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Eagle softball stems Tide, to get high seed

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School softball team on Tuesday outlasted visiting Spaulding and three 30-minute lightning delays to earn a 9-4 win that locked down a top-four Division II seed for the Eagles.
On Tuesday the Eagles also learned that they would earn a forfeit win over North Country, which means the Eagles will carry a 12-3 record and 61 points into their season finale on Thursday, a home game with D-I powerhouse BFA-St. Albans.
Those 61 points are more than the fifth- and sixth-place teams, Otter Valley (10-4) and Hartford (9-5), can earn by winning their final two games. OV might have had a shot, but lost at Fair Haven on Tuesday. Lyndon (11-1), defending champion BFA-Fairfax (13-0), Vergennes (11-2) and the Eagles will be the top four seeds in some order.
Mount Abe took charge of Tuesday’s game with a seven-run third inning off losing pitcher Brooke Benoit. She walked right fielder Casey Briggs to lead off the inning, and winning pitcher Rachael McCormick tripled home pinch-runner Tiffany Tracey.
McCormick scored on Meghan Livingston’s bunt single, and after Sam Reiss reached on a fielder’s choice Madi Wood walked. Melanie Rotax also reached on a fielder’s choice, and she and Wood advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a Kelsey Haskins single. Ashley Boise and Dani Forand singled to load the bases, and Briggs singled home two runs. Forand then scored on an error to cap the rally.
After the second delay (the first delayed the start of the game), McCormick walked a batter and saw two runs score on uncharacteristic infield errors, and it was 7-2 after the Spaulding fourth.  
The Eagles got those runs right back in their fourth. Reiss reached on an infield hit, and walks to Wood and a Rotax RBI single produced the first run. Haskins reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on Forand’s two-out single.
McCormick struggled with her control in the fifth, walking the first batter and hitting the next two. One run scored when Zea Macris lined a one-hop shot to Tracey in right, but Tracey nailed her at first with a strong throw. With two out, an infield hit scored another run, but Forand, the catcher, made a nice play on a foul pop to end the threat.
McCormick also walked two in the sixth, which was interrupted by the final delay.
“That’s tough for both pitchers to pitch, stop for half an hour, pitch again,” said Eagle coach Kelly Trayah.
McCormick also committed a throwing error to load the bases, but running catches by Rotax in center and Reiss at second base ended the threat. In all, McCormick allowed four runs, two earned, on three hits and four walks while striking out three.
The Tide picked up one run off reliever Sam Forand in the seventh. Forand hit the leadoff batter and tossed a wild pitch before allowing an RBI single to Jaime Marsh. But an alert play by Dani Forand on a softly hit, spinning ball down the first base line ended the game.
The Eagles’ multiple hitters were Reiss, with three singles; Rotax, who singled, tripled and drove in a run; Boise, who singled, tripled and drove in two; and Dani Forand, who singled twice and drove in a run.
Trayah believes Mount Abe has all the elements to make a strong playoff run, with McCormick on the mound a key.
 “We’ve got good hitting, and we’ve got enough speed,” Trayah said. “I think Rachael will do OK as a freshman. If she keeps her head, keeps her poise, I think we’ll do well. I’m not worried about our hitting, and our defense is usually solid.”
 Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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