PEPPERELL — All coaches can ask for is their players listen and learn, give their best and improve throughout the season. Head coach Tom Hartner, and assistant coaches Glenn Caswell and Colleen Prescott got exactly that with the Pepperell Thunder.
The Thunder recently concluded their season by finishing second in the North Central Softball League Tournament in the most exciting of manners. They rallied from four runs down in the final inning of their first playoff game against Ashby to win a 19-18 thriller.
In their next game, they topped the opener, rallying from 11 runs down in the last inning to send their game against Townsend into extra innings, before winning 20-19.
In the finals, they made another big for a come-from-behind victory against Lunenburg but fell short 11-9.
The Thunder was paced by a four-player nucleus, whose experience and talent led the way. That quartet was Haley Dupell, a pitcher-catcher-infielder, Kelsey Burns, a pitcher-third baseman, Nicole Hammond, a third-baseman-catcher, and Olivia Carney, a first baseman.
“Haley is versatile, talented and is a clutch player,” said Caswell. “She is a very good hitter and can play any position. Kelsey is a good all-around talent both offensively and defensively and has a strong arm. Nicole is another player with a lot of all-around ability, and she has a great attitude. Olivia is very team oriented and is a strong defensive player.”
While those four players were the cornerstone of the team, the progress of the remaining players on the roster keyed the late-season surge. They included infielder Jennifer Moll, outfielder Sarah Murray, second baseman-outfielder Morgan Perry, infielder Jacquelyn Potvin, infielder Stephanie Nelson, outfielder Kacey Hartner, outfielder Maggie Prescott, second baseman Brittany Caswell, catcher Katelyn Corbin, outfielder Emily Medrek, and outfielder Courtney Wise.
“The progress of those girls was instrumental in our strong showing in the playoffs,” said Caswell. “They were the younger kids but they learned skills and kept improving throughout the season. They learned from both the coaches and the older kids.”
What was the strength of this team?
“I think the way the entire team came together at the end of the season,” said Caswell. “They were supportive of each other and became good friends. I think the chemistry we had was helpful in the playoffs and the character of the girls really showed in the playoffs with the two come-from-behind wins. Those two wins were phenomenal.”
Caswell also lauded the work of head coach Tom Hartner.
“Tom came here after coaching boys league league,” he said. “His experience and skills were vital and he did a great job of bringing this team together.”