---- — Colleen (Parker) Newbury remembers her former Bishop Fenwick softball coach, Ed “Buddy” Henry, fondly. Now a coach herself at St. Mary’s, Newbury has often relied on Herny’s words of wisdom and knowledge of the game over the years.
Nearly three years have gone by since the Crusaders’ legendary coach lost his battle with cancer, and what better way to honor such an esteemed coaching figure than to have a tournament in his name. Henry was one of the greatest softball coaches in North Shore history, possibly even the greatest in any sport.
Newbury, along with other members of the “At Bat for Buddy” committee, have planned a weekend of tournament games with local area teams. The tournament was set up to raise money for Henry’s foundation — which awards two $1,000 scholarships each year to softball players who “demonstrate their love for the game and serve as examples of good sportsmanship in their communities through athletic commitment and community involvement.”
Fenwick, where Henry’s legacy was made, will play host to eight other area teams this weekend including St. Mary’s, Concord-Carlisle, Danvers, Beverly, Shawsheen, Billerica, Winthrop and Reading. The tournament is a two-day, round-robin style with some teams taking part in both days, while others are scheduled for just one day of games.
Newbury, who played for Henry in the mid-90s, and the rest of the committee member decided to push the tournament a little later into season this year, in hopes of warmer weather.
“Last year we chose an earlier weekend based upon when we were playing each other during the season and around the time coach had passed was May 1st,” noted Newbury. “This year we decided to run the tourney later in hopes for better weather and a better turn out, but we are still playing against teams that were involved with Coach Henry in some way.”
During his 15 year tenure as the Bishop Fenwick softball coach (1983-’97), the late Henry led his teams to seven consecutive Division 1 state titles between 1990 and ‘96. With a total of eight state titles, including a Division 2 championship in 1985, Henry’s Crusader squads won 15 consecutive Catholic Central League crowns.
With a record of 332-26 at Fenwick, Henry left in 1997 and eventually became the head softball coach at Shawsheen and even got his 400th career win there.
“I miss him a ton, especially when I need to pick his brain about softball,” added Newbury “He was a terrific man with an unbelievable talent to coach the game of softball.
“It’s amazing how many lives he touched and how many stories you’ll hear about him over the weekend. It’s a great way to come together as a softball community and celebrate Coach Henry’s life.”
Former Danvers High player Sam DiBella recently finished up her freshman season at Endicott College. A natural catcher, DiBella played third base for all year long for the Gulls and had a team-high seven home runs, tied for first in RBI with 22 and finished with a .349 batting average.
“Sam had an outstanding season and although her primary position is catcher we needed her at third base,” said Endicott head coach Mark Veilleux. “Not only did she play well there, Sam was the best in the league.”
DiBella was also voted the all-Commonwealth Coast Conference first team and second team National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-New England Region.
Speaking of Danvers, the Falcons honored their two senior captains, Chrissy Gikas and Julia Saggese earlier this week and also helped seal head coach Tara Petrocelli’s 150th victory. Petrocelli has led Danvers to the state tounrnament for the past nine seasons and has already earned a spot in this year’s postseason.
“We were trying to get that win for her and for us too,” said Saggese. “We’ve all worked so hard and Tara deserves it.”
The Falcons are an outstanding 14-0 and have a big weekend coming up in the “At Bat for Buddy” tourney, where they will face powerhouse St. Mary’s and Division 1 Reading.
Many of our local teams have shown their support for a number of different charities over the course of the season.
Pingree held a fundraiser in conjunction with its game against Portsmouth Abbey last week. The girls raised close to $500 by having a bake sale, raffle and a ‘sweatpants’ day at school as part of the “Coaches vs. Cancer” program.
“I am quite proud of the team for their hard work on this, especially my captains Christina Chalmers and Jill Witwicki,” said coach Jim MacLaughlin. “My entire team, knowing that during last season my wife, Jan, underwent some serious surgery for a reoccurrence of breast cancer, worked enthusiastically on this and I am deeply touched by their efforts.”
Marblehead showed its support for breast cancer awareness by wearing pink uniforms on Tuesday night against Beverly.
In an effort to relieve some of the financial burden from those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, Masconomet is hosting a car wash at Bouchard’s Automotive in Topsfield and bake sale this weekend. In an effort to raise funds for the injured, the Chieftains are donating all of the proceeds to the One Fund Boston.
Fast Pitches, a column on North Shore high school softball, runs every Friday during the spring season in The Salem News. Contact Gianna Addario at GAddario@salemnews.com, 978-338-2615 and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.
"At Bat For Buddy" Tournament Schedule SATURDAY Billerica vs Concord-Carlisle (9 a.m.) Shawsheen vs. Fenwick (11 a.m.) Beverly vs. Winthrop (1 p.m.) Danvers vs. St. Mary's (3 p.m.) SUNDAY Danvers vs. Reading (10 a.m.) Concord-Carlisle vs. Beverly (noon) St. Mary's vs. Fenwick (2 p.m.)