By Gianna Addario
---- — PEABODY — The Peabody High softball team had yesterday’s Northeastern Conference duel against Danvers circled on its calendar since the beginning of the season.
Rightfully so, too, since the Falcons are one of the hottest teams on the North Shore right now by having won their first nine games — including yesterday’s 6-0 win over the host Tanners.
Peabody has had one of its more successful starts in recent years at 7-2, but saw firsthand just how powerful the undefeated Falcons really are.
”We beat ourselves, there’s no doubt about it,” said Peabody head coach Butch Melanaphy. “We especially had too many mental mistakes. This was a big game and we weren’t prepared for it. The girls thought they were ready, but they weren’t.”
Danvers earned its seventh shutout of the spring and continued to dazzle on the diamond. In particular during the seventh inning, freshman left fielder Madison Mucci hit a two-run home run, her first of the season, to extend the Falcons’ lead.
The Falcons (9-0) got contributions from up and down the lineup and showed successful baserunning throughout the contest. And to top it all off, Kendall Meehan gave up just five hits in the game, with four strikeouts and two walks.
“Peabody’s a great team, (with) great pitching and a great coach,” said Danvers head coach Tara Petrocelli. “We knew it was going to be a challenge, but we looked at it as if it were any other game.
“We came in with a solid game plan. Peabody is a great hitting team, so we had to mix up the pitches. We went inside, then outside when we had to. They’re difficult hitters to get out and we didn’t expect it to be easy.
“We knew we were going to struggle at times,” added Petrocelli, “but that’s why this is just a great team win.”
Not only did Meehan pitch an all-around solid game, but her defense came up with huge outs behind her.
In the fourth inning, Peabody’s Holly Smith walked and Jess Raymond singled. But Meehan didn’t panic; instead, she countered with a strikeout and her infield converted a pair of routine grounders to end the inning and preserve the 3-0 lead at the time.
“Defensively I thought we played very well, and Kendall was able to hit her spots,” said Petrocelli. “I thought Tori Costa played fantastic in right field and made some great catches, too.”
Costa went 2-for-3 with a double, while senior second baseman Chrissy Gikas and sophomore catcher Caitlin McBride both finished with 3-for-4 with RBI doubles. Meehan and Devin Johnson added the other runs for the Falcons in addition to Mucci’s two-run homer.
Peabody got hits from Holly Smith, Olivia Brothers and Shannon Pives, while center fielder Jess Raymond (2-for-3) was the only Tanner with multiple hits.
“We’re just looking to put this one behind us and move on,” noted Melanaphy. “Tara has a solid team all the way through, so all you can do is move on.”