PEABODY — It may have been a long time coming, but the Peabody softball team wasted no time in ending a 10-year winless drought in the Division 1 North tournament.
The Tanners needed a little more than a hour to secure their first tournament win since 2008 with a 5-2 win over Boston Latin Saturday afternoon at the Kiley School.
The Tanners advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinals against Methuen (4), which defeated Revere Sunday night.
“We got the key hits when we needed them,” said Peabody coach Butch Melanaphy. “It was a well-played game and we got great pitching and defense, with just the one error, which is always key especially when it comes to tournaments.
“The last time we got past the first round was in 2008 I believe, but at 17-3, we expect to go beyond a first round win.”
The Tanners sent the message early that were in it to win it. Catcher Kristina Rossignoll ((1-for-3) went yard for the first time in her career at Kiley, smacking the first pitch she saw in the second inning over the left field fence that landed on someone’s windshield.
“I hit the first pitch, a fastball,” said Rossignoll. “I hit another one at a field without a fence, but that was my first over the fence here at home, and I think it got everybody going.
“I got up with a fresh count and used it to my advantage.”It’s the first time in any of our careers that we won a tournament game, and it’s just an awesome feeling as we did it as a team,” she said.
“Everybody was amped up, and we had some great practices leading up to this game,” Rossignoll said.
The Tanners poured it on in the third inning with four more runs to bump their lead to 5-0. After loading the bases on a pair of singles from centerfielder Mackenzie Marmion (1-for-2, run, stolen base) and shortstop Mallory LeBlanc (2-for-3, run) sandwiched around a walk by right fielder Makayla Rooney, third baseman Kelsie Blake (1-for-2, run, 2 RBI) hit a rocket that glanced off first baseman Maddie Rodriguez’s glove into no man’s land. Marmion and Rooney scampered home to make it 3-0, then first baseman Luciana Mastromatteo (1-for-2, walk) followed with an RBI single, scoring LeBlanc. Blake advanced to third on
Rossignoll’s grounder to short, then scored on starting pitcher Tianna Dawe’s grounder to third.
Dawe pitched in and out of trouble for much of the game, allowing nine hits, but dodged a major bullet in the fifth after Gulianna Kehayas blasted a 2-run homer to center. Wolfpack starter Kate McGrath and Nell Fredericks followed with singles and moved to second and third on a passed ball. Dawe escaped the jam with a fly out to Marmion in center and two strikeouts to contain the damage.
“We had a little let down in the fifth inning, but I told them they needed to keep their intensity for the whole game,” Melanaphy said. “As a former pitcher, I know every pitcher has a bad inning as good hitters will catch up to you. You have to find a way to work around it. She bore down and got the last two kids.
“(Latin’s) bottom of the order couldn’t catch up to her.”
The Tanners were playing with slightly tweaked lineup with Blake, who normally plays in the outfield, at third, Rooney, who normally plays third in right field, Mastromatteo, who normally plays outfield at first and Janelle Richard in left.
“When Makayla got injured at the Courtney Corning we had to make some changes,” said Melanaphy. “She still isn’t 100 percent with her wrist, considering we had four girls playing new positions, I thought they did extremely well with each one coming up with some key defensive plays.”