TEWKSBURY — When you have a team made up of all underclassmen with the exception of one senior and a freshman pitcher, you aren't supposed to beat the returning Division 2 North Finalists, who are currently No. 21 ranked team in all of Eastern Mass (No. 4 in Division 2 North), and are led by flamethrowing pitcher Christina Clark.
But that's exactly what happened on Sunday night.
Entering the game with one win, the Tewksbury Redmen took on the 11-1 Red Devils and came away with an exciting 4-3 victory before the home crowd.
"The girls have been playing their hearts out," said second-year Tewksbury head coach Brittney Kannan. "To see the improvements over the past two years have been huge. I don’t think the score of the games or our record reflect how well our team has done.
“Despite our record, these girls give it 100 percent every single day. They are able to reset after a tough loss and step on the field the next day like it’s a new day. I am so proud of how resilient these girls are."
Certainly so much credit goes to the lone senior of the team Bella DeRoche, who has been keeping the team together during some rough times, as well as freshman (sorry not sophomore) Maggie Stovesand, who was thrown into a very tough situation as the varsity team's new pitcher midway during the season after logging just a few innings down at the JV level.
“Bella is our only senior and I have to give her all the credit. She is the heart-and-soul of our team. She is one of the best leaders I have seen, she get our girls fired up through the entirety of the games and expects them to give 100 percent everyday because she never veers from that,” said Kannan.
Stovesand pitched a beauty on Sunday — she pitched to contact and the defense behind her made the plays.
“Maddie has been thrown into the fire and has handled the pressure very well,” said Kannan. “She has been put it some big situations and has battled out of them. I am so proud of what she has done and the challenges she has taken on as a freshman. She did a great job holding her composure in a the game against Burlington when it was a very close game! It was her first complete game and win for the season.”
Burlington took a three run lead in the top of the first inning on a three-run homer run off the bat of Chloe McGonagle.
Trailing 3-0 after a half inning, Tewksbury could have easily folded, but instead came right back, scoring three runs of their own including a RBI double by Alexa Harrington to score Gianna Ragucci, and then later in the inning a two-run double off the bat of Emma Demos tied the game up at 3-3.
Tewksbury was able to escape a bases loaded situation in the top of the fourth and then the following inning, Harrington made a tremendous play to keep the game tied up. From her second base position, she made a diving play to her back hand, then scrambled to her knees and doubled off the runner at second base for a tremendous defensive play.
That momentum carried into the bottom of the fifth as Tewksbury scored the game winning run. Ragucci led off with a single, was sacrificed to second by Harrington and then scored the game winning run on a throwing error.
The score remained 4-3 the rest of the way including Burlington stranding a runner at second base with two outs in the top of the seventh.
Stovesand was the winning pitcher as she went the distance, giving up three runs on four hits, while striking out two. Offensively, Demos, Katie Cueva, Jess Smith, Emily Butler and Ragucci each had a hit.
Besides the win over Burlington, Tewksbury played four other games this week, losing to Dracut, 15-4, Central Catholic, 8-4 and Methuen 9-3, before trouncing Lawrence, 18-0 on Tuesday afternoon.
Dracut is the No. 12 ranked team in all of Eastern Mass and Methuen is the No. 22 ranked team as they have respective records of 13-3 and 12-4.
In the loss to Dracut, Butler finished 3-for-4 at the plate, including a RBI double to plate Ragucci.
Against Central, it was a tight game through the first five innings as Tewksbury trailed 4-1, before Central added four runs in the top of the sixth and the Redmen answered with three in the bottom of the seventh.
DeRoche and Butler led the way with two hits each, including a RBI double by DeRoche.
On Monday night, Tewksbury fell to Methuen as Ragucci and DeRoche had two hits each in the defeat.
Despite the 2-13 record, Kannan is pleased with the attitudes and the development of the players on the team.
“Overall, I can say every single girl on the team has made an impact this year,” she said. “It has been 100 percent team effort to keep positive attitudes and give us all they have every day.”
In the 5-inning win over Lawrence, Emily Butler tossed the shut out, giving up five hits, while she struck out six.
Offensively, the Redmen scored one run in the first before putting up 13 runs in the third inning to break it wide open. Gianna Ragucci, Butler, Jess Smith, Katie Cueva, Madison Cueva, and Gianna Pendola, all drove in run, as did Bella DeRoche with a RBI double.
Tewksbury collected 14 hits, including a 3-for-3 day from Gianna Ragucci. Smith, DeRoche, Cueva, Butler, and Mickayla Enax each racked up multiple hits in the win.
Tewksbury (3-13) has four games left on its schedule. On Wednesday they faced Lowell Catholic with results of both games not known as of presstime. On Thursday, the team will take on Chelmsford at home for a 3:45 pm start, followed by games with Dracut on May 28th and North Reading on May 31st.