Late Viking rally denies Eagle softball a D-II title
POULTNEY — It looked promising for Mount Abraham Union High School’s first-ever softball title after five innings on Friday evening on the Poultney Recreational Center field.
The top-seeded Eagles led the No. 2 Vikings, 3-0, and junior pitcher Rachael McCormick had retired 15 of the past 16 batters, with help from some terrific defense.
But things started to go wrong. When two Eagles miscommunicated on Brianna Doty’s foul pop and it dropped harmlessly with one out in the top of the sixth, Doty followed with a line single that was the Vikings’ first hit since the first inning.
Two batters later, it was 3-3: The Nos. 3 and 4 hitters in the Lyndon lineup, Zea Macris and Gracie Ducker, deposited balls over the left-field fence.
The Vikings (17-2) then scored an unearned run in the top of the seventh. After the first two batters reached on errors, the second one a tough play on a popped up bunt that McCormick dove for but could not control, Doty lined a two-out single for the winning run in a 4-3 victory.
Three of the six hits McCormick allowed came in the sixth. She had surrendered only one run in 18 previous playoff innings, and struck out five and walked just one on Friday. She also worked out of a first-inning jam after allowing singles to the first two batters.
“One inning,” said Eagle Coach Kelly Trayah. “Two good batters got it out of here. Hats off to Rachael … She battled the whole time.”
Meanwhile, the Eagles reached winning pitcher Riley Boivin for 11 hits, two each by senior third baseman Dani Forand, senior first baseman Macey Ross and sophomore second baseman Emily Aldrich. Boivin struck out just one, while walking none and hitting one batter.
But Mount Abe also had five baserunners thrown out, two at home plate, one at third base to end an inning, and two trying to steal second off strong-armed Viking catcher Bryana Williams.
“We were trying to be aggressive on the bags again, and if one of those scores, it’s a different ballgame,” Trayah said. “We had a couple miscues on the bases, too, where we didn’t want to advance and we did. But maybe some timely hits (would have helped). We’ve done that throughout the playoffs, and we missed a couple tonight. But hats off to Lyndon. They had that one big inning with the big bats, and that’s what it came down to.”
Mount Abe took a 1-0 lead in the second. Forand reached on an error and came around to score on a Ross single and an outfield error. Sophomore center fielder Jenna McArdle also singled, but the threat fizzled when Boivin made a nice catch of sophomore right fielder Audrey Shahan’s looper and tried to double McArdle off first, and Ross was thrown out at home trying to score on the throw.
The Eagles struck again in the fifth, when senior left fielder Stacie Sabourin led off with a single, and with one out Boivin hit sophomore catcher Brooke Perlee with a pitch. A McCormick grounder forced Sabourin at third, but Aldrich followed with a double off the diving third-baseman’s glove to score both runners. Forand then singled, but Aldrich was nailed at the plate trying to score.
On defense, both Forand and McCormick made over-the-shoulder catches of pop-ups, and McCardle raced in to make a sensational diving catch in the fifth inning as the Eagles looked to be in control before the Vikings’ sixth and seventh innings.
The Eagles got two baserunners on in the seventh. Perlee singled with one out, but was called out at second trying to steal on a close play that sparked some discussion. McCormick then reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but Boivin retired the next batter on a soft liner to end the threat.
The Eagles will graduate five seniors: Ross, Forand; Sabourin and Tabby Vincent, who share left field; and Brittany Callaert, who on Friday served as a pinch-runner.
Trayah said they all contributed to what was arguably the Eagle softball program’s finest season.
“It was an amazing season,” Trayah said. “Just having them come together, getting the one seed, getting this far, it was really nice for the girls, for the seniors that have worked hard.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].
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