Sophomore heads Independent all-star team

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 protected].

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