Emily Desjardins (second base), Lili Doherty (center field) and Jen Mackey (third base) were the first three hitters in the batting order, all with excellent speed. The lone senior on the squad, Lindsay Sones, hit in the No. 4 spot and batted .546 during the tournament.
At the time Henry called Desjardins his best baserunner in 14 years on a club that was always known for its fleet runners. She was 19-for-20 in stolen base attempts during the regular season and had increased that number to 26 thefts after the first four tournament games. Doherty was a perfect 11-for-11 in steal attempts.
“I never really played softball until high school; I always played Little League before that,” said Desjardins, who went on to play Division 1 softball at Boston College. “My sports were soccer and basketball, but Mr. Henry was able to teach the game so well. He was the greatest role model I’ve ever had. It could be the seventh inning and we could’ve been down by 10, but we would never gave up and that’s what he taught us.”
The ‘96 tournament starting lineup consisted of five sophomores, three juniors, one freshman and one senior. They outscored their opponents 46-3 in the six playoff games, including four shutouts, and finished the season with just two losses.
“We didn’t do extravagant things; we just played fundamental ball,” Desjardins said. “I don’t think we were always the best team, but with the talent we had Mr. Henry made it work. He could see a person’s natural ability and know exactly how to use it.”
In the 3-1 championship win against North Middlesex, Lyman allowed eight hits, walked four and struck out five. The Crusaders had scrimmaged North Middlesex twice in the preseason, splitting the series, but took the cake for their seventh straight title that June before 1,500 fans watching.