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North Branford SportsBeat: Things That Made Me Go, 'Wow!'

Shining the spotlight on awe-inspiring performances.

North Branford SportsBeat: Things That Made Me Go, 'Wow!'

[Note: Want your photos and/or write-ups from North Branford youth or recreational sports in featured on North Branford Patch? ]

graduate Matt Barnes has made a lot of people in professional baseball say, "Wow!" The first-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in the 2011 MLB Draft has been a force this season. In eight starts between Greenville and Salem, the hard-throwing pitcher is 4-0 with a barely visible, 0.60 ERA. In 44 2/3 innings, Barnes has given up just three earned runs while striking out 67 and walking just six batters. Those are incredible numbers across the board.

Max Pacioretty of turned in a brilliant performance for Team USA in the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Helsinki over the last two weeks. The forward, who plays for the Montreal Canadians during the NHL season, was the seventh leading scorer in the tournament and the top one for the Americans. In eight games, scored two goals and assisted on 10 others. The 12 total points are the most by an American in an International tournament since 1975. That deserves a "Wow!"

Shayna Delaney of has been making a lot of people say, "Wow!" since the first game of the season when the Panthers star lacrosse player scored nine goals. Last week, Delaney surpassed the 100-goal mark for the season when she scored eight goals in a 16-13 victory over Bethel. The junior has 110 goals heading into the playoffs. Emma Lazaroff, a senior in Lafayette, Colorado, leads the nation in goals with 123.

"Wow!" Robert Rotanz, who is from Westport, scored a career-best five goals against Colgate to help Duke University advance to the Final Four of the NCAA Lacrosse tournament this weekend. graduate also added an assist and ranks as the team's third leading scorer with 38 goals and eight assists.

The incredible dominance of the Cheshire boy's volleyball team deserves a big, "Wow!" Over the last two seasons, the Rams have won 38 straight games heading into Monday's contest against Newington. This year, the team led by 6'10" senior Nate Howard and Ray Brumleve has not been pushed to a fifth set and has lost only six games in 15 matches.

A lot of things about the Greenwich baseball team made me say, "Wow!" First of all, the Cardinals ran the table during the regular season, finishing with a 20-0 record. It's incredibly tough to go undefeated in baseball. During the course of a season, you're bound to run into a tough pitcher or just have a bad outing. never did. Their pitching has been superb as the staff has posted a 1.01 ERA. Sophomore Kyle Dunster posted a school-record eight saves and an ERA of 0.31, the second best mark in the state.

When you play on the same team as a person who scores 110 goals, it's easy to get overlooked. However, Megan Gaffney has shined brightly for Pomperaug in 2012. Gaffney has been arguably the best playmaker in girls lacrosse this season. She has 62 assists, most of them setting up Shayna Delaney for easy goals, and Gaffney has also scored 45 goals, giving her 107 points in 2012. Gaffney has shown incredible improvement from a year ago when she had 17 goals and 40 assists.

Ashley Guillette of has certainly announced her presence with authority. The freshman softball pitcher has been one of the best in the state this season. Guillette is 17-2 and is averaging 13.1 strikeouts per game. She has recorded two no-hitters, six one-hitters, and has three games with 17 strikeouts. Guillette deserves a big, "Wow!" for her breakout season.

The girls lacrosse team at deserves props for going through the regular season undefeated (16-0). If you've never seen Olivia Hompe and Sarah Mannelly play, you're missing something special. They are the best 1-2 combination of any of any team in any Spring sport. Both have scored more than 50 goals and are clutch performers. In the quarterfinals of the FCIAC, Hompe scored seven goals and Mannelly added five as the routed Danbury 20-10.

Mike Olt of is putting up power numbers in baseball that are making the Texas Rangers go, "Wow!" The former UConn star is playing for the Rangers AA affiliate in the Texas League. Olt is fifth in the league with nine home runs in 149 plate appearances. He ranks seventh in the league in slugging percentage (.519). Olt was the Rangers No. 1 pick in the 2010 MLB Draft.

Jess Harkness, a sophomore pitcher from in Milford, pitched 13 innings on May 17 against East Haven. She struck out 17 hitters in the 5-4 extra inning victory. Harkness has 16 wins on the season, posting an ERA of 0.98 to go along with her 182 strikeouts.

"Wow!" Darien High School has put three players on the Under Armour All-American team for lacrosse. Case Matheis, regarded by many as the best player in the country, Henry West, and defenseman Tony Britton were named to the prestigious team last week.

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