SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury’s Oak Middle School softball team recently completed its first undefeated season, notching an unbeaten 14-0 record.
It was just the team’s third season since its founding in 2019.
Even so, Coach Mike Bracken said that the team entered this spring feeling as if it had a shot at the milestone after losing just two games in 2019 and one game in 2021.
“That was the goal that they set at the beginning of the year, and they were able to achieve it through their hard work,” Bracken said of his players.
While the program at Oak is new, Bracken noted that students in Shrewsbury have been playing softball through popular Little League and travel programs for a long time. He said that many of the players on his team had previously competed in these programs.
Bracken also highlighted several development clinics for player skills like pitching, hitting and fielding that he said also helped the town’s youth grow into great softball players.
“We do a lot of development, a lot of skills clinics that are run by the town,” Bracken said. “Little League has always been popular in Shrewsbury.”
The level of local interest in softball meant that Bracken had no trouble finding players to compete when he helped launch the team. Instead, the Oak squad, at 18 players, was very large, often surprising opponents that struggled to fill their rosters.
Bracken said that all 18 of his players were able to play in games this year, with 10 pitching in games.
That fact was a win within the larger season for Bracken.
“For me, if we were undefeated and I only played like nine players and the others sat on the bench for the whole season, it would be against what we’re trying to do with this program,” Bracken said. “We want all of these kids to enjoy the experience.”
Bracken said that the team started the season very strong and was consistent throughout the schedule.
One big game came when the team’s record was 11-0. It played against Gibbons Middle School in Westborough, which held a 3-0 advantage in the fifth inning. With only two innings left, Oak came back to win the game 7-4.
“That was a very big win for the team,” Bracken said.
Bracken also said that the Big Sister Little Sister program the team participants in with the high school program has helped ensure a strong middle school program.
Joint practices, scrimmages, and attendance at each other’s games has created the impression of one shared program between the middle and high schools, Bracken said.
The undefeated team includes eighth graders Mady Bentley, Grace Costa, Ava Cotton, Emma Ellis, Maggie Garbarino, McKenna Halloran, Ellie Heald, Naomi Lee, Aaesha Mahurkar, Emma McNally, Ava Nelson, Ellie Sudnik and Alex Taupier, and seventh graders Erin Boulay , Phoebe Forgues, Julia Kurzontkowski, Addie O’Connor and Emma Olson.
The team’s assistant coach is Bridget McGrail.
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