The Everett Riptide faced a 7-0 deficit in the fourth inning of their Middle Essex Softball League 18A matchup against host Newton South Wednesday night.
Then the girls roared back.
The Riptide tied the game, 7-7, and then in the top of the seventh, left fielder Sam Uga, a rising sophomore at Everett High, worked a walk to force in the go-ahead run for an 8-7 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Sydnee Bessler came in for the save and helped the Riptide stay undefeated at 3-0.
The 17-year-old Bessler, a rising senior at Everett High, says that comebacks like the one against Newton keep the Riptide on track.
“It gives us a lot of confidence,” she said. “It proves how strong of a team we can be.”
Her batterymate, starting catcher Nicole Sylvester, says the goal for the rest of the season is simple.
Middleton Post 227 has the ‘ability to beat any team in this league. We all know everybody’s tendencies. It’s definitely easier to play when you’re playing with the same kids for three or four years.’
“Improve from how we did last spring season,” she said.
How do they improve?
“Just being prepared and knowing how good we are.”
The Middle Essex League, the largest girls’ softball league in New England, with 194 teams competing in eight divisions, ages 10 to 18, was started to help keep young players competing and active during the summer. The majority of the teams are situated north of Boston, with a few, such as Newton, Wellesley, and Sudbury, to the west.
Mark Sylvester , in his sixth year as coach of the 18A Riptide, says that because of the unpredictable spring weather in New England during the school season, the Middle Essex League is imperative in helping players improve.
“It’s just a way for the girls to keep playing for the summer,” he said. The Everett High varsity softball team finished 12-9 this season, losing to Concord-Carlisle, 3-2, in the state tourney.
“Some of the girls think they can put a glove down in June and pick it up next April and be as good or better. It doesn’t work that way.”
The younger Sylvester, who has been playing with the Riptide program for 10 years, says that the Middle Essex League not only helps with her softball game but is also a good way to meet players from other towns and cities.
“It’s a good experience,” she said. “You get to meet new people. Make new friends.”
The Everett Riptide will play a 14-game schedule, with the season ending at the beginning of August.
At the end of the season, each team with the best record in their division will be crowned season champions.
Monday, the Riptide will taken on the only other unbeaten in the 18A division, the 5-0 Newton Aftershock.
Middleton aims to rise again
The deficit, 11-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, was immense.
But on an 0-2 count Tuesday night, Middleton Post 227 catcher Michael Manni swung for the fences.
When he got a fastball he liked, he clobbered the ball down the left field line. But Lawrence left fielder Jose Abreu jumped over the fence to rob Manni of a home run, cementing a bad night for Middleton. One that mercifully ended, 11-0, after six innings.
“We let [Lawrence] set the tone in the first inning and it kind of rolled over after that,” said third baseman Dan Dempsey.
A number of the Post 227 players were members of the Masconomet Regional squad that captured the Division 2 state title in June. That team started the season 14-0 before suffering back-to-back losses.
“When we lost those two games, we had a huge talk the next day at practice with our coaches,” recalled Sam Hamburger , the starting second baseman for Middleton.
“[We] went over what we need to do and what we need to focus on,” he added.
Hamburger and his Middleton teammates are back in the same corner once again.
Manni, headed to the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the fall, said the experience at Masco will help Middleton (6-5) break out of their skid and make a run at the playoffs.
“This bump in the road isn’t the end of the world,” he said. “We just have to keep going and try and win out.”
Middleton starting center fielder Tom Budrewicz, who will be playing baseball next year at the University of Southern Maine, is adamant that his team can play with the best in the league, and says that their team chemistry will help them prevail and that Post 227 has the “ability to beat any team in this league. We all know everybody’s tendencies. It’s definitely easier to play when you’re playing with the same kids for three or four years.”
“Once one person gets going, we all just pick each other up,” said Manni.
John Kowalski , in his sixth year as head coach, believes that his team can move past their recent woes and still compete for a playoff spot.
“Our goal is to make it to the playoffs and get to a position where we can compete for a District 8 Championship,” he said.
Through Wednesday, Newburyport (12-1) was atop the District 8 standings, followed by Lawrence (9-2), Andover (9-2), Methuen (9-5), and Haverhill (7-3). . . . In Zone 5B, Lowell (9-4) is the league leader, followed by Medford (8-5).
Walsh impressive with Nashua
North Andover High School graduate Brandon Walsh, a rising junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is off to a hot start this summer for thNashua Silver Knights of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League.
Walsh, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound catcher and pitcher for the Silver Knights, is batting .344 in 11 games this season, with two home runs. He also boasts an impressive .417 on-base percentage. He has at least one hit in eight of his team’s 11 games. Lowell’s Matt Tulley , a rising junior at Virginia Tech, tossed 4⅔ innings of two-hit relief for Nashua Wednesday night against the Brockton Rox in a 1-0 win at Holman Stadium.Isaac Chipps can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.