NEWBURYPORT — The Newburyport and Pentucket softball teams will open the postseason as underdogs when both teams hit the road for their first-round tournament games today at 4 p.m.
Pentucket (11-9) has earned the No. 10 seed in the Division II North tournament and will face perennial Middlesex League contender Reading (14-6) in the first round, while Newburyport (11-9) is the No. 11 seed and will open against Tewksbury (14-6).
Though the two teams finished with identical records, the Clippers and Sachems followed much different paths to reach where they are. Newburyport hovered just above .500 for most of the season, never winning or losing more than a few games in a row, while Pentucket started off with four straight wins, then lost seven of its next eight before finishing the year with six wins in the team’s last eight games.
“We’ve got to come out and play solid defensively, we need to get hits with runners on base and we need to keep playing like we’ve played the past eight games of the season,” said Pentucket coach John Walsh. “But Reading is a good club and we’re going to have our hands full.”
Going into today’s game at Reading, the Sachems will rely offensively on junior centerfielder Tyler Feeney and sophomore catcher Maddie Binding, who were among the top hitters in the Cape Ann League this season.
Feeney batted .550, had an on-base percentage of .609 and scored 23 runs, drove in 23 more and had 13 extra base hits, while Binding hit .500, had an OBP of .603, scored 21 runs and had 10 RBIs. Both players also struck out only four times in nearly 70 at bats.
On the mound, Pentucket typically leans on Carley Desjardins and Jenny Nelson. Desjardins was 5-4 on the season, while Nelson was 5-3 with two saves.
For Newburyport, Cape Ann League All-Star and team co-captain Victoria Allman will once again take the ball. The Clippers’ ace has started all of Newburyport’s games this year, and along with All-League first baseman Carley Siemasko and All-Star outfielder Ashley Hodge, will serve as a key cog in the team’s lineup.