With the spring sports season finally coming to a close on Cape Ann, there are several standout choices that could be my favorite.
On the lacrosse scene, Taylor Meek's game winner with 47 seconds remaining to propel Manchester Essex over Newburyport in the state tournament opener was a gutsy and memorable performance.
In softball action, freshman Tess Benson's walk-off single against All-League fire-baller Melody Manicinelli to lift Gloucester over a tough Lynnfield squad was no easy feat.
Stepping onto the dirt, Division 3 Cape Ann League Player of the Year Joe Burgess and Manchester Essex defeating Rockport in back to back contests to cap an improbable run that made them postseason eligible also stands as a top moment in the spring season. However, without a shadow of a doubt, the Rockport High School softball team's historic run in 2012 stands as my favorite.
With the many exciting and close games the Vikings had on the year, it is impossible to pick just one.
They were definitely a fun team to watch. Coach Dianne Parisi had her team very aggressive on the bases. Sophomores Mollie Watson and Gabby Muniz were arguably the most feared hitters in the CAL while senior pitcher Kristin Turner was masterful on the mound. Turner was rewarded with the CAL Division 3 Player of the Year award and deservedly so.
Starting the season off 8-0, coach Parisi's squad turned some heads. The team was off to its best start in school history and the offense was scoring runs left and right, however, the naysayers still had their doubts.
People often referred to their first eight games as cupcake games. They said that Rockport's non-league schedule was weak and that they would crumble against the class of the CAL. After falling to Masconomet and Newburyport in their first tough games of the season, the nonbeliever's predictions looked to be true.
That was until Amesbury came to town.
Having never beaten Amesbury before in varsity softball action, no one would have ever expected the Vikings to win the contest, especially trailing 3-0 after the first. I wont forget the three run bomb that Gabby Muniz hit to cement the comeback and send the Vikings on an amazing run the rest of the way. I'll also never forget waiting around for an interview while the excited girls sat around in a circle after the game and shared their favorite part of the win.
Who can forget the memorable extra-inning walk-off victory against Pentucket on senior day. Trailing by one in the last inning, the scrappy Vikings found a way to tie it. Even after giving up two more runs in the top of the 9th, Rockport found a way to push across three in the home-half. Mollie Watson had the decisive walk-off single to overcome three homers by Nicole Chevalier.
Continuing with the trend of walk-off hits, the playoff win against Whittier Tech truly displayed how clutch and gritty the Vikings were in 2012.
Down to their last strike and trailing by a run, the Vikings (16-5) reached down deep and somehow found a way to win. They were a team you could never count out, no matter the score or the odds.
With the season officially over, 2012 was a banner year for the Vikings. With all the great comebacks, I couldn't pick just one moment. Rockport being the best team in the CAL despite being one of the three smallest, deserved more than one favorite moment.