ADDISON COUNTY — The spring of 2012 proved to be solid across the board for the local high school softball teams. Vergennes surged to a 14-5 record and a berth in the Division II semifinals, while the other three squads played well enough to earn home playoff games.
All, of course, benefited from excellent individual seasons as well as overall talent, chemistry and teamwork. And no team benefited more from any single player than did Middlebury from senior catcher Mattea Bagley, the 2012 Addison Independent Player of the Year. Bagley is not only a four-time Independent All-Star, but earns her third straight Player of the Year nod.
Bagley helped Coach Marie Eugair-Newell’s Tigers to a 9-8 record, and two of her senior classmates join her on this all-star team.
Coach Mike Sullivan’s VUHS Commodores made the most collective impact, more than doubling their 2011 win total. Four Commodores earned spots on the Independent team.
Coach Pattie Candon’s Otter Valley group enjoyed another winning season at 11-7 and claimed a playoff victory. Two hard-hitting sophomores merited recognition here.
Coach Gene Bell’s Mount Abraham squad shook off a midseason slide to finish the regular season at 8-8 before a first-round home upset in the D-II playoffs. Two Eagle seniors made the Independent squad.
Selections for this all-star team — an unusually tough task given the athletes’ quality of play this spring — were based on statistics, observation and consultation with the coaches.
Congratulations to the following:
MATTEA BAGLEY, MUHS SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Relentless competitor who is a four-year starter at catcher for MUHS ... Had another tremendous season at the plate, hitting a local high of .491, reaching base at a .534 clip, rapping nine doubles and two triples, driving in 21 runs and scoring 15, stealing 20 bases and striking out just once ... Outstanding defensive catcher and savvy pitch-caller who threw out five of the few runners who tried to steal vs. MUHS ... Plans to play softball at SUNY-Cobleskill next spring.
Eugair-Newell’s Quotes: “She’s a great kid ... Her commitment, her enthusiasm is contagious ... She made other people want to be better ... She’s got a presence about her ... Not many people run on her ... She dares people to go. She wants to show people what she can do. She’s aggressive in every aspect of the game ... She’s just a gifted softball player.”
TABBY DANYOW, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Speedy centerfielder who excelled at the plate and in the field ... Scored 29 runs out of the leadoff spot to lead all area players and stole a local high of 21 bases ... Batted .451 and drew 18 walks to record a local best on-base percentage (OBP) of .575 ... Showed pop with eight doubles and two triples and drove in 11 runs ... Displayed great range in the field and a strong, accurate arm, gunning down six baserunners, two at home plate in a key win vs. Burlington.
Sullivan’s Quotes:“She’s as close to a five-tool player as I’ve ever had ... She’s just a great athlete ... She definitely did not leave anything out on the field in any games she played ... She’s got a great level of confidence ... Whenever she’s on base something is going to happen ... She’s a great all-around player. She has speed second to none, and a great glove, and an efficient arm.”
PAITYN BOYER, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Outstanding defensive shortstop with fast feet and a strong arm with a quick release ... Used her speed to good effect on offense, batting .462 with a .541 OBP, scoring 21 runs and stealing 20 bases while striking out just once ... Excellent bunter who drove in six runs while hitting at the top of the order.
Eugair-Newell’s Quotes: “Those routine plays in the infield where you think you can get someone out, not her ... At shortstop her range was amazing ... She’s got a great glove, a great arm ... She was a welcome addition to the team this year.”
AMBER FAY, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Speedy leadoff hitter who batted .472 with a .508 on-base percentage ... Scored 19 runs and drove in seven despite dealing with a midseason hand injury ... Adept bunter who went 10-for-10 stealing bases ... Four-year starter at third base and pitcher who amassed 101 career hits ... Compiled a 5-4 pitching mark, striking out 57 in 57 innings.
Bell’s Quotes: “She’s been the heart and soul of the team the last two years, anyway ... She’s been the one person who’s made the offense go. Everything has pretty much revolved around her ... Out of 101 base hits, about 80 of them have gone about five feet ... She’s been the team leader for the last two years.”
