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VUHS duo tops Independent all-star team

ADDISON COUNTY — The Vergennes Union High School softball team made the most headlines among the local squads this spring, and the Commodores are well represented on the 2013 Addison Independent Softball All-Star team — including the Independent Co-Players of the Year, Cat Chaput and Taylor Paquette.
Coach Mike Sullivan’s Commodores compiled a 15-5 record that included 12 regular-season wins in the tough Metro Conference and then three playoff victories en route to a competitive setback in the Division-II final. Two juniors and a sophomore join Chaput and Paquette on the Independent squad.
Of course, the Otter Valley softball team also made a major headline this spring: The Otters won Coach Pattie Candon’s 300th career game. They also finished strong with three straight victories to end the regular season over .500 and then win a playoff game; OV was 10-8 overall. Two Otter juniors earned spots on the Independent team.
First-year Coach Kelly Trayah’s Mount Abraham squad had a respectable season. An Eagle outfit without a senior on its roster won seven Metro games and cruised to a first-round playoff victory before throwing a quarterfinal scare into eventual D-II champion BFA-Fairfax. Two Eagle juniors merited berths on the Independent squad.
Another first-year coach, Middlebury’s Polly Rheaume, faced a rebuilding season after heavy graduation losses. The Tigers played hard while winning three times. Young talent and a move to D-II next spring offer hope for the future. A consistent senior outfielder and leader is recognized here.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches to create an all-star team that shows more promise for area softball: Only two graduated this spring. Congratulations to the following:
CAT CHAPUT, VUHS SENIOR, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Fine defensive catcher and team leader who led all local players with 31 RBIs, many at key times … Excelled at blocking balls in the dirt, snagging foul balls and calling pitches for the Commodores’ trio of hurlers … Batted .465 with an on-base percentage over .500 … Stroked two homers and 15 of her 33 hits went for extra bases.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “Cat is our captain and leader on the field … Her catching skills have developed tremendously over the last three years due to an extreme desire to make us a better team … She is maybe the best hitter that I have coached at Vergennes to this point … Her ability to get clutch hits and drive in runs was a huge part of our success this year … Cat is just an awesome competitor and a great softball player and young person who will be greatly missed.”
TAYLOR PAQUETTE, VUHS JUNIOR, CO-PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Helped VUHS on the mound, in the field at shortstop and at the plate … Disciplined hitter who batted .409 with a team-high on-base percentage of .566 and 13 extra-base hits … Scored 24 runs and drove in 20 … Because of her good hands and strong arm at SS, Sullivan preferred to pitch others against some more challenging opponents, and she mowed down hitters, going 7-0 with an earned-run average of about 0.05, striking out 72 in 45.2 innings.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “Taylor had a fantastic season for us this year … She may not have had the toughest pitching assignments, but her dominance continued in her one playoff appearance … She is probably the most unflappable player on our team, an extreme competitor who has a great sense for the game … She, like Cat, is someone that you could build your team around. She has a tremendous work ethic and desire to improve every part of her game.”
MELANIE ROTAX, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR: Notes: Slugging outfielder with a strong, compact swing who led all local players with five homers and five triples … Finished with a .511 average, reached base at a local-best .600 clip, drove in 22 runs, scored 15 times, and added a double … Solid centerfielder who took good routes to the ball.
Trayah’s Quotes: “She was the heart of our offense … She put the ball in play a lot … She was pretty vocal out there in the outfield. She was definitely a leader in the outfield … She’s very strong … She is so powerful through the strike zone. She has very good bat speed … She’s another good kid. She just loves to play ball.”
MEGHAN LIVINGSTON, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR: Notes: Speedy leadoff hitter who batted .518 and reached base at a .567 rate … Many of her 36 hits were bunts, which were successful because she was timed at 2.4 seconds to first base out of the batters’ box … Scored 19 runs, drove in 12, and stole a local best 18 bases … Showed fine range, sure hands and an accurate arm at shortstop, with a fielding percentage of .935.
