HYANNIS — Last season, Nauset’s softball team dropped its opener 22-1 at Wareham. This year, the team was rocked 12-0 by perennial juggernaut Sturgis East-West.
But unlike last year, the Warriors didn’t have to wait for the fourth game of the year to get their first win. They have now run off nine wins in a row since that opening loss to the Storm, including a trio of shutouts.
They never doubted they could do it.
“We knew the potential we had coming into the season with the players we had coming back,” said co-captain Lili Hay. Despite losing five seniors, the Warriors returned with both starting pitchers — Hay and fellow senior Kaylee Davis — as well as Grace Harris behind the plate and infielders Ava Doyle and Jillian Parrott.
“We put in a lot of work during the off-season, and it has paid off,” said Hay. “We knew we had a good dynamic on and off the field.”
That dynamic has been infectious. The energy level is potent and fuels the bats. It’s led to some comedic moments and a lot of celebrations. In Nauset’s 11-8 win over Barnstable on April 28, Hay connected with a swing that sent the ball to the outfield gap. With her speed, it could easily have been a home run. But she tripped on first base and tumbled to the dirt. When a teammate later drove her in for a run, she laughed as she crossed home plate.
She got her revenge against St. John Paul II on May 1, cracking two home runs. She didn’t trip.
The team hasn’t tripped up either, picking up wins in convincing fashion. They swept the season series with the Lions, outscoring them 28-2 in the process. They blanked Nantucket 14-0. But they’ve also won close ones, including a 20-19 slugfest at Falmouth. And they came back to score two runs in the final two innings to beat Sandwich.
Yes, this season is a lot different.
“When you go 6 and 14, it can’t get much worse, really,” said Head Coach Harold Pini. He’s seen a lot in his 25 years — eight with the Warriors. “But I told the girls if we make the plays in the field, and if Kaylee throws strikes, we’ll be in every game and this season will be much different.”
Davis has been sensational on the mound, and her demeanor will tell you she’s holding herself to a higher standard. Following a third out against St. John Paul II, she trudged back to the dugout with a disdainful look and said, “I threw so many balls. That was so bad.”
“That first loss to Sturgis was a really big inspiration to us to push ourselves to be the best team we can be,” said Davis, who will head to the Mass. Maritime Academy next year. “It’s been important to come back from last season. We’ve all been working so hard, and it’s rewarding to see.”
Nauset has outscored opponents 130-60 through the first 10 games. They’ve gotten hits from up and down the order, led by Hay and Doyle.
“We come into every game with the mindset that we’re going to win,” said Hay. “Grace, Jill, and I are always telling everyone this is going to be a win. It’s important for us to approach each game, each practice with a positive attitude. If our top hitters are striking out, our other teammates pick it up.”
“You can’t put a number on wins and losses,” said Coach Pini, “but we definitely want to see this kind of play continue.”