The Beverly High School softball team’s season came to a close in dramatic fashion.
The Panthers battled No. 4 seed Newton North in a Division 1 North first-round game on Sunday, June 9, and lost, 11-10. The Panthers ended their season at 14-8. The team was ranked No. 13 out of 24 teams in Division 1 North.
Beverly had crushed visiting Cambridge, 11-2, in the preliminary round two days earlier. Abi McGovern had four RBI to help lead the way. Rona Scott earned the win in the circle, allowing just five hits.
Against Newton North, Beverly had forced the game into extras, and even held a 10-7 lead until Newton North stormed back with four to take the victory.
"That game was unbelievable, and personally I think it is the best we have played all season," Beverly captain Molly Pierce said of the Newton North game. "We knew we were going to be facing tough competition in the tournament, and really wanted to give it everything we had."
Fellow Panther captain Julia Pitman said that she is beyond proud of her team, and how it played in the two tournament games.
"We knew we were going to play some competitive teams, but we didn’t let it affect us, and we went in with confidence," she said. "We kept our energy high throughout every inning and also for every pitch, and we fought our hardest. I am most proud of our team for bouncing back after being down five runs in the fifth inning against Newton North. It showed that we all really wanted to be there, and we were willing to put everything on the line to not let our season come to an end."
Natalie Stilwell, another Beverly captain, said her team battled adversity, injuries and long days at school, but were "always there to pick each other up."
She cited highlights from the regular season of beating both Peabody and Marblehead. Stilwell is going to be playing softball at Clark University next year.
"Any time you can get a win against great pitchers like Charlotte (Plakans) and Tiana (Dawe) is huge," Stilwell said. "Another highlight was beating undefeated Gloucester on their field. It was probably our greatest game all year, and the fact that everyone contributed made it special. We definitely stepped up in the playoffs and played a high level of softball in both games. Everyone was on the fence cheering, and the energy was high the whole time. It was very impressive to me that my team was able to come back and score five runs after being down in the top of the fifth. I’m beyond proud of the fight we put up, and I am so lucky to have played on such a great team. I know Coach (Megan) Sudak will want to battle just as hard next year, and as a result I see a bright future for Beverly."
Pierce said that as seniors, the group is proud of how it is leaving the program.
"Going into this season," Pierce said, "we really wanted to make a statement about what we were capable of. There is some great leadership for next year, and we are very excited to see what the future has in store."
Pierce will be attending the University of Southern Maine to major in education.
Pitman said, with a change in the conference and playing more challenging teams, the team worked hard to come away with a solid record.
"Even with seven seniors graduating, I am confident that our girls will step up and lead the way to a very successful and bright future," said Pitman, who will be attending the University of Maine in the fall, where she will be majoring in animal and veterinary sciences. She plans to at least play club softball, and maybe even tryout as a walk on.
"I consider myself lucky to have played with such an amazing group of girls and coaching staff for the past four years," she added.