By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
All of the makings for a big bounce-back year were in place for Dover-Sherborn Regional High School varsity softball in 2020. The Raiders returned a bulk of their roster, including two senior co-captains: catcher/outfielder Emma Stiller and second baseman/outfielder Nora Raftery.
DS also brought back a pair of junior co-captains: two-time TVL All-Star third baseman Ciara Crowley and pitcher Sara Bragdon. With these pieces, a bid to the MIAA state tournament appeared within reach.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented any such turnaround year from happening for the Raiders, as the entire 2020 MIAA spring season was cancelled.
"I just feel terrible for our two seniors," said head coach Rick Grady when asked about the season's cancellation. "Emma [Stiller] and Nora [Raftery] are both great kids and are great representatives of our program. They were really good role models for all of our younger players. It's awful they have to miss out on their senior year."
Even with the 2020 season cancelled, Grady and his team have high hopes heading into 2021 as the majority of Dover-Sherborn's roster will be returning.
"We have a lot of juniors and a large core of our team will be back," said Grady. "We will have two really talented players in Ciara Crowley and Sara Bragdon to lead our team. Sara was returning from injury and was going to be a big arm for us. Ciara gives us a really good bat and was going to be a big producer once again. I'm excited to have them back next season."
As far as the 2020 group being able to stay connected, Grady says the Raiders had been doing weekly Zoom chats up until the season was cancelled on April 24. Grady also spoke about how the cancellation of the 2020 season could effect the sport of softball going forward.
"We did a lot to stay connected during the quarantine, and we were holding out hope that there would actually be some sort of a season up until the end of April, when the MIAA called it," said Grady. "All the formal leagues are still on hold. Club teams are just starting to open up some of their programs at a limited capacity, but I think as a coach, I'm just sort of waiting to see what the MIAA comes out with. There are a lot of options on the table, and I've even heard things about shifting some sports around to different seasons. Some states have even moved baseball and softball to the fall, or at least talked about it. I think in the next week, we will know a lot more about spring season athletics and where they stand for next year."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as game highlights, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram @flano0.