ME Softball Program Makes a Comeback in 2023


Even before the first pitch could be thrown off the mound, the Manchester Essex Regional High School softball team had already completed its biggest comeback of the season.

While MERHS students have participated in the sport as part of a co-op at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School over the last few years, the last time the Hornets fielded a team of their own was 2019. With enough of a renewed interest from local student-athletes, the MERHS softball program started a spring season for the first time in almost half a decade with an impressive 21-0 win over Cristo Rey Boston on April 3.

“It’s been so great to be on the field again,” explains ME softball coach Frank Sarro. “This team has such a great attitude and is always enthusiastic. They’re a fun team to coach.”

The groundswell of interest that was the catalyst for the return of the sport to Manchester Essex was due to an increase in popularity of the sport at the youth level. These younger players are now in high school, and it was decided that there is enough interest and talent to field a team once again.

“We were able to get the team together because of the strength of our youth softball program,” says Sarro. “We actually were considering coming back a year earlier, but decided to wait for this year to be sure that we had enough numbers.”

As a result, the team roster of 13 skews fairly young – there are two senior captains who actually last played for the ME softball program when they were in eighth grade, to go along with two juniors, nine freshmen and an eight-grader.

The captains are Abby Taron and Kyra Levasseur, and they will have to set the tone for a roster that is, for the most part, playing at the varsity level for the first time. Taron starts at third base, while Levasseur starts in rightfield and could spend some time at second base.

“They played for me in eighth grade, and we’ve kept in touch,” explains Sarro.  “I knew they would do a good job leading the team.  They really did great work organizing the captain’s practices both in the fall and winter, and it’s showing up on the field.”

The two captains won’t be the only players that the Hornets will need to step up this season. Junior leftfielder Morgan Laspesa is one of the team’s top hitters, fellow junior Celia Mann should be a key factor once she is back on the field and the pitching staff is made up of three talented freshmen.

 “We have Morgan Laspesa, who is a big bat in the lineup,” says Sarro. “Celia Mann is due to return soon from an injury in the preseason, and I feel like she’ll have a big impact.  We have three freshmen pitchers, Anna Gardner, Abby Aiello, and Penelope Riggs.  Penelope is our starting first baseman.  Abby and Anna split time at short too. All three have already made major contributions this season.”

Lucy Parmelee and Cami Friedrich will split time at second base, eighth grader Katie Crompton is the Hornets’ starting centerfielder and a trio of freshmen will share time behind the plate at catcher -- Samantha Brigham, Sydney Hemme and Cami Friedrich.

“These players have made some big contributions in the early going,” Sarro says of his roster. “We have another freshman due to return soon from a preseason injury, Annie Pinkin, and we look forward to her contributing.   Our team has hit really well so far in the early going.”

There is ample evidence to support that claim, as the Hornets won their opener by a 21-0 score, followed up by a 17-5 win over Rockport on April 5. Despite a 16-0 loss to Amesbury on April 6, the 2-1 start is encouraging to see.

“Our strength of the team so far is our hitting, I’m impressed with our aggressiveness at the plate,” says Sarro. “We need to shore things up defensively and execute on defense. We’re a team definitely on the younger side, so the team is learning every day.  We need to get one percent better every day. Our pitching depth is also a strength of our team, and we have received some good performances already.”

Defensive struggles helped lead to the lopsided score against Amesbury, an area of focus for the coach.

“We’ll be spending more time on our defense,” explains Sarro. “Team defense and handling the speed of the game is important at this level. Right now, we’re 2-1 and I’m pleased with that.  We also realize we have a lot of work ahead of us. We need to get one percent better every day, and our goal is to qualify for the state tourney. We’re excited for the opportunity.”

An opportunity that didn’t even exist at MERHS for the last few years but is officially back for those who love the sport.

softball, comeback, manchester essex regional high school, frank sarro, katie crompton, morgan laspesa, abby aiello, kyra levasseur, abby taron, annie pinkin, penelope riggs, lucy parmelee, hamilton-wenham regional high school, anna gardner