Brianna Holmes had three hits and an RBI in her first three at-bats in Saturdayâ€™s Division 3 state championship game at Worcester State College.
The Murdock pitcher finally retired Holmes in at-bat No. 4, but the damage was done. Holmes and her St. Maryâ€™s High School teammates had an 11-1 lead at that point, and the Lady Spartans maintained that 10-run margin to claim the programâ€™s second state title in row.
And if you were to pick an MVP in the game, Holmes would be a leading contender.
Her sizzling line drive RBI single â€“ her second hit in a 7-run second inning as St. Maryâ€™s batted around â€“ was a stroke of hitterâ€™s beauty. Homes took a fastball and simply ripped it to left field.
The junior third baseman had earlier set the tone defensively with a spectacular play in the first inning. Holmes went full speed to her left to glove a trap-hop chopper. She then rifled a strike to first base and when the lead runner tried to make it to third, St. Maryâ€™s nabbed her in a rundown for an inning-ending double play.
â€œBrianna had an awesome game,â€ said St. Maryâ€™s coach Colleen Newbury, whoâ€™s usually less than profuse in her praise. â€œI told it her was a great day to have a great game because all the college coaches were there. She was fantastic offensively and defensively and her bat was right on the ball the whole day. Sheâ€™s usually a little tense before games, but she was just so relaxed and excited to be there and she played like it.â€
Newbury said Holmes should be elected a softball captain (sheâ€™s already been named a Spartans soccer captain) next season, a testament to her dedication to the team and being â€œgenuinely a great kid.â€
Holmes had a terrific season splitting time among three different positions, left field, shortstop, and third base â€“ and even doing some pitching. She was the starting left fielder for last yearâ€™s state championship team.
This season she nearly hit one out of Breed Field in Lynn, a 225-foot shot against Swampscott in the John Holland Tournament that the Spartans won (She earned All-Tournament honors).
â€œWe all thought the ball was going out,â€ said Holmes. â€œBut it hit the top of the fence and bounced back in.â€
Holmes developed her softball talents in Revere. She grew up playing in the St. Maryâ€™s Babe Ruth Softball League and continued in the Revere Babe Ruth Softball League. She was an All-Star player at every age level and competed in the Babe Ruth World Series in Pittsfield with the Revere team.
There is no doubt that Revere High lost out on a tremendous talent when Holmes opted to attend St. Maryâ€™s High School.
â€œI really loved playing sports with the Revere girls â€“ Ashley DiFraia, Kat Prince, Nicole Palermo â€“ I played sports with them ever since I was younger,â€ said Holmes. â€œBut Iâ€™m happy with my decision to go to St. Maryâ€™s. I think it gave me a lot of great opportunities not only in softball, but also in education, too. The school is a really good for me.â€
Sheâ€™s certainly fit in well on back-to-back state title teams in softball. Holmes credits her coach, Colleen Newbury for creating a winning environment and teaching the game so well.
â€œCoach Newbury is the best coach Iâ€™ve ever had,â€ said Holmes. â€œShe knows the game well. Sheâ€™s just a great coach. She interacts well with all of us. Sheâ€™s not just a coach, but sheâ€™s also a friend. Itâ€™s important to have that connection with your players. Sheâ€™s always looking to make everyone on the team better and make you live up to the potential that you have.â€
Holmes also lauded assistant coach Emily Day for helping her to improve her hitting. â€œShe [Day] made our team so much stronger offensively this year,â€ said Holmes.
She hasnâ€™t forgotten the valuable instruction she received from volunteer coaches in Revere youth softball programs.
â€œCharlie Compton was my coach in St. Maryâ€™s and he was such a nice guy â€“ he made me love softball when I was younger because he just made it so fun and a great environment. There was no pressure so I always had fun playing for that team. [Babe Ruth softball coach] Mike Polsonetti was one of the sweetest guys. Heâ€™s just a great guy and genuinely good person. Butch Bruno was also a great coach. And some of my best softball memories come from the All-Stars teams that were coached by Scotty Giordano. He was a really, really good coach who always pushed everyone to work hard and donâ€™t give up.â€
At. St. Maryâ€™s, she has been recognized for her academic excellence, having earned membership in the National Honor Society and attained Honor Roll status.
Her versatile contributions to a state championship team were somewhat overshadowed this season by higher profile teammates. Two of Briannaâ€™s teammates, seniors Erin McAndrews and Maria Nazzaro were named All-Scholastics. A third graduating player, Kristina Burri of East Boston, was an All-Scholastic-caliber performer.
â€œItâ€™s definitely going to be hard to repeat next year without them, but we have a lot of talented girls that could hopefully step up next year and fill in their spots,â€ said Holmes, who has two brothers, Nick, 14, and Kyle, 10, and a sister, Sophie, 13.
And at the top of that list of talented girls returning to St. Maryâ€™s next season is Revereâ€™s Brianna Holmes, a consensus, early All-Scholastic candidate for 2011.
â€œI hope to finish out my career with a really good season in my senior year,â€ said Holmes.