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TOWNSEND – When heading to North Middlesex softball games this season, arrive on time or early, because they are likely to be fast-paced affairs.

“One of our strengths is pitching and we are built around that pitching and defense,” said 17th year Lady Pats’ coach Pat Murphy. “We will be in a lot of low-scoring close games and it will be important that we not blink first. We must play strong defense and get some timely hits.”

Murphy likes his pitching depth, which includes junior Nicole Monroe, one of the best in Central Massachusetts, and sophomore Stacia Tenore, who has been impressive.

“Nicole gives us experience in her third varsity season,” said Murphy. “She is intense, has a strong desire to win, and has a willingness to carry the team. She throws hard and has worked hard and added a new pitch to her repertoire. Offensively, she is a strong hitter with power and will bat third. Nicole can keep us in every game this season.

“Stacia also throws hard and has good control and gives us an option,” said Murphy. “She is a strong hitter with power and I am looking to get her at bats.”

A trio of senior captains provide talent, experience and leadership in their fourth varsity season – catcher Erin Johnson, shortstop Ashley DuCharme, and second baseman Ashley Loomer.

“Erin gives us outstanding defense at a vital position,” said Murphy. “She has a strong arm and calls a good game. She handles the pitchers well and is a deterrent for opposing running games.

“Ashley DuCharme can play anywhere on the field and is very versatile,” said Murphy. “She pitched and played third base last season, but will be our shortstop. She is a line drive hitter with power to the alleys and she will bat leadoff. It is crucial that she set the table for us.

“Ashley Loomer is a sure-handed defensive player and is a slap hitter,” said Murphy. “She is a hard worker and has a lot of experience. All three of the captains are quiet leaders.”

Sophomore Amanda Quin will start at first, while the final starting infield berth, third base, is up for grabs between seniors Alicia Larsen and Cailey Watson.

“Amanda came up to the varsity at the end of last season and got a hit in her first at bat,” said Murphy. “She has a good arm and can hit the ball with power, and we are looking for offense from her.

“Alicia is tall and rangy and has a strong arm,” said Murphy. “We are looking for some power from her. Cailey was a part-time starter last season and has good quickness and fields bunts well. Alicia and Cailey are competing for the slot and third base could be a cooperative effort.”

Senior Kara Tansey and juniors Tracy Ericson and Leah Crisostamo will be the starting outfielders.

“Kara will start in left field,” said Murphy. “She is experienced and has a great attitude. She is a spray hitter and we are looking for offense from her.

“Tracy and Leah will start at the other two outfield positions, with the position yet to be determined,” said Murphy. “Tracy came off the bench last year and is a good athlete with speed and range. Offensively she is a spray hitter with good bunting skills and is a good baserunner.

“Leah was a part-time outfielder and designated hitter last year,” said Murphy. “She is a good hitter with a quick bat and will hit either fourth or fifth, and she also has a strong arm.”

Providing depth for the Lady Pats this season will be juniors Kim Hodder, Alicia Tenore, Kate Fitzpatrick, Sarah Schoorens and sophomore Leala Watson.

“Kim is a middle infielder who played on the junior varsity team last season,” said Murphy. “She is a left-handed hitter with good speed and baserunning ability. I am looking to get her bat into the lineup.

“Alicia is also a middle infielder who played JV last year,” said Murphy. “She is a left-handed hitter with good speed and bunting skills.

“Kate is a second baseman-outfielder who is up from the JV team,” said Murphy. “She works hard and does whatever is asked of her, and she will provide good speed off the bench.

“Sarah is an outfielder up from the JV team and is hard working, coachable and has a great attitude.

“Leala also played with the JV team last season and is a utility player who will provide speed off the bench.”

Besides pitching, what does Murphy like about his team?

“I like our experience,” he said. “We have six hungry seniors who are driven by not making Districts last season. I also like our defense. My concerns are hitting and a very tough schedule.”