Lynn Classical’s Jennie Erekson and Mackenzie Coppinger proved that they belong among the elite high softball players in Massachusetts with their performances in the annual Bay State Games.
Erekson, a third baseman, and Coppinger, a pitcher, helped lead the Northeast team to a bronze medal in the Games that bring together the top high school players for an Olympic-style round-robin tournament.
Erekson hit a lofty .400 in the tournament and was one of the team’s leading run producers. She was also a standout on defense. Coppinger had a 3-0 record in the tournament, earning a victory as the starting pitcher in Northeast’s 17-2 win over Central in the bronze medal game.
Northeast finished with a 3-1-1 record in the tournament, but was denied a spot in the gold medal game because of the run-differential rule. The Northeast and Metro teams had played to a 4-4 tie but because Metro had allowed 16 runs to Northeast’s 17 runs in the round robin portion of the tournament, Metro advanced to the final. One of Northeast’s games (against a winless opponent) was postponed due to rain, yet another impediment in its bid to advance to the gold medal round.
Northeast coach Mark Kulakowski, assistant coach and assistant athletic director at Endicott College, said that Erekson and Coppinger were instrumental in the team’s success.
“Jennie was one of our top hitters, played good, solid defense, and had an excellent overall tournament,” said Kulakowski. “Mackenzie pitched very well and had all three of our wins. She was the winning pitcher in the bronze medal game.”
Kulakowski said the Classical players are definite college prospects.
“I think there’s no question that Jennie and Mackenzie can play softball in college,” said Kulakowski. “They would be assets to a college program. They were both hard-working kids on our team who took their experience of being in a good program that Chris Warren runs at Classical and brought it to our program. They were well respected by all the players on our team.”
Twenty-eight played tried out for the Northeast team. Eighteen players received spots on the roster for the Bay State Games.
Erekson and Coppinger both enjoyed their Bay State Games experience.
“It was a really good experience – different coaches and different kids, it was really nice to meet new people,” said Erekson. “We won the bronze medal which was good. Coach Kulakowski reminded me of coach Warren a lot so it was nice being on his team.”
“For only being together for a month, our team was pretty close,” said Coppinger. “The Bay State Games were a different opportunity and I enjoyed them a lot.”
Erekson and Coppinger are on a major roll in their softball careers. Classical won the Northeastern Conference Large title this season with a 16-0 record. Both players were named as captains of the 2012 team after serving in that capacity for this year’s team.
“It’s always good to be a two-year captain – a lot of people don’t get to do that,” said Erekson. “We’re really excited about next year. This past season was awesome. We’re obviously going to miss [graduating All-Star shortstop] Hannah Byrne next year. We have really big shoes to fill.”
“It’s an honor to be a captain two years in a row,” said Coppinger. “We had a pretty remarkable season. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I’m hoping we can win the title again next season.”
Classical coach Chris Warren said he’s happy that his players are seeking out competitive opportunities such as the Bay State Games.
“Jennie and Mackenzie are in the middle of great careers at Lynn Classical,” said Warren. “They compete in AAU along with the Bay State Games. The Games give athletes great exposure to college programs and the chance to test their skills. They’ve done a great job leadership wise at Classical and we’re looking for them to lead us again along with our other two captains.”