The Northeast Regional softball team enjoyed another successful season under the direction of head coach Al Generazzo.
Generazzo is well known in the city. He is a physical education teacher at Chelsea High School and his father, the late Al Generazzo Sr., was a Chelsea High star athlete who was inducted into the CHS Sports Hall of Fame.
Al Generazzo holds a special place in his heart for Chelsea.
“I always root for Chelsea High in sports except when they’re playing our team in softball,” said Generazzo. “The Chelsea softball coach is doing an excellent job with his team.”
This season Generazzo led the Golden Knights to a 9-9 record – dropping four tough games by one run – and a berth in the State Tournament. Northeast played a very tough Winthrop team in the first round of the tournament, falling by a 5-3 score in a near upset.
One of the top players for the Knights was senior captain Mercedes Griffin, a two-time CAC All-Star catcher who hit for average and power. Griffin will attend Stonehill College in the fall.
Team captain Jillian Heinstrom was also a two-time CAC All-Star. A four-year starter and third baseman, Heinstrom wrapped up a stellar career in the program. Sophomore Jackie Cuzuzza was a pleasant surprise for the Knights, moving up from the JV team to be the No. 1 pitcher.
“Jackie was our workhorse this season – she pitched every inning,” said Generazzo. “She’s one of the nicest kids I’ve ever coached.”
Shannon Bentley, also a team captain, missed some games this season, but returned to play a key role as the starting left fielder.
Sophomore shortstop Toni DeSimone turned in an excellent defensive performance against Winthrop in the tournament. DeSimone also had two clutch hits in the game. Freshman centerfielder Heather Toussaint should be a star in the years to come.
Second baseman Stephanie Velez, a junior, and first baseman Sam Olson, a sophomore, also had solid seasons and will help boost the team next year.