DRACUT — Both last year and this season, the Tewksbury Memorial High School softball teams have been extremely young. Last year's team finished with an 8-12 record and lost a couple of key players. This year's team had just one senior and despite going the second half of the season with a pitcher who only had a handful of innings under her belt at the JV level, Tewksbury was able to sneak away a couple of wins and finish the season at 4-16.
Despite the lumps, bumps and ups-and-downs, this team never quit for a second and that should go along way into their potentially strong future seasons.
"Despite the challenges early on in the season this team showed heart," said head coach Brittney Kannan, eluding to the fact that the team lost its starting pitcher early in the season. "They came to play every game, they worked together, they produced runs and the defense held up. Our biggest struggle was giving teams free bases throughout the season. I think we would have been in every game if we were able to reduce the amount of walks. Emily Butler and Maddie Stovesand did a great job stepping up for the team and splitting the pitching duties."
The team wrapped up its regular season with three games this week, first overcoming a large deficit to come back and beat Lowell Catholic, 18-11, in a non-league game, which was followed by a 4-2 loss to an outstanding North Reading team and then a 9-4 loss against another outstanding team in Dracut, who has one of the area's best pitchers in Ryley White.
In the win over LC, Tewksbury trailed 10-3 before outscoring the Crusaders 15-1 the rest of the way. The Redmen finished the game with 15 hits with Bella DeRoche belting a double and a triple and knocked in four runs, Alexa Harrington was 3-for-5, while Gianna Ragucci, Brianna Iandoli and Jess Smith each had two hits.
The game was tied at 11 when Ashley Giordano drew a walk and eventually scored what proved to be the game winner.
Butler earned the win in relief as she went 4.2 innings, giving up one run on two hits.
In the loss to North Reading, the game was tied up at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth when the Hornets stung the Redmen with two runs to ultimately come out with the win.
Ragucci had a key RBI single, catcher Jess Smith had a big game picking off two runners leaning too far off first base, and Butler took the loss as she struck out six over six innings.
In the loss to Dracut, Ragucci finished 3-for-4 and defensively Smith was huge again, this time picking off two runners from third base, both times with the bases loaded.
Despite the record, Kannan is pretty excited about what the future brings.
“Bella is going to be a tremendous loss at first base as well as her bat, but everyone else is coming back,” said the coach. “We have made some great strides over the past two years. We have some great talent coming up, It has been great for our program to have eighth graders playing on JV and getting an extra year of high school experience.”