Every so often, there are a handful of athletes that make their mark as something special. They are incredibly gifted, have a unique skill set and are "gamers." These rare players are a coach's dream and have the ability to carry a team, however, they only appear once every few years, if lucky. Fortunately for Rockport, they have two of these "special" players in sophomores Gabby Muniz and Mollie Watson.
In 2010, Rockport had a 7-11 record and failed to make the postseason. Muniz was an 8th grader on the varsity and was getting extensive playing time. Mollie Watson joined Muniz on the Varsity in 2011 and they continued to get better. They added two more wins to their 2010 record while adding a Cape Ann League Division 3 Championship to their resume. They won in the preliminary round of the playoffs, but eventually fell to St. Mary's in the first-round. With another year under Gabby's and Mollie's belts, the team is reaching new heights in 2012.
The reigning 2011 Division 3 CAL Coach of the Year Dianne Parisi has her team off to the best start in school history at 11-2. Baring an incomprehensible meltdown, the Vikings 4-2 record in the CAL has another Division 3 CAL Championship all but wrapped up for them. Their four wins in the CAL this year has already exceeded their 3-8 mark in the league last year. They have out scored their opponents 149-39, while averaging 11 runs per game. Like they were last year, Muniz and Watson have been the leading catalyst's in their team's offensive barrage.
Muniz, the Division 3 Player of the Year in 2011 and All-League selection, hasn't been victim of the proverbial sophomore slump. She leads the team in almost every statistical category with video game-esque numbers in average (.521), on-base percentage (.582), hits (25), RBI (26), doubles (10) and home runs (3). Speaking of home runs, her biggest hit of the season is arguably the three-run blast she hit to right-center field against CAL powerhouse Amesbury. Amesbury entered the contest with an 11-1 record, but Gabby'a home run disposed of the Indians and marked the first time the Vikings have ever defeated Amesbury in Varsity softball action.
Watson has been just as big of a contributor as Muniz, as she is second in nearly every offensive category behind her classmate. She is second behind Muniz in average (.391), RBI (17), doubles (5) and on-base percentage (.554) while leading the team in stolen bases (7), walks (15) and runs (27). In a position that people expect little offensive production from because of its physical nature, Watson delivers day-in and day-out while being arguably the best defensive catcher in the CAL. Not going unnoticed, she was rewarded as an CAL all-star selection in 2011.
When asked about her two stand-outs, coach Dianne Parisi had nothing but great things to say about her two young sophomores.
"They are the kind of athletes that every coach loves to have." She said. "Gabby is student of the game. She has been playing shortstop for us, but she can play any position that we put her in and do well. Mollie is a force behind the plate and has kept us in many games by keeping the ball in front of her and throwing out runners. Teams know she is not a catcher you can take advantage of."
While Muniz and Watson have been sensational, there is much more to this talented Rockport team that goes unnoticed. Senior captains Kristin Turner and Amanda Chalmers have also been major contributors to the team's success. They have also been great leaders and excellent role models for the younger girls, and those intangibles are immeasurable.
Turner and Chalmers, much like Watson and Muniz, were thrown into the fire as freshman. They know what is like to be on the wrong-end of a lop-sided score. They understand what is like to be young and have high expectations on them. These are things that you acquire with age and experience and both captains have quote on quote "been there." Don't just measure these two girls by their leadership characteristics, as they have also been big contributors on the field.
Turner, like she has been since her freshman year, has been the Vikings ace and workhorse. She sports a sub-2 ERA, a hard-fastball and excellent control. She can work both corners of the plate with precision while featuring a devastating change-up. If you don't believe me, ask the last batter of the game for Amesbury, who struck-out to end the game and wasn't even close to hitting the fierce change-up. Turner isn't limited to just her duties on the mound, as she features an underrated offensive game.
Both Chalmers and Turner are underrated bats in a potent Rockport line-up, but don't think they go unnoticed by CAL opponents. Both girls feature batting averages over .300, with Chalmers hitting at a .357 clip and Turner at a .317 clip. Turner is tied for second on the team with five doubles, but none are as big as the two-out, 2-RBI double she hit in the first inning against Amesbury to tie the score. Chalmers is a staple in the 2-hole for the Vikings, as she does her job getting on-base and table setting. More importantly, she flashes the leather around often, as she is known for her defense prowess at second base.
What is even more impressive is the well-rounded nature of these four girls. All four are excellent student-athletes, as they all sport a 3.0 GPA or higher. All four are also involved in the community by fundraising, helping out with youth sports and partaking in such as events as Seniors Helping Seniors, which is a day when Rockport High School students travel to differently elderly households to assist with yard clean-up or miscellaneous chores.
At 11-2, don't sleep on this talented bunch of girls. They have stuck together and have gotten better in leaps and bounds in just two short years. This talented and tight-knit cohesive unit on a mission for respect from the CAL. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, this has already been a record breaking season and more importantly, a season of great success and achievement for the Vikings.