ITEM PHOTO BY KATIE MORRISON
Sydney Lowry and the Tanners improved to 6-4 with the win.
By KATIE MORRISON
MARBLEHEAD — As a league with a lot of disparity, the Northeastern Conference has produced plenty of lopsided softball games.
Monday’s battle between Marblehead and Peabody wasn’t lopsided at all.
The streaking Tanners, coming in as winners of three straight, staved off a seventh-inning threat from the Magicians to top Marblehead, 4-3.
Hits weren’t easy to come by, with Marblehead’s Charlotte Plakans and Peabody’s Tianna Dawe both keeping batters off-balance.
“This was the big one,” Peabody coach Butch Melanaphy said. “We haven’t seen a pitcher like her, with that speed. It was a matter of the girls adjusting, and they did. It took a while, but they did a good job. Great defense on both sides. We love coming here, Marblehead is always a good team.”
Both teams had to take advantage of any opportunities. The Tanners did so in the first inning, as Kelsie Blake was hit by a pitch to start the game. Makayla Iannalfo pushed her to third with a ground out, and Plakans struck out the next batter. But just as it looked like the Magicians would escape unscathed, Dawe helped her own cause with a single to second base, scoring Blake for a 1-0 lead.
In the circle, Dawe was dealing through the first two innings, allowing just one Marblehead batter to reach base. In the top of the third, the Tanners added to their lead as Mallory LeBlanc reached on an error. Blake laid down a sac-bunt to move LeBlanc to second, and Kristina Rossignoll cracked a two-out single to left. The play at the plate was close, but Marblehead catcher Sophie Vener couldn’t hold onto the throw.
Marblehead sparked a rally in the home half of the third. Bel Sogoloff and Mercedes Pelletier singled to put runners at first and second with nobody out. After a strikeout, Ashley Stiles hit a shot to second, and the Tanners couldn’t get an out on the play. Dawe fanned the next batter, but walked Plakans to force home a run. Then Olivia Fusegni smacked a two-run double that put Marblehead up, 3-2.
That lead was short-lived. Singles from Kaitlin Thibodeau-Corey, Sydney Lowry and LeBlanc in the fourth pushed across another Peabody run, knotting the score at 3-3.
In the next inning, the Tanners took the lead for good thanks to a leadoff double from Iannolfo. Dawe knocked her home with a single.
Peabody shortstop Alyssa Alperen made a nice play to get the Tanners back to the dugout with the lead, ending a Marblehead rally in the sixth.
In the seventh, Pelletier led off with a single to center. She moved over on a sac-bunt and went to third on a ground out, but Dawe forced a grounder to short to seal the win.
“It was a good softball game. I told Butch that (Dawe) was like an octopus out there, with eight arms going everywhere,” Marblehead coach Johnny Gold said. “Every bunt we put out there, she fielded. She really did a good job.
“We could have hit a little better,” Gold added. “Both teams made some good defensive plays, and both pitchers did well. Credit to Peabody, they got the hits when they counted and we left some girls on base. That’s a good club.”
The Tanners improve to 6-4 after a slow start to the season, while Marblehead (9-2) will look to clinch a postseason berth Wednesday against Everett. Peabody’s also back in action on Wednesday, at Winthrop.