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Ruby Ball is the Addy Indy Softball Player of the Year

ADDISON COUNTY — It was another spring and another Division II title for the Mount Abraham Union High School softball team, the program’s third straight.
Unsurprisingly Coach Don McCormick’s 15-4 Eagles are well represented on the 2019 Addison Independent Softball All-Star Team. A contingent of five Eagle Independent all-stars is led by senior pitcher and dangerous hitter Ruby Ball, the 2019 Independent Softball Player of the Year.
Co-Coaches Kelly Trayah and Toni Poalino led Otter Valley to a 15-5 season that included a regular-season victory over Mount Abe and three dramatic playoff wins before the Eagles turned the tables on OV in the D-II final. Two Otters made the Independent squad, and several made Honorable Mention.
Coach Polly Rheaume’s Middlebury group won five games, a misleading total: The Tigers lost six games by three runs or fewer. Six setbacks came to championship finalists, and another to D-I’s top seed. Three Tigers are honored here.
First-year Coach Travis Scribner’s young Vergennes squad became increasingly competitive as the season wore on, winning twice in the late going and then nearly knocking OV out of the D-II playoffs. A Commodore freshman is recognized on the Independent team.
Selections were made based on observation (as much as possible with the spring’s many postponements), statistics and consultation with the coaches. Honorable Mention selections were added this season due to the teams’ depth. Congratulations to the following:
RUBY BALL, MOUNT ABE SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Compiled a 14-4 pitching record with an ERA of 2.48 … Hard thrower who effectively changed speeds to strike out 153 and allow just 69 hits in 101.2 innings … Walked 77, but showed a knack for working out of trouble, often with one or more of those Ks … Clutch hitter who drove in three runs on three hits in the D-II final … Batted .387 with an on-base percentage (OBP) of .426, driving in 24, and she and her courtesy runners scored 25 times … Doubled twice, tripled four times, and homered once.
McCormick’s Quotes: “She was dominant for us, offensively as well, and defensively … Changing speeds was the key for Ruby this year … And not giving in, just her determination… And she located … I’ve had Ruby since she was five years old, and that kid has won a lot of games between softball, soccer and basketball … She just goes out there with a lot of grit and just goes at it.”
BELLA FALCO, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Run-scoring and base-stealing machine who also played a solid second base for the Otters … Batted just .265, but worked 23 walks to amass an OBP of .526 … Once on base, other teams could not stop her: She stole 22 bases, including home seven times, and scored a local high of 33 runs … Also drove in nine runs out of the No. 2 spot in the OV order … Captain and team leader.
Trayah’s Quotes: “If the pitcher turns her back or the catcher is lazy throwing the ball, she’ll go (steal home) … Defensively she’s good … She’s surehanded … She’d be on-base by walking, or she’d get a clutch single, or she’d bunt … She’d be talking to the outfield, making sure everyone knew the situation. She’s just a good leader to have on the field … Bella to me was the catalyst of the team.”
ADDY HARRIS, MOUNT ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Athletic center fielder whose speed and ability to track balls made her as good as any in the state at the position … Made two game-saving catches when the Eagles upset D-I finalist Missisquoi, 2-1 … Batted .352 with an OBP of .397, scoring 17 runs and knocking in 13, doubling three times, tripling once and stealing nine bases … Drove in or scored runs in all three Eagle playoff games.
McCormick’s Quotes: “She’s so coachable. She loves to play … She always works hard … She improved her throwing … Between her wingspan and her legs, four strides and she’s over to the left fielder or right fielder … She’s always backing plays up … Between the defense and the offense and the quickness and athleticism and coachability, she’s just the whole package.”
ABY LAROCK, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Excellent catcher who controlled opponents’ running game and made just three errors while handling most of the innings behind the plate … Batted .500 with a .547 on-base percentage, striking out just five times, driving in a team-best 20 runs and scoring 12 … Stroked five doubles, a triple and a homer for a slugging percentage of .717 … Hard worker and tough competitor.
Rheaume’s Quotes:  “She’s one of the No. 1 catchers in the state … Her arm speaks for itself. There weren’t too many that ran on her … The team gathered around her. They looked up to her. She’s a good team leader … She’s great at the plate, and great behind the plate … She works hard. She works hard on the field at practice, after practice … She wants to win.”
CARLY LAROCQUE, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Reliable, smart, surehanded fielder at second base who batted .360 with some pop … Hit two homers, four doubles and a triple and drove in 18 runs … Reached base at a .429 clip … Has an accurate arm with a quick release.
