KATIE PEARL will bat leadoff and play centerfield for the Warriors this season. (File Photo)

Published in the April 11, 2019 edition.


WAKEFIELD — The 2019 season is finally here for the WMHS softball program.

The Warriors will be led by a new coach this season as Galvin Middle School health and physical education teacher Chris Tolios takes over the program with his sights set on bringing Wakefield back to the tournament after missing out the last two seasons.

“I think the ultimate goal is obviously the state tournament but right now we are just trying to focus one game at a time,” said Tolios. “I told them we can’t get the next one without getting this one, so I think their mentality is just focusing on whatever the current task at hand is.”

This season, more than most, the Warriors will need leaders to step up and help guide the team through the first campaign after what has been a difficult year. While the sudden loss of captain Meghan Burnett (WMHS ‘18) last year was felt by an immeasurable amount of people in the community, the softball team was certainly hurting. With the help of the Meghan Burnett Foundation, who created a tournament in her name and continues to support the softball team in a multitude of ways, the Warriors worked on healing in addition to creating a lasting legacy between Burnett and Wakefield softball.

With Meghan in mind, the Warriors embark on the season following the lead of their senior captains Julia DiFazio and Juliette Guanci as well as sophomore captains Sophia Gosselin-Smoske and Taylor Owen. The Burnett Foundation sent the four to the World Softball Coaches Convention in January as the captains now look to bring their leadership to the field.

“They each bring a great work ethic and leadership style,” said Tolios of the four captains. “I think the other girls really look up to them and respond to them, and everyone is comfortable talking to them. They definitely make all the girls feel welcome and they’ve been a great help to me so far in this young season.”

The four will all be key players on the field. DiFazio (shortstop) and Guanci (first base) will quarterback the infield while Owen (right field) and Gosselin-Smoske (left field) will lead the outfield.

Wakefield will also lean heavily on their pitchers, particularly juniors Kayleigh Callanan and Sophia Tremblay. They will both work with their classmate behind the plate, Claire Curry.

Wakefield’s leadoff hitter is another junior, centerfielder Katie Pearl who is a threat on the base paths and should do a good job of setting the tone for the offense.

The rest of Wakefield’s roster is a nice mix of steady upperclassmen like senior infielders Norah Coyne and Alana Galatas and juniors Alexis Comeau and Abbie Coughlin to promising newcomers like sophomores Bella Zullo and Sam Doyle-Day and freshman Allida Kelliher.

Together they create a group that has made an easy transition for coach Tolios who coached the freshman team last season.

“The girls make it a real pleasure to show up everyday. They are willing to put in the work and want to learn and get better as individuals and as a team,” said Tolios.

The Warriors have challenged themselves in preseason scrimmages, playing strong programs like North Reading, Arlington Catholic and Masconomet. The best sign for Tolios is that he saw improvements every day.

“We have gotten better in each scrimmage,” said Tolios. “We started slow with the bats but they’ve picked up and I think we are headed into the season on the right foot. We just need to keep it going and not take any steps back.”

Wakefield will look to keep up that momentum against a tough Winchester team at Veterans Field today, 4 p.m.

As they embark on a new era for Wakefield softball, the Warriors will immediately get to work on creating a culture that if you’re a good teammate with a positive attitude (much like Burnett), you can accomplish whatever goals you set for yourselves and the team.

“They have the right mindset and want to do well and I’m hoping we can establish ourselves early and gain some confidence early in the season,” said Tolios.