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Tewksbury’s Maciejewski a big hit at Bates

By John Vallante
Globe Correspondent / April 22, 2012
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A Fulbright Scholar and an athlete

One day earlier this month, Leah Maciejewski received word that she had been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship.

The next day, the Bates College senior from Tewksbury delivered a smashing performance for the Bobcats women’s softball team.

In a doubleheader sweep of Maine Maritime Academy, Maciejewski was 6 for 6 - including socking a grand slam - knocked in nine runs, and scored two more.

“I don’t know what I was more excited about, hearing about the Fulbright or getting all those hits and the grand slam,’’ said Maciejewski, who played at Bishop Guertin in Nashua before heading off to the Bates campus in Lewiston, Maine.

“I mean, I worked so hard to get the scholarship, yet at the same time I love to take my cuts when I’m at bat.’’

Upon further reflection, the 22-year-old Maciejewski acknowledged that the Fulbright Scholarship took precedence. It will allow her to travel to Szczecin, Poland, where she’ll be working as an English teaching assistant at the University of Szczecin.

“I was ecstatic when I got the news. It was a long application process - I started it way back in September - and to see it finally come to fruition was absolutely amazing. I’ve been Googling the university and Szczcin ever since, and it’s near the Baltic Sea and just a train ride from Berlin.’’

As for getting her cuts, Maciejewski is not being cheated by any means. She has been swinging a hot bat most of her career.

As a freshman in 2009, she hit .370. She slipped to .279 her sophomore season, but bounced back last year to hit .341 and led the team in slugging percentage (.512) and RBIs (19).

Through the first 18 games this season, Maciejewski was pacing the 12-6 Bobcats in average (.471) and was among the leaders in hits (24), RBIs (17), home runs (2), doubles (6), and slugging percentage (.706).

“It’s a testament to the type of player she is,’’ said Bates coach GwenLexow. “She came in her freshman year and put up big numbers. That was before opposing coaches knew who she was. She struggled the next year when they noticed her, and played differently. The numbers she’s put up her junior and senior year show just how serious a player she is.

“Physically, mentally, and emotionally, she’s put her mind on becoming the complete softball player and we’re seeing the benefits of all that hard work.’’

Maciejewski has always been a catcher, but this season she was asked to move to first base because of injuries.

“I knew she’d prefer to be catching, but she didn’t put up a fuss and made the move graciously,’’ said Lexow. “That has helped the team tremendously.’’

Maciejewski took it in stride.

“I just did what I had to do. I just love being on the field and hitting. Playing first is a bit different than catching. For one thing, I’m fielding a lot more ground balls and that’s something I didn’t have to do behind the plate. I’ll always be a catcher at heart, but softball is softball, and as long as I’m playing and benefiting the team, I’m happy.’’

Her numbers at the plate are prolific, “but I’ve never been a fan of stats,’’ she said.

“I leave that to others. For me, if I get a good hit, I’m happy. If it’s a blooper, it still shows up as a hit, but not necessarily a good hit and I’m not as happy. I worry less about the stats than the game itself. If the team wins and I do well, that’s great. If the team loses and I do well, it really means nothing.’’

Campus corner

Temple senior Shey Peddy, who starred on the basketball court at Melrose High, was drafted by the Chicago Sky of the Women’s National Basketball Association with the 23d overall pick last week. Peddy, a 5-foot-7 guard from Roxbury, set Temple’s all-time record for single-season steals with 104, second best in the Atlantic 10. She was honored as Philadelphia’s Big 5 Player of the Year, Temple MVP, and was named co-recipient of the team’s top defensive player award. This past season, Peddy led the Owls to a 23-10 record and a spot in the WNIT Sweet 16. She averaged 21.7 points per game in the post season. . . .

Tufts senior Kevin Gilchrist of Medford threw the first no-hitter for the Jumbos since 2003, when he unfurled a 4-0 masterpiece against UMass-Dartmouth. Gilchrist walked two, hit a batter, and struck out four. . . . Worcester State junior Hannah Everson of Methuen was the MASCAC co-softball Pitcher of the Week after striking out 25 batters in 20 innings. She fanned 10 against Massachusetts Colllege of Law and eight more against Nichols. . . . . Salem State is looking for a part-time women’s basketball assistant coach. Interested applicants should contact head coach Michelle Cunningham at 978-542-6549. . . . Holy Cross senior Jay Silvia of Burlington signed an amateur tryout contract with the Worcester Sharks of the American Hockey League. In 140 games at Holy Cross, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound forward had 34 goals and 30 assists. In two games with the Sharks, Silvia played sparingly and had one shot on goal. . . . Merrimack’s men’s tennis team finished the regular season undefeated (11-0) to earn top seed in the post-season tournament. Vince Bellino of Amesbury teamed with Chris Barnhart of Longmeadow to win at No. 2 doubles and also won at No. 4 singles in the 8-1 win over Stonehill.

Around and about

Congratulations to the Melrose Youth Hockey Squirt A3 team, which recently won the Valley League National Southeast Division title with a 5-4 overtime win over Andover. Padraic Kelly scored the winning goal. Melrose also beat Natick, 6-4 and Groton, 3-2. Members of the team, all from Melrose, included: Richie Ciulla, Joe Whitley, Ethan Brodeur, Austin Figueira, Griffin McAvoy, Abbey Spencer, Cormac Lynch, Matt Hickey, Adam Kleis, Caroline Kiernan, Frankie Capaldo, Bobby Kelly, Will Brandon, and Josh Nemeth. Coaches were Craig Brandon, Patrick McAvoy, and Jack Kleis. John Vellante can be reached at JohnPVel@aol.com.

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