ATTLEBORO — Gabrielle Comeau can’t remember the last time that she has visited a manicurist to lend some glamor to her fingernails.
And there will be no visits in the forthcoming future for the Bishop Feehan High softball catcher.
Comeau will be behind the plate for the Shamrocks in their quest for the MIAA Division 1 South Sectional title Friday night in Taunton, when Feehan meets Hockomock League Kelley-Rex Division champion Taunton High in a semifinal game at 7 p.m.
Comeau will be behind the plate this summer playing club softball, and then in a few months, she will begin her collegiate career at Merrimack College, helping the Warriors make the transition to an NCAA Division I program.
Comeau is not only a four-year veteran catcher with the Bishop Feehan High softball program. She has also started 89 consecutive games and caught virtually every inning.
During her tenure of being on the receiving end of pitches from Sarah Magro, Shauna Hamel and Brooke Sroczinski, Comeau and the Shamrocks have compiled an enviable .764 winning percentage, with 68 wins over her four seasons and reached the semifinals of the MIAA Division 1 South Sectional three times.
“My nails are always broken, I don’t even think about them,” Comeau said after a rainy workout in the Shamrock gym Thursday.
Comeau grew up in Weymouth, but her family moved to Wrentham in the months prior to her freshman year at Bishop Feehan. She has been a fixture behind the plate ever since while batting in the No. 3 or 4 spot of the order.
“She’s the quarterback of the team,” Bishop Feehan coach Bill Milot said. “She’s in control back there. It’s a symbiotic relationship that she has with pitchers.”
As a freshman and sophomore Comeau caught for Magro, who is now at Bucknell. During summer league club play, Comeau even was on the receiving end of pitches thrown by former Norton High great Kelley Nelson (Holy Cross).
“She threw a hard ball and it dropped,” Comeau said of learning to read the mind of Magro in developing a strategy.
Hamel, now a nursing major at URI and not playing softball, worked with Comeau on her pitch selection and location. Now on the receiving end of Sroczinski’s signature riser, Comeau in tune with the RPI-bound Shamrock senior pitcher.
“The way that Gabby sets up, the way that she blocks the plate, the way that she gets off to go after a bunt and those are just defensive traits,” Milot said.
Not to mention that Comeau has totaled over 100 hits during her career, batting just under .450 on the season.
As a freshman, Comeau and the No. 5 seed Shamrocks compiled a 19-4 record, bowing in the semifinals of the Division 1 South Sectional to Silver Lake Regional.
As a sophomore, Comeau and the No. 8 seed Shamrocks (15-6) lost a first-round tourney game to King Philip.
Last season, Comeau and the Shamrocks (15-9) advanced to the semifinals in Division 1 South play, only to suffer a 9-1 setback to eventual state champion Taunton.
The Shamrocks and Tigers (22-2) meet for tje second time this season. Taunton, which took a 7-2 decision in early May, has won three straight games, all by shutouts in out-scoring its opposition 17-0. Not since the Rocketeers of North Attleboro scored a 6-5 extra-innings win over the Tigers, has Taunton been scored upon or lost.
Comeau was a pitcher and a catcher during her early club days of playing in the Lady Sting program. Most recently, she has been on the roster of the R.I. Thunder, playing summer tournaments in California and Colorado.
Sroczinski hardly ever calls off the pitches that Comeau believes best to be thrown.
“It’s really learning your pitcher, watching the batters and figuring out what’s best to call in certain situations,” said Comeau. “We’re on the same page and we have a great defense behind us,” she added of seniors Caroline Deem at first and Kaylee Mankins at third, Haley Coupal at shortstop and Hannah Ramer at second base.
“Gabby knows the game so well, inside and out,” Milot added.
Comeau began relishing her catching role in middle school.
“I fell in love with the position,” she recalled. “I’ve spent a lot of hours of practice every day. It takes a while to learn everything about the position, to get good. And I still have so much to learn.
“That’s why working with three different pitchers over the last four years, it’s taught me a lot about relationships, how to work with pitchers, how to get to know people inside and out.”