Colchester outslugs Commodore softball

VERGENNES — The Vergennes Union High School softball team’s offense showed promising signs of life on Tuesday, but visiting Colchester rapped 19 hits off two Commodore hurlers and took advantage of four VUHS fielding miscues on the way to a 16-6 win.

The Commodores closed a 10-2 deficit to 10-6 with a four-run fourth, but the 2-1 Lakers tacked on three runs in each of the next two innings to salt the win away.

After seeing his 0-3 rebuilding team — which graduated key players from a group that reached the Division II final in 2014 — score just one run total in its first two games, Coach Mike Sullivan said he saw signs of progress on Tuesday.

“I’ve been saying all along this year it’s going to be a process for us,” Sullivan said. “We’re a relatively new team with five new starters in the field, and a new pitching staff, basically. But I feel the kids are learning a lot on the fly here.”

On offense, seven Commodores reached safely, and the team racked up 11 hits. Junior pitcher/third baseman Tamara Aunchman launched a two-run homer and singled twice, senior center fielder Kayla Charron homered and singled, and leadoff hitter and left fielder Jaymee Fulcher singled twice, reached base three times, and scored twice.

Sullivan appreciated the improved offense.

“We had struggled a little bit the first two games we played,” he said. “Today was definitely a much better effort as far as that goes. And that, like I said, is all part of the process. The kids just have to learn the on-deck circle is part of their at-bats as well. That’s where their focus begins.”

The Lakers took a 2-0 lead in the first with a two-out rally off starting VUHS pitcher Megan Martin. After a walk, an infield hit and a wild pitch, Jordan Schnabel’s bloop single plated the runs.

VUHS got the runs right back in the bottom of the inning. The speedy Fulcher bunted her way on, and one out later Aunchman scorched a line drive over the fence in center.

The Lakers took charge in the second, using four hits, two errors and a walk to score five times and take a 7-2 lead. Brittany Isabelle’s two-run single was the big blow, and Isabelle drilled an RBI double in the third to make it 8-2.

Aunchman, who made some nice plays at third and had pitched creditably in a complete-game loss to BFA-St. Albans the day before, took the mound in the fourth, but the Lakers kept hitting. Four singles, two of the infield variety, and a sacrifice fly produced two more runs and a 10-2 Colchester lead.

Then VUHS staged a rally. Charron’s towering, one-out homer to center in the bottom of the inning sparked a four-run rally. Megan Tarte and Nikki Salley singled, and winning pitcher Ali Sheets hit Felicia Armell to load the bases. Fulcher bunted, forcing Tarte at home, but the throw trying to get Fulcher at first sailed high, and Salley and Armell scored to make it 10-5. Ambrose then singled in Fulcher to cap the rally.

The Lakers answered with three runs in the top of the fifth. After a leadoff single, Sheets doubled the runner home, moved up on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly. Another single, stolen base and an error made it 13-6.

In the sixth, the Lakers padded the lead with three more runs. Isabelle singled and stole second and third, and Sheets walked and stole second. Both scored on Schnabel’s double, and Schnabel came around on a single to end the scoring.

Sullivan said he expected more challenges ahead, but that his team would gradually improve through the course of the season.

“We’ve got some tough opponents coming up, and actually regardless of the outcome I feel that’s the best thing that can happen to us, because we get to learn a lot right off the bat,” he said, “and that’s going to prepare us, hopefully, for the end.”

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