By Tim Healey, Globe Correspondent
After dreaming of playing Division 1 college softball for as long as she can remember, Katie Casey took a huge step toward making that a reality Sunday night. Braintree’s senior righthander committed to Siena College during a weekend visit to campus that included taking in a Saints doubleheader.
Casey said coach Bill Lajeunesse made her an offer while they were talking between games, with the coach citing scouting reports from other collegiate coaches. Lajeunesse has never watched her pitch live — he’s only seen video — but he thought highly enough of Casey to make her an offer.
“I have dreamed of this ever since I was little,” said Casey, who didn’t commit to a Division 2 or 3 school in the hopes that a Division 1 opportunity would come. “Everything happens for a reason.”
Siena, located in Loudonville, N.Y., just outside Albany, is about three hours away from Braintree. Casey was visiting for admitted student day and wanted to attend, athletics aside. Lajeunesse’s offer clinched it.
She will major in biochemistry while completing a pre-dental track.
“When I walked onto campus, I just got that feeling,” Casey said. “I knew that’s where I wanted to go. I just felt comfortable there.”
Casey has pitched for the Wamps varsity since her freshman year, but she has been particularly impressive since her sophomore campaign. Since 2011, Casey has gone 20-9 with an ERA hovering around 1.50 while averaging more than a strikeout per inning.
In one of her two games this season, Casey no-hit Milton in a 15-1 win April 4.
Tim Healey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.
The Super 8 committee has some difficult decisions to make come Feb. 23 when the tournament-bound teams are announced, but consider this your personal cheat sheet to what the decision-makers will be discussing.
There’s still more than two weeks of hockey left to play, but there are already several teams that are shoo-ins, with the rest still fighting to punch their ticket. Here’s an in-depth look into the definite, probable and long shot bids for the 2013 Super 8 tournament.
Springfield Cathedral Panthers
Pros: The Panthers have taken down the likes of BC High back on Jan. 12, Archbishop Williams on Dec. 22 and destroyed most of their other opponents. Cathedral is undefeated, has just two ties and has scored 79 goals through 15 games. That comes out to an average of more than five goals per game. It’s hard to beat a team when you have to score more than six goals on average to take it down.
Cons: Cathedral could use a few more big wins to solidify the No. 1 seed in the tournament, with one of its best chances to do so coming on the road against in its second meeting with BC High on Feb. 7. A season sweep of the Eagles would be huge for the Panthers and barring a loss against St. John’s Prep Feb. 16, all but ensure the tournament’s No. 1 seed.
Games remaining: Feb. 7 at BC High, Feb. 9 vs. Mt. St. Charles Academy (RI), Feb. 14 at St. John’s (S), Feb. 16 vs. St. John’s Prep, Feb. 20 vs. Needham, Feb. 21 vs. St. Mary’s or Malden Catholic (tournament game)
St. John’s Prep
Pros: St. John’s Prep is close to clinching the Catholic Conference title with a 7-1 conference record and 13-2 record overall. The Eagles have been on a roll as of late, defeating Malden Catholic, BC High, Catholic Memorial, and Xaverian twice in their past six games. Upcoming games against Arlington Catholic Feb. 16 and the Cathedral game 10 days later are the biggest hurdles in the Prep’s way for the rest of the season. Regardless though, the team will in all likelihood finish either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Catholic Conference and thus make the tournament.
Cons: The Prep’s only real problem right now is the two losses, one of which came against BC High on Jan. 9. St. John’s did avenge that loss and defeat BC High in the second meeting on Jan. 26. What could derail one of the top two seeds for the Prep in the Super 8 would be a loss to either AC or Cathedral to end the year. As long as it finishes in the top two in the Catholic Conference though, the Prep will be skating in the tournament this season.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Arlington Catholic, Feb. 9 at St. John’s (S), Feb. 13 at Bishop Fenwick, Feb. 16 at Springfield Cathedral, Feb. 20 vs. Wakefield
Pros: The Eagles have one of the Commonwealth’s best goalies in Peter Cronin and top playmakers in Tom Besigner. It’s not often you see Besigner end a game without an assist or goal and Cronin has only surrendered more than two goals three times this season. BC High is going to be in the Super 8 and will be one of the hardest teams to score against in the field.
