Worcester Hawks: Hawks in the News

About the Hawks

The Worcester Hawks were established by Coach Ralph Raymond in 2011.  During their first season, the Hawks competed in 8 tournaments including local tune-ups, major college showcases in CT, NJ & PA and a national championship tournament.  The 2011 Hawks finished their season at the ASA Gold Nationals in California where they placed 33rd in the nation.

The primary purpose of the team is to use the game of softball as a tool to help girls attend the college of their choice on as much scholarship as possible.

For Coach Raymond to attain this goal of getting the girls noticed and recruited by college coaches, the Hawks have an annual budget of $65,000.  The budget covers the cost of indoor training, field use, uniforms and apparel, along with team and player equipment. Coach Raymond and everyone involved with the Hawks, including the coaches, are volunteers who receive no compensation and do not profit from the organization.



Thursday, January 31
Another First for Blackstone SS Picard

Another first for Blackstone SS Picard

November, 21, 2012
2:51AM ET
Blackstone Valley Tech senior shortstop Bella Picard sure has accomplished a lot in her three-year softball career. The former soccer standout was forced to trade the pitch in for the diamond going into high school due to injury problems. But Picard, an Upton resident who signed her National Letter of Intent to St. Joseph’s last week, has been a quick study.

In her junior year, Picard
led the nation in batting average, hitting at an .877 clip (57 hits in 65 at-bats) for the Beavers during the regular season.

Next year, Picard will become the first-ever Blackstone Valley athlete to play a Division 1 sport.

We caught up with Picard following her signing for this Q-and-A:

Q: You are still a relative newcomer to softball. What took you so long?

A: “The only reason I didn’t want to play softball [growing up] was because I thought everything was done underhand. I thought if I was playing shortstop that I have to huck it underhanded over to first base. It’s pretty embarrassing, right? But it worked out. I wouldn’t have ever picked up a bat if not for my dad.”

Q: How were you able to pick up the sport so quickly and have such success?

A: “Ralph Raymond, my summer coach, he’s taught me so much about the game – not even how to swing a bat, but the mental game. He knows more about the game than anyone. My high school coach, Denise Medaglia, she got me set up with Max Preps and setting me up to get [my batting average] out there.”

Q: Was there a time when you started to believe that you’d be able to play at the next level?

A: “I think sophomore year was the year I started getting out there, I went to some clinics in California, but I didn’t even really know how to swing a bat yet. I think a lot of them found me because of that. The University of Florida coach [Tim Walton] called to congratulate me on the season I had. Then Fordham, Syracuse, Boston University, all of them found out. But, if it wasn’t for my high school coach, that never would’ve happened.”

Q: What does it mean to you to be the first-ever from Blackstone Valley to sign?

A: “It’s great, I just found out on Signing Day, my athletic director [Michele Denise] said that she’d looked through the records and I definitely was the first one to go D-1 from the school.”

Q: Do you believe the perception exists that athletes from vocational schools are not viewed in the same regard as other high school athletes?

A: “That just drove me. Seeing things in the paper every day about Nipmuc and Milford and all their big accomplishments, I just thought why not BVT. It’s such a good school, and just because we don’t always get the best athletes, that doesn’t mean that we can’t play. That definitely drove me.”

Q: After a nearly perfect season last year at the plate, what do you hope to accomplish in your senior season?

A: “I just want to take home districts. We’re so overdue it’s not even funny. The last couple of years, the way our seasons have gone, it’s always been something, but it’s got to happen. I don’t care about my stats, personally, I just want our team to get there.”

Valley Tech's Bella Picard heading to St. Joseph's
Local athletes finalize college plans
Valley Tech's Bella Picard heading to St. Joseph's; Matt Mobley off to Central Conn.

Valley Tech's Bella Picard makes it official on Wednesday, signing a National Letter of Intent to play softball at St. Joseph's University. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
"I personally feel as though there will be like more pressure on me this spring because now that I've signed with a D1 school, I have to play extra perfect."
-- Bella Picard
Matt Mobley, who starred for St. Peter-Marian and is now at Worcester Academy, and the Hilltoppers' Candace Andrews sign their National Letters of Intent to play college basketball on Wednesday. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
After leading the state with a .877 batting average and hitting 10 homers and knocking in 43 runs as a junior, Valley Tech's Bella Picard doesn't know what she has in store for an encore next spring.

But she does know what will happen after it's over.

Picard made it official on Wednesday, signing a national letter of intent to play softball on a full scholarship at St. Joseph's University.

“I am just so happy and relieved that it's out of the way,” Picard said. “I could have been done with this process a long time ago, but I took my time because I wanted the right school for me, not just softball-wise but more from the academic point of view.”

Picard had 57 hits in 65 at-bats last spring for the Beavers, one of the best totals in the nation. That attracted quite a few suitors for the shortstop. However, once she visited St. Joseph's in Philadelphia, she was hooked because of their academics and new softball field and facilities.

“I absolutely adore Terri Adams, the head coach. She's just awesome, along with the whole coaching staff,” Picard said. “But most importantly, I wanted to be more focused on my education rather than just playing college softball.”

Picard said she was talking with a few schools down south, but added that she was a little late to the recruiting game, saying most of the bigger schools in the south and on the West Coast had their rosters set for the next few years.

Picard said a big reason she was late in finding a college was because it wasn't until recently she decided on playing softball there rather than soccer. She has been dealing with compartment syndrome, which occurs when muscles, blood vessels or nerves take up too much space inside a part of the body. Picard had an operation on her calves her sophomore year and recently underwent an operation on her shins, and said softball was better suited for her condition.

Picard is looking forward to her senior season at Valley Tech with no college pressure, but admits there will be some effort to try and top her stats from last year.

“I personally feel as though there will be like more pressure on me this spring because now that I've signed with a D1 school, I have to play extra perfect,” Picard said.

“I honestly don't know if I'll ever be able to top the season I had last year. Obviously, I'm going to shoot for the stars and try to do just as good this spring, but that was just like unheard of. I don't know how I did that. I still don't know how to respond to people when they ask me.”

Picard was one of a handful of area athletes who made their college choices official.

Worcester Academy had four basketball players sign on the dotted line on Wednesday, including former St. Peter-Marian standout and T&G Super Team pick Matt Mobley, who will attend Central Connecticut State. Rene Castro will attend Butler, while Matt Panaggio will head to Lipscomb University. Candace Andrews will play for Saint Anselm next year.

Milford High also had two players sign scholarships. Hometeam Softball Athlete of the Year Shannon Smith signed with Kentucky, and Rachel Levine committed to Boston Univeristy.

A trio of baseball players also signed, including Quaboag Regional's Thomas Jankins (Quinnipiac), Westboro High's Ryan Venditti (UMass) and Auburn High's Zach Tower (UMass-Lowell). 

Bogdanovich Commits to Stetson

South Portland senior softball pitching standout Erin Bogdanovich

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