Eagle hurler, slugger tops Addison Independent softball all-star squad

ADDISON COUNTY — A year ago the Mount Abraham Union High School softball team won the program’s first-ever state championship.
This year Coach Don McCormick’s talent-laden Eagles came back for more, winning a second-straight Division II title with a program-best 18-2 record.
Many Eagles played major roles in that accomplishment, but none more than a senior pitcher who won 12 of those games and batted better than .500 out of the cleanup spot in the batting order: Audrey Shahan, the 2018 Addison Independent Softball Player of the Year.
Mount Abe was a powerhouse, and five Eagles join Shahan on the 2018 Addison Independent Softball All-Star Team — and even then there were tough omissions.
Coach Polly Rheaume’s Middlebury team finished 8-10, a record that included several close losses against what was the toughest local schedule and an exciting first-round road D-I playoff win. Three Tigers are honored here.
Coach Pattie Candon’s last of 33 seasons coaching Otter Valley softball saw a slow start, a strong finish and an overall 8-10 mark that also included a first-round playoff victory. A three-year senior standout makes her third appearance on the Independent team.
Graduation and a key injury to the team’s only veteran pitcher put Coach Mike Martin’s young Vergennes squad on the ropes this spring, and the Commodores did not break into the win column despite the best efforts of a senior shortstop who makes her Independent squad debut.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
AUDREY SHAHAN, MOUNT ABE SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Did it all for the Eagles this season, including four playoff victories on the mound as part of her 12-2 record … Compiled an earned-run average of 2.90 while striking out 69, often with a tricky changeup that improved late in the season, in 87 innings … At the plate batted .508 with five doubles, two triples and 27 RBIs … In four postseason games her ERA dropped to 1.27 and she struck out 27 and walked three in 23 innings, while her batting average rose to .692 and she drove in nine runs.
McCormick’s Quotes: “She stepped up and more than exceeded my expectations for her, which were high from day one … Audrey has worked so hard for our program over the past four years she deserves to have had the outstanding season … Audrey has made me a better coach and person in my many years of coaching her … Audrey is a winner and one of my all-time favorite coaching memories will be of the honor I took in asking her to sing the national anthem for two years in a row (at the D-II final). She nailed it both times. Our entire community had so much pride in that.”
JENNA MCARDLE, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Speedy, smart center fielder with great range and a strong arm … Led all local players by batting .583 and scoring 36 runs … Reached base at a .631 clip, hit three doubles, three triples and three homers while striking out just three times in 73 plate appearances … Excellent baserunner who stole 11 bases in as many attempts.
McCormick’s Quotes: “Jenna was one of our tri captains and follow-me-type leaders … She’s an intelligent athlete who played highlight-reel-type defense for us all season … She’s always in the right place when backing up plays, never misses cutoffs, yet had the arm to throw out those who tested her … On offense Jenna gave us all the tools — high average, power, could bunt when needed, speed on the base paths.”
GABBY POALINO, OV SENIOR. Notes:  Fine fielding, strong-armed third baseman who makes her third appearance on the Independent team after batting .500 and compiling a local-best on-base percentage of .662 … Led OV by scoring 32 runs … Drove in 12 runs, stole 22 bases, and poked six doubles, a triple and two homers, all while routinely being pitched around — she was walked 22 times, once with the bases loaded … Team leader who helped OV bounce back from its slow start.
Candon’s Quotes: “She’s so consistent and knew what she was going to do before the pitch … She was just very, very solid … She just had that talent … They didn’t want to pitch to her … She’s played so much ball in the offseason she just understood the game. She knew what to do. The mechanics were solid … She was a leader, talking to the kids … She’s your coach’s player.”
GWEN STAFFORD, MUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Centerfielder who covers more ground than Lake Dunmore, throws well, and made the catch of the year by robbing Eagle Cami Masse of a homer while tumbling over the fence and once doubled a runner off first after a sliding grab … Led off for MUHS, batted .508 with a .589 on-base percentage, scored 33 runs and drove in 19, and her bunch of extra-base hits included an inside-the park homer … Compiled a 3-2 pitching record and tossed a no-hitter vs. Milton.
Rheaume’s Quotes: “She always seemed to get on … She’s a hard worker on and off the field, always listening … She’s just a good all-around kid. You’d want 10 of them on your team if you could … She’s got good speed … She’s always thinking … She’s always trying to do her best. When she was throwing the Milton game she came off and said, ‘I can’t hit my spots.’ And I said, ‘What are you talking about? You’ve got a no-hitter going?’ She’s always wanting perfection.”
