ADDISON COUNTY — The high school softball season ended in heartbreaking fashion for the four local teams: All suffered losses in winnable playoff games, Otter Valley, Middlebury and Mount Abraham in Division II and Vergennes in D-III.
Yet each had much to be proud of: OV, MUHS and Mount Abe earned top-four seeds in D-II, and VUHS doubled its regular-season win total from the year before and produced its best season in more than a decade.
Each also benefited from outstanding individual performances, none better than Tiger sophomore catcher Mattea Bagley, who leads the 2010 Addison Independent Softball All-Star Team as the Player of the Year.
Bagley and senior pitcher Lea Gipson backboned Coach Marie Eugair’s Tigers to an 11-6 record — including a 1-0, extra-inning quarterfinal upset by eventual champion Lamoille — and the No. 3 seed in D-II, and both earned spots on the Independent squad.
Coach Pattie Candon’s defending champion Otters finished 12-6 and went undefeated in D-II until being upset by Lamoille in a semifinal. Four Otters — two seniors, a junior and a slugging freshman — made this team.
Coach Gene Bell’s Eagles may have been the most balanced outfit from top to bottom; they finished 10-6 in the regular season to earn the No. 4 seed before being upset by D-II finalist Harwood. A sophomore on-base machine, who was also the Eagles’ pitching mainstay, and a versatile senior team leader are honored here.
Coach Mike Sullivan’s Commodores improved to 6-10 in the regular season before losing to the No. 5 seed in the first round of the playoffs. A slugging senior catcher and a four-year starting pitcher and solid hitter earned Independent recognition.
Selections are made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
MATTEA BAGLEY, MUHS SOPHOMORE, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Excelled offensively and defensively while setting the tone for the Tigers with her love for the game and never-say-die attitude ... Hit .436 against the state’s best pitching with an on-base percentage of .483 and a slugging percentage of .618 ... As the leadoff hitter, scored a team-high 16 runs; drove in eight runs, tied for team lead; stole 15 bases; drilled six doubles and two triples; and struck out just twice in 55 at-bats ... Remarkably, in just her third year of catching after converting from shortstop, committed no errors, allowed no passed balls and threw out nine runners.
Eugair’s Quotes: “She’s just a kid you wished you had a whole team full of ... She stepped right into her roles, not only as a catcher, but as a leadoff hitter ... With her being a sophomore, you’d never know it. She looks like a veteran catcher ... As a catcher, you have to have the attitude that no one is going to run on you, and she does.”
LEA GIPSON, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Established herself as the region’s top pitcher by picking up speed, improving her control, and upgrading her drop and rise pitches ... Compiled an 8-6 record against the Tigers’ toughest foes, and tossed late-seasons shutouts vs. Missisquoi and Mount Abe ... Had an earned-run average of 1.12 ... Allowed 72 hits and 16 walks in 94 innings, striking out 113 ... Contributed offensively with a BA of .262, an OBP of .349, 7 runs and 2 RBIs.
Eugair’s Quotes: “She stepped up huge this season ... The trick for her was she found the confidence ... She stepped up in her leadership role ... She threw a little harder, and she found more pitches ... She didn’t get rattled, and she just did a great job.”
MICHAELA HARRINGTON, OV SENIOR. Notes: Speedy centerfielder and leadoff hitter with plenty of pop in her bat ... Led local hitters in slugging percentage, runs, stolen bases and homers ... Batted .441, slugged .695, reached base at a .495 clip, scored 24 runs, stole 19 bases, and belted five doubles, two triples and two homers ... Also put her wheels to good use in the outfield.
Candon’s Quotes: “She’s just an all-around ballplayer ... Her speed was just phenomenal ... She’s a team leader. She gets the team going ... She’s an aggressive ballplayer ... Defensively, she made a couple big plays in the outfield ... Her getting on base was always big.”
AMBER FAY, MOUNT ABE SOPHOMORE. Notes: At the plate, batted a local best of .453, compiled an OBP of .485, scored 19 runs and drove in 5, and stole 12 bases ... Used her great quickness to beat out many bunts ... Played well at third base when not pitching ... On the mound, compiled a 5-5 record in 68 innings, striking out 64, allowing 55 hits and 38 walks and compiling an ERA of 2.98.
Bell’s Quotes: “She had a super year ... She comes to practice every day and works really hard ... She is one of the two fastest kids in the league ... She pounces on things like a cat ... Once she settled in (pitching), she just got progressively better.”
MARGY KERSCHNER, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Sweet-swinging lefthanded batter who hit .450 with a remarkable OBP of .570 ... Scored 10 runs, drilled 5 extra-base hits and drove in 3 runs in 12 games, missing time when stranded in Europe by the Iceland volcano ... Converted infielder whose quick hands, accurate arm and leadership made her a natural at catcher.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “She’s a true leader and a great student of the game ... She is the player who makes everyone around her better ... Margy is very quick behind the plate. She is very good at blocking balls in the dirt and has a very strong arm ... Statistics do not show the real impact she had for the team.”
MICHELLE LEFEBVRE, OV SENIOR. Notes: Slick-fielding first baseman, team leader and solid offensive contributor ... Handled 140 putouts and threw out four runners while making just one error this spring ... Batted .380 and drew 10 walks for an OBP of .483 ... Scored 16 runs and drove in 6.
Candon’s Quotes: “You couldn’t ask for anyone stronger at first base. She can go out and stretch with the best of them ... She was always aware of what was going on in the rest of the infield, too ... Michelle is that quiet leader, and the person you can go to and say, ‘What do you think?’”
KRISTY PINKHAM, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Quick, aggressive baserunner and defender ... Scored 18 runs and drove in 6, batted .338 and stole 14 bases ... Recorded 13 putouts and 41 assists while playing fearlessly at third base ... Highly competitive player.
Candon’s Quotes: “She’s an all-around athlete ... She ate up the position ... She’s just solid and quick on that corner ... She’s a leader. She’s a motivator. She’s harder on herself than her teammates ... She’s a sparkplug for any team to have.”
SHANNA GEBO, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Pitched part-time and played errorless ball at third base, shortstop, left field and center field this spring, filling in wherever injuries dictated ... Set the tone for the Eagles with upbeat, positive leadership ... Batted .285 with an OBP of .386, scored 10 runs and drove in 9, and won four games on the mound.
Bell’s Quotes: “She’s just a great kid ... She was willing to play wherever I needed her to play to make us better defensively ... I knew wherever I put her on the field she would give me whatever she had to get the job done ... She’s just a solid leader on and off the field.”
DEVON LANE, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Four-year varsity player and team leader who had a solid offensive season, batting .350 with an OBP of .460 ... Scored 10 runs and drove in 10 runs, had three extra-base hits ... Started 16 games on the mound for VUHS, going 6-10, allowing just 28 walks while striking out 72.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “She emerged as a leader in the absence of Margy for the early part of this season ... She had a real desire to help make our program successful ... She left a tremendous impact on the team.”
MERANDA BASSETTE, OV FRESHMAN. Notes: Singled in her first varsity at-bat and kept on producing ... Batted .305, drove in a team-high 16 runs and scored 15 runs ... Knocked out 5 doubles and stole 9 bases ... Played well in left field after converting from infield.
Candon’s Quotes: “I needed someone to go out and get the ball in the outfield, and she proved to be that person ... She didn’t care what the name was in the (pitching) circle. She just made contact, and she made hard contact ... She was confident and she showed she deserved a spot out there.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at email@example.com.