Sports

MUHS softball sinks Commodores

TIGER JUNIOR EMMA Deering fires a pitch during Tuesday’s game at Vergennes. She started and tossed three scoreless innings in her team’s 12-3 victory over the Commodores.
Independent photo/Steve James

VERGENNES — The Middlebury Union High School softball team on Tuesday picked up a needed win after a recent rough patch, playing excellent defense and getting hits from everyone in the lineup in a 12-3 victory at Vergennes. 

The Division II Tigers had lost three straight, two to tough D-I competition and one to 2022 D-II finalist Enosburg. Tuesday’s result moved them to 4-4 at the season’s midway point.

MUHS Coach Timm Hanley cited the Tigers’ effort in the field: They made only one error, and third baseman Meredith Cameron set the tone with five assists and a putout. 

“They played very well defensively, something they’ve been working hard at. We haven’t had a lot of time on our field, so it’s been hard, but the last two games, two games in a row, they’ve played real solid defense,” Hanley said. 

He also noted pitchers Emma Deering (three innings, four hits, no runs, four strikeouts, one walk) and Abby Stafford (four innings, one earned run, three hits, no walks or Ks) made the Commodores earn their way on base.

“They threw strikes,” Hanley said.

Offensively he said the strategy was to put pressure on the Commodores. 

“We put the ball in play. We moved the baserunners around, stole a few bags, tried to bunt them over, tried to get the ball moving and make the defense make some plays,” he said.

That proved a sound approach when VUHS did not have its best day in the field, a seven-error outing. 

VUHS Coach Travis Scribner acknowledged the 3-4 Commodores didn’t match the Tigers defensively.

“I figured this game would be a fairly even game,” Scribner said. “We had a few costly errors that impacted that. And Middlebury’s bats were able to get going. Towards the later innings we were able to get our bats going a little bit, too, but defense was the key to today’s game on both sides. They played really crisp, clean defense.”

The trouble for the Commodores and starting pitcher Savanah Blaise started in the second with back-to-back errors that allowed Cameron and catcher Sienna Rubright to reach base. 

Lexi Whitney then laced a double to plate them both. Blaise struck out the next hitter, Abby Stafford, but on a wild pitch, and another wild pitch put runners on second and third. RBI bunts by Lexi Orleans and Skyler Choiniere made it 4-0. 

COMMODORE SHORTSTOP JASMINE Little throws home to nail a Tiger runner at the plate during Tuesday’s softball game at VUHS.
Independent photo/Steve James

More trouble for VUHS came in the next inning. Cameron reached on a dropped fly ball, and Rubright followed with an infield hit. Blaise hit Whitney to load the bases, Stafford singled one run home, another came home on a passed ball, two more scored on an infield error, and it was 8-0. 

The Commodores loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the inning on singles by Maddie Laberge, Jasmine Little and Rory Couture, but Deering ended the threat and her outing by striking out the next batter.

The Tigers finally got an earned run in the fifth to make it 9-0. Whitney tripled and came home on Choiniere’s two-out infield hit. 

MUHS added two more off in the sixth off Maddie Laberge, who tossed the final two innings. Deering singled, moved up on a grounder and a stolen base, and scored on Rubright’s single. Rubright stole two bases and scored on a wild pitch to make it 11-0.

The Commodores scored their runs off Stafford in the sixth. Little singled to lead off, and Couture reached on the only Tiger error. Katie Laberge tripled them home and scored on Maddie Perkins’ ground out.

The Tigers picked up an unearned run in the seventh even though Little at shortstop made two good plays. Maddie Laberge walked Stafford, and she moved to third base on a wild pitch. Orleans also walked, and the runners tried to work a double steal. But Little threw out Stafford at home, with catcher Sam Hallock applying the tag. 

TIGER LEXI ORLEANS slides safely into home as Commodore catcher Samantha Hallock snags the throw during Tuesday’s game at VUHS, won by the MUHS softball team, 12-3.
Independent photo/Steve James

Little then snared a Choiniere liner, but threw high trying to double off Orleans at third, and she trotted home with the game’s final run. 

Hanley said the result was important for the Tigers after the recent setbacks. 

“It’s huge. We’re headed toward the final stretch. You’re going to have losing streaks. It’s how you recover from them that matters the most,” Hanley said. “That’s a good start in the right direction.”

Scribner said the Commodores talked after their game about their tough Lake Division schedule and the need to be continuing to “put their best effort forward” while not letting adversity affect their play. He remains confident they can compete well in the D-III postseason.

“I still think we have what we need to make a decent tournament run,” Scribner said. 

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