponaganset High softball team has dominated its new league, and last week, the Chieftains improved to 6-0 by posting mercy- rule victories over Juanita Sanchez and Mount Pleasant. The Chieftains, who rolled past Mount Pleasant last Thursday after- noon, 13-0, have won five games in five innings by the mercy rule. Their only win that went seven innings was their 10-5 victory on April 5 over the Wheeler School, which entered this week with a 4-1 record. It's a remarkable start for the Chieftains, who after some disappoint- ing seasons in Division II and the numbers in the program devolving, weren't sure they would even field their own team this year. "We had graduated nine out of our 14 players," Ponaganset head coach Mike Calenda said last Wednesday, April 17, after his team beat Providence's Juanita Sanchez, 12-2, at Roger Williams Park. "We were on the verge of merging with Scituate. That's how much our numbers were down." "But we had an influx of 11 fresh- men, and four of them start for us," Calenda added. "Our intent was to come down (to D-III), have a rebuild- ing year, and obviously appeal to get back into Division II. Hopefully, we'll be able to show that we don't belong down here." Scituate's numbers were down as well, but the Spartans were able to field its own squad, and with one of the state's top starting pitchers, Haley Venturini, leading the way, they have been a tough out in D-II. As for the Chieftains, they have a senior, two juniors, and two sopho- mores back from last year's team, as well as the 11 freshmen. They are led by their co-captains, senior pitcher/ outfielder Jordan McGuire and junior catcher Victoria Cramer. Instead of having one dominant pitcher, Calenda has been switching every game between two pitchers in McGuire and sophomore Liana Nerbonne, who are each 3-0. In the Chieftains' season opener against Times2 Academy, Nerbonne pitched a five-inning perfect game that saw her strike out 12 of the 15 batters she faced. She also went on to pitch a five-inning one-hitter against Central Falls, and McGuire pitched two-hitters against Hope and Ponaganset that also lasted five innings. Nerbonne has also been one of the Chieftains' offensive leaders, as well as freshman third baseman Mallory Gilmore, who in her varsity debut against Times2, belted a home run and collected a pair of doubles and four runs batted in. Also in the Chieftains' starting line- up are junior first baseman Mackenzie Gilmore, freshman second baseman Jenna Greene, freshman shortstop Jessica Hassell, freshmen left fielder Kristen Briggs, and freshman center fielder Chloe Poirier. McGuire has also started in the outfield when she wasn't pitching. In last Thursday's victory over Mount Pleasant, Cramer went 3-for- 4 with two runs scored and Greene added a pair of doubles. Rounding out the roster are senior Brianna Parenteau, junior Anna Baxter, sophomore Hannah Merson, and freshmen Isabelle Besser, Shannon Healey, Falyn Lusignan, Leslie Peckham, Caitlyn Sharpe, and Meghan Viveiros. The Chieftains, who were scheduled to begin this week with games against Paul Cuffee and Classical, will host Shea and Times2 next week before paying a visit to the Wheeler School on Monday, May 6, at the Wheeler School Farm in Seekonk, Mass. "Wheeler has been one of the only teams to score some runs against us," Calenda said. "We haven't seen every- body yet, and we have to play every- body twice. Wheeler is a very good team, and Central Falls is pretty fast. They hit the ball hard; we just fielded the ball." Calenda has also scheduled non- league games against three D-II teams, Classical, West Warwick, and Scituate, and he hopes that will prepare his players and help them accomplish their ultimate goal of win- ning their program's first champion- ship. "We expected to come down and compete," Calenda said. "But now, after what we've seen in the first quar- ter (of the schedule), we think we can win a championship." BREEZE PHOTOS BY KAYLA PANU Left, Ponaganset sophomore pitcher LIANA NERBONNE improved her record to 3-0 in last week's 12-2 victory over Providence's Juanita Sanchez by pitching a four-hitter that saw her strike out nine batters. The game was called after five innings by the mercy rule. Right, Ponaganset freshman leadoff batter and center fielder CHLOE POIRIER socks a two-run single to left field in the top of the third inning. Her hit gave the Chieftains a 7-1 lead. We're close, just 15 minutes from Providence off Rt. 146. 152 School St., North Smithfield Open 6 days: Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-4 p.m. We speak "cat." (401) 762-2400 • Cat have a language all their own. Fortunately, we speak it too. Visit our full-service feline-loving animal hospital with a team approach to quality veterinary care.

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