Sachems aim to stay distraction-free
By Julian Cardillo
Saugus High School has been in the news for having had six of its student-athlete seniors suspended from post-season athletic activity for smoking cigars on graduation. The Sachems baseball team can lay claim to one of the suspensions, though coach Joe Luis says it’s not a distraction.
“We’re a very junior-heavy team: I’ve got seven juniors starting,” Luis said in a phone interview. “And we’ve been able to get out to practice, weather-permitting, so it really hasn’t been as much of a distraction as you’d think.”
This should be an exciting time for Saugus, with their baseball and lacrosse teams both in the post-season. The Sachems played Lynnfield on Thursday night (print deadline) in the opening round of the state tournament.
Saugus went 10-10 during the regular season and entered the post-season as the 15th-seed; Lynnfield, their opponent, are the 2nd-seed. But Luis has been preaching patience and has been very satisfied with what his group has offered up all year. This isn’t a Sachems outfit that will get distracted.
“For us our priority has been to get through as many games as possible,” Luis said. “We’ve responded well in practices and in games this season, and we’re very happy with how we got into the state tournament.”
Lady Sachems primed for state tournament chance
By Julian Cardillo
The Saugus softball team is entering the post-season on a hot streak, having won seven of its last nine games. Coach Steve Almquist is hoping his group can keep the momentum going in the first round of the state tournament on Friday night against Triton.
“I like how we finished up on a high note playing very good softball,” Almquist said. “After suffering a number of close losses and starting the season 4-7, it would have been easy to let frustration set in.”
“The kids never quit, they continued to battle and were able to turn things around at exactly the right time,” he added. “Hopefully, this is something that we can build on heading into the tournament.”
The Sachems will have to improve on some areas if they hope to make a deep tournament run – Almquist wants to see better situational hitting and his team jump on its opponents earlier in games. That said, Almquist is proud of his group for making the tournament and playing gritty, come-from-behind softball to earn results.
“We want to play hard, enjoy the experience and have fun,” said Almquist of what he’s looking for out of his team in the playoffs. “There are a number of teams that would love to be in this position right now who unfortunately did not qualify, so the point of emphasis is to not take this for granted.”
Almquist has a core group of leaders taking the Sachems into the post-season, namely pitcher Caitlin Wood, second baseman Alexa Ferraro and catcher DJ Munfao. Wood ended the regular season 11-9 with 147 strikeouts and a 3.83 ERA. Ferraro, meanwhile, has been instrumental on both sides of the plate while Munafo has primed the team with her never-quit attitude.
Triton is the third-seed heading into the state tournament.
“We have been extremely fortunate in the sense that this is our third consecutive year making the tournament,” Almquist said. “Next year is not guaranteed, so it’s important to leave everything out on the field and make the most of this opportunity.”