NORTH ADAMS -- Mike Ameen, head coach of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts softball team, is quick to point out that he recruits softball players, whether they are from Berkshire County or not.
But Ameen, the former softball coach at Hoosac Valley for seven years before he took the MCLA job three years ago, will also not deny that his latest crop of local recruits is pretty good.
On Friday, several were instrumental in MCLA's 1-0 tournament victory over Worcester State. Senior Megan Boyer, a Drury alum, blasted a solo home run for the lone score of the game.
Freshman Amanda Meczywor, a graduate of Hoosac Valley High School, had a hit, as did freshman Sam Barbarotta from Taconic.
Another freshman, Tanelle Ciempa of Hoosac, stole a base yesterday.
"I'm familiar with the Berkshire County softball league, and the players are familiar with me," he said. "And the high schools around here play very good softball."
"He has a fine opportunity to promote softball in the Berkshires," said one of Ameen's former opponents, Drury softball coach Mary Ann Maroni. "He has some great local players on the roster."
Of the 16 players on MCLA's roster, nine are from Berkshire County. Five are freshmen, three are sophomores and one is a senior. One of those sophomores, Meczywor, is a transfer and has four years of eligibility.
The roster itself is young.
"I have nine freshmen, five sophomores and three seniors," said Ameen, referring to his entire team.
The Trailblazers finished 10-4 in the Massachusetts State Coll;ege Athletic College and 19-20 overall. But that includes a 2-8 Florida trip at the beginning of the season. They were 17-12 in the Northeast, and won nine of their last 11 games before Friday.
Ameen, who has been named this season's Coach of the Year in the conference, has gotten significant contributions all year from his local players.
Meczywor is "a leader, and very talented. She leads the team in RBI, and is my second pitcher. She has a 2.18 ERA," said Ameen.
Ciempa has been the team's starting catcher as a freshman.
Another freshmen, Shelbi Clary from Taconic, starts at shortstop for the Trailblazers.
A fourth local player, freshman Miichaela DiNicola from Mount Greylock, starts in left field.
"Another hard worker for us," said Ameen.
Boyer is the team's first baseman, Barbarotta, a Taconic alum, is in right and Samantha Boyle from Pittsfield High is the Designated Player.
The other local players are Kristen Nadeau from Taconic and Rayelle Peirson from St. Joseph.
All, said Ameen, have contributed at some point in the season.
Boyer, understandably, is one of Maroni's favorites on the MCLA squad.
"She's had a number of physical issues she's had to overcome the past few years, and she always comes back," said Maroni of Boyer. "She's a gamer."
Ameen is cautiously optimistic about the Trailblazers' post-season chances. They swept top seed Bridgewater State in North Adams, 2-0 and 2-1 during the regular season. With Meczywor and No. 1 starter Rachel Quackenbush, yet another freshman from Hoosick Falls, N.Y. who won Friday's game with a two-hitter, MCLA has a strong pitching staff.
But regardless of how well the Trailblazers do this year, Ameen expects the team to be good for a long time.
"We're going to be around for awhile," he said.
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