Eagle softball topples Otters

TWO EAGLES DISAGREE on who should catch this fifth-inning fly ball to shallow right field. Even though the ball eventually ended up on the grass, no run scored in Mount Abe’s win. Photo courtesy of Mark Bouvier

EAGLE WINNING PITCHER Eve McCormick winds up for an offering during Tuesday’s softball game at Mount Abe. McCormick hurled four scoreless innings in the Eagle victory.
Photo courtesy of Mark Bouvier

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham Union High School softball team flexed its muscles on Tuesday, when the Eagles rolled to a 12-0, five-inning victory over local rival Otter Valley in the opener for both teams.

The Eagles got strong pitching from starter Eve McCormick; timely hitting, including a long homer and three RBIs from center fielder Jo Toy and three hits and three RBIs from McCormick; some solid defense; smart baserunning; and a quick start — a five-run first inning.

Both coaches, the Eagles’ Don McCormick and the Otters’ Kelly Trayah, kept the early-season result in perspective. 

The Eagles, a team coming off consecutive trips to the Division II semifinal round, pulled back into town at 10:30 p.m. the night before from a trip to South Carolina, but suffered no ill effects from the travel. If anything, McCormick said, the competition sharpened the squad for Tuesday.

“We played some really good teams, just a fabulous experience,” he said.

As far as what Tuesday meant, McCormick said he believes the Eagles’ schedule could be the most challenging in Division II, including two games each vs. D-I Missisquoi and South Burlington and a non-league battle with perennial contender Fair Haven.

“It gets tougher,” he said. “But I’m really happy.”

Trayah, whose team won 11 games a year ago and reached the D-II quarterfinal round, first credited the Eagles, and said playing a quality team like them will help his Otters in the long run.

“Mount Abe’s got a top-notch team. They’ve got good hitters, and they’ve got great pitching,” he said. 

He also expressed confidence in his young team’s abilities, even without injured first baseman Alivia Sheldrick, who could miss the season. 

“We did fine. We started to put it in play. We just got off two scrimmages where we did not see pitching like that,” he said. “We’ll be all right going who we go through. I hope we see them in the state championship.”

OTTER SIERRA CORMANY is safe on a close play stealing second base during Tuesday’s softball game at Mount Abraham. The host Eagles prevailed.
Photo courtesy of Mark Bouvier

 Tuesday belonged to the Eagles from the start. After Eve McCormick tossed a 1-2-3 top of the first, the Eagles went to work at the plate against OV hurler McKenzie McKay.

Leadoff hitter Maddie Hayden dropped a single into center, Lucy Parker walked, and Joy Toy’s line single scored Hayden. McCormick singled two more runs home, and Payton Vincent’s RBI grounder scored McCormick, who had advanced on a throwing error. Vincent moved up on Dakota Larocque’s single and scored on Patty McNerney’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-0 after one inning.

OV catcher Randi Lancour tripled past a diving outfielder with two out in the second, but McCormick struck out the next hitter to strand her. In the bottom of the second Parker walked and trotted home when Toy blasted a homer far over the left-field fence to make it 7-0. 

OV got another runner into scoring position in the third when Sierra Cormany beat out an infield hit and stole second, but a fly ball to McNerney in right field ended that threat. 

The Eagles added three more runs in the third. McNerney walked and Abigail Parker reached on a bunt single to set the table. Hayden singled in McNerney, and Parker scored on an error on the play. McCormick singled in Hayden to cap the rally.

AN ERRANT THROW bad-hopped OV catcher Randi Lancour on this play. She took in on the chin, but returned to the game, won by the host Eagles.
Photo courtesy of Mark Bouvier

McCormick finished up her mound work in the fourth, allowing only a walk. She struck out six, walked one, and allowed two hits in earning the win. 

The Eagles made it 12-0 with two runs in their half of the fourth. Gabrielle Lafreniere singled, Larocque doubled, and Genevieve Forand singled them both home. 

Vincent took the mound to close out the game on the 12-run mercy rule in the top of the fifth, working around a walk and an error by striking out two batters and getting Ryleigh LaPorte to line out to LaRocque at second base to end the threat. 

Afterward, McCormick said his team could look back on a good trip to South Carolina and a successful opener, and the Eagles and Otters could probably both look forward to successful springs. 

OV SHORTSTOP SYDNEY Gallo and second baseman Lauren Palmer team up for a force-out during Tuesday’s softball game at Mount Abe, won by the host Eagles.
Photo courtesy of Mark Bouvier

“We put a lot into our trip, and we knew we were coming back late last night, and we knew we had a team that we could probably handle,” he said. “And with that said, Kelly’s got a good young team there. They’ll be all right by the end of the season.”

Trayah pointed to history — the Eagles romped his Otters in their 2022 opener, and his team bounced right back. 

“We started with Mount Abe last year. We lost, and we won our next seven,” he said. “So I’m hoping to do the same this year.”  

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