WILMINGTON — The Wilmington High softball team lost its 2020 varsity season to the COVID-19 pandemic, but several members of that Wildcat squad are back together again on the diamond, happy to be playing in a recently-organized summer league, along with several other area towns.
Several other players are getting their work in so they can make next year’s Wilmington High varsity squad.
The Wildcats formed, last week, just in time to get two practices in before taking the field for their first game, a 5-0 loss to Amesbury. They have not been able to hold practice since then, and they are still at that stage where even the coaches are still trying to get the players’ names straight.
“This is an up-and-coming team with a lot of freshmen, who are getting experience with the older girls,” said Wilmington coach Katherine McKenna, who shares coaching duties with Taylor Hanley. “We are looking forward to getting some practices in, and maybe getting some wins.”
The lack of familiarity did not show during Monday night’s game at Groveland Pines Park in Groveland, as the players cheered each other on and had a great time playing together out on the field, the camaraderie already on display.
Wilmington was the home team that night against Pentucket, and the Sachems prevailed in eight innings, 5-2, after Wildcat first baseman Bella Kieran spoiled Pentucket pitcher Charlotte Latham’s shutout bid with a home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
It was a 1-1 game after seven, and the eighth began with the International Tiebreaker format, which saw the last out of the seventh inning start the eighth at second base.
That was Tessa Montello for the Sachems and she scored when leadoff batter Caitlyn Kutcher tripled to the fence in left field. Wilmington pitcher Audrey Powers struck out the next batter but an infield single Latham left runners at the corners. Latham stole second and moved to third when Kutcher scored on an infield out.
Madeline Mogavero drew a base on balls and stole second with two outs. A wild pitch scored Latham and moved Mogavero to third, and Sarah Sargent singled to give Pentucket a 5-1 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, Ashley Forward started out at second base, but she was thrown out at home trying to score on a leadoff single by Lily Mackenzie, who moved down to second on the throw home.
Alex Lavigne singled to second MacKenzie to third and she scored on a ground ball to second by Anna Warford for the 5-2 final.
“The Audrey-Ashley duo was strong in this game,” said McKenna, of her pitcher and catcher Ashley Crawford. “Ashley did a really good job protecting the plate
Both pitchers kind of struggled in the extra frame after pitching close to flawless in the first seven innings.
Powers was perfect in the first two innings and retired eight in a row before Sargent spoiled her no-hitter with a one-hop double to the fence in left-center. Powers came back to get the next batter on a popup to first base.
Wilmington did not do much in the first three innings against Latham, but got its first good scoring chance in the fourth. With one out, Jenna Sweeney singled, and went to second when the ball rolled under the glove of the left fielder.
A two-out infield hit by Sofia Scalfani put runners at the corners, but Latham managed to escape with a fly ball to right for the third out.
The Sachems broke through with the game’s first run in the top of the fifth. Kutcher walked and stole second. After going to third on an infield out, she scored on a sacrifice fly by Latham. It was a well-struck, line-drive by Latham, and a nice, leaping catch was made in left field by Lavigne.
Powers cruised through the next two innings, leaving it up to the Wilmington offense to get the job done in the seventh. The Wildcats had gone 13 innings without a run when Kieran got a hold of a Latham offering and lined it over the fence in left for a home run. Wilmington’s only regret was that no one was on base, and the game went into the extra inning, tied at 1-1.
“It was too bad there was no one on base for her because Bella has such a nice stroke,” said McKenna. “She has a lot of power behind the ball and is an all-around good player.”
The Wildcats have two more games this week, against Essex, Wednesday evening (6 p.m.) and against Tewksbury, Thursday night (8 p.m.). Wilmington and Tewksbury share Hazel Field in Tewksbury as their home field, and that is where both Wildcat games will be played.