ADDISON COUNTY — Wednesday turned out to be a huge day for area high school sports teams, which went three-for-three in semifinal games to earn shots at state championships.
The 17-1 Otter Valley baseball team, the second seed in Division II, crunched visiting No. 3 Lamoille, 8-1; the second-seeded Middlebury girls’ lacrosse team doubled up visiting No. 3 Mount Anthony, 16-8; and the No. 3 Vergennes softball team blanked host No. 2 Lyndon, 4-0.
Coach Tim Mitchell’s 18-1 Otters are scheduled to take on top-seeded Burr & Burton (17-2) at Centennial Field on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Otters defeated the Bulldogs in Brandon on May 30, 8-1. They will be seeking the program’s first title since 1976.
Coach Kelley Higgins’ 12-4 Tigers will meet undefeated two-time champion South Burlington on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Castleton State College. The Tigers, the most successful girls’ lacrosse program in Vermont history, will be seeking their first title since 2008 and will be making their fourth straight and seventh state championship appearance in eight years. The Rebels posted two wins over MUHS this spring, however, and defeated the Tigers in close title games in 2011 and 2012.
Coach Mike Sullivan’s 15-4 Commodores will also meet an undefeated defending champion, BFA-Fairfax, with the game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Poultney. The Commodores and Bullets did not meet this season, but Fairfax defeated VUHS in a 2012 semifinal, 8-3. The Commodores will be seeking the program’s first state championship since 1983.
On Wednesday afternoon, Otter starter Justin Owen surrendered a first-inning run to the 16-2 Lancers on three hits and two walks, and he needed a double play turned by third baseman Brett Patterson to bail him out of further trouble. But the rest of the way Owen allowed just three more hits, and he finished with 10 strikeouts in 6.2 innings. The Otters also played errorless defense.
The Otters took the lead in the first inning when Ryan Kelley doubled, Jim Winslow walked and both scored on Shane Quenneville’s opposite-field triple. OV began to take advantage of the Lancers’ four errors in the second, when Owen reached on a miscue and scored on a John Winslow double. In the fourth, Chad Lonergan singled and came home on a dropped pop-up.
OV added its final four runs in the fifth on an error, two double steals, and Thomas Roberts’ two-run single. Eight Otters had hits in the victory.
Mount Anthony scored three times in the first 4:23 to put the host Tiger on their heels in Wednesday’s semi-final in Middlebury, but the Tigers responded with an 8-2 run to take charge. In that surge, Emily Robinson scored three goals, including the 100th of her career, and added an assist, and Emma Best also scored three times. But the Patriots found the net twice in the final minute to pull within a goal, 8-7 at the break.
Then the Tigers dominated the second half. Robinson, who finished with four goals and four assists, set up Kiera Kirkaldy at 20:26 for a momentum-breaking strike. Goalie Baily Ryan (seven saves, five in the second half) then made two key stops before Emily Kiernan (four goals, two assist) cashed in a feed from defender Tiffany Danyow in transition at 17:36.
The Tigers pulled away steadily from there, as Best finished with three goals and three assists, and Sophia Peluso added three goals and an assist. Danyow also joined with fellow low defenders Hannah Hobbs and Olivia Carpenter in putting the clamps on the Patriots after the break, while Julia Rosenberg scooped seven ground balls to lead MUHS in that department. Emily Cross led MAU (11-6) with two goals and two assists, and goalie Samantha Mayer made nine saves.
Emilee Trudo sparked VUHS (15-4) by tossing a two-hit shutout and contributing a key hit in the Commodores’ four-run fourth inning.
Trudo struck out eight and walked none while going the route in the third-straight outstanding pitching performance for VUHS in the playoffs: It followed Dani Brown’s one-hitter in the first round and Taylor Paquette’s quarterfinal two-hitter. Trudo allowed those two hits in the first two innings, and finished the game by retiring 16 straight batters.
In the Commodores’ big fourth inning, Tamara Aunchman launched an RBI triple and Trudo poked a two-run single, two of the Commodores’ nine hits off losing pitcher Kelsey Croft, who was coming off a Monday shutout of Otter Valley. Croft did strike out seven. Lyndon (16-2) had reached, but had lost in, the past two D-II finals.