By MAUREEN DOHERTY
LYNNFIELD — The softball team has jumped out to a 4-1 start overall this season after two weeks of play.
This record currently ties Lynnfield for first place with the Amesbury Indians in the Cape Ann League small Baker Division.
After a 22-8 win over Rockport in the season opener, Lynnfield dropped its only game to date to Amesbury on the road April 14 in an 8-3 decision. It was the first of three consecutive games for the team. The Pioneers bounced back offensively in their next two games with back-to-back shutouts, effectively shutting down their opponents’ defense in both games.
First to fall was Ipswich by a score of 14-0 at home on April 15, followed by Hamilton-Wenham 15-0 on April 16, also at home. On Patriots’ Day, the team prevailed again at home in a 14-2 win over East Boston.
Marinelli said freshman Olivia Keane pitched well in her first varsity game against Amesbury. Unfortunately, they were facing “a really good team and we didn’t play as strong a game as we should have. We did have some defensive lapses yesterday and we didn’t hit in the second half of the game.”
The game opened on a high note when Travers hit a triple as the lead-off batter in the first inning and scored on a ground out. Han also tripled in the first, but she was left stranded when the Pioneers got caught in a first and third steal with two outs.
“Generally speaking in the small division of the Cape Ann, (Amesbury) is the strongest team in the division,” he said.
Shut down Tigers
The next day the Pioneers jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Ipswich Tigers after the first inning, with captain and lead-off batter Hannah Travers, shortstop Maddie Klug and pitcher Annika Han all scoring. The Pioneers went up 4-0 after the second inning when Olivia “Smiley” DeLuca crossed the plate and 5-0 in the third with a run scored by center fielder Lauren Maloney.
The bats went silent for two innings until Travers stepped to the plate at the top of the sixth and earned herself an inside-the-park homerun to put the Pioneers up 6-0.
From that point onward the floodgates opened as the Pioneers batted through the order and picked up nine runs with several batters being walked home.
Ipswich came back in the top of the seventh to get runners on base and threatened to end the shutout, but top notch defense by the Pioneers quickly closed out the game. Han threw five strikeouts in her complete game victory.
Coach Peter Marinelli was pleased with the outcome, but noted it was still anyone’s game until the sixth.
“We weren’t hitting as consistently as we should have been. We weren’t making adjustments to their pitcher, which you have to learn to be able to do. But, we got a young team so it is going to take a little bit of time for us to get it together,” he said.
He said the team is still going through some growing pains, especially given the late start in getting on the fields.
“We did play good defense. I am very happy about that. Pitching was good. We got things we got to be able to learn to do when it calls for it. We were out of position a little bit on situational play and we haven’t had a lot of (practice) so we do the best we can to get those situations going.”
Given the number of walks that Ipswich let up in the sixth, Marinelli said he was glad his players “weren’t swinging at bad pitches.”
“One of the things that I am always happiest about and that I tell the kids is everybody today that played contributed. Hitting, defense, whatever, and that’s a big thing. If you are going to be on a team and everybody contributes, then you got a good shot at winning games,” Marinelli said.
Good pitching, defense and timely hitting were key factors in the Pioneers’ victory over the Generals last Thursday.
Keane picked up her first varsity win at home when the Pioneers blanked the Hamilton-Wenham Generals 15-0. The game was called in the fifth after the 15th run.
Marinelli said the Generals have just reintroduced its softball program after a hiatus of many years.
“They started out okay,” Marinelli said of their opponents, “then as the game went along they started to make a few more mistakes and we started to hit the ball more often.”
“She pitched a really good game,” he said of Keane, who struck out six batters and only gave up one hit.
Han, who played center field, was 2 for 4 in the game and catcher Kelly Hosterman was 2 for 3.
“The good thing is we played very good defense,” Marinelli said, adding, “and we took advantage of whatever they gave us.
Monday’s East Boston game was played after press time and results will be posted in next week’s Villager. The team plays three more games over vacation week starting with Newton South on Tuesday, April 21, a home game against Manchester-Essex on Wednesday, April 22 at 10 a.m. and a road game at Georgetown on Friday, April 24, also at 10 a.m.
Next week, they’ll host three home games: Pentucket on Monday, April 27, Triton on Wednesday, April 29 and Masconomet on Friday, May 1, all at 3:45 p.m.