The Salem News
---- — Fast Pitches
As the first full week of softball comes to a close this weekend, many of our local teams have been able to find their stride early.
After winning just five games a year ago, Beverly is one of those teams hoping to get off to a fast start.
After an opening game loss in Peabody Wednesday, Beverly avenged that setback with a 9-8 non-league victory over Malden yesterday. What’s more, the Panthers are right back at it today with a chance to go over .500 against Revere at home, providing the weather cooperates.
Emily Pitman got the win on the mound for the Panthers yesterday, managing naged to get out of a jam in the sixth inning with both the tying and go-ahead runners on. She finished the inning with a strikeout and a ground ball to leave them stranded.
Kate Silvestri went 2-for-4 with three RBI on a double and a single. Hannah Silvestri, who took over the shortstop position after her older sister Erin graduated last year, continued the hot hitting and is a combined 6-for-8 over the past two games, with three runs scored and two RBI. Taytum Geary also had two very productive games at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a three runs scored and two big RBI.
“Literally the lineup from 1-through-9 has swung the bat very well and have made huge contributions,” said head coach Megan Sudak. “I’m fortunate that 11 of my 15 faces are the same from last year, but we’re taking a different approach. We were young last year, so this year I expect more in certain areas.”
Sudak said last year’s graduation seniors helped build the foundation for this spring. As a result, this current crop of seniors have picked up where their former teammates left off.
“I think the biggest change this year so far is focus,” Sudak said. “We’ve had some great practices and myself and assistant coaches Dan and Steve McKenna have been demanding of the girls. We are big on repetition of fundamentals, but then also trying to multi-task two or three strategies at once.
“I’m spending a lot more time trying to focus on planning practice down to the minute, with specific objectives and getting as much done quickly and efficiently but at the same time, effectively. The girls have been quite responsive so far, so we’ll see how the hard work pays off by the end of this week.”
Though the weather wasn’t very favorable in the preseason, Beverly managed to get scrimmages in against St. Mary’s of Lynn, Masconomet, Shawsheen, Newburyport and Reading. Sudak is hoping that the level of competition the Panthers were able to face will only benefit her squad down the line.
Kaera Wyse has been solid for North Shore Tech over the past two games. In yesterday’s 8-2 win over Mystic Valley, Wyse finished with a one-hitter and has 16 strikeouts in her team’s first two contests.
The key to a successful season for the Bulldogs will be their communication. First-year head coach Jody Norton believes that if his team can focus and talk through innings, they’ll be on the right track.
“It feels great so far and we’re really excited where we’re at,” Norton said. “Pitching has really dominated for us, and the girls are doing the little things that make the difference.”
It’s never easy to replace a player like Sam DiBella, but sophomore Caitlin McBride has stepped up in a big way for Danvers behind the plate. McBride played third base last year, but backed up DiBella in preparation for taking over the reins this season.
McBride, who went 3-for-4 from the plate in Wednesday’s 10-1 over Swampscott, looked poised and in control, catching for Falcons’ ace hurler Kendall Meehan.
“She seemed very comfortable behind the plate,” head coach Tara Petrocelli said of McBride. “Kendall and Caitlin are good friends, so there’s good communication there and they worked very well together.”
Pingree’s Kelsey Dion had quite a game for herself against Cushing Academy on Wednesday. The sophomore first baseman went 3-for-4 with three RBI, including the game-winning run on a walkoff home run in the bottom of the seventh.
The Highlanders (1-1) also saw strong play from pitcher Christina Chalmers, who picked the victory with five strikeouts and allowed 10 hits.
“It was just a terrific game,” said head coach Jim MacLaughlin. “Cushing and Buckingham, Browne & Nichols are two of the harder non-league opponents we’ll see this year, so it was nice to get one win in.”
Pingree jumps into league action today against at Beaver Country Day.
Salem shortstop Desiree Martin is one of the most valuable components on her young team. Only a sophomore, Martin had two hits, two stolen bases and run scored in Salem’s 5-3 loss to Lynn English Wednesday.
Though the Witches dropped their season opener, the game was tied at 3-3 heading into the seventh inning.
“I thought we played very well (in) an extremely close game,” said head coach Dan Bertone. “Either team had a chance to grab the win; English just happened to take advantage it.
“I don’t believe we’ll have another three-win season. I really don’t want to see the girls get discouraged, because they know they’re capable of competing against these teams.”
Fast Pitches, a column on North Shore high school softball, runs every Friday during the spring season in The Salem News. Contact Gianna Addario at GAddario@salemnews.com, 978-338-2615 and follow her on Twitter @GiannaAddarioSN.