Hornets oust Tiger softball

MIDDLEBURY — The No. 5 Middlebury Union High School softball team coasted to a first-round win in the Division I playoffs on this past Thursday, but lost at defending champion and No. 4 seed Essex on Friday, 2-1, in a nine-inning quarterfinal.
The Tigers finished another strong season at 13-5, while the Hornets improved to 14-4.
On Friday the Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on back-to-back doubles by seniors Payton Buxton and Darcy Staats. Through the top of the fourth the Tigers had five hits off winning pitcher Caitlin Toth, including a double and a single by Bridget Audet and another hit by Buxton. But Toth retired the next 15 batters even though she struck out just three in nine innings, and the Hornets rallied to win.
In the fourth Sarah Knickerbocker drilled a solo homer to tie the game, and the Hornets broke through for the winning run in the ninth after Buxton (11 strikeouts, five hits allowed) had retired 13 straight batters. Jamie Morin worked a 10-pitch walk, the Hornets bunted her to second, and Molly Bruyns drove a hit to left center to end the ballgame and the Tigers’ season.
On Thursday, the Tigers thumped No. 12 U-32, 19-4, after scoring 14 runs in the third inning. Gwen Stafford (three hits), Audet (triple, single), Lily Smith (double, single) and Ally Larocque and Taylor Sylvester (two hits apiece) led the attack. Buxton tossed three perfect innings to earn the win, striking out six.  

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