Tavella Leads Girls Softball Team

By Bob York

Deerfield softball went three-for-eight this season. That wouldn’t be too bad if you were talking about plate appearances, but we’re not. We’re talking about wins and losses. The Big Green (3-5), which saw three of its games lost to snow and rain, saw four other games lost to thunder—from opponents’ bats, as four teams put double figures up on the scoreboard.

“We got off to a slow start this season,” said coach Becca Melvoin, whose club dropped its first four games of the season,” and it’s a good bet Mother Nature played a big part in that. With all the snow and rain she dumped on the area during early April, “all we could do for the first week or so was go to the batting cage,” said the Big Green mentor.

For a good number of players, however, picking up a softball bat simply meant putting down the hockey stick they had been holding the entire winter. And that was a good thing, according to Melvoin. “Both sports develop tremendous hand-eye coordination,” said the Big Green skipper, “and that similarity really helps the kids in both sports.”

So, if you were a Deerfield girls hockey buff, chances are you knew a few members of the softball team—especially the infielders. And they were all over the diamond. They were at first base, where Jamie Haddad ’12 was stationed, at second, where Alexa Napolitan ’11 played, at shortstop, where Jackie Tavella ’11 hung out, and in the outfield, where you would find Kayla O’Connor ’13.

And these girls weren’t just biding their time until summer hockey leagues opened.  They felt as much at home on a softball diamond as they did a hockey rink. In fact, Tavella earned All-League honors for the second straight year and was also presented with the Deerfield Softball Award for the second consecutive season.

“Jackie was our rock in the infield,” said Melvoin. “She had an outstanding glove and an outstanding arm and you combine that with being one of our most consistent hitters (.310 batting average) all season long and you can see why she made the all-star team two years in a row.”

Haddad, who was Deerfield’s leading scorer this past winter in hockey, batted at a .295 clip this season, while Napolitan hit .280 “and was extremely strong defensively,” according to Melvoin.  Hannah Insuik ’13 was situated behind the plate for the second straight year and owned a booming bat when at the plate. She batted fourth in the lineup and clouted three home runs on the season.

Willa Gustavson ’12, who will serve as next year’s captain, batted close to .300 this season and could be found either at first base or in the outfield. O’Connor had the speed to patrol the outfield and therefore, had the speed to be the Big Green’s leadoff hitter much of the season, where she hit close to .280. Others helping the cause were pitcher Caroline Baldwin ’14 as well as outfielders Kristy Hong ’13, and Lilly Elkin ’13.

Bob York is a Greenfield Recorder wire editor. His email address is byork@recorder.com.