TMHS third baseman Gianna Ragucci tags out a runner

Tewksbury Memorial High School junior third baseman Gianna Ragucci tags out a North Andover runner trying for third base during an earlier season home game.     (photo by Jim Vaiknoras).

NORTH ANDOVER – After scoring four runs in the top of the first, it appeared as if the Tewksbury Memorial High School softball team would get through a tough stretch and come out with a big win over a pesky North Andover team played last Thursday.

But just like it's been for almost two years now, the Redmen seem to have one bad inning. In this case that came in the bottom of the fourth when the Scarlet Knights scored seven runs to go ahead by six, before the game ended two three innings later with a North Andover 10-5 victory played at McElroy Field.

Tewksbury is extremely young this season with one senior, and the team became even younger when sophomore Maddie Stovesand, who had just a few innings of pitching under her belt on the JV team as she mostly played second base, has been recalled to the varsity team.

She pitched twice in relief before getting her first start on Thursday. She gave up two harmless walks through the first two innings before NA struck for three runs in the third and seven more in the fourth, behind three Tewksbury defensive errors.

"Maddie did phenomenal," said second-year head coach Brittney Kannan. "The first home run they hit was the first hit they had (through the first 2.2 innings). It was two walks and a home run and then two more walks and another home run. She did great and she battled out there. This was her first varsity start. She had come in relief the two previous games and had five innings pitched, giving up all unearned runs before today.

"She went four innings and gave up just four hits and that's a lot of pressure. I thought she did great. That's a lot for a girl, who is a sophomore and who was on the JV team a week ago, mostly playing second base but pitched a few innings. I give her a lot of credit."

Tewksbury was able to score four runs in the top of the first on a lead-off triple by Gianna Ragucci who scored two batters later on a RBI single by Bella DeRoche. After an infield error, and a delay double steal which allowed Emily Butler to score, both Jessica Smith and Alexa Harrington followed with RBI singles.

"The first inning was great," said Kanna. "We scored four runs and had a bunch of hits but after that the bats went dead. But the girls are really battling. The best part about this group is after a tough loss, they reset and get ready for the next game. Even if we're down 5-0 or 8-0, they are up cheering everyone on and that just shows what a great teammate they all are."

North Andover scored the three runs in the third and added seven more in the fourth inning. Tewksbury couldn't get much going offensively the rest of the game, although they stranded seven runners, including three in scoring position, but did score one run in the top of the seventh on another RBI by Smith.

"Our defense has been playing well for the most part. We had a couple of errors that led to (North Andover) having that big (seven run inning) and that and some walks and we just got stuck giving some runs away," said Kannan.

Ragucci, DeRoche, Gianna Pendola and Smith each had two hits, while Smith had two RBI.

After the loss to North Andover, Tewksbury was defeated in two additional games, losing a heartbreaker to Chelmsford, 12-11, walk-off style in the bottom of the seventh, before falling to Billerica, 7-5 on Monday.

In the loss to the Lions, Tewksbury scored 11 runs and banged out 14 hits but unfortunately Chelmsford was able to add a 12th run to come away with the win.

Tewksbury took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a RBI single by Bella DeRoche. The Redmen added two in the second and on a two-run homer by Gianna Ragucci, but Chelmsford responded with two runs of their own to make it a 3-2 game.

Tewksbury was able to expand on its lead and score five runs in the fifth inning as Alexa Harringtion, Ashley Giordano, Ragucci and Gianna Pendola all drove in runs.

Chelmford was able to come back and score throughout the final few innings including the game winner in the seventh.

Offensively, Ragucci, Harrington led the way with two hits each, while, Giordano, Emily Butler and Jess Smith each had two hits.

On Monday, Tewksbury managed 13 hits in the 7-5 loss to Billerica. The Redmen were down by five and put together a strong comeback in the bottom of the seventh with three runs on a RBI groundout by Ragucci, a RBI double by Butler and a RBI single by Smith.

Earlier in the fifth, Tewksbury had scored three runs as Ragucci, Butler and Smith all had RBIs.

Katie Cueva and Butler had three hits each, while, Butler and Harrington had two each as the foursome combined for 10 of the team's 13 hits on the day.

Tewksbury is now 1-10 on the season and faced Dracut on Wednesday with results not known as of presstime, Central at home on Friday, before going to Methuen on Monday night.

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