If you want to see one of the best high school softball players in Peabody during the offseason, stop by -- 17-year-old Jess Raymond works there at the counter, getting ready for her last year at .
“We’ve got really great bread,” Raymond said.
“I’ve got mixed feelings, for sure; I’m excited about this year, about softball and track, about college, but I’m really a routine person, and I know next year, college is going to be a lot different for me than high school,” Raymond said.
She lives near with her mom and dad and two younger brothers, 15 and 11, and has been playing with Show Softball this summer, a baseball and softball program started by Peabody great Steve Lomasney.
“I’m on the winter track team at Peabody, but softball is my favorite sport,” the Tanners centerfielder said, adding that track was initially just something to do, but now she really enjoys it.
“The main reason I started running track was to help me on the base paths, working on my sprinting has really helped me in softball,” Raymond said. “You’ve got to maintain a high energy level in both sports -- be ready for your events in track and be ready to make a play in softball.”
Raymond had personal bests during her junior track season season, 5-3 in the high jump and a 39.0 seconds in the 300, but despite that success softball is her priority, even though Peabody Little League baseball got her on the diamond.
“I played Little League in Peabody for the White Sox; we won the title when I was in sixth grade and I made the all-star team as a shortstop,” Raymond said. “I love baseball, but playing against boys when you’re twelve and against them in high school is different, so I switched to softball.”
“When I switched to softball, it was actually easier for me, easier than I thought, because I had played baseball,” Raymond said. “The pitching was different and I was able to adjust quickly, I started out at shortstop, now I play mostly centerfield for the high school team.”
Not being in the city softball pipeline hindered her prowess at first, but she made the varsity team as a sophomore, and now she’s a tri-captain for the Tanners next spring with third baseman Holly Smith and catcher Olivia Brothers.
“The coaches really didn’t know me when I started out, because I had played baseball, I’m thrilled about being a member of Peabody High softball now,” Raymond said.
“I’m busy with Show Softball and I’ll be playing indoor softball in Lawrence in the fall,” she said. “I’m very excited about our team this year.”
Peabody finished 9-8 last season and fell to Andover, 5-3, in the first round of the state tournament.
As for Show Softball, Raymond hadn't actually planned to play, but Brothers mentioned it to her and she decided to try it out.
Raymond is considering the education field for her college studies -- her favorite courses in high school are history and English. “I would really like to be an elementary school teacher someday,” she said.
And she would love to head two towns over and play ball for the Endicott Gulls in Beverly.
“We played our last game last season in the Courtney Corning Tournament at Endicott, with Beverly, Bishop Fenwick and Danvers, and I’d love to go to Endicott and play softball for them,” Raymond said.
When she’s not getting ready for a game or a meet, Raymond likes to hang close to home, with friends, watch some TV or the latest movie.