Otter ace leads Independent squad
By ANDY KIRKALDY
ADDISON COUNTY — All four local high school softball teams ended up with something to brag about by the end of this past spring, including all-star performances all-around.
Coach Pattie Candon’s Division II champion Otter Valley squad led the way. The 18-1 Otters snapped Lyndon’s four-year rule over D-II, in no small part thanks to a “Big Red” strike-throwing machine, the 2009 Addison Independent Softball Player of the Year, senior pitcher Ashley Sanderson. Of course, Sanderson, who repeats as player of the year, had plenty of help in OV’s dream season: Three of her Otter teammates join her as Independent all-stars.
Coach Marie Eugair’s Middlebury team followed up a nine-win season in the Metro Conference with a pair of D-I playoff wins, including a remarkable, 2-0 victory at No. 2 BFA-St. Albans in the quarterfinal round. Three Tigers earned spots here, one for the second time.
Coach Gene Bell’s Mount Abraham squad reached double digits in wins. Mount Abe’s 11-7 record included a first-round D-II playoff victory, and the team accomplished that mark despite finishing the season with only one senior starter. Two Eagles merited berths on the Independent squad.
First-year coach Mike Sullivan’s Vergennes group won three regular-season games and, and then stunned the Nos. 4 and 5 D-II playoff seeds before falling to OV in the semifinal round. The Commodores’ five wins represented the program’s best total since 1999. A junior who helped VUHS point things in the right direction is recognized here.
Addison Independent all-star selections are made based on observation, consultation with the coaches and statistics. Congratulations to the following:
OV SENIOR ASHLEY Sanderson repeated as the Addison Independent softball Player of the Year. Independent photo/Trent Campbell
ASHLEY SANDERSON, OVUHS SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Overpowering right-handed pitcher known as “Big Red” who compiled a 14-0 record to lead OV to its first softball title in 14 years … Tossed 101 innings with an earned-run average of 0.55, striking out 139 while allowing only 34 hits … Was clocked at 61 mph in the championship game … Showed pinpoint control, walking only seven batters all season … Was particularly devastating when her changeup was working, such as in her two no-hitters and two shutouts.
Candon’s Quotes: “It’s all natural. It really, really is … What she brought is her natural ability … And location, location, location … She throws with authority … She’s got very quick hands and very soft hands … I’ve seen balls hit at her very hard and she’s just gloved (them) … She throws a nasty changeup … She is a consummate team player. She’s is working for everyone and wants everyone to do well.”
MALLORY JAMES, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Do-it-all senior shortstop who excelled at the plate and in the field … Hit .436 against Metro pitching with three doubles and seven triples, and struck out just twice in 64 plate appearances … Drove in 17 runs (tied for the local high), scored 16 runs and stole 14 bases … Showed great range, sure hands and a strong arm in the field and made just three errors.
Eugair’s Quotes: “She’s just so fluid in everything she does … Mallory just hit the ball very well, and she’s smart on the bases, too. She makes things happen on the bases … She makes every person on the field work. The second you’re not watching her, she’s gone … She’s just a very smart softball player, and a very talented one, and she’s a good kid.”
JULIA WILKINSON, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Four-year starter at catcher for the Eagles who had an outstanding season and emerged as a team leader … Batted .404 in the Metro with an on-base percentage of .476 and led Mount Abe with 21 runs … Drove in nine runs, hit three doubles and two triples and stole five bases … Called pitches for three hurlers, and also blocked balls and threw well … Chosen captain in a unanimous vote.
Bell’s Quotes: “She was the leader of the team right from the beginning … She was more solid behind the plate this year than ever before … This kid worked as hard this year as she has ever worked … She was in charge out there … She was always solid in the batter’s box … She’s about as close to a complete player as you could ask for.”
SAM HANSEN, OVUHS SENIOR. Notes: Team leader, four-year starter at second base and at leadoff in the batting order … Sure-handed, clutch defender who was usually the busiest player on the field behind Sanderson — in the final she figured in nine outs — and made just two errors in 19 games … Batted .339 with an OBP of .426 … Scored 24 runs, drove in 11, and stole 15 bases.
