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Pinkerton pitcher Caruso dazzles in 2nd start

May 2—SALEM, N.H. — Moments after Pinkerton Academy freshman Julia Caruso closed out a dominant performance, against perennial power Salem, in just her second career varsity start, Astros head coach Tom Wall couldn't help but gush.

"Julia ... she has it," said Wall. "No question. You would never think she was a freshman out there."

Caruso looked like anything but a varsity novice on April 24, as she battled through spurts of pouring rain, high winds and temperatures that dipped into the low 40s to deliver an eye-opening afternoon.

The youngster surrendered just five hit — three of them to Eagle-Tribune All-Star Jenny Olson — and struck out 12 to grind out a tough 3-2 win over Salem.

Oh, and Caruso also drove in the first run of the game, with a line drive single, for unbeaten Pinkerton (6-0).

"We were determined that we were going to win this game," said Caruso. "My rise ball was definitely working well. I was getting a lot of called strikes and swings-and-misses with that. I also used my change-ups in timely spots. I was locking in with my catcher, Maddy Moore, and just really focusing."

Taking on a Salem squad that advanced to the Division I semifinals a year ago, after winning the DI title in 2021, is a daunting proposition for any freshman.

Standing on the mound in the bottom of the seventh, with runners at first and second base, looking to hold onto a one-run lead and the wind gusting in your face could be downright terrifying.

But Caruso wasn't flustered by the big moment, striking out the final batter of the game.

"It's just natural for me," she said. "It doesn't really faze me. Playing at the varsity level feels normal to me. I just have go in thinking that I belong as much as anyone. I can't think of myself as a freshman. We are all one group, a team playing against another team."

Caruso worked out of jams all afternoon.

She stranded a runner at third in the first. She escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the third with a strikeout and ground-out to second, and left the bases loaded again in the fourth. In the fifth, she left runners at first and second.

"Julia's very resilient," said Wall. "She is all about her teammates. She is all about going about her business. She stuck to it, she stayed focused and finished the job. As a freshman, to do it like this, you would never think she was a new kid. and she had two big hits today."

And the rain, which hit the field hard in the third inning and poured for a half hour or so, wasn't going to derail the pitcher.

"We live in the northeast!" she said with a laugh. "My whole life, I've been playing in the rain and the cold. I just had to make sure I had my towel out there every inning, and work through it."

Caruso's teammates also raved about playing behind the young standout.

"Julia got it done for us!" said infielder Maddie Schoenenberger. "She's my best friend out there, and I think she's amazing. Her spins were going, and she really powered through against some really tough slap hitters over there. Julia powered through today and got us a great win."

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TWITTER: DWillisET