SALEM — It was Senior Night at Mack Park for the Salem High softball team Thursday, and the team’s five seniors came up big in a 21-1 win over Salem Academy.
It wasn’t just the seniors who contributed for the winners, though, as juniors, sophomores, freshmen and even eighth graders all scored runs for the Witches. Every member of the Salem starting lineup scored at least one run in the win, as well as pinch runner Michelle Lam.
In improving to 5-8, the Witches scored 21 straight runs after the Navigators took a 1-0 lead in the first.
Junior captain Cassadi O'Leary had four hits and four RBI to help lead the Witches offensively. Seniors Soriya Candelaria and Frayza Rodney-Guerrero each scored a run for the winners, while Braegan Fitzgerald had two hits and scored three runs. Alyza Cyr had a hit, a ribbie and scored three times.
In addition, freshman Skyler Sverker had three hits and three RBI, while eighth grader Ella Wasserman reached base five times, had two hits and drove in two.
Senior pitcher and captain Christin Napierkowski was the beneficiary of all the scoring; she fanned 11 Navigators and knocked in two runs herself with a single in the bottom of the fourth.
Witches head coach Rick O’Leary said it was nice to get everybody involved offensively after falling behind early.
“We settled down after the first, even in the field," said O'Leary. "This whole year we’ve been having real trouble settling down if we make a bad play: an error, throw the ball away, or if we don’t make a catch. Once we make a mistake it seems to begin snowballing on us, but we really settled down after the first.”
O’Leary added that the team played very well defensively and the bats really came up big with runners on base, as 11 of Salem’s 13 hits came with runners in scoring position.
Salem Academy’s Sintia Nunez started the game with a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a groundout by Emma Lee, coming home on a Salem High error.
The Navigators lead lasted until the bottom of the second when the Witches scored nine times. The big hits were a triple by junior captain Cassidi O’Leary that drove in three and a double by Heather Bernard that brought in another two.
“We’re a very young team, Salem Academy is a grade 6-to-12 school and I have a ton of seventh graders on my team, several who started in the game tonight,” Navigators head coach Mark Lee said. “We have one senior, two juniors and the rest are sophomores or lower, and to see how they’ve grown since the start of the year, our first in the MIAA, has been great.”
“We’ve done very well in the Charter League, and to come out and play against these MIAA schools like Salem and Winthrop and play well is very encouraging,” Lee added. “There is a lot of potential for this team in the future.”
Sintia Nunez and Hannah Leonard had hits for the Navigators, which wrapped up their season at 9-6 overall (1-6 in MIAA play and 8-0 in the MCSAO (Massachusetts Charter School Athletic Organization)). Grace Thomas added a hit and a stolen base.
O’Leary, the Witches' captain, said she'll miss the seniors, her friends, when the season comes to an end.
“I love those guys; they’re great, great players and super supportive to everyone on the team, we’re all going to miss them because they’re such a big part of our team,” O’Leary said. “I’ve been playing with them since I was a little kid and we’re definitely going to miss all of them.”