Big time – Holmes shines at the plate and in the field as St. Mary’s captures a second straight state title

June 23, 2010
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Brianna Holmes had three hits and an RBI in her first three at-bats in Saturday’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. Mary’s High School teammates had an 11-1 lead at that point, and the Lady Spartans maintained that 10-run margin to claim the program’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 – her second hit in a 7-run second inning as St. Mary’s batted around – was a stroke of hitter’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. Mary’s nabbed her in a rundown for an inning-ending double play.

“Brianna had an awesome game,” said St. Mary’s coach Colleen Newbury, who’s usually less than profuse in her praise. “I 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. She’s usually a little tense before games, but she was just so relaxed and excited to be there and she played like it.”

Newbury said Holmes should be elected a softball captain (she’s already been named a Spartans soccer captain) next season, a testament to her dedication to the team and being “genuinely a great kid.”

Holmes had a terrific season splitting time among three different positions, left field, shortstop, and third base – and even doing some pitching. She was the starting left fielder for last year’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).

“We all thought the ball was going out,” said Holmes. “But it hit the top of the fence and bounced back in.”

Holmes developed her softball talents in Revere. She grew up playing in the St. Mary’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. Mary’s High School.

“I really loved playing sports with the Revere girls – Ashley DiFraia, Kat Prince, Nicole Palermo – I played sports with them ever since I was younger,” said Holmes. “But I’m happy with my decision to go to St. Mary’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.”

She’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.

“Coach Newbury is the best coach I’ve ever had,” said Holmes. “She knows the game well. She’s just a great coach. She interacts well with all of us. She’s not just a coach, but she’s also a friend. It’s important to have that connection with your players. She’s always looking to make everyone on the team better and make you live up to the potential that you have.”

Holmes also lauded assistant coach Emily Day for helping her to improve her hitting. “She [Day] made our team so much stronger offensively this year,” said Holmes.

She hasn’t forgotten the valuable instruction she received from volunteer coaches in Revere youth softball programs.

“Charlie Compton was my coach in St. Mary’s and he was such a nice guy – 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. He’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 don’t give up.”

At. St. Mary’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 Brianna’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.

“It’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,” 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. Mary’s next season is Revere’s Brianna Holmes, a consensus, early All-Scholastic candidate for 2011.

“I hope to finish out my career with a really good season in my senior year,” said Holmes.

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