By Gianna Addario
---- — DANVERS — It’s still early in the season, but that doesn’t mean the Danvers High softball team will use that as an excuse.
After playing a pair of games, the Falcons have a better feel for what their Northeastern Conference opponents have to offer, having seen opponents from both the NEC Small and Large.
After a relatively easy win on Monday, yesterday’s contest against Swampscott was anything but secure until the final frame. Despite being down by three runs through four innings, the Falcons put together some hits and moved runners when it counted en route to a 4-3 victory over the Big Blue.
“It’s a seven-inning game, so you have to play all seven ... and we did,” said Danvers (2-0) head coach Tara Petrocelli. “We left a lot of baserunners (on) early, but we were able to capitalize on some of their mistakes.”
Swampscott (0-2) and Danvers were tied going into the seventh inning, 3-3. Danvers pitcher Kendall Meehan did her part to get out of a jam with the bases loaded, getting a strikeout and fly out to end the inning.
Meehan answered again in the bottom of the stanza, this time at the plate as she drew a walk. Anna O’Neill came in for Meehan as a designated runner before Devyn Downs singled, shortstop Brittany Dougal walked to load the bases and sophomore third baseman Lizzie Prentiss earned another free pass, scoring O’Neill with the game-winning run.
“We just had to chip away. This group of kids, they’re resilient,” said Petrocelli. “They have great chemistry and are a true team. We chip away and see what happens.
“We can’t predict the game — we have to play it. We feel comfortable that if we score one run that we’ll get more confidence as we go.”
The Big Blue wasted little time scoring as pitcher Danielle Mayblum hit a RBI single to score Sam Rizzo in the top of the first inning. In the third Rizzo scored again, this time on an error, and Hannah Leahy drove in another run on a double to left.
“We were hitting much better than we did in our first game (against Everett),” said Swampscott shortstop Tori Thistle, who reached base twice yesterday. “We focused on our batting in the cage at practice (Tuesday), which helped.”
Danvers got one back in fourth after Dougal drove in a run on a sacrifice hit. The Falcons then made things interesting in the sixth when Petrocelli had sophomore Marisa Phillips-Manson pinch hit for Meagan Llewellyn in the nine spot. Phillips-Mascon crushed a triple to center field to score Prentiss. Tori Costa then drove in Phillips-Manson on single to tie the game.
“We say that we’re a team all the time, but we truly, truly mean it,” noted Petrocelli. “We don’t win this game without everybody. That’s from the top all the way down. It’s a good lesson for us to learn.”
Meehan struck out 10 batters, gave up nine hits and one earned run. She fell into a rhythm in the latter half of the game, striking out at least one Swampscott batter in every inning except the fourth.
“I thought Kendall struggled a little bit, but fought hard,” Petrocelli said of her ace. “(Catcher) Caitlin McBride called a fantastic game. I think they could’ve been frustrated early on, but they weren’t and they were able to work through it. That’s all I can really ask for.”
On the other side, Mayblyum gave up 11 hits, three walks and struck out two batters. Rizzo led the offense with three hits for the Big Blue, while Mayblyum and Rikki Rooklin were the only others with multiple hits.
“We’re just looking to keep the hits coming. We left a couple baserunners on, so if we could’ve got them in — it would’ve made a difference,” said Thistle.