By Jean DePlacido
---- — The Peabody Juniors All-Star Fast Pitch Softball team made it a trifecta as all three Peabody West Little League age divisions (Majors, Juniors, and Seniors) reached the state finals.
The Juniors (ages 13-14) ran into a tough Ty Cobb team from Worcester and lost both ends of a doubleheader at Winchendon, ending their remarkable season.
“It was exciting for the girls to go all the way to states,” said manager Jon Blake. “We had quite a run, especially considering how young we were. Three of the girls on the team never played fast pitch before this year, and it’s a very different game from what they were used to in slow pitch. They learned very quickly.
“That Ty Cobb team could hit the ball hard right through the lineup and had two very good pitchers. We only had three hits in the first game, but the girls settled down and played much better in the second game even though we lost, 4-1.”
In that second game, Peabody used Mikayla Porcaro on the mound. The team’s regular shortstop, who had only pitched a few innings previously, did a “terrific job” according to her coach.
“She knew she’d have to pitch because we were playing a doubleheader and worked very hard with her father every night to get ready,” Blake said. “She threw heat, and her control was a lot better.”
Peabody beat Marblehead to win the district before toppling Woburn in the best-of-3 sectional round. Woburn won a nailbiter at Peabody, but lost at home to force a third and deciding game which Peabody prevailed in, thus advancing to the state championship.
“We scored a lot of runs in the districts and sectionals while only giving up a few,” said Blake. “Our team could smash the ball, and we were very deep defensively.
“(Catcher) Stephanie Ghostlaw had a toe injury, so we put her over on first base where she wouldn’t have to move around as much and Luci Mastromatteo did a phenomenal job behind the plate. It worked out great because Ghostlaw came up with some unbelievable defensive plays on shots down the line at states.”
Lindsay Carroca was the team’s No. 1 pitcher and was also a force offensively, cranking out doubles and triples. Kelsie Blake played third base and turned one of the only double plays in the tournament. She worked hard to improve her batting average and wound up with the second highest batting average on the team.
Delaney Corson played second base and all of the outfield positions and also came up with a couple of big hits. Second baseman Amanda Molle was always a threat at the plate, too, because of her exceptional bunting and speed on the bases.
Other key players were left fielder Jenna Delisi, who tracked down a ball and made a great catch in right at the fence to end a Woburn threat and preserve Peabody’s 3-2 lead in the deciding sectional game; and leadoff hitter Kaitlin Thibideau-Corey, who was a solid all around player, who handled third base.
The outfield was loaded with talent. Molly Tansey was the starting center fielder. Alyssa Alperen, Rebecca Sabino, Jamie Callum and Lexi Zammer all provided strength there.
“It is amazing to see how quickly the fast pitch program in Peabody has come along,” said Blake. “I was fortunate to have some great assistant coaches (Dave Callum, Tony Molle and Peter Mastromatteo) with a lot of years of experience. All the credit for the program’s success has to go to Keith LeBlanc, who does a phenomenal job running it.”