By Greg Phipps
After collecting 11 wins and earning a playoff berth last year, the Peabody softball team is seeking to improve on that performance in 2018. Head coach Butch Melanaphy thinks his senior ace, Tianna Dawe (one of the top pitchers in the Northeastern Conference), and the rest of the squad are up to the task of adding a few more victories and perhaps making an extended postseason run.
“I expect a little better than 11 wins, I do,” said Melanaphy of his team that went 11-10 last spring. “We’d like to finish with between 12 and 15. We have enough talent and experience. The one thing that hurt us last season was our hitting. Too many times, we couldn’t get the key hit when we needed it.”
According to Melanaphy, the Tanners could have notched a few more wins in 2017, including their first-round 4-2 playoff loss to Chelmsford. “We had a lot of close games that we could have won,” he recalled. “Even in the tournament game, we could have come out on top if we had hit better.”
Defensively, the coach said, Peabody should be in good shape. Senior co-captain Mallory LeBlanc will play shortstop. “She can also fill in as a pitcher to give Tianna a rest,” said Melanaphy, who added that Makayla Iannalfo (second base) and Sydney Lowry (first) will be part of the infield defense. The addition of Bishop Fenwick senior transfer Luciana Mastromatteo should bolster the roster as well, he said.
“Third base is the only area where we have to find a replacement. I think we’re all set with the other positions,” Melanaphy pointed out.
Dawe and catcher Kristina Rossignoll are the other co-captains and give the Tanners a veteran battery that has worked together for three years. Only three of the nine seniors on this year’s team played varsity last season, but Melanaphy said the ability is there. “We have a good nucleus. It’s just a matter of the kids hitting and our offense stepping it up a little more,” he said. “Defense-wise we’re going to be good.”
In the meantime, the unsatisfactory condition of the home field due to last month’s significant snowfall could lead to the postponement of early-season games. “We just want to get outside,” he said, referring to practices having to take place indoors through most of the preseason.
Other members of this year’s team are MacKenzie Marmion, Janelle Richard, Alycia Gillen, Janine Goggin, Makayla Rooney, Lauren Andy, Kelsie Blake, Asha Bell, Amanda Stanton, Kirsten Buckley and Madison Couture.