As winter comes to a close, Oyster River High School’s spring sports teams are gearing up for their upcoming season. All eight teams are looking to bond as a team, beat rivals, make playoffs, and fulfill their goals. Here’s a look into each of the eight teams:
Despite losing two baseball commits, Brennen Oxford (‘18) and Tyler McKenna (‘18), and coming off of an unexpected record of 3-13, the boys baseball team is hoping to rebound this season. Captains Owen Tonkin (‘19) and Max Lewis (‘19), who are committed to play baseball at Southern New Hampshire University and Nichols College, respectively, will have the opportunity to fill their shoes. These two seniors will be pivotal components to the team’s success and transition from their old coach, Craig Walfield, to new coach, Cameron Calato. Lewis noted that, “last year was not what we expected so this year is about coming out strong and proving that we are still a top contender in the league. The hardest thing about having a new coach is usually getting to know him and gain their trust.” He continued, saying, “but Coach Calato has been an assistant before so there is already a level of trust there. He is going to lead us to a standout season.” The boys baseball team will be able to test their abilities against St. Thomas Aquinas in their home opener on Monday, April 8th at 4:30 PM.
After ending last season 6-11, girls softball is prepared to make it further this upcoming season. Some returning key varsity athletes include Madi Brown-Bloom (‘19), Jackie Carter (‘19), Jadyn Cunningham (‘20), and Carissa Miller (‘21). Along with this, a strong group of underclassmen, including Hailey Davis (‘21), Madla Walsh (‘21), and Ella Cavicchi (‘21), are returning members to the varsity team, and Gracie Gagne (‘22) will be joining the program. A big goal for this year will be winning the first round of playoffs as it has only been accomplished four times in the history of the program. Brown-Bloom added, “another goal is to improve our run output because we do a great job defensively but need to score more runs. Building upon our pitching is also going to be huge.” Aside from the tactical improvements, Brown-Brown mentioned that what will allow them to advance on is the “strong team chemistry and support. We all have a strong desire to constantly do our best and push each other to do the best we possibly can.” Like the baseball team, softball will kick off their season against St. Thomas Aquinas in their home opener on Monday, April 8th at 4:30 PM.
With the departure of key college commits and top scorers, Nick Ackerman (‘18) and Max Litchfield (‘18), and the loss of skillful goalie, Taylor Clyde (‘21), to private school, boys lacrosse is counting on their core group of seniors to lead the team. One of these seniors is Tucker Henry (‘19), who noted that, “the seniors are going to play a pivotal role in the continuation of the program as lacrosse seems to be dying at Oyster River. The upperclassmen are also going to have to help the underclassmen to be more willing to take up and continue to play lacrosse.” He continued, saying, “this season will be one of the most difficult seasons for this sport as many lacrosse players have quit. We look forward to underclassmen leading the team for this year and upcoming years in order to find success in the long run.” Although this season sounds like a year devoted to rebuilding the program, the team is still looking to make it far. Henry highlighted that he, along with the rest of the team, wants to make playoffs. The team starts their season at St. Thomas Aquinas on Tuesday, April 9th at 4:00 PM.
With a dozen returning players from last year’s varsity squad, a strong foundation, and a number of talented underclassmen, the girls lacrosse team is looking strong. The new coach, Erin Murphy, originally worked with University of New Hampshire’s Women’s Club Lacrosse Team and then coached at St. Thomas Aquinas in Dover for a year. She is now looking to hit the ground running and build upon the program. Murphy hopes to have a junior-varsity team once again and also hopes to expand the girls lacrosse program as a whole even more. Along with this, as the team made it to the quarterfinals last season, the girls lacrosse team is looking to make it even further this year. The main focus for the girls team this season will be: “coming together as a team and working hard at every practice. I also think we need to put faith in our new coach to make the the right decisions and help lead us,” said Madeline Alphonse (‘19). The girls’ first game is a home opener against Merrimack Valley on Monday, April 8th at 4:30 PM.
Returning to boys tennis is a core group of talented athletes including Rohit Kantipudi (‘19), Joe Morrell (‘20), Eric Donovan (‘20), and Jesse Gushee (‘20). After being unable to make it past the first round of playoffs last season, the boys team is looking strong as the upperclassmen and underclassmen alike are preparing for a competitive season. The boys are planning on working hard to achieve their goals of building team chemistry, practicing a great amount, and playing their best tennis every match this season. Kantipudi highlighted this, saying, “since most of us don’t play year round, it’s a matter of getting back in the groove and maintaining consistency that will allow us to go far this season.” The boys’ first match is at Lebanon on Wednesday, April 3rd at 4:30 PM.
The bond of this team and the skills that these players have is what will make this team successful. Marian Bulkley (‘20) brings a great amount of talent to the team as she is ranked number one in the state for Division II athletics. Along with Bulkley, other key competitors include Kirsten Bornkessel (‘20), Iris Yu (‘20), and Lavinia Palmer (‘21). Despite losing one of their head coaches, Bob Heuchling, and a few strong seniors, the girls still have the drive to do well this season. Jane Spear (‘19), another competitive player and one of the leaders of the team, said, “what will allow our team to go far is to not underestimate ourselves and not put too much pressure on ourselves for a certain ranking or win.” The girls’ first match is at home against Manchester West on Wednesday, April 3rd at 4:30 PM.
Track & Field
The boys’ and girls’ track and field teams are looking to carry their success into the coming spring season after having a strong last season. Despite losing relay specialists and record-holding runners Connor Manning (‘18), Grant Heine (‘18), Jacob Zercher (‘18), Lydia Hoffman (‘18), and Eleanor Zwart (‘18), for the boys and girls sprinters, athletes like Devan McClain (‘19), Laurel Gordon (‘19), Amelia Concannon (‘19), and Cam St. Ours (‘19) will still wrack up a number of points this coming season. Regarding distance, record-holding runner, Danielle Slavin (‘18), was an unfortunate loss. Although, Lily Doody (‘20), Olivia Lenk (‘20), and Madison Hoppler (‘20) as well as Trevor Sassaman (‘20), Andy O’Brien (‘21), and Owen Fleischer (‘21), will keep the distance side strong. Several of these athletes, along with other track athletes, have been training through the winter and a number of these female runners were a part of the indoor track and field group winning the Division II State Championship. Coming off of that, Concannon said, “it will take a lot of focus, working together, and pushing each other to achieve a goal that we all want.” Track and field’s first meet will be on Friday, April 5th at Souhegan at 4:00 PM.
Coed Unified Volleyball
This spring, the seasonal sport for unified athletics is changing from track and field to volleyball. The main goal for this season is to increase the involvement in the unified spring sport and provide students with more opportunities. Athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their partners alike are excited for the coming season. One of these unified athletes, Hannah Proulx (‘21), said: “I am really excited about this season, getting involved as a student with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and working with other ORHS students. I really want to work on my serve too.” She continued, saying, “I hope we win a championship and bring it back to ORHS.” The unified team will be able to show of their new volleyball skills at Dover on Monday, April 15th at 4:00 PM.
To stay updated on how these teams do this spring, be sure to regularly check Mouth of the River’s website, mor.news. Additionally, be sure to check Mouth of the River’s Instagram page, @mormagazine, for game updates and highlights.
Written by Abby Schmitt
Photos by Runner’s Alley & Sources from the Article