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Norwood - Local Town Pages

Softball Captains Hoping to Go Out on Top

By Christopher Tremblay

Softball co-captains Grace Dileo and Caeli Reed have been playing softball as long as they can remember, and with this their final season on the Norwood diamond, the duo is hoping to help the Mustangs advance to the Division 2 State Softball Tournament.

“As a two-year captain I am hoping that I can lead the younger girls into the tournament and then advance further than we did last year,” (Norwood finished 9-7; earning a 15 seed and fell to Norton in the first round), Reed said. “Our goals are to win the Tri-Valley League Championship and then taking part in the state finals would be a great way to end our senior year.”

 Dileo echoed her co-captains’ sentiments noting the team has the talent to do so.

“We have a lot of new talent this year and are looking to put the pieces together; I definitely think that we can take the TVL,” Dileo said. “We’ve got to be able to score the first run of the game instead of waiting to later in the game. If we can do that, we should be all right.”

Softball has been a part of the Norwood duo’s upbringing from a young age. Reed said that her entire family has been involved in Norwood sports and two of her cousins had played for Norwood Coach Carol Savino’s club team, the Drifters, a team she too has been part of since the sixth grade.

Dileo, on the other hand, began with t-ball, moved to the BNB Hornets club team out of Wrentham, and eventually ended up with the Drifters two years before she entered high school. 

“Joining club, I definitely received a lot of new skills that allowed me to succeed at first base while commanding the field,” Dileo said. “I found motivation with club as it was a higher level than rec and it allowed me to play with others that were not only on my level but dedicated to the sport.”

Growing up, the now Mustang first baseman tried a variety of positions like catcher and third base, but after developing rotator and tendonitis issues her first year Drifters coach moved her to first where she has thrived. Unlike Dileo, Reed was thrust into the catcher position and has developed into a superior player behind the plate. 

“I became a catcher early on when no one would catch Erin Sullivan, who eventually had to leave the sport because she threw really hard with a lot of speed,” Reed said. “I was comfortable catching my friend. Erin came up with Grace and I and it’s too bad that she can’t be on the team with us this year.”

Having played for Coach Savino’s Drifters team, both Norwood captains felt rather comfortable when high school tryouts began four years earlier. Dileo recalls a lot of the high school drills were similar to those she took part in as Drifter.

“It was a little easier having the experience but I wasn’t expecting to make the varsity team,” Dileo said. To be honest with you, I would have been ok on the freshman team and to make the JV team would have been a reward.”

So needless to say, the then freshman was totally shocked when Savino placed her on the varsity squad her first year.

As for Reed, she recalled all the older girls being very welcoming and already knowing a lot of them gave her the feeling that she’d be all right taking part in the tryouts.

“I was confident that I was going to make the team,” Reed said. “But to be the starting catcher as a freshman for the varsity team I didn’t expect. That put a lot of pressure on me and at times it was stressful as there was a lot of weight on my shoulders. It was tough to live up to that potential as a freshman.”

Defensively, the two captains are top notch players according to their coach and offensively can bring the power.

“Grace can stop anything that come her way over at first base, while Caeli is a great catcher that commands the game,” Savino said. “She is very athletic with a strong arm and throws a lot of runners out. At the plate both girls hit for power.”

In addition to helping the underclassmen on the team prepare to take over the program following this season, Reed and Dileo would like nothing more than getting back to the tournament and playing like they did when the team went to the Quarter Finals as freshman. That year, Norwood went 12-6, defeated Bridgewater, knocked off Hanover the number three seed before losing to Fairhaven to end their season.

“There is no I in team whether on the field playing or sitting on the bench,” Dileo said. “We are all part of a team, and we are there for one another because we love the game. We have a good group of girls who are always trying our best.”

Whether they get to surpass their tournament performance of that first varsity season with the Mustangs or not, the Norwood coach is proud of her team.

“The kids at Norwood are exceptionally grateful for what you can teach them,” Savino said. “Each and every one of them is willing to listen and learn and always thank me for helping them.”