New Coach Leads Softball Program in Rebuilding Year


Softball Senior Captains. (Photo/ Kaitlin Brown)

Julie Moser

Softball Senior Captains. (Photo/ Kaitlin Brown)
Softball Senior Captains. (Photo/ Kaitlin Brown)

Despite a tough loss to Dighton-Rehoboth in the first round of the MIAA Division 2 State Tournament last year, Walpole Softball looks forward to another successful season this spring. The girls will have to face some adversity as all former Varsity coaches — Jim Duffy, Paul Quinn and Cliff Richardson — retired at the end of last season. Softball also lost six important seniors, five of which were starters. However, this season, Walpole has three senior Captains in Lauren Regan, Mehron Hoag, and Steph Sem — who have been on the team since at least their sophomore year — and will be coached by Rachel Sprague, who has been the JV team head coach for three years. Now, with new faces leading the Softball program, the girls hope to advance farther into the State Tournament.

Concerning her transition to the Varsity level, Sprague said, “I am very excited and honored to have become the new varsity coach.  I was nervous at first, but now that the season is getting close, I am ready and can’t wait to get started.”

Sprague, having coached JV for several years, has experience with the Walpole players; almost all of the Varsity girls have been coached by Sprague at some point in their high school career.  Also, she has worked closely with Jim Duffy and the Varsity team over the years, leaving her prepared and familiar with the players’ personalities and the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Senior Captain Steph Sem said, “ Ms. Sprague is a great coach — something all of us have witnessed over the past years. It’s always hard to adjust to a new coach so that will be a challenge, but I am confident we are a good enough team to overcome that obstacle.”

With soccer captain Lauren Regan, volleyball captain Steph Sem and four year Varsity player Mehron Hoag, leadership will not be a problem for the Rebels.  Senior Lauren Regan said, “I think it will be a bit of a rebuilding year, as we lost most of our starting players, but the team has a positive attitude going forward.  We hope to improve upon the success of past teams.”

With only nine girls returning with varsity experience, players will have to step up to fill some big shoes.  Besides the Captains, seniors Casey Songin and Mikaya Songin will be returning, along with juniors Maddy Oser, Natalie Lydon, Julie Moser and Colleen Semler.  The players who joined the Varsity squad during the post-season last year — juniors Lindsey Bruen and Jessie Jones, and sophomores Kat King, Melissa Cochrane and Lisa Regan — are expected to do big things for the Rebels as well.

The Rebels lost only one starting pitcher, Marissa Ryan and can easily fill the holes in the other positions. Sprague said, “We have very solid defense and pitching, but I think what we’ll need to work on the most is our offense.”

As seen in the past years, offense has been something the girls have struggled with, and because several of their power-hitters graduated, the team’s ability to hit this spring will play a key role in their success.  Sprague said, “Against the tough teams and opposing pitchers we’ll face this year, we’re going to need to be able to use the short game to get runners on base and manufacture runs when we need them.”  A former college player herself, Sprague plans to use the short game more this season will be a different approach compared to the past.

As the start of the season draws near, Walpole Softball hopes to attain a winning record this spring. Sem said, “We all will miss the coaching staff but at the same time are ready and excited to see what this season will bring.”  While facing many battles, the team looks forward to proving they have what it takes to make it far in the tournament.  Sprague said, “ I am confident that with the talent we have, we’ll be able to make a good run for it.”