Cons: The Eagles were the Globe’s top ranked team for some time earlier this season but they’ve had some tough times since losing to Cathedral on Jan. 12. Coach John Flaherty’s team lost to the Prep and face off with the Panthers Feb. 7. BC High still has an outside chance at the Catholic Conference title and a top three seed in the Super 8 but it needs to get back on track starting against Cathedral at UMass-Boston this week.
Games Remaining: Feb. 7 vs. BC High, Feb. 13 at St. Mary’s Lynn, Feb. 16 vs. Duxbury (Cape Cod Classic) Feb. 22 at St. John’s (S)
Pros: First in the Middlesex League, recently crushed second place Winchester, 5-0, and has lost just one game this whole season. The Rockets have been doing their best to show the Massachusetts hockey scene they’re for real and it’s kind of hard to say they’re not right now.
Cons: Lost to BC High Dec. 29 which was one of Reading’s most notable opponents all season. They score plenty of goals with 61 this season but some of the Rockets’ opponents this season aren’t as strong. Reading can and should finish the season undefeated in the league though, which will be a big help seeding wise in the Super 8.
Games remaining: Feb. 4 vs. Burlington, Feb. 6 vs. Belmont, Feb. 9 at Arlington, Feb. 13 vs. Woburn, Feb. 16 at Wilmington.
Pros: Rallied to tie Cathedral on Jan. 21, 8-0-1 and first in the Merrimack Valley Conference with 63 goals on the year. As long as CC wraps up the MVC, expect to see them as one of the first names announced for the Super 8.
Cons: A win against Cathedral would have been much more impressive than a tie, but the rally in the third period helps make up for that. With several tough contests left on the schedule, it’ll be interesting to see how the Raiders wind out the season, which will end up determining when and who they play in the tournament.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Malden Catholic, Feb. 9 at Chelmsford, Feb. 13 vs. Waltham, Feb. 16 at Andover, Feb. 18 at Catholic Memorial.
Pros: The Cougars are fresh off a Feb. 2 win over Arlington Catholic, defeated Central Catholic Jan. 9 and tied CC in the second meeting. Whoever wins the Catholic Central League will be in the tournament. Austin Prep is tied with Archbishop Williams so the selection of AP as a "definite" here could just as easily have been the Archies.
Cons: Prep doesn't have much in the ways of cons but the season may very well come down to the Feb. 13 game between the Bishops and Cougars. Unless either the aforementioned teams lose before then, that's where the Catholic Central League will be decided.
Games Remaining: Feb. 6 vs. Matignon, Feb. 9 at Andover, Feb. 13 vs. Archbishop Williams, Feb. 18 vs. Hingham (Cape Cod Classic)
Pros: The Knights started the season annihilating teams, outscoring their first three opponents 15-5 to start the year. Captains Liam Coughlin and Jack O’Hear are two of the best forwards you can ask for on offense. CM beat Malden Catholic, 7-4, on Jan. 8 and defeated three days prior to that contest.
Cons: CM has lost its mental edge of late, losing to MC, St. John’s Prep, BC High and Barnstable over its past five contests. The Barnstable loss doesn’t count against the Knights’ overall record but it doesn’t help win over any committee members either.
Games remaining: Feb. 9 vs. Xaverian, Feb. 16 at Braintree, Feb. 18 vs. Central Catholic, Feb. 20 at Fairfield College Prep (CT)
Pros: Leading the Carey Division in the Bay State Conference with a 10-2 league record and wins over Weymouth and Framingham. The 2011 Super 8 tournament saw two BSC teams taken which helps the Wamps’ chances of being invited to the dance.
Cons: Braintree lost to Framingham in the two teams' first meeting of the season on Jan. 5 along and picked up two losses to Division 2 Newburyport and Barnstable during the Cape Cod Freezeout tournament.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Needham, Feb. 9 vs. Weymouth, Feb. 13 vs. Walpole, Feb. 16 vs. Catholic Memorial, Feb. 19 vs. St. Peter Marian, Feb. 21 at Brockton
Pros: A history of Super 8 appearances and success in the tournament helps the Harbormen. The 11-5-1 record is good, not great, but the 2010 Super 8 champions have some notable games coming up to boost their record and public opinion.
