BEVERLY — Beverly’s Abi McGovern couldn’t have picked a better time to get the first home run of her career.
The senior first baseman drove in four runs in the Panthers 11-2 win over Cambridge Rindge and Latin in the Division 1 North preliminary round at Innocenti Park.
The visitors threatened to take a big lead in the first inning when they loaded the bases twice, but Panther pitcher Rona Scott bore down to get out of the jam, giving up just one run. It didn’t take long for the home team to grab the lead back with a big five running bottom of the first and five more in the second inning to build up a comfortable 10-1 cushion.
After Julia Pitman and McGovern delivered RBI singles, designated player Caroline Foley hit a three run homer to deep center field. Beverly used a combination of small ball and some big blows to take control of the game early.
In the second inning Sarah Vallette worked a walk off starting pitcher Yamari Blackman. Shayla Barker and Melanie Mason bunted safely to load the bases. With two down McGovern’s clutch three run bomb to deep left field broke the game wide open.
“That pitch was right down the middle,” said McGovern. “It’s very exciting for me because it’s the first homer in my high school career, and it came at a big time. This will probably be our last home game, so it’s great to get a win here. It was so nice to see everybody on the ball and getting hits to keep our energy up.”
After McGovern’s crushing blow that was all for Blackman, and senior Anaya Benzan took over. She pitched the rest of the way, giving up just one run on four hits while striking out five.
“We were able to get runners on base early and those two huge hits broke it open,” said Beverly coach Megan Sudak, her team now 14-7. “It was good to get the runs early, and defensively everybody did a nice job. Rona got into a little trouble early, but worked her way out of it.”
Scott settled down to pitch well, scattering five hits. CRL added a run in the top of the sixth when Tenya Gardner walked and later scored on Isabella Andrade’s bunt single, but Beverly got it right back in the home half, scoring their only run after the second inning. Barker, who had three hits, beat out a bunt and later scored on Pitman’s single up the middle.
Mason, Pitman and McGovern all had two hits while Natalie Stilwell, Foley, and Jamie DuPont each had one as the Panthers hit up and down the lineup. Defensively, catcher DuPont threw a runner out trying to steal and the Panthers turned a six-four-three double play to end the game.
“We didn’t get timely hitting, especially early when we had our chances,” said Cambridge coach Mark Gardner (11-9). “That first inning was a killer because we had Beverly where we wanted, but they got most of their runs with two outs.
“Benzan pitched well for us; we’ve been using both girls a lot this season. This is her first year pitching, and Blackman is a freshman. Beverly did a very good job with timely hits, good defense and strong pitching.”
Sudak knows the Panthers will have to play even better for all seven innings against a strong Newton North team (seeded 4th with a 17-3 record) in the next round.
“We know we’re going to have to play seven strong innings, and be at our best on Sunday,” Sudak said. I’m very pleased with the effort in this one, but every step gets harder.