JESS GIPSON, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Workhorse pitcher for the Tigers who compiled an earned-run average of 1.10 against the state’s toughest competition ... In 102 innings allowed 80 hits and just 19 walks while striking out 78 ... Four-year varsity team member who has also played shortstop, among other positions ... Had a fine offensive season, batting .340 with an OBP of .450, scored 15 runs, stole 11 bases, and hit two doubles and a triple.
Eugair-Newell’s Quotes: “She’s one of those kids, you put her anywhere and it’s like she does it every day ... She works hard ... She really pushes herself to do well ... She had multiple pitches ... She was very smart when it came to certain batters ... She hit her spots.”
CAITLIN CHAPUT, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Slugging catcher whose excellent season was cut short by a thumb injury ... Made the most of her nine games by batting .483, second only to Bagley, while ripping six doubles and a homer and driving in 10 runs out of the clean-up spot ... Strong-armed receiver who called pitches and became adept at blocking balls in the dirt ... Received major props from Sullivan for remaining positive and mentoring her replacement.
Sullivan’s Quotes:“She definitely became a vocal leader on the team, even under the adversity this year ... She has improved defensively tremendously ... Every team had to respect her arm back there ... You could see what her numbers were for nine games ... I can’t wait to have her back next year.”
KATE MULLISS, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Hard-hitting third baseman and team leader on and off the field who contributed a number of big hits for VUHS this spring ... Batted .407 with six doubles and a triple, drove in 15 runs and scored 15 runs.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “Nobody worked harder over the last year ... She really wanted to contribute a lot more this year ... She was very vocal. She was a good leader on the bench. She set a good example for the other kids ... She was a great clutch hitter ... She had extreme confidence in her hitting this year. She wasn’t intimidated by anybody.”
DANI BROWN, VUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Displayed power as a DH and a pitcher for VUHS this spring ... Batted .397 with pop — four doubles, three homers and 17 RBIs, including a game-clinching grand slam in the D-II quarterfinal ... Compiled a 5-2 pitching record with an ERA of 2.75, striking out 69 in 51 innings while allowing 39 hits and walking 27.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “It was definitely a break-through season for her ... She got a new level of confidence this year ... She always had a great swing ... She has a great natural drop. Everything she throws has that natural spin. She forces a lot of ground balls ... She struck out a lot of big hitters ... She’s a positive role model.”
TAYLOR AINES, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Powerful hitter who batted a loud .349 with two doubles and an area-best five homers ... Drove in a local-best 22 runs and scored 13 times with a .414 on-base percentage ... Hard-throwing pitcher who compiled a 10-7 record and struck out 101 in 105.1 innings and should improve further when she refines her control.
Candon’s Quotes: “She’s a long-ball hitter ... She’s got a power swing ... Those home runs were key ... She had some power hits that put us up (in games) ... If she can pick up another pitch or two, she’s going to be very tough to beat ... She had a great season for a first-year player at the varsity level.”
ALYSSA CHARBONNEAU, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Three-year starter in the Eagle outfield who took over in center this year and handled 19 of 20 chances cleanly and threw out three baserunners ... Batted .400 with two doubles while striking out only three times ... Drove in 11 runs and scored 15, and stole seven bases.
Bell’s Quotes: “This year she became much more patient at the plate ... She could have been a leadoff hitter. She’s such a good contact hitter ... She had really good range, and a good arm ... She really knew what was going on out there ... She communicated really well and took control of the outfield.”
CORTNEY POLJACIK, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Batted .388 and drew 11 walks for an on-base percentage of .500 ... Hit four doubles and three triples, scored 10 runs and drove in 12 ... Had a late-season hot streak that helped OV win a couple key games ... Fared well in the field for a young first-year varsity starter.
Candon’s Quotes: “The next to last week of the season she was tearing it up for sure ... She made a smooth transition to this level of ball ... She’s beginning to develop a keener eye ... She was steady (in the field) ... She’ll get stronger as the years go on.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]