Virtually no hitter – in either softball or baseball – wants to dig into the batter’s box against a pitcher who has everything going well for them.
And throughout the vast majority of the 2015 softball season, Londonderry High School senior hurler Melissa Sprague did one heck of a Nolan Ryan imitation for her Lancers in helping them enjoy an excellent campaign.
The recent Londonderry High graduate – who will now move on to attend and play softball at the University of New England in Biddeford, Me. – was recently named a Division I First-Team All-State selection by that division’s coaches following her record-busting 2015 season.
Sprague’s fellow 2015 LHS graduate and softball teammate Summer Vose – who made strong contributions both at the plate and in center field for the 15-6 Londonderry High team this spring – was named a Second-Team All-Stater.
Sprague and Vose were two big reasons veteran coach Wayne MacDougall’s Lady Lancers finished 14-5 during the regular season and nabbed the number six seed in Division I.
But it was Sprague’s tremendous and intimidating pitching – which was virtually unhittable after she overcame a bit of early-season injury trouble that saw freshman Maryellen Leach do some hurling – left opponents quaking in their cleats right through to the tournament.
Sprague – who plans to study medical biology at the University of New England – compiled a 13-3 pitching record with a microscopic 0.68 earned run average in getting her Lady Lancers as far as the Division I tourney quarterfinals.
The number six Lancer bunch edged 11th-ranked Nashua North by a 1-0 score in round one of the tourney, but dropped a 5-2 decision to third-seeded Salem in the quarterfinals to see its season end.
Blistering-hot hurler Sprague had helped her team to nine wins in its final 10 games of the regular season heading into tourney play.
All in all, the Londonderry right-hander struck out 183 batters in just 103 innings, tying the school record for strikeouts in one game with 17 in the season-opener against Pinkerton. She then set a new school mark with 20 in an eight-inning outing against Alvirne of Hudson later in the campaign.
In her team’s 2015 senior night game, Sprague also established a new school strikeout record in a regulation, seven-inning game by whiffing 18 Manchester Memorial High batters.
“I have been on the same travel team – the New England Diamond Gems – since I was 11. My coach, Ron Jackson, has pushed, supported, and believed in me. I strongly believe that I would not be the player I am today without all of the guidance he has given me. I am fortunate and thankful,” said Sprague.
Sprague and Vose also got the chance to play in the first of the all-state divisional games at Plymouth State University last week, and the hurler pitched and led the Division I squad to a 2-0 win by striking out a stellar 18 batters and tallying a bunt single as well.