Error Ends Quest for Four-Peat

It has been quite the run for Softball Co-Captain Kasey Hartung ’14. Hartung, who joined the team as a junior, has been an anchor at third base for Andover the last four seasons and for a string of three consecutive Big East Championship titles. As the Andover fans filed out Sunday after a double header vs. Exeter, Hartung looked around, taking in the field one last time.

Coming off an undefeated season that saw Andover lock down its third straight big east title, a very young team this season had big shoes to fill. With the departures of three D1 players in Kayla Maloney ’13 (Columbia University), Kristin Mendez ’13 (Yale University), and Nikki Pelletier ’13 (Cornell University), the Andover team had a complete turnover of its starting battery.

Co-captain Ravenne Nasser ’15 became the ace on the mound this season, while Mackenzie Bradford ’15 took over behind the dish. Andover’s youth was reflected in its play, as the season was marked by inconsistent defense and offensive droughts intermixed with dominant blowouts and fireworks at the plate. Stumbling out of the gate to a 1-3 record, Andover went on a five-game tear that set it up for another appearance in the Big East tournament.

Seeded 5th in a tournament of eight teams, Andover came out firing on all cylinders in game one against BB&N. A home run by Nasser in the third inning, who also threw seven shutout innings, opened the floodgates for Andover. They would go on to score five runs in the fifth and pummel BB&N 10-0.

In game two against the number one seed Nobles, Andover and Nobles dueled for six scoreless innings before Nobles scrapped in the seventh to put a runner on second following two leadoff walks.

A routine ground ball to second was thrown away and Nobles would walk off against Andover at Isham field. Despite not reaching their goal of a fourth straight championship, this season was a productive one. Andover found a new star on the mound, and improved throughout the season, playing their best softball right up to the tournament.

Nasser stepped into the big shoes left behind by last year’s team and filled in admirably. She was aggressive on the mound, and managed to keep the team in the games she pitched even when she did not have her best stuff. “This season was a little rocky at times but this team is amazing,” Nasser said. “We are all really good friends and know how to pick each other up.”

Second-baseman Madi Braford ’17 was a welcome addition in the middle infield, consistently showing off her slapping abilities at the plate and making solid plays in the field. She was complemented by shortstop Victoria Bergeron ‘16, one of Andover’s most effective hitters on the year.

In the outfield, right-fielder EJ Kim ’15 and left-fielder Jen Kaplan ’15 each put up solid numbers, recording many multi-hit performances and spraying the ball to all fields.

On Sunday, in front of hundreds of PA students at Isham field, Andover dedicated their field to head Coach Peter Drench, who will retire from teaching at the end of the year. Said Nasser on Coach Drench, “He is absolutely amazing. He’s super patient and a main reason we ended up being competitive this year. He turned a bunch of kids with different talent levels into a real team that worked together. I don’t know what we would do without him.”

Wearing Abbot Academy-blue in honor of Andover’s 40 anniversary ofh coeducation, Andover left everything on the field Sunday. Two tough losses to rival Exeter, 4-2 and 9-1, dampened the festive atmosphere as Andover’s porous defense came back to haunt them. 8 errors were committed in the second game alone. Andover’s play was good for a 7-8 record, a record that the team will look to improve on next season. “Overall, we have come a long way this season,” said Bergeron. “Each of us have significantly improved and we have really come together as a team. I’m really excited for what’s to come [next year].”