Sydnee Bessler turned in one of the most spectacular pitching performances in Everett High softball history, tossing 15 shutout innings while fanning 21 enemy batters and yielding only five hits, to lead the Lady Crimson Tide to a nail-biting 1-0 victory over Lexington Monday morning.
The triumph over a Lexington squad that stood at 18-1 entering the game and was ranked fifth in the state culminated an amazing week of softball for Coach Stacy Poste and her crew, who won five of their final six games over an eight-day period, all by close margins, to make a successful run for a state tourney berth and finish their regular season with a 12-8 record.
As for Bessler, she compiled a 5-1 record in the six contests, striking out 96 enemy batters in 56 innings and allowing just four earned runs for an ERA of 0.50.
Erica Ginepra scored the lone run of the Lexington game in the top of the 15th inning when she singled, stole second, moved to third on a hit by Hailey Powers, and then came home on a base hit behind second base by Talia Mirra.
Lexington threatened to even the score in its half of the 15th when the leadoff hitter reached on an error and got to second base with no outs. However, the next Lexington batter was thrown out while attempting a sacrifice bunt and Bessler finished the game with a flourish with a pair of strikeouts.
“Sydnee pitched an unbelievable game and Nicole Sylvester called the pitches” said Poste. “I cannot take credit for how awesome these two girls work with each other. At one point they called me out to the mound and asked if they could walk a batter who previously had hit the ball, knowing the next batter had struck out the last three times at bat. I told them to go for it. There was a runner on second with two outs and they walked the batter. The next batter hit the ball to left field and it was caught to end the inning.”
The 1-0 triumph over Lexington was the second such winning score of the past week for the Lady Crimson Tide, who earned a 1-0 victory over Latin Academy last Tuesday in which Bessler fired a one-hitter and racked up 13 strikeouts.
Everett pushed across the winning run in the fifth inning with two outs. Freshman Hailey Powers singled and Ginepra hit a ball into the outfield that was misplayed by the Latin right fielder. Poste sent Powers homeward as she approached third and Hailey slid under the tag for the winning run.
“It was risky sending her, but with two outs I had to be aggressive and it worked in our favor,” said Poste.
The day before on Monday, the Lady Crimson Tide opened their march to a tourney berth with a 4-3 victory over Swampscott of the Northeastern Conference in 12 innings. Bessler went all 12 frames in her first of what would prove to be a series of herculean efforts, striking out 18 opponents and yielding only three hits and no earned runs.
Swampscott scored single runs in the fourth and sixth innings to take a 2-0 lead, but Everett tied matters with a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh. Bessler started the surge by reaching first on an error and moving to second on a passed ball. After Talia Riccioli reached on a bunt on which Bessler got to third, another bunt by Powers brought across Bessler when Swampscott opted to make the play at first on which Hailey was . safe. Ginepra then drew a walk to load the bases and Samantha Uga did likewise to force in Riccioli with the tying run.
Swampscott forged ahead with a run in the 10th, but the resilient Everett girls knotted matters once again on back-to-back doubles by Nicole Sylvester and Bessler.
That set the stage for the Everett winning rally in the 12th. After Mirra reached on an error, Sylvester singled, moving Talia M. to second. Then with two outs, Riccioli’s grounder to shortstop was thrown away, allowing Mirra to score the winning run.
“This was such a great game to coach,” said Poste. “The girls never gave up and finally got it together in the seventh inning. The coaches are always stressing the importance of fundamentals and making errors have hurt us in games. We have given up so many unearned runs by errors. In the first part of the game our bats were not there, but they finally started to come around when needed in the later part of this game.
“Sydnee Bessler and Nicole Sylvester did a great job helping each other out by talking to each other to support the pitching,” continued Poste. “The entire team started to get excited toward end of game and kept it going until the final run. It was nice to see.”
Wednesday saw the Lady Crimson Tide triumph in another one-run contest with a 2-1 thriller over Medford. Bessler spun a five-hitter and recorded 15 strikeouts. The winning runs came courtesy of a two-run homer over the fence by Mirra in the third frame with Samantha Uga, who had reached on an error, on base.
Medford had been tied with Malden for first place and the loss knocked Medford into second. Medford later came back to beat Malden to claim a share of the GBL title, both with two losses. Everett ended up in second place with three league defeats.
“The win over Medford made our loss to Cambridge all the more heartbreaking,” noted Poste, referring to her squad’s earlier setback to the Lady Cantabs. “If we had beaten Cambridge, then all three of us would have had only two losses and been in a three-way tie for the league title.”
Everett trekked to Marblehead of the Northeastern Conference for a rescheduled game on Saturday, making the bus ride northward a worthwhile one with a 4-2 victory. Bessler once again was immense, striking out 15 and allowing just three hits and one earned run.
Everett drew first blood with two runs in the third on a two-RBI base hit by Mirra that plated Sophia Marchant and Uga, both of whom had singled and advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by Powers. Marchant then delivered a two run homer in the following inning with Riccioli, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, aboard.
Marblehead scored solo runs in the fifth and sixth stanzas, but Bessler remained in control for the win.
“Sydnee did a great job pitching in this game,” said Poste.
The Lady Crimson Tide’s lone setback in the six-game stretch was a 4-3 loss at non-league foe Masconomet in eight innings. Bessler once again was dominant, fanning 16 opponents and allowing two earned runs on five hits.
Masco grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fifth, but Everett struck back in the following frame when Marchant and Mirra singled and Marchant eventually scored on an error by the Masco infield.
The score remained at 1-1 into the eighth when the Lady Crimson Tide struck for a pair of markers. Ginepra scored the first run when she reached on an error, took second on a passed ball, advanced to third on a base hit by Uga, and then managed to get herself out of a rundown on a pick-off play at third on which she scored. Uga, who had taken second on the rundown, then scored on a base hit by Sylvester,
However, the fates this time would not be with the Everett side. A base hit and a triple delivered the first Masco run and then, with two outs, a misjudged pop fly fell in, allowing the two Masco base runners to score for the walk-off win.
“This was a heartbreaking game,” Poste said. “There were errors made in the last inning that just should not have happened. These situations we practice all the time and are routine.”
However, overall Poste was highly-pleased with her team’s amazing run that saw the Lady Crimson Tide enter the last week of the season at 7-7 and conclude with a 12-8 mark.
“I am very proud of these girls and the way they have been playing in the second half of the season,” said the coach. “We still are not hitting the ball like we can and should. But with our battery of pitching and catching and how our defense has been playing, we have upset a lot of ranked teams.”
Poste and her crew now will await the announcement by the MIAA of their seeding and opening opponent in the Division 1 North Sectional of the state softball tournament which was expected yesterday (Tuesday).