It was the first game of the season for the Saugus softball team, and you could tell right from the start its players were raring to go. A three-run first inning helped fuel an eventual 7-1 win for the Sachems.
With a runner on first base in the top of the first inning, sophomore Lily Ventre stepped up to the plate – last season, Ventre missed the majority of the season with a knee injury.
Ventre waited for a pitch she liked before cranking one out of the ballpark to give the Sachems an early 2-0 lead.
“She played phenomenally. In my opinion, she’s not only one of the top players in the Northeast Conference, but one of the top players in the area,” Saugus coach Steve Almquist said. “She just loves the game and that’s so important. In her eighth grade year, she led us in all offensive categories.”
The Sachems added a third run in the same inning after Kaitlyn Pugh brought in Ava Rogers with a sacrifice hit.
“We were fortunate enough to get a little bit of a lead in the first inning which took a little bit of pressure off our kids,” Almquist said.
Almquist said getting an early lead helped starting pitcher Taylor Deleidi perform.
“It was extremely important. It took the pressure off of Taylor since she was able to pitch the whole game with a lead,” Almquist said.
Deleidi pitched the full seven innings, and, despite not registering many strikeouts, she didn’t allow big hits either.
“She battled and threw strikes today,” Almquist said. “She stayed ahead of the batters. She’s not going to overpower anyone because she’s still learning. Our backup was out today so she had to go the full seven innings.”
“That was her second varsity start. The first game [was] last year against Stoneham and she threw a no-hitter,” Almquist said. “I’m extremely happy with her performance.”
Marblehead showed great situational offense, however. With Clara Donovan on first, both Hailey Schmitt and Isabell Mortensen successfully advanced her via bunts before Luka Bornhorst batted Donovan in to make it 3-1.
Unfortunately for the Magicians, that was their only run. That said, coach Johnny Gold left the diamond with his head held high.
“We are extremely young and we just need to learn how to hit better,” Gold said. “I knew it was going to be a slow start, but we’ll get there.”
“I’m not discouraged. I know what we have in this team, we can play a lot better, it’s just a matter of doing it,” Gold said.
Marblehead’s Ruby Calienes showed her composure on the mound – despite naturally being a second baseman – as she punched out five Sachems.
“I thought she did a good job. For the position we’re putting her in, she’s doing a good job,” Gold said.
Gold was also full of praise for his outfielders and catcher.
“Our outfield is good. They have been doing a really good job and our catcher did a very good job,” Gold said. “We have to do better in other places.”
The Sachems’ defense was on point, making some high IQ plays. In the seventh inning, Millerick caught a line drive ball before immediately turning and throwing it to first, where Alexa Morello made a great catch to execute the double play.
“She [Millerick] gobbled up everything that was hit to her,” Almquist said. “As for Morello, she was phenomenal. Everything that was thrown at her was caught. I couldn’t be happier.”
Almquist was happy with the win and praised Marblehead.
“Any time you can come over to Marblehead and get a win, it’s extremely gratifying. They are very well-coached; they do everything the right way,” Almquist said.