If Brooks softball coach Andrea Heinze has a fondness for Windham, N.H., it's certainly understandable.
Several years ago, she was blessed to have Windham's Chelsey Feole, a two-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star infielder who was the Independent School League MVP as a senior while leading the 2006 Brooks team to a 16-2 record and the Big East Tournament title.
Now, Heinze is pleased to have junior Andie Missert, also from Windham and also a talented and versatile infielder for the Green and White.
Missert, who is batting .500 with 12 runs scored, hit .356 last year and scored 24 runs, showing the same kind of ability to circle the bases. Also, like Feole, she has great leadership skills as a rare junior captain and she's extremely versatile.
A natural shortstop, Missert played catcher for Brooks as a freshman when Heinze found herself lacking at that position. She moved back to shortstop last year and began this year in the middle of the infield before temporarily shifting back behind the plate when Andover's Jackie DiTroia injured her ankle.
"She's the type of player you can put wherever you need her," said Heinze. "She's a great competitor who knows the game. If we had eight (players) like her, we'd be all set."
Missert is only too happy to fill in as needed, but she is not hesitant when asked her favorite position.
"I really enjoy playing shortstop," said Missert. "I like to direct the field, pretty much be in charge of what's going on."
Like Feole, Missert developed her softball skills in Windham with future Salem High standouts. But unlike Feole, who started at Salem High before transferring, she was never tempted to join the powerhouse Blue Devils.
"I have a lot of friends on the Salem softball team, but Brooks was always the place I wanted to be," said Missert. "I was introduced to it by my brother (Derek, a 2006 grad and standout hockey goalie), but I came to love it by myself. I met and liked coach Heinze and I really liked everything about the school."
Missert takes a lot of pride in her hitting, and she hopes to continually improve her average and power production but, showing her captain qualities, she's focused on lifting Brooks as high as possible in the post-Britt Hart era.
"We were definitely spoiled by her (Hart), but we're such a young team, we can only get better and I think we will," she said. "I kind of like playing shortstop more now because I get a lot more balls hit my way. It keeps me on my toes. We all just have to step up a little more."
It's the kind of leadership shown by Feole, who was also a junior captain for Heinze.
Hard times for Lancers
Last week was a tough one for Londonderry in more ways than one. The Lancers lost standout pitcher Theresa Zwart for at least a week when she suffered a deep elbow bruise and then, against two of the toughest pitchers in Class L, Alvirne's Samantha Corey and Concord's Kelsey Martel, Londonderry's bats fell silent.
As a result, Londonderry (5-3) lost soundly to Alvirne, 8-1 and Concord 6-0.
"We're in a slump and not playing well when we get behind," said Londonderry coach Wayne MacDougall. "But Concord (7-0) and Alvirne (7-1) are very good. It looks like those two and Salem are the three best teams."
Defending champion Concord probably has the best one-two pitching combination in senior Paige Hansen, who committed last year to UMass Amherst, and Martel.
Rivals meet Friday
Earlier, Friday's Londonderry-Pinkerton might have been a mismatch in favor of the Lancers.
But, not only have the Lancers slipped of late, but Pinkerton has probably been better than expected and has played well. Right now, the game looks like a tossup.
In a battle of unbeatens, meanwhile, Salem has a huge game at Concord tomorrow. Except for one game, the Blue Devils have hit the ball hard, but they'll be severely tested by the defending Class L champion Crimson Tide.
Waldie heats up
UMass Amherst-bound Candace Waldie of North Andover got off to a relatively slow start at the plate this year, but she heated up dramatically last week. She went 3 for 3 with two home runs while scoring the winning run in a 4-3 win over Rockport to start the week and she was 2 for 3 with two doubles and two RBIs in a 3-2 win over Lynnfield to end the week. She also had a home run yesterday and leads the area with a .654 average.
Freshman Cassey Glode of Whittier also had a big week and is now second in the area with a .632 average.
Methuen's Rebecca Armstrong leads the area in RBIs with 17.
The Eagle-Tribune's weekly ranking of area softball teams:
1. Salem 8-1
3. Central Catholic 6-1
2. Londonderry 6-3
4. Phillips Academy 4-1
5. Sanborn 5-1
Honorable mention: Georgetown (5-3), Pinkerton (5-4)
Player of the Week: Sarah Frahm
A member of Salem High's super sophomore class, Frahm ended a terrific week by going 4 for 5 in a 14-2 rout of Manchester Central. She was 7 for 12 for the week and has a .348 average for the season, leading the unbeaten Blue Devils in home runs with three while also stroking four doubles.
Two other Salem sophomores, Nicole Gubellini and Stephanie Long, are hitting .594 and .522 respectively.