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Commodore softball coasts past Green Knights, 11-4

VERGENNES – The Vergennes Union High School softball team moved back over .500 on Saturday by easing past visiting Rice, 11-4.
It might not have been the best recent effort for VUHS, which has gone 5-1 since a 1-4 start, but the 6-5 Commodores took care of business against the winless Green Knights.
Senior tri-captain Tamara Aunchman — who drove in two runs, scored twice and earned a save with three hitless innings — admitted the Division II Commodores might have taken 0-11 Rice a lightly, especially after playing D-I title contender BFA-St. Albans well in a 4-1 loss two days before.
But Aunchman also pointed out the Commodores responded when Rice rallied to make it 5-4 in the third. 
“We were a little lethargic this morning,” Aunchman said. “But we came right back.”
The Commodores’ slow start this spring came with several players off on school trips. With a full squad on hand they have been more successful, including defeating rival Mount Abraham, which has only lost to them and two top D-I teams, unbeaten Essex and 9-2 Colchester.
“Now that we have our core team we’re feeding off each other more and playing more like a team,” Aunchman said. “I think that was a big part of it.”
Their 8-2 win over the Eagles was also their first win over a quality team and gave the Commodores a shot in the arm.
“I think that was a huge win for us, just knowing we could beat good competition,” Aunchman said.
First-year coach Mike Martin agreed being able to field a full team made a huge difference, and another factor he cited in the VUHS surge has been strong defense.
“Defensively, it’s really come together, and getting all the players back was the biggest thing,” Martin said.
Although senior Megan Martin picked up the win vs. Rice with four innings of four-hit ball in which she struck out seven and walked one, Aunchman is the No. 1 hurler and allowed just one earned run vs. St. Albans on Thursday.
“If we can play good defense we can be in any game with T (Aunchman) pitching,” Martin said. “We’ve got good things going on.”
In Saturday’s game, Rice took a 1-0 lead and then pulled within 5-4 in the third after the Commodores had gone ahead.
Rice scored in the first on a single by Shannon Nadeau, a passed ball, and an RBI hit by Lindsay Rockwood. A dropped fly ball put runners on second and third with two out, but senior right fielder Nikki Salley’s running backhanded catch prevented further damage.
The Commodores scored four times in the bottom of the inning on four hits and four walks issued by losing pitcher Bi Krech, a Monkton resident. Felicia Armell, Aunchman, Hannah Philbrook and Jaymee Fulcher drew the walks, and Martin, Salley, Nicole Stearns and Taylor Bresnick poked hits.
Salley single plated Aunchman and Martin, Becca Maloy drove Salley home with a groundout, and Stearns scored on a wild pitch. VUHS made it 5-1 in the second inning, when Martin was hit by a pitch, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when Aunchman ripped a single.
Rice made it 5-4 with three unearned runs in the third. Nadeau and Rockwood singled, and with two out Rachel Chicoine lined a shot to center that the usually reliable Fulcher misplayed, allowing the runners to score and Chicoine to reach third. Allie Clark then singled in Chicoine with the last Rice hit. 
Rice made four errors in the fourth, allowing Armell, Aunchman and Salley to score and make it 8-4. Maloy and Aunchman picked up an RBIs in the rally with a sacrifice fly and a grounder, respectively.
Aunchman then came on to mow down the Green Knights for three innings, striking out three and walking none. The Commodores added three runs in the sixth. Maloy reached on an error and scored on two more miscues, and then Philbrook walked and Fulcher bunted her way on before Armell doubled them in.
The Commodores will face stiffer challenges ahead, but believe they can answer them.
 “There are going to be tough games,” Aunchman said. “But I think we’re going to be confident knowing if we play well and play to our potential we’ll be fine.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.

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