By Gianna Addario
---- — BEVERLY— Patience pays off.
Just ask the Beverly High softball team, which found themselves down by a pair of runs during yesterday’s Northeastern Conference battle with Salem.
The visiting Witches mounted an early lead on the Panthers at Innocenti Park, but the hosts proved to be resilient in a 6-4 victory.
“I think it’s a testament to these girls as a team,” Beverly head coach Megan Sudak said of the win. “They’re really big on letting things happen, then assess the situation and take their own approach at it, which works for them. They just really pick each other up; it’s teamwork and work ethic.
“It’s something I’m really lucky to have, because typically when teams get down it can get ugly. But it takes us a few innings to get going.”
Beverly (3-2) starter Emily Pitman walked five batters in the first inning, including walking in Salem’s first run. But she came up with five strikeouts on the day to eventually pick up the win.
“She settled in great, especially on a cold day,” Sudak said of her sophomore right-hander. “The team did a great job behind her, too, so you really can’t ask for anything more.”
Salem countered with Abby Stevens on the hill, who went the distance with six strikeouts.
Beverly sophomore Ally Pia tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the third inning on two-run double. The Panthers took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fourth as Taytum Geary knocked in a run with a single. Pitman helped herself with a sacrifice fly and Geary scored on a passed ball to give Beverly a 5-2 lead.
Salem’s (1-5) Hannah Wilkins cut the deficit to within two on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth, but Pitman quickly got out of the jam to end the inning.
The Witches were a constant threat on the bases with their speed.
“We played pretty good today,” said Salem head coach Dan Bertone. “We had a couple of innings in which we made some mistakes, but we were right there until the end.
“We want to work on maintaining the lead. Once we get down, we don’t want to hang our heads. I thought we battled every inning and that’s all I can ask of them.”
The Witches picked up their first win of the season last Thursday against non-league foe Somerville and are working on putting a string of wins together. The young squad is still looking for that spark offensively, but plays solid defense in the infield led by third baseman Desiree Martin.
“This team is only going to improve as the year goes on,” added Bertone. “Even though we lost, this was probably our best game we played all year.”
Pitman extended the Panthers’ lead with another sacrifice fly in the sixth to bring home Kate Silvestri.
The Panthers begin NEC South play over the next few games, starting with Swampscott tomorrow.