Rain can't slow down Berlin girls' tennis team against Kennett

By Jean LeBlanc
BERLIN — The Berlin girls' tennis team rolled to a sixth straight win of the season, shutting out the Kennett Eagles 9-0 on May 1 in Conway.
In singles' action, top-seeded Audrey Coulombe was an 8-2 winner over Olivia Couture; No. 2 seed Myra Arsenault defeated the Becca Lees,  8-4; senior Emily Theriault bested Liz Davis, 8-2; Rylie Binette won 8-1 over Abby Acone; Julie Downs swatted her way past Alex Samule,  8-1; and sophomore Haley Coulombe rolled to an 8-1 win over Abby Tepe.
"Another match in the rain," said Coach Andy Rancloes. "The match started about 30 minutes late. When we got there, the courts were under water. We worked along with Kennett players to get the courts ready. We ended up getting three of the six safe to be played on. The girls worked hard. Audrey took over from the start. Her serves were right on the mark. Myra was down early but she made some in-game adjustments and was successful. Emily is starting to turn it on. She is hitting the ball hard and playing smart."
In doubles' action, Berlin continued to hold serve. Top-seeded Mountie duo A.Coulombe/Arsenault defeated Kennett's Couture/Lees, 8-1; Theriault/Downs were 8-0 shutout winners over Davis/Acone; and completing the perfect day were Binette/H.Coulombe, 8-0, over Samuel/Tepe.
"Overall, the girls are really beginning to mix up their shots," said Rancloes. "We have been working on adding different type shots to our game, and I see it really helping and getting the opponent off balance. This was a great win. The girls are all business. They are not letting the soaked courts or cold temps bother them. We still have some basic things to improve on, like footwork, but overall I’m very proud of what these girls have accomplished so far this season."  

Local drivers take it to the big track in Loudon

HLLR tests a very different pair of 17s for showdown

By Mike Twist

The basic idea behind the creation of the New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was for grassroots racing teams in the Northeast to be able to perform on a large stage and have fun.

When teams planning to enter the June 30t-July 1 race got to test in preparation for the event on Monday, one team from way up in the North Country might have monopolized the fun — for one day at least.  The Herriott Lord LeBlanc Racing (HLLR) brought two very different race cars to the test and both of their drivers spent time learning how to lap a car very different from what they were used to.

Just getting to the track from Gorham started the fun for the team.  Despite it being May, the team encountered snow showers on its way after leaving tits home base in the wee hours of the morning.  Their two trailers were among the first in line though when the pits opened for the test session at 7:30 a.m.

TachneedleLocal Gorham racers Cody LeBlanc and Haywood Herriott brought their HLLR race team to Loudon for a test session on the big one-mile track Monday. Herriott will be piloting a Pro Stock in the GSPSS race, while LeBlanc will be behind the wheel of an Acura Integra in the NEMST event on July 1. (COURTESY PHOTO)

Next, the team settled into the garage area in the same stalls used by NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series teams when they are in town.  They focused their attention on a pair of No. 17 cars.  There was an all-white No. 17 Pro Stock driven by 2016 North East Mini Stock Tour champion Haywood Herriott along with the car that Herriott drove to the championship — a blue Acura Intergra.  Behind the wheel of the Integra was NEMST regular Cody LeBlanc, who will drive the car after parking his own No. 7NH Acura RSX.  A third member of the HLLR team, Kodi Sabins, was at the test to help out but not to drive.

Herriott provided one of the more exciting moments of the team when the first test session for the Granite State Pro Stock Series began.  On his first lap, a problem with the valve cover gasket led to oil being sprayed all over the engine compartment and down onto the front tires.  Herriott found this out as he accelerated up to speed for the first time in his new car.  He half spun exiting turn four, but did not hit anything.

"I looked like a fool doing that on the first lap," joked Herriott.

Once the problem was solved and the rest of the day was uneventful for Herriott.

"The more that I drove, the more that I got used to it," said Herriott.  "We were on pace with many of the cars that were here.  The front end was bouncing quite a bit, so we need to figure that out and also boost the driver's confidence and we will be good."

LeBlanc didn't waste much time getting used to his new quarters.  He found out that the Acura Integra handled much better than his familiar RSX, but it lacked power.  As for his first laps at NHMS, LeBlanc adapted fine.

"I actually find it harder to get around at Thompson," said LeBlanc.  "You have a lot more space here."

Being down on power did not worry him much either.

"We will work on it," LeBlanc said.  "We'll be good when we come back here to race."

The New England Short Track Shootout will feature races for the four cornerstone types of race cars in New England asphalt oval track racing with the Valenti Modified Series, Granite State Pro Stock Series, North East Mini Stock Tour and Street Stock Showdown Series all competing.  For more information on the event, visit NorthEastMiniStockTour.com.

Corey Mason wins North Country Ford Late Model series-opener

By Dick Therrien

GROVETON — It was opening night on Saturday at Speedway 51 powered by the Autosaver Group at the high banked quarter-mile oval in Groveton, New Hampshire, and the fans were treated to some red hot racing throughout the evening at the NAPA Spectacular. Winners included Corey Mason, Brendan Moodie, Thomas Merchant and Kyle Labounty.
 
