Junior catcher Sarah Duarte and junior shortstop Averi Soares formed a formidable partnership for the GNB Voc-Tech softball team this season.

"They were my dynamic duo," Voc-Tech coach Mark Collins said. "Averi got on base as our leadoff hitter and Sarah knocked her in as our number-two batter. They both had great seasons and the sky's the limit for both of them next year."

The 2017 Standard-Times Player of the Year, Duarte has been one of the toughest outs in the area since she was a freshman and has the defensive skills that are going to make a college coach very happy. She's made progress every season and blossomed this year at the plate and behind it. She led the area with an incredible 50 hits and hit safely in the Bears' first 26 games. Going back to the last five games of her sophomore season, she had a 31-game hitting streak that ended when she finally went hitless in a 6-2 loss to West Bridgewater in the finals of the Div. 3 South Sectional.

"She had a dream season and she came ready to play every day," Collins said. "She was in the zone right from the start and never left it. I'm not sure if anyone else around here has ever finished with 50 hits in a season, but she got there. She also shut down teams with her arm. Nobody tried to run against her on the bases."

For Duarte, who hit .521 with five home runs and 35 runs batted in, being a catcher has been a perfect fit.

"I like being able to see the entire field," she said. "I'm a big part of every play and I love being in charge out there. Calling pitches and plays and working with Averi to manage the infield and outfield."

It was another stellar season behind the plate for Duarte, who made some big strides at it.

"It was all about relaxing and having fun," she said. "I saw the ball and I hit the ball. I tried to keep it simple and not overthink things. I refused to put any pressure on myself."

Duarte also plays basketball for the Bears and she plays basketball and softball year-round. This summer, she'll stay busy playing basketball for Voc-Tech's girls team in the Old Rochester Regional Summer League and softball for the SouthCoast Scream U18 travel team.

"I'm always playing sports and I wouldn't have it any other way," Duarte said. "I don't have a lot of spare time, but I like being active and sports keep me busy and happy."