The Salem Academy Navigators baseball and softball programs have become the teams to beat in the Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization.
Salem Academy Charter School had an outstanding spring season, with both of those teams winning championships. It’s not the first crown for the two squads, either; the baseball team has won three times in the last four years and softball has done so twice.
Ranked as the No. 3 seed heading into the playoffs, the Navigators’ baseball team defeated Boston Collegiate, 4-3, in the semifinal round and knocked off Roxbury Prep, 11-6, in the finals played at Salem State University. In doing so, they finished the season with a 14-3-1 record.
Michael Santana was the winning pitcher in the title game, striking out 12, and helped himself with a bases clearing triple. Jacob Redican was also a key offensive player, going 3-for-4 and driving in four runs.
“It was a great year,” said first-year baseball head coach Taylor English, a teacher at the school who served as assistant coach for three years before taking over as the head man. Ben Petrides was the team’s assistant coach.
“These kids won a championship as eighth graders, and that strong core group has had a lot of success,” added English. “They were the leaders this season. I knew from the start this was a very good group of players; our goal from the beginning was to defend that championship.”
Juniors Ryan LeClare, Santana, Jordanny Luna and catcher Adam Pinto were each named All-League. Other standouts were Redican, a freshman center fielder and pitcher, and Johnny Fabian, who was the only senior on the squad and a valuable utility player.
“Johnny worked hard and helped and played anywhere we needed him,” said English. “I also coach soccer and basketball, so I’ve been with these kids for a while. Their constant effort, commitment and brotherhood was outstanding. They really grasped what being a team player means.”
The softball team also had a terrific season, with Jen Duffy being named Coach of the Year and senior pitcher Christina McLaughlin capturing MCSAO Player of the Year honors.
The Navigators upset top seeded Boston Collegiate, 21-11, avenging their only loss of the regular season. They had dropped a close 5-4 game to Collegiate, but it was a different story in the rematch.
McLaughlin was terrific in the circle, leading the Navigators to a 15-1 mark. They went into the tournament as the No. 2 seed and played their ‘A’ game in the postseason to capture the title.
“This was a really great group of girls who worked hard and really wanted to win,” said Duffy, who was assisted by Tara Deschenes. “They didn’t like to lose and were determined to win the championship.”
Senior first baseman Kristen Roberts, eighth grader Cindy Shehu and junior shortstop Lindsey Russell were all named All-League.
“We were very consistent, and all the players contributed both defensively and offensively,” said Duffy. “Russell was especially solid defensively at shortstop, and McLaughlin pitched a great game to lead us to the title. She always fielded her position extremely well.
“Our other seniors were Elise Cote at third base, Amanda Jimenez at second, and Roberts. Having veteran leadership in key infield positions was very important. Our catcher, (junior) Jillian Sholds, was also a key contributor.”
Duffy (who is also the school’s head girls soccer coach) piloted her club to many victories by a wide margin.
Things couldn’t have come together any better for the two Salem Academy championship clubs.