Trayah’s Quotes: “She’s just so fast … She is probably one of the best athletes I’ve seen … She’s got great fielding skills … She leads by example. The kids see her giving 110 percent every day, and she doesn’t complain about anything or anybody … She’s always looking to improve … You don’t realize until you coach her how good a kid she is.”
TAYLOR AINES, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Batted a loud .433 from the No. 3 spot in the OV order, with seven doubles and three homers, including a walk-off three-run shot in the Otters’ extra-inning win over D-I Mt. Anthony … Finished with 21 RBIs and scored 22 runs, both team highs … Pitched every inning of every game, and finished strong after struggling with control issues in the midseason … Hard thrower who struck out 112 batters and allowed just 65 hits in 116 innings.
Candon’s Quotes: “She swings a powerful bat … She hits rockets … Teams stared planting their players two feet in front of the fence … When that girl is on (pitching), there’s just nothing that will get in her way. She can take control of a game in that circle … She’s definitely a team leader out there … She tries to support her teammates.”
EMILEE TRUDO, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Contributed on the mound, with the bat and in the field at multiple positions … Typical drew the toughest pitching jobs, and her 4-4 pitching mark included losses to D-I finalist Missisquoi, D-II champion Fairfax, and D-I’s No. 2 and 7 seeds … Tossed a two-hit shutout vs. Lyndon in Commodores’ semifinal victory … In the field played first, second and third base well … At bat in the No. 2 hole, hit .404 with a .494 OBP, scored a local-best 27 runs and drove in 15.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “Emilee was another versatile player … She made tremendous strides in her offensive output this year … She also possesses a great glove and arm. I am comfortable at putting her at any position in the infield knowing that she will do a great job … She is an awesome competitor with great poise and composure and gives our team a great chance to win any time she is on the mound.”
DANI BROWN, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Pitched, hit and played first base well for the Commodores this spring … On the mound compiled a 4-1 record, with the only loss vs. undefeated Essex and a win vs. BFA-St. Albans … Batted .371 with thump, stroking two homers, driving in 22 runs and scoring 21 while reaching base at a .494 rate.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “Dani had a great season this year both on the mound and at the plate … She has a true passion for the game … She has a vaunted and much-feared swing that makes opposing coaches worry … Dani did a great job playing first when not pitching.”
K.C. AMBROSE, VUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Yet another multi-position Commodore who fielded well wherever she played … Spent most of her time at second base or shortstop, but also filled in behind the plate and in the outfield … Became an effective, patient leadoff hitter, batting .361 with an OBP of .465 … Scored 26 runs and drove in 21.
Sullivan’s Quotes: “She was extremely versatile and made great plays at each position … I have no hesitation putting her anywhere on the field … She never complained about where I put her and was always ready to compete and very coachable … She’s just a great kid who I look forward to having for a couple more years.”
BRITTANY BUSHEY, OV JUNIOR.Notes: Speedy, surehanded third baseman with a strong throwing arm … Used her quickness to stop hard ground balls and to make it difficult for batters to lay down bunts successfully … Contributed offensively with a .362 batting average and a .479 on-base percentage … Scored 18 runs and drove in 10 from the leadoff spot in the OV order.
Candon’s Quotes: “She grew into the position of being a leadoff hitter … She developed an eye at the plate … She’s just lightning … I don’t think I have seen a better fielding third baseman … When she sees the ball down she’s got that first step … Not many balls get by her … She’s just a bundle of energy and she’s upbeat.”
ERIN CONNOR, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Fine defensive centerfielder and team leader who also logged some time at first base for MUHS … Batted .395 with a pair of doubles and reached base at a .465 clip … Scored seven times and drove in seven runs for a rebuilding team that scored 65 runs in all.
Rheaume’s Quotes: “She was definitely a team leader. She was very strong at her position, and as a captain did a fantastic job … When she was on the field she was always talking, telling people what to do and where to go, in a good way … She was there to back up everybody … I probably could have put here elsewhere and she would have done a good job, but she was my key outfielder I could count on.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.c

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