Cons: Hingham took losses to almost every big name opponent this year, including St. John’s Prep, Malden Catholic, Catholic Memorial, Cathedral and tied with Reading.
Games remaining: Feb. 9 at Marshfield, Feb. 11 vs. Winchester, Feb. 16 vs. Austin Prep (Cape Cod Classic)
Pros: The Archies are tied with Austin Prep atop the Catholic Central Conference and are currently undefeated in league play, so feel free to consider them on the same level as AP. The Bishops crushed Arlington Catholic, 7-2, back on Jan. 26 after tying 1-1 earlier in the season. They also tied Austin Prep and beat Chelmsford in the Cape Cod Cup.
Cons: The Archies only chance to add another big win comes against Austin Prep on Feb. 13, though that could change if things go the Bishops’ way in the Cape Cod Classic.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 vs. Bishop Fenwick, Feb. 13 at Austin Prep, Feb. 16 vs. Waltham (Cape Cod Classic)
Pros: It might be a tad unfair to call the Red Raiders a long shot considering some of their big tournament wins. Barnstable beat Braintree in the Cape Cod Freezeout consolation game after losing to Cathedral in a shootout the round prior. They also defeated Catholic Memorial in the Nate Nickerson Invitational via shootout before defeating Falmouth (ME) to win the tournament.
Cons: Other than those wins and a tie against Duxbury to start the season, there’s not a whole lot of tough competition on Barnstable’s record. Figuring in the Red Raiders have never been in the Super 8 is also something to consider.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 at Bridgewater-Raynham, Feb. 13 vs. Falmouth, Feb. 18 at Marshfield, Feb. 20 vs. Winchester (Cape Cod Hockey Showdown), Feb. 21 vs. Mansfield or Westfield (Cape Cod Hockey Showdown)
Pros: Division 2 Wilmington is the No. 1 team in the Middlesex League’s Freedom division, with just one loss to a division foe all year. The defending Division 2 state champion Wildcats also pulled out a big win against Winchester Jan. 26 and lost to Malden Catholic by just one goal on Jan. 14. If a Division 2 team is to make the Super 8, it could be Wilmington. The schedule proves they can play with the big boys.
Cons: Being a Division 2 team is a concern in the committee’s eyes and maybe, just maybe, Wilmington would say "thanks, but no thanks" to a Super 8 invite. But wins over Burlington and Reading to end the season might change their minds.
Games remaining: Feb. 6 vs. Melrose, Feb. 9 vs. Wakefield, Feb. 13 at Burlington, Feb. 16 vs. Reading, Feb. 18 at Acton-Boxboro, Feb. 20 vs. Tewksbury
Pros: The Panthers have absolutely owned practically every team they’ve played this season, with a 13-0-1 record and 70 goals scored so far. The only tie came against Newburyport on the road in a 0-0 stalemate.
Cons: If D2 is bad for Wilmington, then it’s worse for the Panthers. At least in the Wildcats’ case, they’ve beat some big name teams like Winchester and they play in a Division 1 league. Beverly hasn’t played any top teams this year which gives them little leverage when trying to compare its resume to Wilmington’s. A good Division 2 team, it’s hard to see Beverly getting, or wanting, a bid.
Games remaining: Feb. 9 at Winthrop, Feb. 13 vs. Danvers, Feb. 16 vs. Gloucester, Feb. 18 at Peabody, Feb. 20 at Lynnfield, Feb. 22 vs. Marblehead
We thought long and hard about dropping Braintree after a 51-42 loss to top girls' basketball recruit, Mercedes Russell and Springfield (Ore.), at the Hoophall Classic on Friday. But eventually it came down to Massachusetts. We did not think the Wamps should be penalized for losing to an out-of-state team, although they did play fairly well against the Millers.
Bottom line is, Braintree is still the best despite the loss.
And this means there isn't too much movement in this week's poll. The top 10 teams remain in place. The only changes take place in the bottom half of the poll.
No.13 Westford's loss caused some shifting, which allowed No. 11 Lynn English and No.12 Arlington Catholic each to move up one spot. Previously, unbeaten Ipswich's close loss to No.7 Pentucket caused them to drop to No.17, moving Andover up to No.14.
