ISL champions!

The varsity softball team hit it out of the park on May 23 with a 6-1 victory over Lawrence Academy, clinching the title of Independent School League (ISL) champions. The victory came in the wake of the team’s success at the Big East tournament on May 19 and 20 at Phillips Academy, where they defeated Milton Academy, Brooks, and Andover to become champions of the annual tournament.
The team had struggled to prevail in recent years, finishing as runner-up in the Big East tournament and placing in the top three in the ISL.
Co-captain Olivia Maduro ’18 noted her excitement at the team’s accomplishments this season.
“For the past three years, our team has worked so hard but has come up short each time,” Olivia said. “Winning both titles in the same year is incredibly important to me as a senior because I’ve been working toward this goal since freshman year.”
Co-captain Halley Douglas ’19, who plays catcher, said the team’s wins after many years of coming so close in championships still feel surreal.
“Winning the ISL was never something I thought I would do in my years at BB&N,” Halley said. “But now that we did, I couldn’t be prouder of my teammates and how hard we worked this year.”
The team began the season by welcoming its new head coach, Upper School Science Teacher Paige Kemezis, at preseason during spring break. Coach Kemezis said that going into the season, she was cautious.
“I knew that the team was good—they’re always good, but you never come in expecting to to win ISL,” Coach Kemezis said. “My only expectation was that, even though we’re a good team, the girls would want to get better every day.”
Halley spoke of the team’s adjustment to a new coach.
“Coach [Kemezis] came in and took our traditions and built her own spin on them,” Halley said. “This included lots of candy.”
Coach Kemezis took former Coach Kathy Newell’s tradition of offering candy for scoring in certain innings and upped the stakes, offering the team s’mores and ice cream.
“We are the team most likely to be motivated by food,” she said. “I don’t know of any other teams that have ‘candy innings.’”
Coach Kemezis also described typical practice rituals, explaining how drills focused on diving for balls inevitably ended with the girls doing cartwheels and round-offs on the field.
“The team culture present this season is great, and I would love to see it continue,” she said. “It’s definitely a win together, lose together, and learn together team. I would love to keep the fun but focused approach to both practice and games.”
Pitcher Rowan Park ’20 said she valued the time spent with her teammates this season.
“What makes us such a strong team is just our ability to have fun and joke around with one another,” Rowan said. “Unlike some of the stronger teams we play during the season, we aren’t really a team made up of softball players. I think more than half of our team is made up of hockey players. But since we are such a small and tight-knit group, it just feels natural playing with one another.”
“Everyone has come to work hard and improve every day, and that’s really what you judge the success of a season on,” Coach Kemezis added. “Of course it’s nice to win some big games, but it’s more important that the team is having fun, learning, and getting better. Beyond the big wins, the successes have been seeing the girls improve every day.”

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