LYNN — It was the consolation game of the John Holland Tournament, and the outcome was no longer in doubt.
The Classical softball team was going to win, and this was the perfect time for senior catcher and captain Meghan Leavitt to swing for the fences.
Not that she hadn’t been doing that before. She made no secret of her desire to park one over the fence at the Grace Rogato softball field at Breed Middle School.
“Sometimes, I just want to kill (the ball),” she said. “I have to dial it back a little. But I wish I’d hit one out.”
It was now or never. She had no way of knowing whether she’d get up again in the game, as it was destined to only go five innings. She had no way of knowing whether she’d play another game at Breed, since Classical’s 12-8 regular-season record doesn’t exactly guarantee that the Rams will get a home game in the upcoming MIAA state tournament.
The pitch came in. And she hit a rocket that not only cleared the fence in left-center field, but went well past the bleachers too. She practically trotted on air as she rounded the bases, and let out a yell that seemed to come out of her toes as she crossed home plate.
It says a lot about Leavitt’s generally upbeat personality, and her leadership qualities, that nobody — not even her coach — was bothered by her quest to hit at least one ball out of the park during her career.
“I was so glad she did that,” said coach Erica Richard. “I really wanted her to.”
Richard freely admits she’ll miss Leavitt badly once she graduates.
“It’s going to leave a huge void,” she said. “She’s been such a great leader for us. A real good kid, friendly to everybody, she treats everybody well.”
Leavitt, who is bound for Quinnipiac University in the fall, got the starting job two years ago because regular catcher Courtney Braswell was injured and lost for the season. Her coming-out party that year took place at the John Holland Memorial Tournament, where she made the all-tournament team (as did battery mate Tori Adams, Classical’s starting pitcher). She kept improving, becoming a Northeastern Conference all-star as a junior and winning the Holland scholarship — along with making the tournament team — this year.
Now, it’s time for the state tournament, and she’s ready.
“I think we’re going strong right now,” she said, “especially now that we’ve had the whole season to get to know each other on the field. I think we can make a good run. I’m excited.”
If there’s been one constant source of frustration for Leavitt, as well as seniors Adams and Johnna Calder, it’s that for the previous three seasons, Classical has not made it past the first round.
“Honestly,” Leavitt said, “if we can just do that. If we can just get out of the first round and play a second-round game, that’ll be great.
“Of course, I want to win the whole thing. But we’re in Division 1, and there are so many good teams. But I’d like to win the first game.”
Last year, Classical finished with a 17-3 record and, since there was very little turnover, save for a new first baseman and two corner outfielders, much was expected of the Rams this year. Instead, there were a few bumps in the road toward the middle of the season, including a loss to Peabody early on that left Richard very unhappy.
“She (Richard) knows how we can play,” Leavitt said. “And when she doesn’t see it, she’s going to tell us. She wants us to play the way we can play.”
Over the course of their careers, Leavitt and Adams have developed a close bond.
“She’s unique,” Leavitt said of her pitcher. “She’s different, but in a good way. For one thing, she never gets rattled, and that’s something I have to work on.
“And,” Leavitt said, “she can get into situations where we get bases loaded and nobody out, and she’ll find a way to get out of it. That’s very big.”