Candon’s Quotes: “If the ball wasn’t in the catcher’s mitt for a strikeout, I wanted it in her glove … I’ve had her for four years, and even when she came up as a freshman, she put up unbelievable numbers … She’s been real steady at the leadoff position, and real steady on defense … The energy she brings to a team just ignites everything … She leads on the field, off the field, in the classroom.”
MARGY KERSCHNER, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Sweet-swinging lefty hitter and team leader who ripped Capital Division pitching for a local high average of .489 and an OBP of .603 … Nine of her 22 hits went for extra bases … Scored 17 runs to pace VUHS … Converted from infield to catcher this year and quickly adapted, doing especially well covering bunts, blocking balls and snaring foul pops.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “Obviously, she’s the backbone of our team … She’s the thing a coach is looking for in a player. She comes prepared to play … She approaches the game with great intensity … She has great overall skills as a ballplayer … She really is, I would say, the player that sets the tone for the rest of the team … She’s a complete player.”
MICHAELA HARRINGTON, OVUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Combined blazing speed with plenty of pop … Scored a local high of 25 runs and tied for the lead with 17 RBIs … Batted a loud .267 with a double, three triples and three homers … Reached base at a .352 clip and was nearly impossible to stop once there, stealing a local best of 19 bags … Used her wheels and accurate arm well in right field and threw out three runners at first base.
Candon’s Quotes: “Early on, she swung a heavy stick … She’s got speed to burn … She has become so much stronger, and I think more confident in myself … She’s just a natural out there … She has a confident arm … When she got up with Sam on first and she got the bunt down, it wasn’t a given that we had an out at first.”
SHANNA GEBO, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Versatile athlete who excelled defensively in center field, produced in the heart of the Eagle order, and compiled a 5-3 pitching record in 56 innings on the mound, striking out 42 … Batted .296 vs. Metro pitching and showed patience at the plate, drawing 12 walks for an OBP of .424 and scoring 17 runs … Swatted six doubles and drove in 10 runs.
Bell’s Quotes: “She’s a solid player … She fields her position really well. There’s not a fly ball hit that she doesn’t think she can catch … She’s smart. She knows where the ball needs to go … She knows the strike zone really well … She moves the runners along, knows the situations … She’s just a solid hitter, comfortable at the plate.”
VICKY DAVIO, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Terrific, quick defensive second baseman who also contributed offensively, especially on the base paths … Led MUHS with 30 assists and added 27 putouts, many by racing into the outfield for fly balls … Made just two errors … Batted .261 and compiled a .415 OBP, stole eight bases and scored 10 runs … Made a great, run-saving catch in 2-1 first-round playoff win, and stole home in 2-0 quarterfinal win at BFA.
Eugair’s Quotes: “She is fun to watch … She covers a lot of ground. She’s very, very fast, and she knows how to use it to her advantage … Sometimes I don’t know how she does it, but she does it … Her speed is definitely the factor there (offensively), and she’s fearless, too.”
KRISTY PINKHAM, OVUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Quick, athletic third baseman who made an impact in the field and at the plate … Did well taking the bunt away from opponents, picking up 17 assists, mostly on bunt attempts … Fine baserunner who batted .346, scored 19 runs and stole six bases.
Candon’s Quotes: “She’s just an unbelievable athlete … She’s got a lot of talent that’s yet to be tapped … Regardless of the sport that she’s played, she’s got that aggressive ‘You’ve got to come out and beat me, because I’m not going to beat myself’ (attitude) … She’s just up for any challenge a coach will throw at her.”
MATTEA BAGLEY, MUHS FRESHMAN. Notes: Wasted no time making her presence felt in the Metro by batting .422 with an OBP of .456 and a team-high 20 runs out of the lead-off slot … Stole a team-high 15 bases, and knocked five doubles and a triple … Defended behind the plate like a veteran, and used her quickness to run down bunts and pop-ups.
Eugair’s Quotes: “It’s so crazy she’s only a freshman … She’s got the speed that makes things happen on the bases … She’s got a pretty broad range behind the plate … She lays out. She’s diving all over the place … She can dig out a single, and she can also hit the long ball. She hits with power … She makes things happen.”