By Steven Kimball
It is often tough for young teams to compete in the always-difficult Merrimack Valley Conference. However when you lose five seniors to graduation, a player to injury and yet another to a transfer, it becomes that much harder. Yet, these were the obstacles facing the Andover softball team as they confronted the season.
The biggest problem they faced was inexperience; the squad that advanced to the Division 1 state tournament last year graduated five seniors, including starting catcher Shannon Tully and star pitcher Taylor Farris. In addition Cassandra Hunt, a starter for the Warriors, transferred to Brooks. Injuries have also plagued the Warriors: Nicole Ericson tore her ACL while skiing; the injury ended her season.
Despite all of these setbacks the team has found a way to come together and put together a competitive 2013 campaign, highlighted by a 8-7 senior night walk off victory over Mascomet. In addition to recording a five-win campaign, the Warriors swept their season series with LawerenceHigh School. The Warriors coach Steve Tisbert had nothing but positive comments regarding his team’s play: “Despite the adversity we have faced, the team has played well and been competitive thus far.”
For the Warriors success has been found through hard work. Junior Mimi Olney noted, “We are definitely a hard working team, this work ethic has lead us to be competitive with some very tough teams this year.”
Another key factor in the team’s success thus far has been the unity amongst team members. “We have a very strong team bond, when we all work together we know we can be successful and play well,” explained junior Erin Nastari.
The Warriors’ final home game came against Masconomet, a team who had previously bested Andover. In the previous game the Warriors lost 9-8, yet just 11 days later the Warriors walked off with an 8-7 win.
Former Andover softball player Shannon Tulley explained, “I have been following the team and they continue to make strides. These strides have allowed them to continually become more competitive.”
Junior Mimi Olney expressed, “Even though we will not make the Division 1 state tournament there have been many memorable moments and games this year.”
It is uncharacteristic of a young team to show such reliance, despite so many obstacles. One thing is for sure: the record does not show how remarkable this team is.