No.15 Fontbonne and No.16 St.Marry's both jumped two spots after No.18 Scituate and No.19 Lincoln-Sudbury suffered losses on Tuesday.
Next week's poll may see more changes in the top half because Medfield's first big test after a losing to Fontbonne earlier in the season comes Thursday, when they visit Archbishop Williams.
The moment Ben Waldrip first stepped on the diamond at Medford High, he caught the attention of Mike Nestor.
“Ben was a large, tall gifted athlete who was still coming into his own and really didn’t develop as a pure first baseman and hitter until his sophomore and junior year,” said Nestor, then an assistant coach with the Mustangs, and now the head coach.
“He worked tirelessly at his hands and at his hitting. His attitude and work ethic were by far superior.”
That relentless drive and hard work paid off has paid off for Waldrip. A 6-foot-6, 245-pound first baseman at Jacksonville State, he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 10th round (318th overall) of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft on Tuesday, one of five players with local ties to be selected.
Waldrip, who hit .330 with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs this season, was previously selected by the Atlanta Braves (42nd round, 2010) and the Kansas City Royals (40th round, 2011).
Waldrip, the MVP of the Greater Boston League as a senior, started his collegiate career at Saint Anselm in the Northeast-10 fore a season at Cypress Junior College.
Malden Catholic grad Dario Pizzano, the Ivy League's Player of the Year as a junior at Columbia, went to the Seattle Mariners in the 15th round (461st pick overall).
This season, starting all 44 games in left field, the 5-9, 200-pound left-handed hitter batted .360 with four homers and 36 RBIs. The Globe's Player of the Year in 2009 for coach Steve Frecker at Malden Catholic, Pizzano was a .364 career hitter at Columbia.
“He’s a great worker and a great person,” Columbia coach Brett Boretti said. “He’s really made himself into a really strong hitter and has worked on all facets of his game, and he’s been our best hitter for a few years since he’s been here.
“He’s real consistent at the bat and gotten the most out of his ability and he’s very excited about opportunity that lies ahead.”
Boston College senior shortstop Anthony Melchionda (Thayer Academy/Braintree) was chosen by the world champion St. Louis Cardinals in the 14th round (450th overall). At BC, he was a .310 hitter this season with 35 RBIs and led the Eagles with 39 runs scored.
He ranks sixth all-time in career hits (205) for the Eagles.
At Thayer Academy, Melchionda was named MVP of the Independent School League (ISL) as a senior.
Tewksbury High grad Scott Oberg, a senior right-hander at the University of Connecticut, went to the Colorado Rockies in the 15th round (468th overall) after posting a 5-0 mark (with a 0.99 ERA) out of the bullpen for the Huskies. The 6-2, 205-pound Oberg has a 14-2 career record in Storrs.
He was a two-time Globe All-Scholastic in 2007 and 2008, and was also named the MVP of the Merrimack Valley League both seasons.
"I was thrilled when I heard my name called," Oberg told the Globe's Ryan MacInnis. "[The Rockies] had called a couple of times throughout the draft, so I had a good feeling they were going to take me. ... I've been waiting for this day my whole life."
A number of others received calls on Wednesday, headlined by Southern New Hampshire junior southpaw Tim Flight of Portsmouth, R.I., taken with the 547th pick (17th round) by the Yankees. Flight (9-1, 1.30 ERA) was the ABCA Division 2 Pitcher of the Year.
* LHP Nate Koneski (Holy Cross/Dennis-Yarmouth HS); Mariners, 21st round (581)
* RHP Steve Perakslis (University of Maine/Abington HS); Cubs, 21st (644)
* RHP Travis Dean (Kennesaw State/Worcester Academy/Newton South); Rangers, 22nd (696)
* Tucker Healey (Ithaca/Needham); Athletics, 23rd (709)
* LHP Andrew Leenhouts (Northeastern/Franklin HS); Giants, 23rd (718)
* OF Rhett Wiseman (Buckingham, Browne & Nichols, Mansfield); Cubs, 25th
* 1B Chris Shaw (Lexington HS); Mets, 26th (800)
* RHP Dennis Torres (UMass-Amherst, Central Catholic); Orioles, 28th (852)
* OF Michael Yastrzemski (Vanderbilt/St. John's Prep); Mariners, 30th (911)
* LHP Brent Suter (Harvard); Mariners, 31st (965)
* LHP Andrew Ferreira (Harvard/Bishop Hendricken/Rehoboth); Twins, 32d (970)
* 1B/C Jon Leroux (Northeastern/Auburn); Mets, 32d (980)
* LHP Chris Pickering (Rhode Island); Giants, 32d (988)
* RHP Pat Delano (Braintree HS); Red Sox, 35th (1081)
* C Jacob Kapstein (Tiverton, R.I.); Tigers, 35th (1084)
They join University of Memphis pitcher Dan Langfield of Somerset, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the third round (109th overall).
