Having lost seven senior players to graduation last year, the Saugus High School softball team enters the 2022 campaign sporting a young squad. The Sachems went unbeaten in Northeastern Conference (NEC) South Division play last spring. But trying to repeat that 8-0 division effort will be a challenge.
Head Coach Steve Almquist is excited about the upcoming season and seeing what his young squad can do. Saugus went 9-5 overall last year and lost to Danvers in the opening round of the Div. 2 North playoffs. When asked about the upcoming season, Almquist told the press last week that he and his players are looking forward to getting back to “normalcy” after coping with the COVID-19 pandemic the past two springs. “Last year, we had a good season. We went 9-4 and 8-0 in the division,” he said. “Winning the division for the first time in 10 years was very exciting, but now we’re starting from scratch. I [still] think we have a good shot [to win the division] with the talent coming in.”
Almquist admitted there will be a learning curve and “growing pains” with a youthful squad that is missing seven veteran seniors from the previous year. He said he is looking to see the team improve both as individual players and groupwise as the season progresses. Finding a replacement for departed starting pitcher Leah Ventre will also be a challenge, as she tossed two no-hitters in 2021.
Among the returnees are Lily Ventre, who was one of the more impactful hitters on last year’s team, shortstop Felicia Reppucci and Devaney Millerick, another solid hitter.
The Sachems were undefeated at one point last year before dropping four of their last six games. That included a heartbreaking defeat to Marblehead when the Magicians hit a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh inning.
Saugus opens the regular season when it hosts Winthrop at the Belmonte Middle School field next Wednesday, April 6, at 4 p.m.