The Peabody Little League all-star Junior and Major softball teams have been almost as hot as the record setting heat they played in during their respective East Regionals this weekend in Connecticut.
The Peabody Juniors won a pair of games after dropping their opener to Connecticut, 7-1. The Massachusetts state champions responded by beating Rhode Island, 6-3, on Saturday and the host team from Orange, Conn., 14-2, Sunday morning. They'll be off Monday before resuming game action Tuesday when crossover play against the Mid-Atlantic states starts.
Meanwhile, the Peabody Majors are off to a strong start in their own East Regionals, which are being played in Bristol, Conn. The Tanner City kids doubled up Windham, Maine, 8-4, in their first game and will now take on New Jersey Monday at 4 p.m.
"Conditions have been brutal with the heat and humidity," said Mark Bettencourt, who serves as the head coach for both teams. "(Saturday) it was 107 degrees on the field when we played. We had ice buckets and towels in the dugout, and they allowed a five-minute break between innings so everybody could cool down.
"It's supposed to cool down just a bit (Monday), and even temperatures in the 90s with some cloud cover would be better that what we've had. Either way, we'll be ready to go."
Bettencourt had been driving back and forth between the two locations in Connecticut, which are about 45 minutes apart, and back to Salem, where his 10-year-old West Peabody Little League all-star baseball team was also in the state tournament. Needham beat them on Saturday, however, meaning the manager will be in Connecticut the rest of the way.
The Peabody LL Majors game on Saturday was pushed back from a 4 p.m. start to 5:30 because of temperatures over 100 degrees and the extreme humidity. Peabody went ahead, 3-1, in the first inning and tacked on three more runs in the second.
Avery Grieco pitched a five-hitter with 10 strikeouts. She also helped herself at the plate with three hits. Maine Kennedy Kimball was charged with eight runs on seven hits and had seven strikeouts.
Logan Lomasney and Lizzy Bettencourt both had two timely hits in the Peabody win while Sophia Coburn had one. Mia Jagodzynski laid down a nice bunt and Irene Caron made a couple of bunts, while Christina Izaguirre also got on base.
"We got contributions up and down the lineup," said Mark Bettencourt. "We had big hits and played small ball to keep the lineup moving. Grieco pitched a great game, too."
The Peabody LL Juniors had been locked in a 1-1 tie with Connecticut in the fourth inning before falling. before rebounding with two impressive victories.
Julia Fure, one of two players on the squad from Salem, had two big hits, and Jaleila (Gigi) Aupont, who is also from Salem, pitched the last inning.
The top of the order for the Juniors has been delivering key hits as well, led by Abby Bettencourt, Emma Bloom, Isabel Bettencourt, and Gina Terrazzano.
"Abby has been pitching great, and Isabel, Emma and Gina are crushing the ball," said Mark Bettencourt." Michaela Alperen also had a nice hit in that game."
On Monday the Mid-Atlantic teams will finish pool play at the East Regionals, and one of the five teams will be eliminated. All four New England teams (including Peabody) advance to the crossover competition that starts Tuesday. The way things stand now, Peabody is the No. 2 New England seed and would face the No. 3 from Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.