SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

April 26, 2013

Fast Pitches: Danvers and Beverly teams unite for Boston Marathon bombing victims


The Salem News

---- — Fast Pitches

Gianna Addario

In a game that meant much more than just the final score, the Danvers and Beverly High softball teams stood together in support of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings yesterday.

The picturesque afternoon contest was dedicated to those directly affected by the unfortunate events that took place along Bolyston Street a week-and-a-half ago.

After a moment of silence, both teams joined together for the singing of the National Anthem. The Falcons and Panthers then played with a purpose in mind, and it showed every inning they took the field.

“It’s really awesome to play for a meaning like this,” said Danvers senior captain Chrissy Gikas, whose team pulled out a 3-0 win. “It really gives us a purpose to go out there and do what we know how to do.”

Every year the two teams get together for a charity game, and this season they decided to donate the proceeds from this contest to The One Fund Boston. Both teams sold T-shirts prior to the game, and the money raised from the bake sale and 50/50 raffle was donated to the fund.

“We thought this had much more meaning because it was so recent,” added Gikas. “It affected a lot of people around here, and it’s a great feeling to go out on the field knowing who we’re playing for.”

Both teams donned special jerseys that read ‘Standing together to finish the race’ on the back and their respective team names on the front. The front also had the ‘Boston Strong’ ribbon in the center of the shirt. Danvers wore yellow T-shirts, while Beverly had on black shirts.

“Anytime something like this happens so close to home, there’s a reason and purpose to play,” said Danvers head coach Tara Petrocelli. “It goes far beyond softball. It was such a great day and a great game.”

Danvers ace Kendall Meehan was fresh off a perfect game heading into yesterday’s game. Beverly’s leadoff hitter Hannah Silvestri immediately ended any chance of extending that streak with a single in the first inning.

“To face Kendall coming off a perfect game, I (was) psyched to start the game off with hit,” said Beverly head coach Megan Sudak. “She pitched a great game, but I’m really happy with the way we played. To be able to hold the best-hitting team in the conference (to three runs), you have to be happy.”

Both teams battled in a scoreless tie until the third inning, when the Falcons scored two runs off a pair of RBI singles by Gikas and Devin Johnson. Danvers added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth when Julia Saggese drove in Johnson on another RBI single.

In putting up their fifth shutout of the season, the Falcons remain undefeated at 7-0. Meehan gave up four hits with six strikeouts and two walks. Danvers had already played everyone in the Northeastern Conference Small and are two games into its NEC Large schedule.

“It’s honestly an amazing feeling,” Gikas said of the Falcons’ start. “Each of us brings something special to the team and without each other, we wouldn’t be able to have this type of success.”

Silvestri, Ally Pia, Molly Pitman and Emily Pitman all had single hits for Beverly (3-4), which dropped its second straight. The Panthers turned a double play in the sixth inning and are using plays like that to build energy.

“I wanted the W, but at the same time I’m happy with the way we played,” said Sudak. “We’re going to build off the energy from today.

“This is such a great cause and at the end of the day, you have to be thankful that we’re here— really. That’s what the kids know and understand.”

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Bishop Fenwick is headed to the Cape this weekend to take on Nantucket in a doubleheader tomorrow. The Crusaders are traveling down to Hyannis today and will take the ferry over to Nantucket tomorrow morning.

“We’re hoping for some nice weather and also grab a couple of wins,” said Fenwick head coach Paul Lyman, who has had this in the works for quite some time now. “I’ve known the coach out there for many years, when Fenwick and Shawsheen Tech used to play in tournament down there in the ‘90s. I’ve been trying to organize it for a couple of years and finally were able to raise enough money.”

Fenwick had a nice 13-0 win over Archbishop Williams Wednesday and is trying to use take that momentum with them to the Cape.

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Marblehead (4-3) improved to 4-1 in NEC play after beating Lynn Classical for the first time in seven seasons two days ago. It was a come-from-behind victory for the Magicians, who trailed by three runs.

“We’re down 3-0 and have a very young team,” said head coach Johnny Gold. “I hate to use the cliche, but we never quit and battled back. They played the game smart and Michaela LeBlanc was great off the mound. It all worked out pretty well for us.”

LeBlanc not only got the win, but also came up with a big bunt single to lead off the seventh. Rachel McKay followed with a RBI triple and Sara Bornstein singled in McKay for the game-winner. Olivia Venner was 2-for-3 in the victory as well.

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The North Shore Tech/Essex Aggie pitching staff has been on fire lately. On Wednesday, Kaera Wyse and Kaylyn County combined for a no-hitter in 14-0 win over Greater Lawrence; both pitched three innings and combined for 11 strikeouts and one walk. The Bulldogs (5-2) have displayed timely hitting and fine pitching in the first half of this season.

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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.