Langfield compiled a 7-6 record with a 2.79 earned run average in 93.2 innings this season. He wrapped up his career with 252 strikeouts, ranking third all-time in program history.
"Couldn't be happier where I ended up playing college for the U of Memphis. Now moving on to the Cinci Reds! Can't wait! #gotigersgo #Reds"
Langfield, a member of Somerset's Division 2 state championship team in 2006, was an Eastern Athletic League all-star as a senior in 2009 when he struck out 118 in 57.1 innings with a 5-2 mark and 0.85 ERA.
He is following in the footsteps of his father, Paul, who pitched at Providence College before brief stints in the minors with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Detroit Tigers.
“It’s good to win here at the Garden and we just have Saturday to see what we can do,” Andover coach Jim Tildsley said. “I’m very excited, very happy for my kids.”
Andover (26-0) went on an 8-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to take a nine-point lead. Sophomore forward Rebecca Alois began the run with a layup under the basket before senior guard Nicole Boudreau (22 points) took over, netting two three-pointers and two free throws to push the score to 47-36.
“My teammates trust me to step up in those situations,” Boudreau said. “Rebecca helped me out there with a couple of layups and it’s a total team effort.”
Braintree got within six with just over three minutes left, but Andover’s defense was too much down the stretch.
Braintree (22-3) opened a 6-0 lead to start the game. Andover didn’t get on the board until Boudreau hit two free throws at the 3:46 mark of the first quarter. Braintree's fast-paced offense stumped Andover, and Braintree led 13-7 after the first quarter.
“We weren’t playing good defense,” Boudreau said.
Andover climbed back in the second quarter. Senior guard Ally Fazio netted a layup and then a three to give Andover an 18-17 lead midway through the quarter. The teams traded baskets for the rest of the half, and Braintree led, 25-23, at halftime.
Andover increased its defensive pressure in the third quarter and held Braintree to 14 points in the second half. Junior forward Jackie Alois hit a jumper from the baseline to tie the game for Andover with 6:23 left in the third, but Braintree’s Molly Reagan got it right back with a layup of her own at the other end.
“I just thought the second half, defensively, we just played really, really well,” Tildsley said. “We’re talented, but we have a lot of heart out there.”
Andover took its first two-point lead of the game when junior guard Devon Caveney netted a layup and was fouled with 59.8 second left in the third quarter. She hit the free throw and Andover led 31-29.
“Devon struggled in that first quarter, but she played a heck of a second half,” Tildsley said. “And what can you say about those two Alois girls? We just did a really great job rebounding.”
Andover began the fourth on a 4-0 run with baskets from sophomore guard Rebecca Alois from a nifty pass from Boudreau and Caveney. Braintree answered with a basket from Reagan with just over six minutes to play and Andover led 37-36. That was as close as Braintree got, because Andover used an 8-0 run to seal the victory.
Freshman forward Molly Reagan hit two late free throws and sophomore guard Jenn Guen had seven points off the bench as second-seeded Braintree defeated top-seeded Franklin, 51-46, for the Division 1 South girls’ title at UMass-Boston Saturday.
‘‘This is unbelievable,’’ said Braintree coach Kristen McDonnell. ‘‘I have personally dreamt about [reaching TD Garden] for a long time, and I think these kids, they’re absolutely riding this crazy high that they’re on right now, and I’m so happy they get to experience it.’’
Braintree advances to the Division 1 Eastern Mass final where the Wamps will face Andover, the two-time defending state champion Tuesday.
