PEABODY — The Peabody 12-year-old softball All-Star team is on the doorstep yet again. One year after losing in the state championship game, Peabody returns with largely the same roster to try and finish the job Sunday in a best-of-three state championship series against Westfield.
“It’s great to be back, but we want to win it this time,” said Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt. “A lot of these girls got to this point last year but didn’t get any further, so it would be extra special for those kids if we were able to win it this year.”
Peabody clinched its spot in the state championship last Saturday with a 13-0 win over Woburn, a game that saw pitcher Abby Bettencourt throw a two-hit shutout. Abby Bettencourt, who won a state title as a nine-year-old and played on last year’s runner-up team, has been lights-out in the circle for Peabody, averaging 12 to 13 strikeouts per game in addition to taking on a leadership role. She threw the second perfect game of her career
“She’s been great for us all year so far,” Mark Bettencourt said Abby, of his daughter. “Going into this last series, she’s going to have to throw strikes and we’re going to have to play sound defense behind her. I’m not sure that the 12-13 strikeout average is going to come into play against Westfield, but we’ll see.”
Mark Bettencourt noted there really isn’t any way to single out key contributors on this Peabody team, as the full group is what has made all of this possible. Catcher Logan Lomasney has taken a bigger role as both an on- and off-field leader, hitting third in the batting order and keeping opposing baserunners honest with her great arm. Payton Petrillo, a new addition to this year’s team after playing baseball for most of her career, hits second in the order and starts at shortstop. Avery Grieco plays third base and serves as the No. 2 pitcher behind Abby Bettencourt in addition to batting cleanup. And the list goes on with players like Hailey Roach, Elizabeth Bettencourt (also Mark’s daughter), Kiley Doolin, Penelope Spack and more.
“There’s a lot of variables on this team, there’s no one player who does it all,” said Mark Bettencourt.
Despite clinching a berth in the state championship last Saturday, Peabody hasn’t been resting on its laurels for the past week. Mark Bettencourt has had the team out on the practice field nearly every day, preparing for what will be a tough test. Westfield defeated Jesse Burkett in order to get into the state championship game, and it was Jesse Burkett that knocked out Peabody in last year’s state title series.
“I know that Jesse Burkett has a great team with a lot of players who returned from last year,” said Mark Bettencourt. “So the fact that Westfield was able to beat them says volumes about that team.”
Peabody has worked mainly on situational softball in practice over the past week. One of Mark Bettencourt’s favorite drills is to send the players out to their positions, keep a couple at home plate to run the bases and work on different situations. That way, he says, the team can go through the situations from both sides.
“It’s a great drill because we get to look at things from both sides,” said Mark Bettencourt. “We can study what we’re doing right and wrong on both the basepaths and in the field. Repetition is what’s best for these kids at this point, so we just keep going over every situation.”
Peabody will have to win two games in order to take home the state championship, and it will have an opportunity to do that in one fell swoop Sunday due to the fact that Peabody and Westfield will play a doubleheader Sunday (10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.) at Gonsalves Field in Woburn. If the teams split those two games, the decisive third game will be played Monday (TBA), also at Gonsalves Field.