April 13th was not an area holiday as far as I know but word is that there was plenty of celebrating on the Georgetown High School softball field that day.
The celebration at that spot was not a surprise when you learn that on that particular afternoon the Georgetown girls’ team ended a lengthy losing streak (dating back over two years) as they hammered visiting Rockport 14-1.
The Royals endured a winless (0-16) 2008-09 season with a team that included several eighth graders and no seniors. “It was tough,” was how 2nd year coach Julie Lamoly explained it to me before practice on April 27th.
But that winless team has gotten a year older and much better as three wins (at press time) will attest to. “That Rockport win was a great motivator,” said Coach Lamoly. “The kids knew that it was the starting point of better days.”
The team followed their first win with a similar result against Manchester-Essex. This time the slaughter/mercy rule went into effect against an opponent. “It was another hurdle for us to get over,” explained the 6th grade language arts teacher. “We were the ones in the past who were usually getting slaughtered.”
Even in their losses so far (five at press time) this season, the team has been competitive. “We had 2-1 losses to both Amesbury and Newburyport,” she said. “In the Newburyport game we had the bases loaded three times and didn’t score.”
The obvious question is, “What has caused the turnaround?”
Coaching is certainly a part of it. Most winless teams do not get together for another season unless they see, or someone convinces them of, a brighter future. “I took on coaching the team because I thought that I could be a motivator and an encourager,” said Coach Lamoly. “I figured that this was part of the help they needed and I believed that this could be a good team.”
Overly optimistic about the future? Probably not. You don’t have to attend many softball games to realize that pitching is a huge factor in a team’s chances. The Royals are blessed now, and in the future, to have the Erlandson sisters – sophomore Sarah on the varsity and 8th grader Jane on the JVs. These girls take their pitching seriously and are already quite good at it.
Sarah told me that she started playing softball in the Georgetown town leagues in the 3rd grade and thought it would be “fun” to pitch. “I had no idea what I was doing as far as pitching goes,” she recalled. She has come a long way since then.
She said that attending Amesbury softball coach Chris Perry’s summer camp has helped.
Also aiding her development has been spending an hour in Woburn on Saturdays getting pitching instructions from Bob Mahoney. “Two of his daughters pitched at Woburn High and in college and he knows a lot about pitching,” she said. “We always have something to work on.”
One of the things that Sarah is working on is a curve. “I throw mostly fastballs and changeups now,” she said. So far, those two pitches have gotten her numerous double-digit strikeout games, including fifteen in the April 13th win against Rockport. Mastering another pitch should add to the strikeout totals.
“Sarah is an up-and-coming star in this league,” bragged Coach Lamoly. “She has good speed and she has really worked on her accuracy. I think she’s the best pitcher we’ve seen when she’s accurate.”
Because there is no Division 4 in softball, Georgetown will not be able to qualify for the state tournament the way the Georgetown girls’ basketball team did via the Sullivan Rule. They will need to defeat some of the larger schools in the CAL to make it.
“Some big things are going to be happening with Georgetown softball over the new few seasons,” was Coach Lamoly’s insight into the future for her Royals. No question the longsuffering supporters of Georgetown softball will enjoy watching that future unfold.
( This story appeared in The Town Common on May 5th. )