Franklin jumped out to a 38-34 lead late in the third, but a 3-pointer and a late layup by Annie Kate Joycecq put the Wamps up, 39-38, entering the the final period.
With seven seconds remaining in the game, and Franklin down 47-44, Franklin’s Catie Phelan took a potential game-tying three from the left corner, but hit the side of the rim.
Franklin finished 4 of 13 from both 3-point range and the free throw line. Senior Alicia Wilde led the Panthers with 11 points.
‘‘Sometimes it comes down to who’s on and who’s off, and the ball fell for us when it needed to,’’ McDonnell said. ‘‘These kids really dug deep. I’m so proud of them.’’
After trailing 16-11 early in the first, Franklin went on a 13-2 run to start the second quarter. The Wamps came back a bit, late in the second quarter, but went to the locker room trailing, 29-28.
‘‘We came into the halftime really excited, really happy with where we were,’’ McDonnell said. ‘‘I thought we had a good battle in the first half. So to come out with it, our momentum, we hit a couple shots and I thought we would be OK.’’
The momentum seemed to sway in favor of the Wamps midway through the third quarter when Guen took a hard charge that sent her to the floor.
Following the charge, Guen received the ball at the top of the key and made an outlet pass to senior guard Paige Marshall (game-high 15 points) in the left corner, who drained the three to tie the game at 34.
‘‘We’re a really physical team, and we get energized when anybody either goes at us or we go at them,’’ McDonnell said. ‘‘I think we needed it to get to that level and to get a little emotion into us. We came out to the to start the second half a little flat to start, and I thought once that [charge] happened, we really picked it up.’’
BRIDGEWATER -- Junior point guard Kelly Martin scored 17 points and senior center Shannon Brady netted 18 of her 22 points in the second half and overtime as the Scituate High girls' basketball team stormed back from a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter to defeat Braintree, 57-51, Monday night in the final of the Harry A. Lehmann tournament at Bridgewater State University.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of good wins,” said Scituate coach Brian Buckley after his team capped a 20-0 regular season.
“We didn’t handle the ball as well as we wanted to and we didn’t shoot as well as we wanted to, but in terms of guts, that was as good a comeback as we’ve ever had. My kids just showed they had great fortitude to hang in there against a very, very good team.”
Braintree(18-2), the Bay State Carey champ, controlled the game for most of the first half. After being down early, the Wamps went on a 15-2 run to end the first quarter to lead, 22-10. With 2:58 left in the half, the Wamps surged ahead, 29-14, on Rachel Norton’s third 3-pointer of the first half.
Even after a 6-0 run to finish the second quarter, the Sailors trailed, 29-20, heading into the break.
“We played some zone, which was my fault. We shouldn’t have been playing zone against that team,” said Buckley.
“I felt if their shots aren’t going down it’ll give us a breather because they have more depth than we do. Once our kids made a few shots and made a few stops they started to believe, and I told them to keep chipping away, chipping away, chipping away.”
The Sailors found their groove in the second half . After falling behind, 40-26, with 3:06 to go in the third, Scituate went on a 7-0 run, with senior guard Kate Lemire hitting a 3-pointer and Brady tossing in timely hook shots down low.
In the fourth, solid defense by Martin, Brady, and senior forward Megan Otto held Braintree to 6 total points. Meanwhile, Brady and Martin chipped away at the lead, combining for 9 of the 13 Sailor points in the final frame.
After Scituate went ahead, 44-43, with under five minutes to go the team traded buckets the last five minutes before moving to overtime tied at 48.
In OT, Brady scored 6 of Scituate's 9 points, including clutch free throws and hook shots down the stretch to secure the victory.
Martin, for her stellar play on both ends of the court, was named tourney MVP.
“We all deserved [the MVP award],” said Martin. “It was a great team effort. I’m not taking the credit and I’m not saying I did everything. It was just a whole team effort. If I could give it to the whole team I would.”
The Sailors will earn the first or second seed in the Division 2 bracket, which will be released on Friday. Medfield is also 20-0.
Norton led Braintree with 16 points, including four 3-pointers.
Braintree High School students and faculty are mourning the death of Kyle Piazza, a math teacher and varsity track coach who died this weekend from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Piazza, a 2001 graduate of North Quincy High School, began working for Braintree High School shortly after graduating from Westfield State in 2005.