The North Country Ford Late Models were in town for Round No. 1, and the event feature side-by-side racing for the entire 50-lap run. Chip Grenier grabbed the point and held the field at bay for the first 24 laps before a cut right front tire brought out the lone caution event of the race. Mike Kenison assumed the point with Corey Mason to his outside. The next 21 laps were some of the best seen in years at the pair ran side-by-side, swapping the lead numerous times before Mason took over and grabbed the lead on the outside.
 
Speedway 51 1Groveton's own Corey Mason captured top honors at Speedway 51 Saturday night. (ALAN PLUMMER PHOTO)
 
Kenison now had his hands full with rookie driver Brendan Moodie as he took to the outside lane and passed Kenison at the stripe on lap 48. Mason collected the checkered flag ahead of Moodie, Kenison, Randy Potter and Kevin Boutin. Mason won the qualifying race.
 
A short field of Perras Ace Hardware Tiger Sportsman took to the track for their 15 lap feature event, and when it was over, 2016 champion edged out newcomer John Boutin for the win. The pair battled hard with Boutin leading the first 14 laps, before Moodie battled his way by on the final lap. Chris Noyes, subbing for Bill Stebbins Jr. finished third.
 
A highly entertaining Caron’s Fabrication Street Stock feature saw newcomer Thomas Merchant from Eden Mills, Vt., capture his career first feature win in dominating style. The battle behind the leader was intense as four cars raced under a blanket the entire race. Brett “The Jet” Rowell held off Kasey Beattie, Brandon Lamphear, and Bunker Hodgdon to claim the runner-up spot. Rowell carried the checkered flag in the heat race.
 
It was a family feud for the A.B. Excavating Daredevils as younger brother Kyle Labounty edged out his older sibling Garrett Labounty to grab his first ever Daredevil victory. Early Leader Josh Plumley raced home third ahead of rookies Hunter King and Jesse Dunham.
 
Speedway 51 powered by the Autosaver Group will return to action on Saturday, May 20, for the Tiger Sportsman Special. Joining the Tiger Sportsman will be the Street Stocks, Daredevils and Pure Stocks. There will also be Bike Races for the kids. Bike classes will include ages 0-3, 4-6. 7-9, and 10-12. Post time for the event is 6 p.m. For more information on this event and others, visit www.speedway51int.com, or call the new track hotline message info center at (802) 266-0240. Speedway 51 is located on Brown Road in Groveton.

Berlin softballers snap slide, rock Gilford 11-0 and Belmont 7-2

By Jean LeBlanc

BERLIN — The Berlin softball team has gotten off to a rocky 1-5 start this spring, however, the varsity inexperience may have been overcome after six games, as Berlin over powered Gilford 11-0 and Belmont 7-2, to improve to 3-5 on the spring.

At Gilford, the Mounties pounded out 15 hits and four home runs, riding the one-hit pitching of sophomore fire-baller Sam McCann to win 11-0.

"Gilford (4-4) took us lightly and paid for it," said Coach Rollie Poirier. "They did not start their ace Lachapelle and Sam had her best outing of the spring. Their coach came over after the game and praised the girls for being a lot better than what he had been told."

The Berlin blasts came from McCann in the third inning on a three-run shot; in the fourth, Jessica Vien hit a three-run clout; Shaeleigh Valliere (three hits) added a solo homer; and Vien went deep again in the seventh inning with a two-run shot.

Butterfield and Jillian Lachapelle saw time on the mound for Gilford.

On the hill, Berlin's McCann allowed only a Beaudette hit in the fifth inning, walked three and struck out nine Eagles in getting the win. Defensively, Kaylee Peare had eight assists at second base.

Berlin got a little revenge on Belmont (5-2). The Raiders had handed Berlin a 3-2 loss earlier in the year. This time the Mounties broke open a close game with a four-run sixth inning to win 7-2.

McCann was again solid on the mound, allowing just four hits and two runs. The hard throwing righty, walked one and struck out four. Defensively, Peare was again busy at second base with seven assists. Mountie right fielder Hailey Knapp had a nice diving catch in when the contest was close at 3-2. Belmont's runs came on a passed ball and an RBI ground out.

For the second straight game, Valliere went three-for-three. Vien, McCann and Jillian Lefebvre all had two hits. In the sixth inning, Vien and McCann had two-run homers to put the game out of reach.

The Berlin girls will travel to Laconia and then host a much improved Newfound team in their next two contests.

Berlin   0 0 3 4 1 0 3   11-15-1

Gilford 0 0 0 0 0 0 0   0-1-3

Pitching: BHS — McCann and Theriault, GHS — Butterfield, Lachapelle (4), and Orton, WP — McCann, LP — Butterfield. Home runs: BHS — inning, McCann (third two on), Vien (fourth inning two on and seventh inning, one on) and Valliere (fourth inning, none on).

Berlin   1 2 0 0 0 4 0   7-10-0

Belmont 0 2 0 0 0 0 0   2-4-0

Pitching: Berlin — McCann and Theriault, Belmont — Flemming and LaVallee, WP — McCann, LP — Flemming. Home runs — McCann (seventh inning, one on), Vien (seventh inning, one on).