Sports

Spring Sports Report: Otter Valley Union High School

OTTER VALLEY UNION High School baseball team

BRANDON — The Otter Valley Union High School varsity sports teams each had their own measures of success in 2022. The players and coaches suiting up for the 2023 campaign look to build on last year and find some fun, some competition and hopefully quite a few final scores marked down in the win column.

BASEBALL

Otter varsity baseball is back and looking for more victories than they claimed last year. A dozen of this spring’s team members played on the 2022 squad and are working hard to improve greatly on their 6-11 results then. 

“The guys are buying in,” coach Mike Howe said in preseason. “They don’t like losing and the commitment level is pretty good right now.”

“Our pitching and defense are solid,” Howe continued. The Otters’ top two innings guys from 2022, Jordan Beayon and Andy McEnerny, return to the mound this year as seniors with a year of experience they can build on. The strength on the hill doesn’t end there. Lucca Polli, who Howe said worked hard to get stronger this off-season, is slated to throw a number of innings as well. 

“It’s not just about throwing with these guys anymore; it’s about pitching,” Howe said. 

They will be pitching to junior catcher Luciano Falco, who is also returning with some seasoning.

Coach Howe was basically still figuring out the lineup in preseason, but he knew he could count on three strong infielders with positions at second, third and shortstop being filled by three-year starters. “Guys are fighting for spots right now and that’s great because it makes us better.”

Despite a schedule that includes three Division-I opponents, Howe is hopeful.

“I am confident that if we execute, and do the things we are capable of, we can play with any team in the state,” he said.

OTTER VALLEY UNION High School boys’ lacrosse team

BOYS’ LACROSSE

Otter Valley’s varsity boys’ lacrosse had a break-through season in 2022 with seven wins, more than tripling their number of wins from the year before. The Otters earned a No. 3 seed in the D-II playoffs and then won their first game there in a dramatic comeback. The boys from Brandon were ousted in the quarterfinal, though, and then lost 10 players to graduation — ouch!.

Coach Matt Clark isn’t complaining. He said the success that the Otters had last year drew more players to boys’ lax this year, with 19 on the roster in preseason. That number includes returning seniors Chase Cram, Thomas Politano and Malachi Sheldrick, plus there is more experience coming from juniors Matthew Cole, Aiden Wade and Simon Martin, as well as sophomore Gavyn Towle.

Still, with the number of new faces on the team, Coach Clark was certain of one thing in the preseason:

“We’ve got a lot of coaching to do,” he said. “We have to do some work.”

Among that work will be strengthening the basics, like playing ground balls.

Maybe with their youth, the Otters also bring a good deal of enthusiasm and energy. Clark is hoping for the best.

“Wish us luck!” he said.

OTTER VALLEY UNION High School softball team

SOFTBALL

Over at Pattie Candon Field, the softball diamond named after a particularly inspiring team mentor, softball coach Kelly Trayah looks for this year’s edition of Otter varsity softball to continue the team’s tradition of winning.

“We’re going to be good this year,” he said in a preseason interview. “We’ve got seven seniors, and they’re showing really good leadership.”

Those seniors are Bryn Blanchard, Sydney Gallo, Alexis Hayes, Ryleigh LaPorte, Mackenzie McKay, Grace O’Connell and Alivia Sheldrick.

On the mound this year, Otter Valley will be led by what Trayah called “a really good senior pitcher” in the person of Mackenzie McKay. She looked good in the preseason.

Another returning senior, LaPorte, had a good season last year, earning honorable mention in the Southern Vermont League B Division.

Trayah also had good things to say about the speed of his team this year, in particular sophomore outfielder Charlotte Newton.

“She’s super-fast,” he said.

As the Otters got ready for their first game, Trayah was very excited for the season ahead. He should know, he was the 2022 Southern Vermont League B Division Coach of the Year.

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