KATELYNN OUELLETTE, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Four-year starter at shortstop with sure hands and an accurate throwing arm with a quick release … Made just two errors in 79 chances … A fixture in the leadoff spot for the Eagles for years who this spring batted .500 with a .539 on-base percentage and plenty of pop, drilling 10 doubles, six triples and a homer … Scored 29 runs, drove in 17, and stole 11 bases in 12 attempts … Captain who amassed 115 career hits. 
McCormick’s Quotes: “Katelynn has worked hard and has proven that big things come in small packages … She is one of the hardest working players I have ever coached on and off the field … Katelynn is one of the best bunters, lefty slappers and overall contact hitters I have ever coached. She can shoot a looping line drive to right or pull a 210-foot homer to left … During the playoffs she takes her game up another level.”
EMILY ALDRICH, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Solid defender at second base who excelled in all phases of the game, made just four errors this spring, and does the little things well … Batted .528 with an on-base percentage of .557 … Knocked out five doubles and two triples, drove in 23 runs, scored 28 runs, struck out just twice in 79 plate appearances, and stole 14 bases in 14 attempts … The third Eagle captain.
McCormick’s Quotes: “She’s a student of the game. It’s like having another coach on the field when she is out there … She’s a true leader on our team, the first to drag out equipment and just get the job done … She has a solid line drive swing with pop, and could bunt … Emily always had quality at-bats …  Emily always picks up the little details that others may have overlooked … She loves our sport and each game is still fun to her.”
BROOKE PERLEE, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: After missing the 2017 title run with an injury returned to anchor the Eagles behind the plate this spring … Strong-armed catcher who threw out 11 of 13 runners trying to steal bases and had a fielding percentage of .990 … Batted .524 with a .563 on-base percentage and power, with seven doubles, five triples and two homers … Drove in 28 runs and scored 22, and went 11-for-11 stealing bases.   
McCormick’s Quotes: “In my opinion Brooke was the top catcher defensively, athletically and offensively in the state … Reflexes allowed Brooke to block a ball in the dirt and throw down to second to pick off would-be base stealers … Brooke’s arm strength was intimidating to most teams and they chose not to run … Brooke made our pitchers better with her ability to frame pitches and work with our coaches on calling games … She’s an outstanding baserunner, bunter and line-drive hitter.”
ABIGAIL LAROCK, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Talented catcher who had a strong season at the plate for the Tigers, mostly out of the No. 3 spot in the batting order, leading the team with 29 RBIs …  Batted .489 with extra-base power, reached base at a .560 clip, scored 21 runs and poked two key hits in the Tigers’ playoff win … Captain as a junior who made just four errors while spending most of her season behind the plate, played some outfield, and also went 2-4 on the mound.
Rheaume’s Quotes: “When she was behind the plate not too many balls went by … I had her call most of the games … She’s always working … They’re very confident when she’s behind the plate … To me, Abby is one of the No. 1 catchers in the state. Not too many tried running on her … She had a big game against Lyndon (in the playoffs).”
RUBY BALL, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Versatile player who helped the Eagles in the field, at the plate and on the mound, where she compiled a 6-0 record, including a key late-season comeback win at MUHS in relief, and an ERA of 1.14 while striking out 47 in 36.2 innings … batted .415 with a .486 on base percentage, three doubles, three triples and a homer … Drove in 20 runs, scored 27 and stole five bases … Played well at third base and outfield.
McCormick’s Quotes: “Ruby is one of the best all-around players on our team. I can use her in eight of the nine positions, and with two practices she could be a catcher … Everything I ever ask her to do she takes as a personal challenge to do it better than I asked for … She has the ability to track down balls in the outfield or cut off ground balls in the infield … Ruby will be a force in the circle next season.”
CARLY LAROCQUE, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Solid all-around player who took a step forward this spring to contribute offensively and defensively for the Tigers … At the plate hit mostly out of the No. 2 spot and batted .379 with a .410 on-base percentage … Knocked in 24 runs and scored 20 … Made only five errors at second base while showing good range and an accurate arm.
Rheaume’s Quotes: “She did great, and she’s got a good attitude, too … She works really hard, and she improved a lot this year … She came up with some catches, those little bloopers behind first base, that some wouldn’t have gotten … Her confidence in herself improved this year, so her batting average went up, and her fielding was good … Whenever we needed a key hit, she did it.”
MEGAN TARTE, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Batted .344 with an on-based percentage of .475 … Because VUHS played so many five-inning games was limited to 40 plate appearances, drawing eight walks and drilling 11 hits, six for extra bases — four doubles, a triple and her first career homer … Played sound, consistent defense at shortstop and provided leadership to the young Commodores.
Martin’s Quotes: “She was definitely the glue that held us together out there, for sure … She was involved in directing them where to go with the ball. She was our leader on the field … She played great at shortstop … When it started going sideways she was there to keep them in check … We would have been even more hurting without her leading the way.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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