When it comes to softball, Phillips Academy’s home address is Isham Field and its two tournament-quality diamonds. Thanks to a multi-year campaign to celebrate coeducation at PA funded by the generosity of the Abbot Academy Association, alumnae, alumni and friends, the main field was renovated and named Drench Park on May 24, 2014. Head of School John Palfrey, then-Athletic Director Mike Kuta, and former star players Rachel Bain ’98 and Tristin Batchelder Mannion ’82 led the ceremonies. It sports permanent, fully-equipped dugouts, as well as an additional batting tunnel, bullpen, equipment shed, spacious seating, outfield fence, colorful flagpoles and a new electronic scoreboard. The second diamond features smaller bleachers and fewer amenities, but maintains an equally fine playing surface.
Pictured: Captain Ravenne Nasser '15
In its inaugural 1973 season, the newly coed Andover’s softball program played a brief seven-game schedule. The varsity campaign now includes a spring training trip to Florida, a challenging slate of opponents and an eight-team, two-day invitational tournament which PA co-hosts on the third weekend in May. PA's varsity softball teams have rung up a .735 winning percentage (418-151), including a rain-shortened 13-0 record and third consecutive Big East Tournament championship in 2013. Head Coach Peter Drench has been coaching the sport in public and independent schools, travel team and international settings since 1975 and is a member of the Massachusetts High School Softball Coaches' Association Hall of Fame.
Andover graduates have gone on to play collegiate softball at various levels, with PA alumnae captaining their teams and winning individual honors. In recent years, two graduates have earned Rookie of the Year honors in their respective Division I leagues, while others have participated in NCAA post-season play. In 2012, Tristin Moone '10 earned All-Ivy honors at Colombia; in 2013, Sarah Oronato '11 was named Ivy League Player of the Year at Yale; she is now team captain. Sarah Boylan '09 and Alayna Garbarino '10 served as co-captains at Middlebury and Bates, respectively. This year, Kasey Hartung ’14 will be playing softball at Bates, while Katie Kreider ’14 is on Hamilton’s soccer team.
Like Kreider, several PA softball grads have gone on to star in college athletics in other sports. Shannon McSweeney ’11, is a record-setting four-year starting goaltender and team captain at Brown. On the ice, Angie Francisco Flygh ’97’s hat trick powered Harvard to an NCAA Division I title, Melissa Tetreau ’06 captained BU, and Stephanie Clegg ‘08’s Amherst teams won two NCAA Division III championships. However, Big Blue softball is not just an incubator for aspiring college players; it is an integral part of PA’s overall educational program. Within it, we focus on individual skill development, team building and -- last but not least -- having fun.
Please feel free to contact Peter Drench directly by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We enjoy hearing about your softball experiences and your overall interest in Andover, including your questions. PA also fields an introductory level slow-pitch softball team, coached by Kate McQuade and Joel Jacob. Lastly, we strongly recommend that all interested softball players fill out the prospective student-athlete form on the main athletics webpage. We look forward to sharing our softball program with you!
In Festive Atmospher Softball Field Acquires New Name, But Exeter Sweeps Season-Ending Twin Bill, 4-2, 9-1
The Blue dropped both ends of its season-ending
doubleheader to arch-rival Phillips Exeter, 4-2 and 9-1, on a day when the
school’s softball field was named after Coach Peter Drench. The ceremonies were
part of a celebration of four decades of PA coeducation and Title IX. After a
1-4 start this spring, PA had ripped off six straight wins before yielding an
unearned run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lose, 1-0, in the Big East
Tournament semi-finals. This tough loss began a three-game losing streak which
included a scoring drought that stretched to twenty innings, as the Blue closed
out its first losing campaign in eighteen years. Led by its eight seniors, Exeter
surged to a fine 11-7 mark, sweeping a twin bill at Andover’s expense for the
PA Misses No-Hit Bid, Shut Out By Brooks, 3-0
and Brooks were scoreless heading into the top of the seventh inning, when the
visitors from North Andover began their game-winning rally in the most unlikely
way, via a strikeout. Jen Kaplan (0-2), who had pitched a no-hitter through six
frames, but Brooks’s Cassandra Hunt had shut down PA’s offense, striking out
seven of the first nine batters she faced, and the teams were deadlocked, 0-0,
as Brooks came up to bat.