Wahconah shortstop Gabby Lavinio pacing Western Mass. softball champs
DALTON -- The Gabby Lavinio portfolio is an extensive one.
The senior has been an All-Eagle selection in soccer twice, and three times each in basketball and softball. She was also an All-Northern Division as a freshman in softball.
Lavinio has been on teams that won a state title in softball (2011), as well as two Western Mass. crowns. She also won a Western Mass. championship in basketball and reached a Western Mass. final in soccer.
"For a while, my favorite sport was soccer," she said. "But over the years, I enjoy softball more."
Lavinio won Western Mass. and state crowns in her sophomore year as a catcher. Two years ago, she was moved from behind the plate to shortstop. And earlier this week, she helped Wahconah to another sectional championship as a shortstop.
And the Warriors' two-year softball captain said that, overall, the switch wasn't that big a deal.
"The summer after my sophomore season, I played in a league, and I played a lot of infield," she said. "It seemed to me that the [Wahconah] team would need help in the infield. I worked on what I knew I had to do to be successful."
No trepidation? No nervousness?
"No, not really," she said.
"She is the perfect player to build a team around," said her softball coach, Dustin Belcher. "The work ethic, the leadership. There's no one better."
Lavinio has always been a good hitter. Last year, she ended the season hitting .442, with a .583 on-base percentage.
That was formidable enough. But in addition to her hitting for average, Lavinio added power to her arsenal this spring. She hit 12 home runs in the regular season this year, tops in the state. (Mariah Tenny of Murdock High led Central Mass. with 10 homers, according to stats provided by the Worcester Telegram, and Dighton-Rehoboth's Nicole Lundstrom topped Eastern Mass. schools with nine, according to statistics provided by Boston.com.)
And she had help.
"My father [Mick] spent hours and hours working with me on my swing," she said. "He's been so supportive. Anything I've done, I owe to him."
Defensively, she has been the anchor of a team that strangles opponents with their fundamental play. In a Western Mass. semifinal against Frontier Regional, Wahconah pitcher Becca Grunow struggled through a rare off day, giving up 14 hits.
But Wahconah played errorless ball, and more importantly, limited the Red Hawks to 13 singles. Frontier got no extra bases on bad throws or misplayed balls. Wahconah won fairly easily, 7-4.
Certainly, Lavinio is not the only reason why the Warriors are once again in the state tournament. The Warriors have a solid team, with good pitching and excellent defense.
But as Belcher explained, "She's the key for us. She's our leader."
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