Top-seeded Danvers upset by Tewksbury in quarterfinals
By Gianna Addario Salem News Staff Writer
DANVERS — It took eight innings and 120 minutes of tournament softball. But by the end of Saturday’s Division 2 quarterfinal contest, Danvers’ near-perfect season came to an unexpected end.
The top-seeded Falcons battled back four times throughout the contest, but visiting Tewksbury had the final say in an 8-5 upset win. “I’m really proud of the way we fought back; we could’ve packed it in a lot earlier,” said Danvers head coach Tara Petrocelli, who led her team to a 19-2 record this season. “One hit here or there could’ve made a difference, but we do tip our caps to Tewksbury. We know we should’ve played better, but it is what it is. It’s a softball game, they’re high school kids and this is going to happen. I’m just incredibly proud of them, I really am.”
By the bottom of the seventh inning, the eighth-seeded Redmen had a 5-3 lead. Yet the Falcons remained resilient as Devin Johnson drove in the tying runs with a ripper up the left field line, allowing her team to once again rally from behind. The late surge kept their playoff hopes alive, but the Northeastern Conference South champions could not close the door on the pesky Redmen (16-6). Instead, Tewksbury scored three unanswered runs in the top of the eighth (two of which were unearned) to advance to the semifinals against Reading tomorrow.
“We took on anybody and everybody during the regular season, and we did it to make sure we were ready for the tournament,” explained Tewksbury head coach Leo Dirocco. “Right now we’re tough — and we needed to be tough. We just made the plays at the right time and got some timely hitting.”
For the Falcons, they’ll look back on this game and perhaps replay every inning for days to come. They put out their top lineup against a hard-hitting Tewksbury team, but miscommunication on defense proved to be costly and the visitors capitalized on it. “I think there was a lot going on, which made it confusing, and we just threw the ball around,” said Danvers pitcher and captain Kendall Meehan. “We knew that Tewksbury was going to hit the ball well and they did.” Tensions ran high as Danvers was down to its final out. Senior captains Chrissy Gikas and Julia Saggese stood at first and third base ready to run on contact, but were left stranded as the Redmen celebrated their victory.
Sophomore Caitlin McBride was poised at the plate for Danvers by reaching base three times in the game, including a RBI double in the fifth. After a long, suspenseful at-bat, McBride popped up to the first baseman to end the game. The Falcons had a good opportunity to put some runs up in the fourth inning in a bases-loaded situation. Instead, Tewksbury ace Shannon McLaughlin had back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam. The lasting image that should be in the Falcons’ heads isn’t the game that ended their season, but rather their 2013 campaign as a whole and what they accomplished this spring. “You probably get an experience like this once in a lifetime,” Petrocelli said. “I can’t even put into words the type of girls they are. I am incredibly fortunate to have the team I have.”