Eagle softball blanks Cosmos

BRISTOL — The top-seeded Mount Abraham Union High School softball team on Saturday used sharp pitching, strong defense and timely hitting to blank visiting No. 8 Springfield, 8-0, in a Division II quarterfinal.
The 12-5 Eagles will next host No. 4 Fair Haven (12-5) and ace hurler Olivia Bowen, who struck out 15 in shutting out No. 5 Fairfax on Saturday, in a semifinal scheduled for Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. The D-II final will be played in Poultney, possibly on Friday or Saturday afternoon. No. 3 Lyndon and No. 2 Randolph will meet in the other semi. Mount Abe did not play any of those three teams this spring.
The Eagles got good work from their own No. 1 hurler, senior Rachael McCormick, vs. the 9-9 Cosmos. McCormick carried a no-hitter into the sixth and finished with a two-hitter, striking out six and walking two.
The only Cosmo threats came in the sixth and seventh. In the sixth, Ashley Chamberlin singled cleanly to right center with one out to break up the no-hitter, and leadoff hitter Lina Geyer followed with a walk. Hailey Robtoy then lined the ball right at second baseman Emily Aldrich, who caught the ball and doubled Geyer off first to end the rally.
In the seventh, Julianna Albero-Levin reached on a two-out error, the only Eagle miscue of the day, and Madee Stagner followed with the Cosmos’ second hit. But McCormick struck out the final hitter to wrap up the shutout.
Along the way Jenna McArdle made two running catches in center field, shortstop Katelynn Ouellette racked up two putouts and three assists, and third baseman Erika Tracey made a nice play going to her left.
“It really was a team effort. We made some really good defensive plays. There were a couple balls hit pretty deep, and Jenna went and got them in centerfield,” Mount Abe Coach Don McCormick said. “That was probably one of our best defensive games this year.”
As for his pitcher, McCormick said she mixed her pitches well, including an effective changeup, and threw strikes.
“She was strong. She has a couple injuries she’s been battling, and I’m proud of her as her dad and her coach,” he said.
The Eagles did not mash the ball, possibly because Springfield pitcher Hannah Crosby was so wild it was difficult to get in a rhythm — she walked 10. The Cosmos also struggled in the field, with five errors.
The Eagles struck for three in the first. After a walk and an error, left fielder Ruby Ball lined a two-out triple to right to score Aldrich and McArdle. Ball then trotted home when the Cosmos dropped a Tracey pop-up.
“That early triple was huge. It got us going,” McCormick said.
Ouellette contributed a clutch two-out hit in the third to make it 5-0. Ball, Tracey and Genysis Berube walked with none out to lead the bases. Crosby bore down to get the next two hitters, but Ouellette dropped a single into center field to score Ball and Tracey.
“That definitely was a big hit,” McCormick said.
The Cosmos gave the Eagles a run in the fourth. McCormick reached on an error, and McArdle hit a ground ball to second base. The fielder tried to tag the speedy McCormick, but missed, and both runners were safe on the fielder’s choice. They moved up on Ball’s grounder to second base, and Tracey drove in McCormick with another grounder to second to make it 6-0.
Another error helped the Eagles add their final two runs in the sixth. McArdle led off with a ground ball to short, and the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. McArdle stole second and scored on Tracey’s booming double to center. Berube then singled through the right side to plate pinchrunner Jessalyn Murray and cap the scoring.
As for Tuesday’s game, McCormick said he had been expecting his team to face Fair Haven — and Bowen — at some point on the road to the title. 
“We see her a lot in the summer, a lot of these kids. I feel confident we hit that kind of pitching,” McCormick said. “We’ll compete with them, for sure.”

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