Pinkerton freshman shows poise on the mound for Astros

May 5—DERRY — Julia Caruso did not even notice the bases were loaded.

The Pinkerton Academy freshman pitcher's sole focus with two outs in the fourth inning was Londonderry batter Abby Flusten.

With her hair in her signature pitching-day bubble braids, Caruso used her changeup — one of her go-to strikeout pitches that day — to get Flusten to swing and miss, ending the Lancers' threat.

That was one of Caruso's 15 strikeouts in the undefeated Astros' 7-1 NHIAA Division I home win over their rival on Friday.

"It doesn't phase her," Pinkerton coach Tom Wall said of Caruso. "She's that much of a bulldog."

Caruso improved to 3-0 on the season for the Astros (10-0) after hurling a five-hitter, allowing one earned run alongside four walks and one hit batter. Besides leadoff hitter Addie Browning (1-for-2, two walks), Caruso struck out every other Londonderry batter at least once.

Caruso, a Hampstead resident, said she had no trouble adjusting to the high school level of play considering the talent she faces with her travel team.

In the high school offseason, Caruso plays for the Rhode Island Thunder U14 national team, which competes in tournaments across the nation.

The 5-foot-11 righty owns a 0.583 ERA with 44 strikeouts, 11 hits and 13 walks over 24 innings for Pinkerton.

"I feel like the level is kind of normal for me because I play with girls from all around the country at this level and this is what I want to do," Caruso said, "so I'm having fun doing it."

Caruso used her changeup and rise ball to frustrate Londonderry (9-2) on Friday, when she took a no-hitter into the fourth inning. She also throws a fastball, curveball, screwball and knuckleball and is developing a flip-changeup.

Astros senior catcher Maddy Moore said Caruso has insane spin on her pitches and throws in the high 50s and 60s (miles per hour).

"She's brought a lot of energy to the team and I think that the team as a whole backs her up with that," Moore said. "We're always picking her up even on days when she's off, which was definitely not (Friday)."

Moore and Caruso jokingly introduce themselves to each other before games when Caruso is in the circle, which the pitcher said helps her dial in. The two also worked together and got to know each other after practices in the preseason to build their chemistry.

Caruso said she feels like she has developed strong bonds like that with all of her teammates at this point.

"I'm just a part of them," Caruso said. "It's not like I'm a freshman in my first year. They're all my good friends now."

Caruso got some offensive support right away on Friday.

Avery Carvalho belted an RBI single in the first inning to give Pinkerton a 1-0 lead that it took into the third.

The Astros then padded their lead with three runs in both the third and fourth frames.

Mollie Wheale (3-for-4, RBI, two runs) scored the game-winning run on a Lancers fielding error in the third.

Londonderry scored on Elizabeth Kearney's RBI single to left field with one out in the fourth. Kearney's hit gave the Lancers two baserunners and they loaded the bases with a Riley Campo two-out infield single before Caruso shut the door by striking out Flusten.