Saugus softball sails past Stoneham in season opener

DJ Munafo went 2-for-3 and scored a run in Saugus' win Friday. (Item File Photo)

STONEHAM — The Saugus softball team shook off early struggles and plated 11 runs in the final three innings Friday to earn a 13-6 win in its season opener at Stoneham.

“I was pleased,” Saugus coach Steve Almquist said. “All of our scrimmages pretty much got rained out. It was tough to get in a rhythm. This was really our first game action. We started fast with two (runs) in the first (inning) and then they kind of silenced our bats. We woke up when we needed to. Overall, for the first game it was good to get a win.”

Pitcher Caitlyn Wood got the win for the Sachems, throwing all seven innings with seven strikeouts, while allowing five earned runs on 11 hits.

“Caitlyn pitched well,” Almquist said. “She’ll always keep us in games. She throws strikes and she doesn’t walk anybody. Anytime we play a Middlesex League team, no matter what their record is, they can all hit. Stoneham played real well. We had trouble with them last year too.”

Alessia Salzillo (2-for-4 with a walk, three RBI and two runs scored) and Emma Howard (2-for-5 with one RBI and three runs scored) led Saugus’ offense. Sadie Dicenso (1-for-3 with one RBI) drove in a run while Leah Ventre (1-for-2 with a walk and one run scored) and DJ Munafo (2-for-3 with a walk and one run scored) had key hits.

“We’re a slow starting team,” Almquist said. “It takes us a little while to come around. A lot of that is not seeing live pitching. But it was clutch to come up with those late runs.”

The Sachems got out to an early lead thanks to some smart base running. Alexa Ferraro singled to start the game while Salzillo drew a walk and Dicenso reached on a catcher’s interference to load the bases with two outs. Back-to-back passed balls during the next at bat scored two runs to put Saugus ahead 2-0.

But Stoneham responded in the bottom half of the first. Caroline Porter laced a RBI triple and Felicia Burgos drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to tie things up at 2-2.

Vanessa Bryan got Stoneham started in the third inning with a single and a stolen base. After advancing to third on a ground out, Bryan came around to score on a Saugus infield error to put Stoneham ahead 3-2.

After being blanked for three straight innings, the Sachems got going again in the fifth. Ventre started things off with a walk and Howard doubled to put runners on second and third with two outs. Stoneham had its chances to get out of the inning but two infield errors on balls hit by Wood and Dicenso allowed three runs to score and put Saugus ahead 5-3.

Stoneham added a run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning but Saugus added some much needed insurance runs in the sixth.

Salzillo laced a two-out triple that drove in two runs and another Stoneham error allowed her to score later in the inning to put Saugus ahead 8-4. Dicenso drove in a run on a double to stretch the lead to 9-4.

Saugus loaded the bases to start the seventh inning and capitalized on an infield error to score another run. Howard and Salzillo both drove in runs on ground outs and Ferraro scored on a passed ball to put Saugus ahead 13-4.

Wood ran into some trouble closing things out in the seventh, allowing a two-run homerun to Bryan, but settled down and struck out the last two batters to clinch the win.

The Sachems (1-0) are back on the road Sunday (4) against a Gloucester team they’ve struggled with in the past.

“That’s going to be a huge undertaking to try to beat them,” Almquist said. “I think they have everybody back except one player. They’re always tough. We always have good games against them but we haven’t been able to get that win.”

More Stories From Saugus