Story and Photos by Cary Shuman
Kristen Mondello had done it all during a superb career in the St. Maryâ€™s High School (Lynn) softball program.
She was a three-year starting shortstop, a cleanup hitter, team captain, and Catholic Central League All-Star who led her team to a North sectional title and the state semifinals a year ago.
And last Saturday she added the most important honor of all to her resume: state champion. Sparked by her leadership, excellent defensive play, and clutch hitting, St. Maryâ€™s won seven games in the 2009 State Tournament, culminating with a 8-5 win over Montachusett Tech in the Division 3 state final at Worcester State College.
Mondello was at her best in the big games, showcasing her smooth fielding skills and strong, accurate arm at what many consider the most important defensive position on the field.
â€œSheâ€™s come a long way,â€ said St. Maryâ€™s coach Colleen Newbury. â€œShe spent six years in our program, from freshman softball all the way through varsity. Sheâ€™s worked very hard. Having played shortstop myself, there was a lot of pressure put on Kristen, because Iâ€™d tell her, â€˜You have to do this and this.â€™ â€œSheâ€™s an excellent athlete and has great anticipation for the ball. Weâ€™re going to miss her leadership. I know the younger players on the team and their parents considered her a good role model for everyone.â€
Mondello said she couldnâ€™t have chosen a better conclusion to her six-year softball career at St. Maryâ€™s.
â€œItâ€™s awesome to win a state championship â€“ a good way to end your last year,â€ said Mondello. â€œWe had a really close-knit team, and we were with each other every day, four hours a day; and a lot of us are still friends off the field. I think it makes it a lot better when the team is close.â€
Revere youth sports fans will remember Kristen Mondello soaring the ranks of the St. Maryâ€™s Cal Ripken League. She started in T-Ball, and played baseball and softball, but moved over to softball exclusively at a young age. She was clearly one of the best players in her age group, and the aspiring infielder and future high school star helped manager Corrie Colarussoâ€™s team win three championships in four years in the St. Maryâ€™s League.
Mondello became a Revere Babe Ruth Softball All-Star and played a valuable role in her U-14 team winning a New England title in Connecticut.
She followed in her brotherâ€™s athletic footsteps at St. Maryâ€™s. Mike Mondello was a hockey star at St. Maryâ€™s, who is entering his senior season in the Suffolk University hockey program. And Mike and other family members looked on proudly Saturday as Kristen and the other St. Maryâ€™s captains accepted the Division 3 state championship trophy after the game.
Six years after entering St. Maryâ€™s Junior High School in the seventh grade, Kristen Mondello leaves as one of the schoolâ€™s best softball players ever. She will attend Rivier College in Nashua, NH, but sheâ€™ll be hanging up her softball cleats to focus on her studies.
The St. Maryâ€™s softball players will certainly miss her enthusiasm, her hardworking approach to the game, and their day-to-day relationship with her at practices.
â€œSheâ€™s a really good softball player,â€ said junior second baseman Kristina Burri of East Boston. â€œSheâ€™s hardworking, and it was fun to be her teammate for the past three years. She was a great captain, and the players respected her a lot.â€