Rheaume’s Quotes:  “She reads the ball well so she can get to the ball quicker … She doesn’t have the strongest arm, but she gets to the ball quicker than most kids … She knows where to go when she gets it, and that makes a big difference … She tries hard and works hard … She’s a good kid with a good attitude, always smiling.”
MOLLY MURRAY, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Steady defensive shortstop who sparked the Eagles at the top of the order offensively … Made just five errors while showing good range and an accurate arm … Batted .375 with an OBP of .514 after drawing a dozen walks … Led the team with 24 runs and drove in 13 while popping five doubles and a triple and stealing 11 bases.
McCormick’s Quotes: “If there was a ball in the third base-shortstop hole, Molly was always there … She won’t backhand a ball. She can get around it and make a play on it … She dove for a couple balls and got on her knees and made throws over to first base … Fundamentally she is solid, and she is intelligent … It was a lot of fun to coach Molly and Jess (her twin sister) this season. I’m going to miss them.”
RENEE O’CONNELL, OV JUNIOR. Clutch hitter who led OV with 20 RBIs, many in key situations, and also scored 24 runs … Batted .382 with an OBP of .477 … Solid outfielder who knew the position and won the job outright after platooning as the DH to start … Tripled to lead off the 8th-inning and scored the winning run as OV staved off the VUHS upset bid in the playoffs. 
Trayah’s Quotes: “She was one of those girls who was very smart … She moved so well, probably one of the best to get to the back-up sports …  If it was hit out to her I didn’t have a worry that she was going to catch it. She was pretty surehanded out there, had a pretty good arm … Renee really locked down that spot … Renee just had a great year … She had some big hits.”
FELICIA POIRIER, VUHS FRESHMAN. Notes:Excellent fielder at first base who led VUHS with a batting average of .576, an on-base percentage of .627, and 10 extra-base hits, five doubles, four triples and a homer … Scored 20 times, drove in 19 runs and struck out only five times … Also served as the back-up pitcher and threw well in the Commodores’ playoff loss.
Scribner’s Quotes: “Felicia is an amazing athlete … She is probably the most complete player on our team … She plays at a high level for multiple sports and brings that athleticism and competitive drive to every game … She is as good as it gets at first base and her pitching is trending up … I am looking forward to seeing Felicia reach her full potential over the next few seasons … She leads through action and example.”
SAM RATHBUN, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Versatile defender and dangerous hitter who started at four positions for the Eagles this spring — second base, catcher, left field and right field — and played well at each … Batted a loud .404 with four doubles, two triples and two homers, driving in 15 runs and scoring 18 … Came up big in the postseason, homering and then doubling and scoring in the semifinal, and doubling home a run in the final.
McCormick’s Quotes: “Overall athletically, I felt as I needed to use Sam in certain spots when we had someone injured or slumping … She just did a good job at all those positions … On the bases, very intelligent … Next man up mentality is what Sam brings us … Sam was just all-around pretty solid, and hit the only ball out of our park that got hit out all season … Sam was our leader out there.”
GWEN STAFFORD, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Strong, fast batter who led all local players with five home runs — four of them coming by racing around the bases for inside-the-park round-trippers … Batted .375 with a .492 on-base percentage, also drilling five doubles and scoring a team-best 21 runs and driving in 17 from the lead-off spot … Terrific center fielder with great range who this year handled most of the pitching for the Tigers, striking out 65 and allowing 61 hits in 56 innings.
Rheaume’s Quotes: “She has a good work ethic … We put her in the outfield when we needed her and she does fantastic out there … There isn’t much that gets by her, that’s for sure … The wheels help. She’s the fastest kid on our team … She works hard … She wants to do well. She wants to be the team leader.”
ERIKA TRACEY, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Fearless, slick-fielding third baseman with a powerful, accurate throwing arm … Eliminated opponents’ bunting game by playing so close to batters … Committed three errors in 19 games … Batted a loud .298 with .379 OBP after a slow start, with five doubles, a triple, and two homers, including a game-breaking three-run shot in the final … Drove in 17 and scored 23 … Smart baserunner who stole 13 bases in 13 attempts.
McCormick’s Quotes: “They (the extra-base hits) were all huge. They were all at the end of the season, when we really needed it … She was batting below .200 for half the season, and then just came on …  A couple coaches were like, oh yeah, she’s one of the best defensive third basemen I’ve ever seen … There’s nobody in the league that plays as close as she does … The arm, everything, was there defensively … She’s a proven winner.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Livia Bernhardt, Shayla Phillips, Mia Politano, Ryley Keith, OV; Audrey Tembreull, VUHS; Ashley Sunderland, MUHS; Jess Murray, Abby Hoff, Camilienne Masse, Mt. Abe.
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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