By Tim Lima
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Pentucket is set to begin its softball season on Monday against Haverhill with the hopes of progressing after last year’s disappointing season.
“After last season, this is a little of a rebuilding year,” said second-year head coach John Walsh. “The girls have worked really hard in the off-season and their confidence is high. They’re very excited and we look to take it one game at a time.”
Pentucket made the state tournament for the first time in 10 years in 2011 with a 10-8 record, but since then the Sachems have fallen off with consecutive 5-15 seasons. Though the season has yet to begin, Walsh is impressed with the core of returning players and thinks a return to the postseason is possible.
Starting pitcher Carley Desjardins is returning, as is Sydney Snow as her primary catcher. Mary Kate Corrado is back at first base, as is Tyler Feeney in center field. Seniors Allison Knowles and Amy McDonnel play in the outfield as well, as does junior Nicollette Kent, and sophomore infielder Nikki O’Rourke is also back, as is junior shortstop Kassidy Kennefick.
Though returning several players, a weakness of the Sachems figures to be their players who didn’t get much varsity playing time last year. One such player is junior infielder Maddy Ammon, who figures to see a lot more playing time this year.
Monday’s meeting against Haverhill will be the first of two meetings between the teams in eight days. A largely inexperienced team, the Sachems may benefit from having their opening three games at home to build confidence. After Haverhill, the Sachems will host Triton and Saugus in league play before taking to Haverhill for the rematch on April 15.
In one game against Haverhill last year, Pentucket fell in what was a wild contest, 20-14. Pitching hurt the Sachems, who allowed 23 walks to the Hillies. To have a better outcome this time around and to get off to a strong start, playing fundamentally sound is a primary focus for Pentucket.
“Our team goal is to make the tournament this year, but my goal for them is to keep improving on the fundamentals and take it from there,” Walsh said.
Monday’s game is set to begin at 3:45 p.m.