In his preseason thoughts, Marblehead High softball coach Johnny Gold touted his squad’s young talent, but he also knew there might be some growing pains before they would reach their full potential.
However, with the season only two weeks old, the team’s fans might be seeing that the future is now.
After losing their first three games, these young Magicians (2-3) showed the likes of Winthrop and Beverly that there’s one more team to be wary of in the Northeastern Conference.
They first shutdown the Vikings in a five-inning mercy rule game on April 19, 12-0, before the Panthers found out no lead was too safe against them two days later. It took eight innings, but the Marblehead girls completed the comeback with a 9-8 victory that featured, of all things, a triple play by them in the seventh, which helped send the game into an extra frame.
Marblehead trailed, 6-2 after four innings, but that was when Gold took his players aside for a wakeup call. They took their coach’s talk to heart.
“This game showed me they know how to listen before taking what I said and going back out on the field and performing quite well,” the veteran coach said.
The comeback was on right away in the fifth, when the Magicians scored five times to take a 7-6 lead. But the visiting Panthers regained the advantage with a couple of runs, only to see the home team tie it in the bottom of the seventh when Ila Bumagin singled home Luka Fornhorst, who led off the rally with a double to deep center.
But that might not have been possible if it wasn’t for that triple play started by junior second baseman Ruby Calienes. After the first two Beverly batters reached base, Calienes stabbed a leaping line drive for the first out. She subsequently threw the ball to sophomore first baseman Lyla McGovern catching that runner leaning the wrong way. McGovern then fired it to freshman shortstop Hailey Schmitt to nab the lead runner. It was an example of how some of that young talent came together and calmly executed a rare play with precision.
“In all my 22 years of coaching softball (the last 18 in Marblehead), I never saw a triple play in a varsity game until now,” Gold said.
Freshman Tessa Andriano was on second to begin the eighth as the Marblehead ghost runner. She then stole third before Schmitt drove her home with the winning run on a single to right.
Tessa Francis, another one of Gold’s talented freshmen, pitched all eight innings in the circle to get the win. She allowed two walks, 13 hits and just two earned runs. She fanned six batters.
Isabell Mortensen helped pace the offensive attack with two singles. Calienes, the defensive star of the game, knocked in two runs on a couple of fielder’s choices. Bumagin was credited with two singles and a double to account for three RBI. Fornhorst had a double, as did McGovern and Francis.
Against Winthrop, Calienes scored three runs after singling three times, and Bumagin came through with two singles, one double and one RBI to help lead the attack at the plate.
The Magicians are very busy this week. After taking on Division 1 powerhouse Peabody on Monday, they will be at Swampscott April 26 before facing non-league host Whittier Tech the next day and Salem at home Friday. All three games will start at 4 p.m.