PLYMOUTH, N.H. – It wasn’t the kind of season head coach Robin Payne and the Plymouth State College women’s softball team had planned on, but there were several
highlights, and bright hopes ahead with a solid contingent of young players returning next year.
The Panthers were forced to overcome adversity in 1997, in the form of inexperience, youth, injuries and the brutal New England spring weather. This was a team with no seniors
and only one junior, and just four returnees from the ’96 unit. PSC returned from the spring trip to Florida with three players on crutches, and by the time Mother Nature allowed home
games in Plymouth, the Panthers had so many doubleheaders rescheduled they had to play 18 games in 12 days.
The young Panther squad was able to battle through many of the elements, and when it posted back-to-back outstanding wins over strong Eastern Connecticut and Keene State
programs in late April, the first triumphs over those schools under Payne, PSC was 9-12 and hanging tough. But the difficult schedule wore down the youthful Panthers, and they lost 10
of the final 11 games to finish at 10-22 overall. Similar fate hit PSC in Little East Conference games, as it split the first six games but then lost the last four to finish in sixth place at 3-7.
“Playing all those games, all doubleheaders, kind of takes a lot out of you,” said Payne, who completed her fifth season at PSC, “not just physically but mentally. I was also
worried about them having to go to classes and keeping their focus. This was the worst weather we’ve had since I’ve been here. We had one practice on our field before trying to play
the entire season.”
“With the youth on the team,” added Payne, “you didn’t know who’s going to show up. Sometimes the experienced looking team showed up and some times it was the
inexperienced. And with the injuries, we had to play a lot of people out of position, or in a different position. Now we know what we have to do next year to beat the strong teams.”
If the success of the freshman class is any indication, the program has bright hopes ahead. Three regulars and two-thirds of the pitching staff were freshmen, led by utility play
Sara Wormwood (Rutland ,VT), an honorable mention on the Little East All-Star Team.
“One of the highlights of the season was the freshmen who came to the front of the program and were dominant,” said Payne. “Sara Wormwood, for example, her batting just
skyrocketed as the season progressed. She was a key contributor to a lot of runs. And she moved around a lot, too. She played right field, shortstop, and even a little third base. We
didn’t have a consistent outfield all year.”
Wormwood posted the numbers to earn her All-LEC honorable mention. She batted .370, second-best on the team and 10th in the conference, including a team- and
league-high five triples. She also had five doubles, two home runs, 17 runs scored, 12 walks, and a team-leading 25 RBI.
“I’m also proud of our two freshman pitchers,” said Payne. “Both Heather Gadourey (Billerica, MA) and Jen Moulton (Bow, NH/Concord) are two athletes who were not given the
opportunity to play a lot in high school, and were put in that position in college. To me, I like to see the underdog come through. That’s what Plymouth has to offer…the opportunity.”
PSC had the luxury of a three-person rotation, with righthanders Gadourey and Moulton and sophomore southpaw Mandy Murphy (Canton, CT) sharing PSC’s pitching duties.
Murphy (2-10, 3.77 ERA) was the veteran of the staff and had the best ERA, along with 28 strikouts, while Gadourey (3-6, 3.87) and Moulton (5-6, 7.12) both struck out 22 batters and
showed signs of becoming outstanding pitchers.
“Carrie Turgeon (Derry, NH/Pinkerton) is another freshman,” said Payne, “who filled in at a position. She came in as a catcher, and played third base full-time for us. And she
surprised me a bit with her bat, although she batted .239.
Another freshman starter was centerfielder Sue Pollock (Leominster, MA) overcame some injuries but had a good season, batting .307 in 21 games.
With the solid campaigns turned in by the freshmen class, not to be overlooked is the performances turned in by the group of returnees. Junior Andrea Scavuzzo (East Walpole,
MA) and sophomore Paula Richard (Gardner, MA) served as team captains and leaders, and along with sophomore Jen Arrajj (Lawrence, MA), the heart of the PSC batting order. 2B
Scavuzzo (.340, 5 doubles) improved her batting average more than 150 points from her first two seasons, 1B Richard (.323, 5 doubles) brought her career average over .300, and Arrajj,
an honorable mention All-LEC catcher, batted .398 with 12 doubles and a home run. Arrajj and Scavuzzo shared the team lead in runs scored with 21 apiece, and Scavuzzo received the
team’s Panther Award.
“Scavuzzo had a great year, with the transition from shortstop to second base,” said Payne. “She was a key player in the infield, had to accept the responsibility of senior
leadership, and she came through.”
PSC also had three sophomores who were new to the program, but became regulars in the line-up. Angie LaPoint (Lancaster, NH/White Mtn. Reg.) joined the squad after her
stint on PSC’s basketball team, and took over at shortstop, and Shayna Johnson (Madison, NH/Kennett) and Michelle Sullivan (Rochester, NH/Spaulding) helped patrol the outfield.
LaPoint showed occasional pop with the bat, knocking out four doubles and three triples, and Johnson battled a couple of injuries but batted .328 in 23 games.
“With a couple of key recruits, in addition to the return of the younger players,” said Payne, “I think we can challenge for a spot in the top three in the Little East next season. It will
be tough, because our conference in so strong. It will be interesting to see if the LEC gets an automatic berth to the regionals because it’s so strong.”