Despite Loss of Key Players, Andover Looks to Repeat Success

Riding on the arm of ace pitcher Michelle Hollebecke ’08 and the power and leadership of catcher Stephanie Clegg ’08, Andover softball went 16-4 last spring. This season, Andover looks to make another run at the annual postseason Big East championship, but the graduation of several stars from last year’s team will make that task difficult. The team’s record earned the team a spot in the 2008 Big East tournament in which Andover finished as the runner-up to Lawrence Academy. Captain Sarah Boylan ’09 said, “We have high hopes and expectations that we will continue the winning tradition of Andover softball this year.” The return of Boylan and Alayna Garbarino ’10 will keep the middle infield impenetrable this year as the starting shortstop and second baseman, respectively. Boylan and Garbarino also bring good bats to the lineup and will be crucial parts of the Andover offense. Boylan will look to build off her performance in the Andover/Exeter doubleheader last year, in which she hit three home runs and knocked in eight runs. Sarah Onorato ’11 will take over as the starting catcher, and she will be counted on to bring in runs with her great bat. “Sarah was an extremely consistent hitter last season and great in the field. I am predicting another great season,” said Garbarino. Post-graduate Caroline Gattuso ’09 will be the ace of the pitching staff, replacing the hole left by Hollebecke. Although she is new to Andover, she already has good chemistry with her battery-mate Onorato. “Sarah and Caroline have worked together in the offseason to get to know each other’s styles,” said Boylan. Gattuso fulfilled her role as the team ace in her first game on Wednesday, when the team opened up its season against Governor’s Academy. In the 5-1 victory, Gattuso pitched a complete game for the win. In the third inning, Andover broke the game open with three runs. Onorato knocked in the first run of the season with a double. Governor’s then made a throwing error that plated two Andover runs on the next play. Andover built on its lead in the following innings, and Gattuso held off Governor’s offense for the win. She struck out six batters on the day in a remarkable Andover debut. The bats for Andover were perhaps most impressive, considering it was the first time the team has seen live pitching. “We’ve only had one practice outside and haven’t gotten a chance to face any pitching besides the pitching machine, so I thought we hit extremely well,” said Shannon McSweeney ’11. If Andover continues to preform as it did Wednesday, the team has high hopes for another successful season this year.