SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports Special

April 10, 2013

Highly skilled Danvers softball returns core group

There’s nothing quite like a fresh start to a new season.

Coming off a 19-4 campaign last year, the Danvers High softball team returns most of key figures from its Division 2 state tournament team. However, the Falcons are leaving last season’s record in the past and focusing on what’s in store for them this spring.

Having graduated just two girls last June, Danvers is still a fairly young squad. But it has most of its position players back and ready to go.

Junior ace Kendall Meehan will once again anchor the pitching staff after going 17-3 on the hill last year. One of three captains this year, this is Meehan’s first season pitching without batterymate Sam DiBella (Endicott) behind the plate. Head coach Tara Petrocelli is expecting another superb season from Meehan.

“Kendall was very lucky to throw to Sam and she doesn’t have that this year,” said Petrocelli. “She’ll have to be that leader now in the pitcher/catcher relationship — and I think she’ll do well at it.”

Searching for someone to take over DiBella’s spot is no easy task. But after a standout hockey season, sophomore Caitlin McBride could very well get the start as the catcher. McBride played third base last year, but is very familiar with the position and ready to step up and embrace the new role.

Second baseman Chrissy Gikas and outfielder Julia Saggese also return for their second go ‘round as team captains. Gikas, who normally hits in the two-spot, is a rock defensively for the Falcons.

The Falcons pride themselves on smart baserunning, especially with the speed of Gikas and Saggese.

“As I think speed is an asset and it’s important, I’d take smart baserunning over speed any day,” Petrocelli said. “But speed doesn’t hurt and we have a couple other girls to sprinkle in there.

“In the short term we want to get better ever game,” added Petrocelli. “I don’t like to deal with the records, but a lot can happen. Our game early on against Swampscott is a tough one right out of the gate, but we’re prepared.”

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