A math teacher by trade, Piazza turned his talents to coaching in 2010 when he was hired as the varsity girls' indoor track coach, specializing as a throws coach in the javelin, shot put, and discus. He was also an assistant with the football team, as well as assistant girls' outdoor coach.
Cancer treatment forced Piazza to put a halt on both his teaching and coaching last October.
Today, school administrators said the 28-year-old’s legacy lives on in the minds and hearts of his students.
“He was a great man, especially for what he brought to Braintree High School…passion, persistence, and pride,” said Braintree High athletic director Michael Denise.
“He was the biggest supporter and the biggest positive influence than anyone could be with our students and student athletes ... He always worked with our kids until they understood what they needed to know, and I think as a coach he was a true teacher in his methods and techniques to make the student athletes successful.”
Although he was head coach for the girls' indoor program for just season, his impact was considerable: one athlete broke the school record in the shot put.
“That’s how good of a coach he was and how persistent he was with his student athletes in getting the most out of them every single day,” Denise said.
Overall, Piazza was a successful mentor and teacher, helping out as a game administrator when need be, and being a comrade to much of the student body.
His energy will be missed within the BHS community.
“Outside of coaching and teaching he would play Wiffle ball with his students, would throw a Frisbee, he always seemed to have a following, he had a magnetic personality that students just went to. He’s every young educator a building wishes it could have, because he was such a positive influence,” Denise said.
For now, students, administrators, and friends have been celebrating Piazza’s life, Denise said.
“We’ve kept it in a positive light all day long…and the kids and faculty are supporting each other,” he said.
Grief councilors are available for students at the high school. Additionally, at tomorrow night’s senior night, the girls soccer team will host a 50/50 raffle and be asking for donations. All proceeds will be donated to cancer research.
The football team will also be wearing the letters KP on their helmets for the remainder of the season.
In addition, the new Student Athlete of the Month awards, which will go to a male and female student every month, will be named after Kyle Piazza.
“It’s an individual so young that had so much to offer students in their lives,” Denise said. “It’s just a shame. It doesn’t seem fair.”
Mansfield stepped up from the No. 2 spot in the Globe Top 20 girls basketball rankings to No. 1 with another pair of wins last week and remains undefeated, 15-0 overall and 13-0 in the Hockomock (Kelley-Rex). Andover took a tumble to No. 3 from No. 1 after losing to No. 2 Central Catholic on Sunday, while Central moved up one spot No. 3 to No. 2 with their first victory against their Merrimack Valley Conference rival. With this slide of power in the MVC, it's looking like there will be a tie for the title again this year.
A little further down, Scituate fell one spot to No. 10 after losing to Mansfield and Franklin moved into their former spot. Norwell jumped from No. 14 to No. 11 with two more wins. Coyle & Cassidy remains at No. 12. Pentucket is static at No. 13 while Cohasset moved up one spot to No. 14, with Acton-Boxboro right behind them at No. 15, up from last week's No. 17 slot.
Woburn climbed from No. 19 to No. 16 and St. Mary's fell six spots to No. 17 after losing to unranked Arlington Catholic, 56-32. Fenway broke into the rankings at No. 18 with two more Boston City League wins, while Braintree slipped a spot to No. 19 after losing to Newton North. Quincy steps in at the No. 20 spot after Duxbury fell off the ranking chart. Quincy has a 13-2 overall record and a 7-game win streak.
Not much changed in terms of the top 10 except for St. Mary's falling one slot to No. 11 after losing to No. 3 Central Catholic, 63-44. No. 1 Andover through No. 9 Scituate held strong. Each team added at least one W to the win column despite another snow-riddled week.
A little bit lower in the Top 20, Braintree dropped two spots to No. 18 after a 49-40 defeat by unranked Newton North. Natick switched places with Braintree after two victories over Newton North and Walpole. Stoneham's back-to-back losses earlier in the month bumped them out of the rankings and made room for Woburn at the No. 19 spot.
No. 20 Duxbury barely held on to its spot after taking a beating from Quincy 59-40 on Friday night, but the real test of the Green Dragons on-court prominence will come against No. 7 New Bedford tonight at home at 6:30 p.m.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.